Answers to some common questions
Who is the conference for?
Practitioners, e-learning co-ordinators and managers in further and higher education, researchers, staff developers and learning technologists.
How does the online conference work?
All main conference sessions will be presented live in Blackboard Collaborate via a Moodle VLE. Each session will also have an associated asynchronous discussion group. Many sessions will also provide additional content. Each live session will be recorded, and available for viewing shortly after it finishes. Some sessions in the pre-conference activity week (ie other than the main sessions) may not be presented live, but will be in some other format, eg a paper, video, podcast, wiki, PowerPoint with notes and/or audio, etc. These will also have their own discussion area within the conference.
What are the advantages of an online conference?
In 2008, James Clay interviewed some of the conference organisers about some of the advantages of online conferencing. You can either listen online to them, or download as a podcast. James also takes a more humorous look at the advantages:
Will I be able to view the conference before the opening day?
The conference will be available from the 13th November, the start of the activity week. This will give participants the opportunity to have a look at the conference platforms (both the Moodle and Blackboard), view the detailed timetable, and sign up for any activities they wish to join in during the activity week.
What will happen during the conference?
The conference has two elements to it - the pre-conference activity and reading week, and the main conference. The activity week begins on the 13th November, and has numerous sessions and events taking place during this week. These sessions are not part of the conference theme as such, but do provide some very useful and interesting activities for delegates, and we strongly recommend that delegates look at the programme to see what's happening.
The main conference starts on the 19th November, for five days, and is split into eight sessions, with three keynote presenters, a conference blog and thinking space sessions. Full details of these are available in the programme.
What are the dates and timing?
13th November: Conference opens for activity and reading week, 09:00 hours, UK time.
19th to 23rd November: Keynotes or Sessions run from 10:00 hours to 16:00 hours, UK time each day. Discussions open on the 13th, and remain open until the 23rd.
24th November: Conference discussions close at 09:00 hours, UK time. However, the conference proceedings are available until 31st December 2012 for reading, so that participants can catch up on what they missed.
Do I need any special equipment or software?
For the asynchronous discussions, just access to the Internet, and a browser. Moodle and Blackboard also work through your browser, but you will need to test your settings prior to the conference; instructions on how to do this will be provided. A headset will be useful.
Some presentations will use Flash, video, etc., so players for these will be required, but, of course, most or all browsers will have these. The conference is not necessarily guaranteed to be accessible from mobile devices.
How much time will I have to spend at the conference?
An online conference is a real conference, and you need to be able to dedicate some time to it. Like any conference, if you don't go into the conference room, you will miss out on information. The conference won't stop just because you are not logged in, so checking in regularly will allow you to keep up to date with what's going on. To participate fully it is very important to set some time aside to log in and read and compose postings. We would recommend that you spend at a minimum 4 hours a day at the conference, preferably a lot more. This will allow you to keep up with debates and the volume of messages coming in. The post conference month for reading will allow you to catch up on anything you miss.
What if I can’t log in every day?
Because everything is recorded, even the live events, you can easily catch up, either during the conference, or after it - the conference proceedings are available for reading only for a month after it closes for postings, to allow you time to catch up on sessions you have missed.
If it is online, why is there a delegate fee?
The £50 cost is far cheaper than an equivalent physical conference - not least, because there is no travel or hotel accommodation which you have to pay for (and so has a much smaller carbon footprint, something which is increasingly important!). However, there are still significant costs - for example, presenter fees; staff time, etc. Even though it's online, this takes a lot of organisation - in some ways, more than a physical conference. The only difference is that there is no need to hire a physical room. But other costs associated with organising a conference still apply. Even when a conference (physical or virtual) is free to delegates, there is still a significant cost - it's just that that cost is absorbed by someone else, rather than being recouped through delegate fees.
Can we share a login between more than one person?
No. Each login is for a single person, not an organisation. If you want to send two delegates to a physical conference, you book two places. This is the same for an online conference.