Monday, May 13, 2013

You can have any lecture format as long as it lasts an hour

The NGS conference in Las Vegas was a big success from my viewpoint as speaker and participant, and I anticipate great things from the upcoming FGS conference 21-24 August in Fort Wayne (yes, I am on the publicity committee). But they both could be better, and within the past few months I have heard almost the same sentiment from two genealogy leaders, a veteran and a new one, who to my knowledge are not acquainted: stop relying exclusively on the one-hour lecture format!

Tina Lyons is vice-president of the Indiana Genealogical Society and publicity chair for the aforementioned FGS, where she will also be speaking. She'd like to see some 20-minute sessions, perhaps modeled on the TED talks. She notes that her on-line Coursera classes come in 5- to 15-minute segments. And she may work an interactive game into her one-hour FGS talk.

Last Wednesday at NGS, Melinde Lutz Byrne -- who is, among other things, Fellow and President of the American Society of Genealogists, director of the Genealogical Research Program at Boston University's Center for Professional Studies, and co-editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly -- said that her talk that day (on advocacy and privacy) would be her last one-hour presentation. She gave similar reasons, and urged more panel discussions and workshops, as well as "poster sessions" like one she found worked well at the New England conference and lasted no more than 20 minutes, with everybody standing.

Just as many professional-development programs grew up outside of the umbrella of the Association of Professional Genealogists when it was slow to adapt, the major national and regional conferences might find themselves playing catch-up if they don't consider a more diverse format. Just sayin'.

Harold Henderson, "You can have any lecture format as long as it lasts an hour," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 13 May 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Cathi at Stone House Research said...

Thanks for just sayin' it, Harold. Coming from an educational background, the lecture format has one of the lowest levels of retention for learners. The more involved we are, the better we learn. That said, there are some topics that are best suited for the lecture format, and it is a great way to deliver a lot of information in a short time. I say, let's mix it up!

Harold said...

Always good to hear from an expert, Cathi. Thanks!

Angela said...

I like panel discussions and workshops. I guess I will consider proposing these formats in the future.