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An online conference checklist

May 29th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I spent most of yeterday writing interim reports for the European Commission funded Eurotrainer Network project. Report writing is not one of my favourite activities. Anyway the main things Pontydysgu is responsible for in the project is developing and maintaining the network platform and tools and organising an annual online conference.

firstly, I was surprised at how many different tools we have used. In addition to the main platform, which is a WordPress site with the  Freefolio plug-in, we have used the following web tools and services (as taken from the platform report):

  • Google forms for conference and event registration. These can be embedded within the platform and generate an automatic spreadsheet
  • A Network of Trainers in Europe Facebook group – This currently has 220 members and provides a valuable and easy way to mail directly information to participants.
  • A PB wiki – this was established to provide a quick and easy to use platform for the exhibition area associated with the online conference.
  • An email list server. This is maintained by the UK higher education Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). It currently has more than 70 members.
  • A video and audio Flash meeting platform. This is hosted by The UK Open University.
  • The Elluminate suite for online conferencing. This was provided by the Conference sponsors, the UK JISC Evolve network.
  • A Diigo site for collecting and sharing bookmarks (this is displayed through a widget on the platform)
  • A Flickr site for collecting and sharing photographs (this is displayed through a widget on the platform).

I also had to write an ‘activity report; for the work undertaken by Pontydysgu for the project.  I have written yet another report on the online conference itself, so in the activity report I limited myself to a bullet point list of what we did. I think it serves as a useful check list for those seeking to organise online events. I like running on line events but if people think they are less work than face to face seminars and meetings they are sadly mistaken!

  • Development of concept and format for the conference and presentation of concept and format to the network partners
  • Writing, production and dissemination of call for papers and presentations and exhibition materials
  • Contacting potential contributors to the conference
  • Production and dissemination of publicity materials for the conference
  • Development of conference pages on Network web site
  • Production and management of conference sign up form
  • Contacting and liaising with other networks, projects an organisations to publicise the conference
  • Production and dissemination of pre-conference newsletters
  • Organisation of conference platform through the conference sponsors, the UK Jisc Evolve network
  • Organisation and moderation of pre-conference training sessions for conference presenters
  • Dissemination of help materials in use of the platform
  • Provision of a technical help line for conference participants
  • Organisation of session moderators and organisation of training sessions
  • Overall conference moderation
  • Organisation, technical hosting and dissemination of conference exhibition
  • Recording of conference sessions (as Elluminate recordings and as downloadable MP3 recordings) and development of web pages for viewing these materials
  • Development and distribution of online evaluation questionnaire.
  • Analysis of evaluation returns and production of report on the conference

One Response to “An online conference checklist”

  1. Hi Graham

    Absolutely! If anything, online events require more organisation upfront as once the event starts it is usually too late to change any of the setup. The last event I co-ordinated was the REAP conference* back in 2007, which was excellent, but I was very happy once it was over! Though glad to hear you enjoy running online events, perhaps it gets easier running repeat events with a similar set of individuals?

    In terms of your list, I would add:
    – Delegates/attendees really value brief overviews of discussions, so consider publishing daily summaries, especially for conferences with more than one track
    – Consider how you want to archive the event, this may require establishing a conference repository for papers, as well as deciding how best to store discussions

    all the best

    * REAP conference archive

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