I went to a church conference today. You've seen 'em: two morning sessions, lunch, two afternoon sessions; a guy talking in front of a powerpoint screen. He did a little flip chart work at the beginning. We all had spiral notebooks with fill-in questions.
By 3pm, I was standing at the back of the sanctuary thinking This is not my learning style. And - this was after I had twice gone out to the car for naps, had had two private conversations in the foyer of about fifteen minutes each, and spent most of the rest of the time moving from place to place in the back. I really only sat through 30 minutes of the first session and 15 minutes of the third.
Here's the worst of it: the guy was a pretty good speaker. Yet I still couldn't stay with it. I used to be somewhat better at it by simply forcing myself to sit still, but I have never learned this way. It dawned on me that I was never good at this at school, either. I was always in minor trouble for unauthorized pleasure reading during class or daydreaming. Later I skipped classes when I could, and endured when I couldn't by counting to 1000 or writing letters or a dozen other time-killing strategies (I recommend geography - capital cities, rivers, whatever - as the best strategy). I was polite enough to try to please, and smart enough to pick up the gist of a lecture from fragments, but from earliest school years, sitting and listening has been painful.
There isn't enough stimulation. The front of the room never changes, the voice intonation becomes repetitive even with a skilled presenter. Getting up and moving around a few times just isn't enough. Video presentations work somewhat better because the facial nuances of the speaker are noticed by the brain end keep it working in the background. Better still, videos provide other new stimuli - a change in speakers, a change in camera angle or distance, background music, more interesting graphics.
I looked over the crowd of attendees, almost all over forty and thought In forty years no one will do this. Hell, in twenty years no one will do it. I don't think black churches do this much; I'm not sure about hispanics but I'm going to guess not; Roman Catholics don't, eastern Orthodox don't. This is a white Protestant thing. I take that back - I'll bet Jews do it, too. These things are run by people who went to seminary, a lecture-heavy graduate school, after graduating from college in the humanities. This is their learning style. Even more, this is their teaching style, and conference designers often gravitate to the idea of "what info do I want to tell them" rather than "what do I want them to learn?"
Even then, the pastors cheat more than average, sitting at the back, getting up and moving around a bit, taking care of details they suddenly find important about the running of the conference. This style of learning works for some people, but I'll bet it's much less than conference organizers think. Even my wife, who does well with the note-taking lecture format, was fading by the fourth session. If you can't keep Tracy with you on these things, then it's really not working at some basic level.
I have never learned this way, and I'm not getting any better at it. No more conferences.