LERN Conference Highlights
Highlights, high points, and what was new this year:
1. Focus on the Good Stuff
Opening keynoter Mike Robbins was so good there was a long line at his book selling table afterwards and he sold out of books. A top pointer from Robbins, don’t worry too much about what people think about you: they spend most of their time thinking about themselves, not you.
2. Internet Pioneer Outlines What’s Next
The shareable economy, such as renting your apartment or car when you are not using it, is the next big thing, predicted Robert Stephens, founder of The Geek Squad, one of this century’s biggest business success stories. He spoke before a standing room only audience in the big hall. Also called consolidated consumption, Gen Y is looking to reduce its ownership of material things, and at the same time maximize the usage of those things it does own. Cities are now embracing the shareable economy for its sustainability and saving the environment.
3. Gen X Leadership Emerges
All three new people elected to the LERN Board of Directors this year are Gen Xers. And at the opening session, Vice President Julie Coates announced the promotion of Gen Xer Suzanne Kart to Associate Vice President. Kart also spoke at the opening session.
4. First Future Leaders Council Meeting
Gen Y attendees packed the first Future Leaders Council meeting, ensuring the program will be active in the coming year providing leadership information for those under age 36.
5. Online evaluations premieres
Attendees evaluated the concurrent sessions online with a new feature on the conference App. About 1,000 sessions got evaluations from the App. Paper evaluations were also available, but the success of the online evaluations points to the possibility of paperless evaluations in the future.
6. Gender Equality Proposal Made
LERN announced it is looking for a college or university to test pilot a program for smart males who are not in college. Males are a declining percentage of college graduates, creating the huge shortage of skilled workers and STEM crisis.
7. Sixties Reception on 50th Anniversary
A hippie themed conference reception celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first LERN lifelong learning programs, called free universities. The first free university came out of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley 50 years ago.
8. Energy and enthusiasm were high
With most programs coming out of the recession with stable registrations, the energy and enthusiasm was high about the future of lifelong learning and continuing education. And attendees loved San Francisco. The LERN show, masterminded by LERN conference director Bill Strehl, was right in the middle of all the San Francisco attractions, with the conference itself featuring music, tap dancing, posters, slide shows, humor, skits and more. All in addition to the advanced practical, how-to information in the sessions.