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Faculty of Science's Fall Term Update on courses, labs, tutorials, exams, research and fieldwork

Pro Tips For Successfully Staging Events Online

Joe kim 2Cancelling the 8th annual McMaster Conference on Education & Cognition when the pandemic hit would've been the easy call to make.

But the EdCog planning committee chose to move the two-day conference online and wound up drawing a record number of attendees. Based on overwhelmingly positive reviews, the committee's already begun planning for a "hyflex" EdCog in 2021 with several day one workshops offered exclusively online to complement livestreamed events on day two.

"Attendees who don't have the budget to travel to McMaster will get to fully participate in our conference at a fraction of the cost and from the comfort of their home or office," says EdCog founder Joe Kim. "We anticipate that our conference will continue to draw record numbers of attendees from across North America and around the world."

Joining Joe on the planning committee is Michelle Cadieux, Paulina Rzeczkowska and Connie Imbault. Joe, an Associate Professor with the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior, launched EdCog in 2013 after attending an event at Washington University in St. Louis. That event led to the formation of a group that brought together cognition researchers and educators. Joe wanted to build something similar at McMaster that would establish the university a hub for discovering evidence-based practices in education.

Based on the EdCog's successful move online, Joe has seven tips for colleagues who are thinking about launching online events:
  • Pick a conference theme that resonates with attendees.
  • Recruit the best presenters who'll connect with the conference theme.
  • Strategically add breaks throughout the day to allow everyone an opportunity to restore their energy, motivation and attention resources.
  • Mix it up. Instead of a wall of back-to-back talks, plan a variety of conference activities including concurrent workshops, plenary talks, data blitzes (5 minute talks) and panel discussions.
  • Add networking and fun, interactive components to keep attendees engaged.
  • Encourage and guide speakers to make their presentations interactive through polls, breakout rooms, Q&As and follow-ups on social media to encourage attendees to make active contributions.
  • Work with the best people behind-the-scenes to get the technical and organizational details of the conference done professionally.
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