With so many academic conferences going virtual, they’ve become less exclusive and more affordable than in-person meetings. But how do you decide which meeting and which sessions will best fit your needs?

If you’ve never “attended” a virtual conference before (and sometimes, even if you have), it can be confusing to figure out which set of sessions will be a meaningful and useful fit for you. Here are some ideas to help you select, engage with, and get value out of your next virtual academic conference.

  • Get narrow. Maybe, like many faculty members, you’ve opted to spend your conference dollars first on virtual meetings that will strengthen your teaching-with-technology bona fides. As you scroll through the program, look for narrowly conceived sessions that will help you learn or improve a specific skill.
  • Get small. Choose events that attract a small number of people — say, under 150 — or find small communities within large online events. Before you attend, find out how to connect with other participants and send messages to a few people via social media or email so that, during the conference itself, you see at least a few familiar names on the online roster. Just having one or two “conference friends” makes virtual events less impersonal and more engaging.
  • Get ready. The most common reason people don’t get value out of a virtual event is that they don’t make time for it and give it their full attention. During a face-to-face conference, no one expects you to keep working with colleagues back home (at least, not as much). Establish the same expectations for online conferences.

Continue reading:How to Make the Most of a Virtual Conference,” by Thomas J. Tobin

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