Using Technology to Advance Conference Learning and Interaction

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Facilitated by Paige Buck, Craigslist Foundation

Session Description

Paige will facilitate a discussion about the potential uses v. the pitfalls of using tech at live events. From old school tech like PowerPoint to the newest uses of twitter, Google Moderator, UStream, etc., tech can be useful, advance learning, help make a point, speed up processes, or it can be a huge distraction and just a shiny new object to play with. This knowledge-sharing session will invite participants to enumerate options and share what has worked well, and what's best avoided.

Presenter: Paige Buck, plans and attend conferences. 12-14 yrs experience. One example, Craiglist Foundation’s Bootcamp.

Impetus for the session: when tech disrupts the participation and learning. The trend in events seems to be increasing levels of tech interaction but it can derail presence.

Dwayne hates tech at conference because they disrupt person-to-person interaction. He wants constructive engagement, wants to be pushed to meet new people and learn from them. Some payment services have different restrictions for different countries (South Africa: can’t withdraw payments from paypal). When on the organizer side, he’d like tech to manage travel logistics and visa tracking. Dwayne’s philosophy for choosing event tech is just to ask someone he trusts, try the tech and then review it.

There are a lot of massive tools for event planning and a lot of discrete tools which you’d need to combine.

Hillary planned a recent conference for the 1 Laptop per Child Program. The planning team expanded in size and everyone had different expectations for how to manage agendas, scheduling, . Would like a tool to facilitate format design.

Dwayne would like a way to sinc ustream and presenter slides and audio. What opportunities/workflows/service exist for taking an audio recording, syncing it to slides and posting it to youtube as video. Good powerpoint presentations aren’t that helpful on their own for people who read just the decks later.

Paige has been looking for a program to help her do event project management for her entire career. Still hasn’t found the right program. She generally uses spreadsheets and finds herself recreating documents to report to different stakeholders (like a Board, which wants milestones by Quarter).

Paige would like tools to inform her about the audiences. Attendees often have widely variable tech adoption levels. You have to have multiple layers of information in multiple formats.

Set expectations. Whether it’s modeling behavior for participants or using collaboration tools with your event planning team, setting expectations increases accountability and reduces tension (ideally). Build in check-ins to take the tone of the group.

Q: What do you do when you have different “camps” of tech users at the same event? What about if you have people outside the event going on twitter to complain about how rapidly info is shared online? like someone who RSVP’d NO to your party calling you and asking who showed up, what’s happening, what people are wearing.

Best practice idea: designate some volunteers or staff to be social media reporters. Event organizers can manage their distribution the same way they could make sure they have note takers. There’s also an organization out of Ottawa that gets hired to work as social media scribes.

Hilary likes weekly planning calls to stay on track while team planning events.

“Hybrid events” are events that happen online and offline… simultaneously! Follow @samueljsmith if you’re interested.

Follow #eventprofs for event planners on twitter.

Matt recommends checking out The Go Game for corporate, conference or event teambuilding. They use smart phones to facilitate scavenger hunts and online/offline games. http://thegogame.com

Tools: Etherpad for collaborative documentation. Wufoo for building custom forms. Google apps. uStream for video streaming (tip: use a separate camera and mic, rather than a laptop so you can adjust the angle).

Wikis: w/schedule (up to date), attendee list, directions etc.

“Things” is a mac-based task mgt program. It’s based on GTD methodology (getting things done; google: “David Allen”)