Something we here at Moishe House Philadelphia have been struggling with for the better part of a year and a half now is how to best incorporate regular education into our events, Jewish or otherwise. We are fairly good at hosting speakers from out-of-town (especially Pardes) that draw a good crow, but those events are few and far between, so the crowd they draw does not have to commit that much. The problem arrises when we attempt to create a regularly scheduled event involving education for people to come to.
As brief background, in the last year and a half we have attempted regular secular learning events where participants lead presentations, regular Jewish education events where we bring in learned people to discuss topics that participants choose, and even sent out a survey to ask about this information. Unfortunately, no one showed up for the former two events and only 5 people filled in the survey. Basically, even though people have nebulous "interest," no one is putting their feet on the ground for it.
With that in mind, we are experimenting with a partnership with another few Jewish organizations in our area on a program called "Topics on Tap." It is a irregular regular event where a series of speakers present or facilitate conversations on Jewish topics weekly over the course of a month. It is an interesting compromise where participants do not have to commit to one event but might be more willing to come because it is 1) at a bar and 2) for a limited time only.
Another concept some of us (read: Brian) are pondering is called "pecha kucha." MHProvidence told us about this at the regional retreat, but the basic concept is that anyone can present on a subject using 20 powerpoint slides with 20 second for each slide. That limits the presentations to 6 minutes and 40 seconds each and creates a fast-paced educational environment. It might work and it might not, but it is something new we could try.
Now you've gotten a little peak into how we at MHP are thinking about our programming. If you have any suggestions, by all means send them over!