Does anyone have experience hosting or attending a "Virtual Conference" that provides a true virtual environment (beyond webex...more like this)? There are many great solutions out there, but I'm worried that there will be issues accessing from government facilities.
Please share any experiences you've had with this kind of offering (good or bad). And if you can provide the name of the solution or technology that was used, I would appreciate it.
Yes good use, Webex (by Cisco) most of our time, or Rooms (by HP) vendor, or Go-to-Meeting (by Citrix) by department use (internal accounts), and any rebranding of these seems to work (we've noticed some contracts have rebranded some of these products for use). All have had controls like chat, questions, approval/disapprove flagging and tools. These tools are important. Communicating and having audience check access and use before calendar to debug or provide on-time for everyone is a key element. Especially with first timers, firewall rules and scope or out of scope areas have to be set. We have had good experiences and cultivating with Sharepoint for internal uses. We required to use two-auth or factor in knowning our participants.
One item, a presenter, should not attempt this from their desk. Presenter may need two-three associates, a moderator is key (keeps up time, provides presenter breaks, listening - shut down open microphones or conference not on mute), a good technology (tech moderator) person(s). Those behind the scenes and queue up questions to moderator, via all social access points. Moderator presents questions, presenter answers to questions. This means they're (presenter and staff) or should have equipment available to see all activities. I've seen or attended where a presenter being a one-person show, and it is painful to listen and watch on an extensive topic.
Good area seems to be providing first look training topic, like a first time use of Virtual Conference with deeper training later. Brown bag lunch topics. Eat and listen and it doesn’t matter where you are with a mobile device. One other item, put or make presentation available for download. Set breaks for topics longer than 2 hours, control meeting with those being at home (dog barking, it is only cute the first time Fifi shares). We like this use because we are able to multitask on email while listening to a conference.
Bad has been scheduling, 9AM on East Coast is 6AM on West Coast, many times calendaring didn’t consider this in adoption of time set or breakup VC into multiple times. Where we had a part 1 of 14 emergency topic(s) to prepare for new regulations and no time to set regional training.
I’ve been on calls and moderate from 5-150. Langevin like training applies, training adults in classroom or consulting, or virtual conference. You have learners, prisoners, and vacationers.
You might check out this post I remember from the spring about a hybrid, virtual conference put on by the US Forest Service: http://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/keen-on-green-the-us-forest-s...
Actually at GovLoop we've done one (virtual tech conference) & doing another soon (virtual career fair)
We used ON24 as software
Adam Arthur at CDC has done a couple virtual events and is super smart on it - check his GL blog & reach out to him
Steve Ressler just notified me of your post. Give me a call at 404-702-3441 or drop me your contact info and I would be glad to help you.
Back in 2009 our MuniGov group hosted a virtual conference in Second Life - here is a write up about the experience: http://www.publicworksgroup.com/blog/2009/04/munigovcon09/
and each year, there is a Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds conference that is held offline and online in Second Life at the same time - you can read more about that here:http://www.ndu.edu/icollege/fcvw/index.htm. I have attended that one both online and offline in person. Paulette Robinson who manages that conference would be a great resource for insights.
This year I also spoke with someone representing the National Highway Institute - they had hosted a conference in a virtual setting, but I am not sure what they used. It might have been Altadyn - here is a link to an article about it: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/focus/12jul/12jul02.cfm
GameTech also has an annual conference that usually hosts a few virtual sessions - usually in Second Life. Here is the website with info about that one: http://www.gametechconference.com/
As for my experience and thoughts about them - I've attended many conferences in Second Life/Opensim and found them to be very immersive and engaging. I always learn more in these virtual sessions than ones I attend in person because of the format and ability to interact more with the other attendees. Occasionally I have presented and found that to also be an interesting and engaging experience. The worst part of any conference in a virtual setting is managing any misbehavior. But problems can be minimized by using technology that gives the host control over attendance.
I've also attended many conferences held in my industry using software similar to what is provided by On24 (http://www.on24.com/products/virtual-show/). Although these are better than not attending at all, I really do not find them immersive and find they do not hold my attention as much as an in-person session or a session held in a place like Second Life. They feel more to me like I am just visiting a regular website.
The challenges for attending anything online are compliance with the parameters set by your organization. Where I work, we are allowed to go to these types of sites, but where my husband works in State government, they can't even get to YouTube. The other challenge is that not all government offices might be equipped with the hardware and graphics cards needed to provide a good experience in a true virtual setting.
I could probably go on and on, but will stop there. Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any specific questions or if you ever want to check out places like Second Life. There's usually always some event going on you could check out to get an idea of the type of experience it offers, and it's easier if you have someone guide you through the first experience.