Effective Techniques/Methods for Conference Presentations: Research Issues
Consistent pleas have been made for using participative techniques/methods in adult, continuing, community or extension education conference designs and presentations which assure more stimulating and proactive learning experiences. Despite these pleas, conference audiences, often quite large in number, are typically "treated" to lectures, papers, stilted presentations, etc., and have little opportunity for participation in the proceedings of the conference sessions. Nevertheless, many publications and one definition of "conference" suggest that although the degree of conference participativeness varies, the "better" ones have resource persons who not only imaginatively devise ways to obtain participants input via small group work as well as through reports from these same groups, but also help participants generate individual and organizational benefits resulting from "back-home" applications. Some however, still assert that there is no clear or convincing research evidence whether discussion and group participation techniques/methods produce any better conference learning results than more traditional one-way platform communication processes such as papers, lectures, films, recordings, etc. The major research issue of this paper relates to finding and/or generating evidence that may help determine which educational techniques/methods will produce the most effective results. One question that keep nagging this author is: "What constitutes research?" Ten examples of adult learning activities in various contexts including conferences, drawn mostly from untypical sources are offered for consideration as research which supports the value of proactive participant involvement in conference sessions.