Virtually Connecting serves our mission of enliving the virtual conference experience in a variety of different ways. This is a sampling of some of the different formats that we have used at various conferences.
Hallway Conversations – These sessions are VC’s classic format; small group, informal, person based instead of topic based. These can take place in a hallway or in a designated room. Topics are not planned and virtual participants are often new people in the field or new to VC. These sessions are more spontaneous and informal.
Missed Conversations – This is a simple conversation with someone that we wanted to meet at a conference but we missed them for some reason. This is not centered around a conference (e.g. the conference is over) and there is no “Onsite” presence. This is still person centered rather than topic or activity centered.
VC “In-Session” – This is when VC is invited inside of someone else’s session at a conference. These kind of sessions can take on various formats as they end up being co-created between the main person responsible for the session and at least one VC person. Some examples:
- Group conversation/workshop – VC helps to gather a panel of either experts, topic-specific interested participants, or those gifted in conversation who can help to further a conversation or facilitate a workshop around a specific topic. Onsite presenter and buddy help to guide the session with help from the virtual buddy.
- Virtual breakout session – VC gathers a group of participants from the general public who have interest but may or may not have specific knowledge in the topic of the session. The session has a short presentation followed by breakout groups. The virtual participants become their own breakout group with the virtual buddy and others onsite that want to be in that group. When groups report out the virtual people report out like any other breakout group.
VC Presenting on Itself – This is when VC is accepted as a presenter for a session. Several formats have been explored.
- The Fishbowl – A VC hallway conversation is held in a session and onsite conference participants to come in and watch – maybe jump in.
- Empathy Experiment – This was a 90min workshop at OLC16. Virtual presenters only – no guests – no virtual participants. 4 (for example) virtual presenters – 3 onsite presenters 3-tables of onsite participants. Short presentation on what VC is and what it means to attend a conference virtually – virtual presenters are on main screen and everyone gives some introductions. Then 3 of the onsite presenter gets a virtual presenter on a laptop and takes them to a table. The participants in their groups engage the presenters (1 onsite and 1 virtual at each table) in a conversation about what it means to be a virtual participant at a conference. One other presenter works the room and checks in on each table to see if they need anything and helps to faciliate conversation between the tables. Each table is provided with a google doc which has some prompts and spaces for notes blank template here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qV2GvYPt_d9gQAV5YNKuJNXWDkB4L3knteKUNV1onJ0/edit?usp=sharing In second half of this workshop each table comes up with an action plan of how virtual participation could be enhanced at conferences. Example of a completed notes document from one of these sessions https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ovW9T086T-OF8-ozP39bsQCVGEqm4nmKZmgmterU4qg/edit?usp=sharing
- Conversation about Conversations We have a couple of veteran VC buddies on a panel both virtual and onsite and we call attention to the informal aspects of the conference and make the point that these are often tied to conversations that take place outside of sessions, we introduce VC as a movement and talk about some of the benefits and challenges. We then engage the participants in a conversation about conversations and how they have used sync conversation in their professional development and in their classes either virtually or in the flesh (ITF). If ITF we talk about how that could work virtually. Back-up questions developed by panelists before presentation about their VC experience – think Storycorps questions but developed for VC https://storycorps.org/great-questions/