Extraordinary Events Podcast

Ep 70: Not All Made the Same

April 20, 2021 Extraordinary Events
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 70: Not All Made the Same
Extraordinary Events Podcast
Ep 70: Not All Made the Same
Apr 20, 2021
Extraordinary Events

In this podcast episode, I explain the rubric I use to grade my Intro to Events final projects, how I disagree with the vast majority of higher education in regards to the importance of understanding digital engagement and how participating in an interview last week for an association inspired today's podcast. 

Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast episode, I explain the rubric I use to grade my Intro to Events final projects, how I disagree with the vast majority of higher education in regards to the importance of understanding digital engagement and how participating in an interview last week for an association inspired today's podcast. 

Dr. K: Hello, hello, my beautiful friends, what an amazing day. I'm just always so jazzed, I'm so excited to just sit in front of the mic, or stand in front of the mic and just talk with people that care about events that care about good design, that care about live and online experiences. I just value each and every one of you so much, even if I've never met you or talked to you before I just value that we can have this conversation. And it truly is one of my most favorite parts of the week. So I tend to sit there and I talk a lot about the things that I'm living and dealing with in real time. And there's two things that have really stood out to me that I have really been doing over the past week. The first one is grading final projects in my intro to events class. 

So I do have an elaborate rubric that doesn't inhibit creativity and design, which I never was a fan of rubrics, I used to hate rubrics, I used to say rubrics limit creativity and limit design. But the more and more that I got into the design field, the more I realized that to enhance creativity and to build creativity, it helps to have some kind of guidelines and some type of standards. And some types of goalposts, it doesn't mean that your rubric has to have super specific items on it, it just needs to look at what you're expecting in terms of category. And I've really refined my rubric a lot over the last seven or eight years of project by project semester by semester. And it's really been kind of a work of art, these rubrics, and now, it's so great, because I can pull up a groups project, I spend about an hour per group, going through the rubric writing comments. And it's just really, it's really an effective use of time, it makes sure that everybody gets similar feedback, it makes sure that all of the important elements are there, but it doesn't limit the creativity of how you include it. So I spend a lot of time on that. I am not a quiz or test person, I'm very much a project person. And when you have lots and lots and lots of students, that does take time, but it is time that is worth taking. And I know not every professor feels that way. But for me for events for design, it is super, super important. And I take the time to do that. 

The second thing that's really been standing out to me is I participated in an interview last week for one of our associations. And they had reached out to me and said, “Hey, Kristen, you have this designation. You've been involved in our association for a long time. You're kind of seen as a thought leader, a visionary type of person in event education. And we wanted to do a spotlight on you. We want to do this interview.” Okay, cool. So we got it scheduled. And I was sent the questions ahead of time. And I prepared for it. I had bullet points. I had, you know, specific examples that I wanted to talk about. And I have kind of been ruminating a little bit on one of the answers. And I decided that I was going to take a podcast episode to just talk about this. Because this is so, so important. There's actually two answers, but one that's kind of I would say maybe one of my little pet peeves about event education. 

There's two answers. So I'll reference both of them. The first question really had to do with the importance of understanding digital engagement and how this is incorporated into the classroom. Had this been incorporated into curriculum, etc, etc. So, I would say that I disagree with the vast majority of higher education in this particular way. So in event management, we have undergrad programs, and we have graduate programs so you can get your bachelor's degree and then you can get your master's degree. And in some places you can get a PhD but you

You can definitely find a lot more master's programs around the world, but definitely in the United States, they're starting to come up. And one thing that I really see as a differentiating factor is that a lot of the undergraduate programs for event management or teaching logistics, and a lot of the master's programs are teaching design. That's what I've seen at a lot of programs. I'm not saying every single program, but at a lot of programs, that's how it's structured. In your undergraduate program, you learn the basics of the meaning and event industry, who the players are, how to do a banquet event order how to do your timelines, you're you're kind of learning the basics for logistics, and then you do some internships where you do logistics, and then you graduate to that you're done. And then if you decide to get a master's degree, then you learn more design and strategy. This is nice in theory, and I can understand where a lot of these event programs have come from when they've laid out their curriculum this way. 

Unfortunately, I 100%, Dr. K opinion, disagree with this. I teach design in my intro to events class, I teach the why and the purpose and the design, and then that leads into the logistics. Now I want to be clear, I'm not disagreeing with the value of education, education is education, education is good. But I do disagree a bit with the fact that students may be paying 40, 50, 60 $70,000 to get a bachelor's degree to learn logistics that yes, they could learn by working for one year, two years, three years and an entry level position in the industry itself. Why are they spending $50,000, $60,000 for education, just to learn logistics? Now, I'm gonna have so many people that reach out and I'm gonna have so many people that disagree with me, there is a time and a place for everything. Yes, if you have a program that has eight event management classes, definitely dedicate some specifically to logistics, dedicate some specifically to design. I think that this in my mind, is also done a lot with sustainability. We talk about sustainability as a separate chapter, we talk about sustainability as a separate class, we talk about sustainability in a separate module with a quiz and a test. But sustainability is something that really should be woven throughout the entire curriculum. 

Sustainability should be covered in every single section, it should be incorporated in every part of the process. And I feel that design is the same way. I like to give my students an example. I say, traditionally, you would book a venue, a hotel venue, Museum of vineyard, whatever venue, you would book your venue, and maybe you'd book it 510 15 years in advance. And then you would wait until the year before your event. And then you would say what's my venue? How many rooms Do I have, and then you would develop programming to fit into that. And that is so inherently incorrect to how we are today in the events industry. Of course, that's where we were, and there's nothing wrong with where we are, there's nothing wrong with where we were. But we've evolved since then, we are very much focused on the purpose of the ROI, on the experience of the design. And then we have to get those logistics to match. So what I teach in my classes is I teach the design, the purpose, the why the objectives, then we design the entire program, the way to best facilitate that programming, and then we look for site selection that matches what we need for our program. 

So automatically, I can see so many professionals saying, well, we have to look this far out in order to secure space, we have to do this, we have to do that. I walked into this position and these contracts were already signed, etc, etc. Well, yes, of course, we will have parameters, we all have parameters that we need to work within. It's the same thing with my rubric. Those are parameters for creativity. But that doesn't have to be the end all be all. If your venue that's already been booked doesn't meet your parameters. How can you expand on the space you're contracted with? How can you book additional unique venues? How can you do additional things? 

The whole concept of parameters is to really stretch your mind creatively, to really elevate what you have up to a whole nother level. One of the other questions that I was asked in this interview really had to do with the classroom experience. So the question specifically said, you know, with other online education providers popping up like a Udacity, or Khan Academy, or edX, how are traditional educational institutions evolving? And of course, I had to stay again. Well, I'm not necessarily the traditional educator in this aspect. But I truly feel that event professionals are uniquely prepared to be teachers in this time. I've said it so many times before in class, I said, classes are nothing but an event. Events are literally defined as two or more people coming together for a common purpose. 

Now, what is a class, a class is two or more people coming together for a common purpose, which in most cases is to learn that day's objectives. So if the teacher is designing that class experience properly, then each one of those classes should be a unique experience. I'm not going to teach site selection from a PowerPoint I'm going to make you go to the venue and do some site selection, and talk with the sales manager and do a walkthrough, I'm not going to have you do food and beverage from our PowerPoint or book, we're going to set up actual place settings, we're going to talk about all the different things we're going to talk about times and, and all the liability and dietary restrictions. If you're truly designing each class around the objectives, then each class becomes its own mini event. And your students are actually learning by immersion. 

So I have so many teachers to say, Well, Dr. K, or Kristin, that takes so much time like I teach four classes, and I have this and this and I have research, I totally understand I totally get it, I am in the same boat as many educators. But once you design it one time, you take the time to design it, almost always, it just transfers from semester to semester, you're just updating some things. So the main portion of my class is pretty much the same every semester, because we're talking about foundational principles. But the beginning, which is my creativity, activity, and the ending are different every single semester. So I'm really just updating 10 minutes of my class, each class for each semester. And that doesn't take a ton of time. And it's totally worth it. So when we talk about these online educational institutions, I think it's the exact same thing between my fall intro to events course, and my spring 2021, intro to events course. 

So we're in the time of COVID, we're in the time of online events, were in the time of higher education, students taking a gap year doing all of this, between my fall class and my spring class, I had enrollment increase of 208% 208%, from fall to spring, that also includes a lot more diversity that includes a lot more majors, a lot more minors, and just a lot of different backgrounds. And why is that 100% of that increase has come from positive word of mouth, just like you would custom design your in person experience, you also custom design your online experience, or you should be. So just like for an online event, you would have a pre meeting box, which typically is mailed to you, I have a pre class box that you can pick up or I'll mail to you. And that's just something that's a community builder. And then instead of just giving you a box that has a bunch of free stuff in it, I have a specific envelope for every single week of the semester weeks two through 15. And we open them up together as a class, which builds an amazing community, I spend a lot of time grouping students into groups that work for them based on personality assessments, and based on interests and other things from my pre class survey. 

I just do a lot of different engagement techniques that make the online class experience. Now, are you going to get that from a Udacity or an edX or Khan, maybe, maybe not more than likely, you're gonna get a super interactive online program, that some Corporation has spent a lot of money, where you watch videos, and you click through and they've gamified it. And that's great. If you are a self motivated, intrinsically motivated student, if you can sit down and watch videos that have been gamified, and then you get your certificate at the end certificate of achievement. It's amazing. I've actually used some of these services for my continuing education when I have a specific skill set that I'm looking for. But if you either don't know what you want to do when you grew up, you're still exploring. You want that traditional liberal arts, education or if you

Just want to see a person in person, you want to see your T shirt in front of you, then you're still gonna come to a traditional style education.

I think there's a lot of power in that in the event education field, because a lot of people who are drawn to events are drawn to that face to face interaction. That's what we thrive on. So I feel like a lot of those students are going to naturally gravitate to an in person experience. Now, clearly, not always, but some will for sure. So my answer to that question, when it was asked to me was, there's going to be a place for both? Absolutely. I don't think traditional education in terms of colleges and universities will go away. But I will think that they need to evolve and adapt. The final parting note that I will leave for the podcast today is I think the importance of the faculty brand will become so much more important. I think a lot of people used to just naturally gravitate to their home University, to their local in State University, or to a regional university that had their major. And I'm seeing a lot more now because there's so much education that's available for free, or for small cost online, that people are really doing their research to look at the faculty members, and their experience and the word of mouth about them. I have a student right now who's taking my intro to events class from the Netherlands. 

Now at some of my favorite like idle universities for hospitality, or in the Netherlands, I am like, why are you in my class, I want to literally fly to the Netherlands and be in these other classes. But she's in my class. And that's amazing. And I'm so thankful to have her in my class. But when you think about faculty brands, especially if you are looking at a master's program, people are willing to log in online, people are willing to move to some of these locations, where they know that they're going to have a top level experience. And it's our job as event designers, event planners and event educators to design this experience for our students. And for others. All event education is not the same. And similar to a law school. It really does provide a great alumni network, and just an expanded network from your own professors of who they know in this field, and who you can get connected to in this field, because events are just as much about who you know, as what you know. And that network is becoming more and more important, as there's more offerings out there. 

Alright. Don't forget that the podcast is a form of education as well. And you should definitely reach out, leave a comment, rate and subscribe. Let me know that you're here. Let me know that you're learning, let me know that you're listening. And let me know what you want to hear. Because I am doing this for you. I am doing this to help elevate event education for the world at large. And I want to make sure that I'm covering things that are important to you. As always, I want to thank you so much for taking the time. Time is invaluable. And I so appreciate that you trust me with some of it. I hope that you all have a wonderful week and I will talk to you soon.

Thank you for listening to the extraordinary events podcast. Stay tuned for our next episode.