By Jeffrey Erickson, Director of Content Strategy, Oracle
Oracle OpenWorld may be one of the world’s largest annual business tech conferences, but this year the focus is on just you—namely, improving your individual journey on the path to greater learning.
For Oracle OpenWorld 2017, which takes place at San Francisco’s Moscone Center this October 1 through 5, that means new session formats that foster deeper learning and retention through more active participation and collaboration among attendees, and more access to open meeting spaces.
The majority of business conferences follow the traditional style lectures where the audience simply sits and listens while the speaker presents materials. But this is hardly the best way for an audience to retain information. Research shows that attendees retain up to 80% of information two weeks after receiving it if they are actively involved in the learning process, compared to just 5% when receiving information passively.
That's one of the reasons Oracle is taking a whole new approach to the Oracle OpenWorld experience that is focused on active learning and audience co-creation and participation. The design of the physical space is being repurposed, with intentionally designed flows and structures added to the attendee journey to maximize how people learn and retain information.
The new formats are the result of collaboration between Oracle and the Stanford Center for Design Research, which studies how people best interact and learn. “We’re bringing techniques to make the learning stick,” says Tamara Carleton, a Stanford researcher and instructor. Carleton, along with Bill Cockayne, has started working with Oracle on a multiyear process to provide cutting-edge collective learning opportunities to Oracle OpenWorld attendees.
New session formats carry names like “Brain Snacks,” “Make Your Case,” and “Flipped Session,” and “give attendees a chance to hear ideas, practice them together, and add their own stories and ideas,” says Carleton.
Carleton says the new session formats have been designed to “fully embody this notion of collective learning... They are engaging, hands-on, and put the speaker into more of a coaching role,” she says.
A select number of session leaders will be trained this summer on the new presentation styles, and approximately 200 Oracle OpenWorld sessions will use these collective learning formats. “This is information that presenters are hungry for,” says Scott Ewart, a senior director of events at Oracle. “We’ll give them lots of opportunities to master these new styles over the coming months.”
It’s not just the session formats that make this year’s Oracle OpenWorld a better learning opportunity, says Ewart. It’s also the spaces where attendees gather. “Think of those burning questions you have when you’ve seen a dynamic speaker present information you really need, but then you walk out into a crowded hall and you’re off to another session,” says Ewart. “What if during the session you met the other people in the room and explored the topic together? And what if there were a time and a comfortable space where you could continue the conversation?” he asks. “That’s how the collective learning spaces and the schedule will work at OpenWorld this year.”
Guided by Stanford research, Ewart’s team is looking to provide opportunities like “Home Room,” where people interested in a particular technology track can meet in the morning to explore the day’s opportunities and then meet again in the afternoon to reflect and share what they have learned.
“We need to give them time to reflect and then wrap up conversations they’ve started,” says Carleton. The right kinds of experiences can lead attendees to that 80% retention rate mentioned above. “The difference is stark,” she says.
In addition to the specific speaker training and coaching that Oracle is conducting for the new session formats, it will also give all conference speakers a kit that introduces the methodologies of collective learning and gives them simple techniques and tips on how to develop and deliver better, audience-focused presentations, creating better long-term conversations and engagements with customers.
New Exhibit Hall Format
Oracle is also bringing changes to the traditional exhibit hall, introducing a new layout called The Exchange. The format has been entirely redesigned to facilitate new ways of gathering and exchanging ideas and networking opportunities. Conference sessions and Collective Learning sessions are taking place in new learning spaces inside The Exchange designed specifically to help facilitate these idea exchanges and opportunities.
The whole idea of The Exchange is to rethink the traditional trade show component of a conference, moving it from a disconnected space to be visited during free hours to a vibrant space that is active with learning, the exchange of ideas, the integration of partners and technology all into one rich and energetic place not to be missed.
Five Conferences in One
Alongside Oracle OpenWorld, San Francisco will be hosting four other events allowing the cross-pollination of ideas between Oracle and non-Oracle technologists, developers, and business leaders: JavaOne and Oracle Code will bring in a potent mix of app developers; SuiteConnect will attract leaders from businesses of all sizes that use NetSuite’s wildly popular cloud solutions, and Oracle will host some of its largest and most strategic customers at the annual Leaders Circle event.
Early Bird Discounts Extended
Availability of the early bird rate for Oracle OpenWorld passes has been extended until August 5. Come see how Oracle OpenWorld continues to evolve to benefit Oracle customers and partners. “I’m excited about what Oracle is doing here,” adds Carleton. “They’re bridging from rigorous academic research to real-world applications.”