2013 Iowa Experiential Education Symposium Coming Up

ALTOONA, Iowa – Educators, trainers, leaders, students and anyone interested can make the choice to take a chance to change with the 2013 Iowa Experiential Education Symposium. The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office in Polk County and the Adventure Learning Center will be hosting the symposium in January.

“I went to a conference in Colorado where this really wonderful concept called open space technology was used,” said Melissa O’Neil, Adventure Learning Center coordinator. “Last year we had the idea to replicate this concept at the ALC. The ALC facilitates leadership and team development programs using experiential education. We wanted to take that a step further with this symposium and to also help build powerful relationships in the community.”

The open space technology concept was developed in 1985 by Harrison Owen. The approach is straightforward. There is no agenda; attendees decide what topics to talk about and for how long during the two-day conference. The Iowa Symposium in Polk County was adapted from Tom Leahy in Colorado and the National Challenge Course Practitioners Symposium.

At the Iowa Experiential Education Symposium, the goal is to bring people together to create a community of learning and to find solutions to real problems. Open space technology-type meetings and conferences create a space for attendees to feel safe. They can ask questions and help each other find answers.

The set-up of the symposium is simple. There are four types of sessions: presentations, workshops, discussions and fun activities. The sessions are created only three hours before they are scheduled to begin, and the people who attend the conference create them.

“Everyone has something to offer and share with the group,” O’Neil said. “Our goal is to create positive relationships and healthy environments for people to learn in, connect and network with others and to develop leadership skills. This is a fun event that will benefit all.”

The symposium will take place Jan. 11-12, 2013, at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. For those wanting a more concrete event, pre-conference and post-conference workshops will be hosted by the ISU Extension and Outreach office. These events are separate and can be added to participants’ registration forms for the symposium.

For more information, contact Melissa O’Neil at 515-957-5767 or moneil@iastate.edu. General conference information and registration forms can be found at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/content/iowa-experiential-education-symposium.