We’ve been doing this work from home thing for a little while now. And we feel like we’ve got a pretty good handle on getting stuff done on Zoom and all that. But lately we’ve been looking for some goods and services that can actually spark a little more fun in our virtual meetings (and cultivate more creativity, teamwork, and good vibes in general). So we took to google, and made some notes on a few companies that are working to liven-up everything we do in the virtual world.
The Reimagine Education Conference will include 1500 visionaries and leaders in the world of education, and run virtually for 10 days straight. The nice thing about a virtual event is you don’t have to do everything in 2-3 days, like at an in person event. You can stretch it out. This makes it easier for attendees and presenters to fit in their schedules. The organizers also added other elements to make it even easier for people to stay engaged. These include: a virtual auditorium with real life polls and surveys, exclusive meet and greets. virtual chat rooms, a roundtable series with key presenters, and even a virtual lobby and lounge. It is an event after all!
Society for Learning Analytics Research Event
The Society for Learning Analytics and Research Event (SOLAR) brings together the most influential researchers and practitioners in learning analytics. So basically, it’s a lot of really smart people getting together and sharing data and ideas about how to help people learn and improve. Pretty cool. One interesting change they made to this year’s event is deciding to hold it Monday through Friday, as opposed to over the weekend, since travel wouldn’t be an issue. Virtual events let you make all kinds of changes to the schedule, timing, and event structure — depending on what works best for your attendees. SOLAR might even be researching the best ways to learn at virtual events in the future. We hope!
Media and Learning Online
The Media and Learning Online conference is an entire virtual event dedicated to sustaining and innovating video based services in higher education. This is obviously something that’s super important right now — with all the virtual learning going on. It’s also an example of educators creating an entire event to meet the moment that they are all facing right now. It almost feels like every industry could use a virtual event completely focused on virtual communication in that specific industry. Just a thought.
Learning @ Scale
Learning @ Scale investigates learning environments where there are far more students than teachers. So most everywhere people learn virtually — like giant Zoom classrooms, message boards, art blogs, and anywhere else people share and critique work. A portion of the event was also dedicated to in-progress research (such as learning during COVID-19), which seems important for any education-focused event right now. With millions of students logging on Zoom everyday, there’s a real need to understand the best ways to teach a whole bunch of people at the same time. And Learning @ Scale is the place where they are going to figure that out.
Course Hero Virtual Education Summit
Course Hero brought together university leaders, epidemiologists, political activists, instructors, and anyone else that could help educators and students succeed in this next phase of virtual/hybrid learning. There was also virtual yoga, performances by emerging student musicians, social events, teaching demotionations, learning science workshops, and much more. This event is a great example bringing together as many voices and disciplines as possible to help everyone prepare for the future. It’s going to take a lot of people and industries collaborating and working to get things back to normal one day. And that kind of collaboration is something virtual events are quite good at.
IE University Center For Corporate Learning Innovation
IE University’s Center For Corporate Learning Innovation is producing an ongoing webinar series focused on the educational needs of business leaders. We especially like the on-going format idea. Daily life has been in constant flux for the past few months. By releasing shorter webinars each week, presenters and organizers can make sure that the topics are truly current, and relevant to what people need. This is especially important in the business world, where there’s no playbook for going virtual, and successfully leading your team means coming up with new solutions almost daily.
The American Library Association (ALA) Virtual
ALA Virtual brought together library educators, as well as featured speakers Natalie Portman, Stacey Abrams, and Misty Copeland, to help people learn and connect during these changing times. One part of this event that we really liked was that it wasn’t just about teaching. There were also live chats with writers and artists, various networking sessions, and even a virtual exhibit hall. Part of the learning process is making sure that there are plenty of opportunities for people to be inspired. Awesome speakers can inspire (ALA’s were about as awesome as it gets), but the most inspiring thing is being able to connect with the people around you. And ALA Virtual made sure that was a top priority.
Virtual education is leading the way
It hasn’t been an easy year for education. But by all measures, they are leading the way in how to get things done virtually. They are the first industry we’ve seen to have an entire virtual conference devoted just to communicating virtually. Still a great idea… We look forward to seeing how educators continue to innovate virtually and push the medium!