Saturday was a good day for learning. Jaimie and I did our morning walk earlier than normal, I grabbed my coffee and got ready to do some learning at https://www.t4event.one/ to learn about “The New Normal”.
The pre-event advertising indicated that 50 000 people had registered but the indications were that it was over 100 000. There were a number of options to join the conference – Facebook, YouTube, or on the site itself. I elected to use YouTube.
Scheduled to start at 8am ET, I got connected at 7:45 without any hassle. Guests were invited to indicate where they were watching from. The chat window was just flying by with most people checking in from Europe, Africa, and South-East Asia. At the time I checked in, I couldn’t see any other Canadians but I’ll admit that I quickly went full screen to avoid headaches. Things were flying by so quickly.
The five and a half hour event is archived here.
I was impressed with the content and the messages. I had kind of expected it to be all about technology but that was a side player. The messages of hope and inspiration came through with the voices of the session leaders.
We were encouraged to share this message on social media…
Early in the day, my wife came into the room and wanted to know why Formula 1 was on a Saturday – she could hear the British voices from down the hall! Once I explained what I was doing, she got it.
Conversations continued from the participants all day long in both the YouTube chat and with the #t4conf hashtag.
Keeping an eye on the technology side, I noted the following, since online conferences may well be in our future for a while. I went in hoping that it wasn’t going to be just a session of talking heads. I wasn’t disappointed.
- the event was free – no travel expenses – no hotel expenses – no registration fee
- the event was broadcast in English with translated versions in Arabic and Spanish all available now from the broadcast page
- the event was simulcast on multiple platforms for ease of participants
- Pota encouraged audience participation via chat and intermittent polls of the audience
- presenters commented immediately on the poll results
- presenters were prompted by the session host by conversations/questions/observations from the audience
- the sessions weren’t just one presenter reading from a script
- each had a host and prompted for a dialog among those presenting
- there were overlays of the conversation feed
- the event felt inclusive with the choice of speakers
- each session had a producer who toggled camera views and arrangements
- the presenters reflected the global goal of the conference including Canada
- the audio/video was generally pretty good – there were some dropouts but that’s to be expected
- the event had sponsors and included short clips periodically of advertising
- the sessions themselves were shorter in duration than a traditional event. It gave the sense of really moving along
- there were no breakout rooms requiring you to jump to different links. You could keep it on the one feed. I had it up on an external monitor while I was doing other work
I thought that the event was exceedingly well planned and executed. It felt different and yet it felt the same as a regular conference event. I spent about three hours watching it live before being called away to do other things. It was comfortable knowing that the rest could be enjoyed later.
Is this the model of professional learning going forward? It’s hard to say. I know that there are various ways of doing sessions online. I’m not sure that we want every event to be a template of each other.
But for this Saturday, it really worked well for me and I’d extend congratulations to those who organized and those who presented. It was a job well done.