Podcasts and content related to Expo! Expo! is an exclusive IAEE member benefit. For more in-depth tips and tactics, listen to the official Expo! Expo! 2017 podcasts here. Special thank you to GES for being the Expo! Expo! Education Title Sponsor.

The Escape Room phenomenon had taken over at Expo! Expo!. The experience that was once for friends and family as a fun night out has transformed into an education session, presented by Steven Vrooman, Ph.D., Professor & Chair of Communication, Director of General Education at Texas Lutheran University.

Instead of the traditional education session with a speaker sharing his/her insights on stage while attendees sat and listened, Vrooman did less talking and let the attendees go through a series of gamified learning puzzles, housed within the larger structure of the locked-box escape room experience.

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Expo! Expo! attendees split up into small groups and found a locked box and a clue. Could our attendees unlock the box and escape from the session? Groups did struggle to unlock the box and most solved the puzzle within 30-40 minutes of the session. Vrooman asked groups what the secret was to solving the puzzle. One group attributed their success to teamwork, while another said that they used the divide and conquer method. All the groups did agree that unlocking the box “was hard at first, until it was easy.

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If you had entered the room, you could sense the drive and concentration of the attendees. All the groups were hyper-focused on learning how to finish the puzzle and engaged with one another. Isn’t that what all show organizers want when developing education sessions? Vrooman used simulation and gaming in his teaching for two decades and wanted to show attendees that experiential learning can be incorporated in their shows.

Experiential, high-impact, gamified education has swept the country. From escape rooms to simulations, we learn by building our own cognitive scaffolding around ideas as we engage with them actively. The more complex the experience, the better our ability to craft new learning pathways. The more fun the experience, the more we will be emotionally committed to remembering.

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When contemplating the programming of your show’s education, think outside the box. Instead of a one-way mode of learning from speakers, have your speakers create an experience that will leave attendees actually remembering what they learned. Show organizers want to keep their shows attendee-centered, but why not give your audience an experience that truly is attendee focused by engaging them in an experience they created themselves?

Final Thoughts

For most people, doing something while learning is one of the most important way to learn, but it seems that experiential learning is not being fully utilized. What will people remember a year from now – slides from a presentation or the experience of learning something? There is information there that will benefit your audience, but what good is it if your audience is not engaging with the information and retaining the information? When deciding the educational portion of your show, keep in mind that experience doesn’t have to be solely on the show floor, but also in the education sessions.

Podcasts and content related to Expo! Expo! is an exclusive IAEE member benefit. For more in-depth tips and tactics, listen to the official Expo! Expo! 2017 podcasts here. Special thank you to GES for being the Expo! Expo! Education Title Sponsor.

Posted by Jannat Choudhury

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