This week I spent two days at the ACS Canberra Conference, and two at UNSWC ICT for Development Symposium. While good, both events could do with more opportunities for input from delegates. They both had experts speaking for 30 to 45 minutes, followed by a few minutes of questions from delegates. There were some panels, but these also tended to consist of the experts speaking for an extended period, followed by a few minutes for questions. I find this a very dull format and also research shows it is not a good way to learn.
For the last few years I have been attending "Bar Camps" and "Hacker" events. At these, the ordinary delegates are encouraged to participate. Some of this could be incorporated into more conventional events to make them more lively and educational. As an example, a traditional formal for an academic conference is to have posters outside the conference room. There is usually a prize at the end of the conference for the best poster. Instead, I suggest judging the posters on the first day of the conference and then inviting the winner and the two runners up to present in a main conference session.
Similarly, groups of delegates at a conference could be asked to discuss a topic and then a representative report back. This can be facilitated by use of online technology.
Conference organisers will be be justifiably worried over what unpredictable effects having more delegate input may have. But that would make the event more interesting and attract more delegates.