About Virtually Connecting
The purpose of Virtually Connecting is to enliven virtual participation in academic conferences, widening access to a fuller conference experience for those who cannot be physically present at conferences. We are a community of volunteers and it is always free to participate.
Using emerging technologies, we connect onsite conference presenters and attendees with virtual participants in small groups. This allows virtual conference participants to meet and talk with conference presenters and attendees in what often feels like those great spontaneous hallway conversations, something not usually possible for a virtual experience. There is only room for 10 in each session but we record and, whenever possible, live stream, to allow additional virtual attendees to participate in the discussion by listening and asking questions via Twitter.
We add value at all levels of the conference experience:
For Virtual Participants
You are our main focus. We exist to give you access where there was none before – well at least not the way that we do it. It is always free for you to participate with us. If you have purchased a virtual pass to a conference that we are at that’s great, you can dive even deeper in our sessions; you will find that our sessions are much more informal and loose knit – think the informal time at the conference during hallway or coffee breaks. If the conference is not offering a virtual option or if you cannot afford or otherwise obtain a virtual pass you will find that our sessions are a great way to get a feel for what is going on there. If there is a conference that you would like to attend, and you cannot, reach out to us.
For Those Onsite at the Conference
We add value to the onsite experience by bringing in diverse perspectives that cannot often make it to the conference. These can include unaffiliated scholars, graduate students, adjuncts, moms of young kids, those with health issues that prevent travel, and people from developing countries or countries far away from where most academic conferences are held. These voices broaden the collective conversation that is happening at the conference creating a more heterogeneous voice influencing those that are in attendance. If you are planning to attend or present at an academic conference and would like to connect with virtual participants contact us.
For Conference Organizers
We aim for our presence at your conference to broaden and enliven the experience for all participants. Our presence will help you to create a larger mark in the virtual space (think social media, networks, blogs, and an international presence) whether or not you are offering other virtual options. The value we bring to participants, attendees, and presenters, both onsite and in the virtual world, will help you to extend the reach of your mission and purpose. If you are holding a conference and you would like to partner with us please let us know.
It is our hope that through our work people will not only make new connections, but they will also make weak connections stronger.
Currently our focus is on Educational Technology conferences because those are the ones we attend/follow, and they are also ones that often have some virtual participation option via streaming sessions (free or paid), active Twitter usage, or make presentation material openly available in some way.
Please note that we consider ourselves to be free agents – While we welcome conference partnership (e.g. conferences organizers that mention us in sessions, give us space onsite with good wifi or space on their website or blog, or offer us free/reduced registration) we think of ourselves as guerilla connectors and we feel we are free to meet individuals at conferences without needing organizer permission. Unless otherwise noted, we are not officially affiliated with any of the organizations and/or conferences in which we participate.
For more information see:
- Beyond Twitter: Virtually Connecting at Conferences – ProfHacker Chronicle of Higher Education
- Bali, M., Caines, A., DeWaard, H., & Hogue, R. (2016, December). Ethos and Practice of a Connected Learning Movement: Interpreting Virtually Connecting Through Alignment with Theory and Survey Results. Online Learning Journal, 20(4). Pp. 212-229. Retrieved from https://olj.onlinelearningconsortium.org/index.php/olj/article/view/965/247
- Virtual, Hybrid, or Present? The #ET4Buddy Conference Experiment – Digital Pedagogy Lab
- The Virtually Connecting Manifesto
- Virtually Connecting f(un)bios