The Virtual View

A Couple of Recent Experiences

The way we attend conferences has greatly changed in the last couple of years. More specifically, I think of two recent conferences, one of which I attended in person, and the other I attended virtually. The one I attended in person, the Midwest Educational Technology Conference, this past February in St. Louis had a very strong presence of in-person attendees. METC also had a very strong online presence as well. While not all of the sessions of a conference so large can be streamed, all of the sessions in one of the main ballrooms were streamed for those that would like to attend virtually. A list of all the sessions that were streamed can be found here. Sessions by David Jakes, Scott Meech, Angela Maiers, Wes Fryer, and more will be available on-demand in the near future.

This past Thursday and Friday there was another conference happening in Nashville, Tennessee called TeachMeet. This was the inaugural TeachMeet for the state of Tennessee. TeachMeet was started in the United Kingdom by Ewan McIntosh. In a nutshell, TeachMeet is an (un)conference created by teachers, for teachers, for FREE. You can read more about what a TeachMeet is and how to start one of your own here.

The TeachMeet in Nashville last week was created and organized by Jason Bedell. Be sure to read Jason’s thoughts on the conference here. It was two days of presentations by awesome educators such as Steven Anderson, Melissa Smith, Adam Taylor, and more.

TeachMeet Nashville was made very available to those of us that wanted to attend one or more sessions virtually. Jason created a wiki for the conference and on it he published out the daily schedules and Ustream channels for all to access that wanted to. Also, be sure to read Jason’s post on how TeachMeet Nashville Started and How to Start Your Own.

Talking In The Back Of The Class

The backchannel was very active at both of the above conferences. This was conversation happening via Twitter centered around a pre-determined hashtag, or Twitter search term. The hashtag for METC 2010 was #METC_CSD. The hashtag for TeachMeet Nashville was #TMN10. To participate in any discussion regarding or during any conference, simply include the appropriate hashtag in your tweets so that they appear to others searching on the conference hashtag.

I would say that standard practice now is to have a conference hashtag for any educational technology conference. I’ve even seen presenters who use the hashtag actively during their presentation to answer questions and receive comments about topics presented. What a great practice for engaging and understanding your audience!

What have been your virtual conference experiences? Did you find them as beneficial as being there in person?

If you have never attended a conference virtually I strongly encourage you to do so. Will there be glitches? Of course there will be. Will you be able to attend every minute of every session as if you were physically there? Probably not. I encourage you to try it. Start with the traditional “sit and get” by viewing the live stream. Then jump into the middle of the conversation with the conference hashtag. You won’t be sorry at the level of engagement and learning you experience.

Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “The Virtual View”

  1. Do you think attending virtually is something that will encourage people to try to attend in person at some point? I love virtual options, but at some point, most conferences do have some sort of bottom line for income and expenses. It will be interesting to see how this progresses over time.

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