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183: Making Conferences Learningful with Nancy Bacon and Mark Nilles

By Tagoras - Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele

What do you get when you provide a learning experience that’s truly meaningful? According to this week’s guests on the podcast, Nancy Bacon and Mark Nilles, you create something “learningful”. And when it comes to creating impactful, “learningful” conferences, these two have teamed up to share what it takes in their recent e-book, Conferences That Make a Difference. Nancy is a teacher and instructional designer who has worked for over 20 years in the nonprofit sector. For the past five years, she’s led Washington Nonprofits’ learning program, and she currently serves as the associate director there. She also occasionally writes on adult learning through her blog at Mark currently serves as the director of learning and impact at Humentum. His work has focused on developing evidence-based teaching and learning approaches for improved workplace performance. And his perspective is informed by years of training and capacity building for international development and humanitarian relief professionals around the world. In this episode of Leading Learning, Celisa talks with Nancy and Mark about key concepts from their new e-book, including the importance of a conference strategy, how and why to ensure presenters are prepared, and the need for reflection time—both for participants as well as for the internal team responsible for planning the event. They also discuss ways to support continued learning after the conference is over. Full show notes available at  We are grateful to our sponsors for this quarter, Community Brands and WBT Systems. WBT Systems develops the industry-leading TopClass LMS, which delivers transformative professional development experiences for education and certification programs. With a single point of support from in-house integration experts, TopClass LMS easily integrates with a wide variety of systems to provide efficient administration and a unified learning experience. WBT supports organizations in using learning technology to help drive growth in membership, increase revenues, and enhance the learning experience. WBT believes in truly understanding your challenges and partnering with you to ensure the success of your education programs. Community Brands provides a suite of cloud-based software for organizations to engage and grow relationships with the individuals they serve, including association management software, learning management software, job board software, and event management software. Community Brands’ award-winning Crowd Wisdom learning platform is among the world’s best LMSes for corporate extended enterprise and is a leading LMS for association-driven professional education programs. Award-winning Freestone, Community Brands’ live event learning platform, is a leading platform for live learning event capture, Webinars, Webcasts, and on-demand streaming.   

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