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Get the Most out of Online Conferences

Written by Haley Ruman

If you’re taking professional development courses this summer, they’ll most likely be online. Whether you’re experienced at online learning or new to it, I’ve got some tips to help you get the most out of online conferences this summer.

Don’t forget, if you’re interested in learning more about digital or blended learning models of instruction, sign up for our SmartLab eLearning 1-day conference on June 23. 

1. Explore the Sessions

Before the online conference begins, think about your goals. What do you want to learn? What information or ideas will help you this fall? Be sure to read the descriptions—not just the titles—of the conference offerings. This will help you prioritize which sessions will help you reach your goals, answer questions, or address the challenges you think you’ll face in the upcoming year.

For sessions you’re unsure about, check out the speaker. What’s their background? Are you looking for insight from an educator with similar job responsibilities to yours or a professional with different skills and experiences? 

Conference Insights: Because school this fall may mean more remote or blended learning, we’ve planned a number of sessions dedicated to implementing digital and blended models of instructions. I’m especially excited about these sessions: Flexible Models of SmartLab Learning, GSuite for Education to Support Digital Learning, SmartLab Learning @Home, and Adapting ePortfolios for Digital SmartLab Learning.

2. Plan Your Day

With PD being offered online, most event hosts will record sessions to be shared after the event. As you plan your day, decide which sessions would be better to attend live—like panel discussions or topics about which you have a lot of questions—versus presentation-style sessions that you could watch on demand. 

Conference Insights: During our 1-day conference, we’re offering 19 live sessions and a library of pre-recorded sessions. You’ll be able to access all of the sessions through August 31 so you’ll be ready for what the new school year brings! One session you won’t want to miss is Innovation Academy: Live Panel. Marcus Diamond, the SmartLab Facilitator from Weld Central High School, and some of his students will share how their experiences in the SmartLab inspired them to start their own drone videography business called Check It Out

3. Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities

It could be very easy to be an anonymous participant in an online conference. Instead, many online conference hosts provide opportunities to meet with and learn from other attendees. Whether it’s a virtual coffee break or a breakout session dedicated to collaborating with other educators, take advantage of these opportunities to make connections.

Conference Insights: We want you to connect with one another at our upcoming conference so we have breakout sessions for K–5 educators, 6–12 educators, administrators, and Student Broadcast Studio Facilitators. Bring your success stories, challenges, and questions.

4. Virtual Participation

Although participating in virtual conferences is different than in-person ones, presenters will likely work even harder to build in opportunities for questions and idea-sharing. Look for polls and Q&As to ask questions and help the presenter learn more about your background and needs.

Conference Insights: Expect lots of participation throughout our conference. When you register, login to the Whova app, head to the Community section and introduce yourself, ask questions, or start a discussion topic. Plus, you’ll be able to ask questions and participate in the Zoom chat during the live sessions. 

Connecting Virtually

Whether you’re attending the SmartLab eLearning 1-Day Online Conference or another online PD this summer, make the most of it by exploring the sessions beforehand, making a plan, connecting with others, and being an active participant. We hope to see you on June 23!

Haley Ruman
Haley Ruman
Sr. Educational Training Specialist

Haley Ruman is a Sr. Educational Training Specialist at Creative Learning Systems. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Childhood and Early Adolescent Education and a Master's of Education in learning and technology. Her passion for innovative teaching practices and high-quality tech integration led her to Creative Learning Systems where she works with educators across the country to implement student-led, project-based learning.

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