March 09, 2021, 06:36:48 am

Virtual Wing Conference

Started by meep, February 10, 2021, 12:27:35 am

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Hi everyone!

My state's virtual wing conference is coming up soon, and is still in the planning phases. I wanted to know, for those that have done wing conferences; What worked, and what didn't? Whether you were a participant or an organizer, I would love to hear your thoughts.



VAWG put on a pretty great virtual conference last August.

First thing to know: virtual seminars are not just in-person seminars done on a computer. They are different in kind. You can't run a guided discussion and expect it to be fluid. So you need other ways to interact and provide active learning experiences.

We've had good luck with an online web site called Padlet. I used a Padlet in one of my seminars for students to jot down things they learned during the day to share with each other, then I highlighted a couple of the notes during the seminar. Kahoot is a fun web site where you can run an interactive quiz that participants typically enjoy. Note that Kahoot has limits in their free tier, so it may not work depending on the size of your seminar audience.

If you are presenting, you have to practice practice practice on your virtual platform of choice. I likened it to hosting a cooking show on the food network. You're talking to the camera, presenting material, fielding comments, troubleshooting technical issues, trying to keep people engaged, trying to reinforce all your learning objectives, etc.

If you can have an assistant in the presentation with you monitoring the chat, that is ideal. If you don't, make sure you're checking chat on a regular rotation, and look for hand-raises. Zoom and Teams both have breakout rooms, so you can put people into smaller groups to discuss and then bring them back into the main room to share their findings.

Prepare your physical environment for the seminar. Have your computer setup in a quiet, well-lit room. Use a good microphone or headphones. "Mise en place" -- put in place all of the things you will need. Outline, notebook, glass of water, windows arranged properly on computer desktop, digital resources queued up, etc. Don't wing it.

Did I mention practice practice practice? If you're running a Kahoot, run it with a couple of friends beforehand to get the flow right. Ditto with breakout rooms, make sure you understand what to click on to break out and come back. In running, there's the saying "nothing new on race day". Don't unpack your brand new headset and microphone five minutes before your seminar. Make sure everything you use is something you have rehearsed with.

Lastly, if you run a wing-level directorate, don't just do a "here are my annual updates" seminar. That can be an email or a flyer. Use the time for maximum impact and to accomplish learning objectives you can't do over email. "How to get involved in sUAS" is more interesting than an sUAS program update. "Practical tips to bootstrap a CyberPatriot team" is more interesting than just telling people CyberPatriot exists. And so on.

That's a lot of writing, sorry. :)

Key takeaways:

 - Promote active learning
 - Put your things in place beforehand
 - Know how to use your virtual platform