Evaluating Conferences and Workshops using The Worm

At the Knowledge Management Round Table today, Michelle Lambert the convenor, trialled the use of “The Worm” as an approach to assess the energy levels and engagement levels throughout the day of the workshop.  The Worm has been run a few times in national debates during Federal Election periods to assess whether the selected audience prefers one politician over another.  I thought that it would be an interesting idea to use The Worm for participants to self-assess their energy and engagement levels during the workshop or conference as a form of feedback to the conference organiser to show what they really felt drawn to and when they went to sleep.

Michelle painted a good picture of The Worm and regularly asked the participants to not forget their worm, feel if it is wriggling, and make sure that they record it at regular intervals.  In any seminar or conference, it would not really be desirable to keep the energy levels constantly high the whole time but to have periods of reflection or quieter times to build up for the next big rush.  But what this approach attempts to evaluate is the turning points of what clicked with people and what turned them off.  Ideally, people would annotate their worm with notes stating just that and also noting the highest and lowest energy levels during the day.

 At the very least, it is a self-evaluation tool for the participants to check in with themselves, assess how they are going and record it rather than stare blankly at a powerpoint screen.  Preferably, the feedback on the collective Worms would provide a valuable insight for conference organisers into participant’s attention.

There are many variants of The Worm that could not just assess energy or engagement levels but emotional states (happy/sad), level of group interaction, or from a meta-perspective, an assessment of why they felt the way that they felt to gain a deeper level of self-introspection.

It would be really interesting Michelle to see what the results of The Worm were and whether people felt that it was useful or just another of Luke’s crazy ideas that fell flat …


4 Responses to Evaluating Conferences and Workshops using The Worm

  1. Having had some experience in dealing with worms, so I’m sorry I missed out on this session. Thanks for the heads up Crazy Luke and would love to hear the results and learn of the associated mechanics involved in doing it Michelle.

    (Surely the Bong Su room must make the next interation of Austen Tayshus’ “Australiana” ??)

  2. Nerida Hart says:

    l thought it worked well. M only problem (and one I always have with evaluations) is remembering to fill it in.

    I also liked the one we used at the actKM conference where everyone stood in a line to indicate how they ranked certain aspects of the conference – now all I need to do is work out what question was asked for which photo I took at the time. I should have thought this through a littler better 😎

    Could topic of conversation on evaluating conferences/workshops etc. I also liked Patrick Lambe’s blog post on all the conferences he attended around October 07.


  3. michelle says:


    I really liked using the worm at the meeting, the outcome is currently being exported into an Excel spread sheet so that i can get a good visual out of it. One learning was to have some sort of gradient next time (and i will use it again) so that people have an opportunity (subjectively of course) to input their line and comments in a way that will be a bit more meaningful in the translation.

    anyway when it is done happy to share it with you and keep sharing the learnings



  4. Thanks Michelle – Be interesting to see what you come up with in the spreadsheet visualisation. Thinking that you could also maybe mix this with something like http://www.moonri.se/ which would actually record the emotions so long as you could time sequence it OK.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: