This year, however, we encountered an unforeseeable problem – the global pandemic, COVID-19. With major events and gatherings worldwide being postponed or cancelled, it was only right for us to cancel our last two local events, transforming them into one online experience. Sounds easy, right?
With just two weeks to take our agenda and condense it down to three hours of learning, whilst making the experience as valuable as the face-to-face event, we encountered a few trials and tribulations. But for those of you wondering how we created our recent digital learning experience, here’s how we did it and what we learned from the process.
Things to contemplate when considering to host an online event:
Communicating the change
Firstly, we needed to notify everyone who’d already signed up that our remaining local events had been cancelled and would be replaced with one live online event. This took some time as we had to make sure that our customers were actually reading our emails. To help this, we sent the email and asked for confirmation of receipt and our terrific team of Learning Consultants followed up to ensure everyone was aware of the recent changes. For us, it was important this information did not go unnoticed as we didn’t want our customers travelling to the venue when we wouldn’t be there to meet them.
The next hurdle – onboarding our customers. Anyone who had booked onto one of the face-to-face events was automatically signed up to the online experience. We also sent an email to anyone who had previously shown an interest in our local events but either couldn’t make it or had to cancel last minute, as well as all the key contacts for the organizations we work with. Our main priority was to ensure everyone had the opportunity to join us online.
As more and more customers began to work from home, the Learning Pool Live online event became the perfect event for them and numbers rapidly increased.
Preparing the platform for the live event
Being a tech company, we appreciate the task of putting together a live online event is perhaps a much easier feat for us than it would be for many other organizations. Having said that, there are lots of free tools available to help ensure a smooth online experience.
Our Learning Experience Platform, Stream was the backbone of the experience. Our attendees were onboarded onto the platform and the focus areas within Stream were used as the different elements of the event; for example, the introduction with host, David Meade, the keynote from Donald Clark and the masterclasses hosted by our Learning Consultants.
Vimeo embedded within Stream LXP was used to capture the live stream from our office in Derry – don’t worry, only our essential speakers were in the office and we adhered to the Government’s advice with social distancing measures in place. Our remote speakers were then filmed using Zoom and this was fed into the Vimeo live stream.
To ensure the seamless transition across video and sound feeds to remote people, we hired an external company (Switch New Media). A mini studio was set up in the office and this helped to manage the transition between live speakers in Derry and those broadcasting remotely via Zoom. If you’re not particularly tech savvy, we cannot recommend that last part enough!
Ensuring learning value was achieved
With an agenda already in place for a six hour long, face-to-face event, we faced a significant challenge in either condensing the content down to just three hours or coming up with a new agenda altogether.
Realizing we were likely to host a larger audience than originally planned, we decided on an entirely new plan for the day. We also needed to account for the fact that of the customers attending not all of them would be using the same products from the Learning Pool ecosystem and therefore, might have different learning needs. So we aimed for an agenda that covered broader learning and current trend topics to make it relevant and worthwhile for all.
What did we learn?
On the content side of things, we’re fairly confident we got it pretty spot-on, covering a varying range of topics and feedback from our attendees has mostly confirmed that. Having said that, we are aware that some topics will have been more relevant for some than others so next time we think it would be a good idea to offer ‘breakout sessions’ so that customers can choose the talks they’re best suited to.
One of the main aspects of face-to-face conferences and events that customers value is the opportunity to network, to meet their peers and discuss the projects they’ve been working on. But encouraging people to participate and engage with one another when sat behind a computer screen poses a significant challenge. To overcome this, we held the ‘show us your workspace’ competition which invited attendees to share a photo of their work from home station with the most unique ones winning a prize.
However, in the future, we think there is more to be done and we believe a ‘networking’ focus area within the LXP might be the answer. This way, our customers can share their own views, asking questions and feel encouraged to think about the content in a different way. Kahoot quizzes, live polls and even having a live stream of questions from attendees that are fed back to the presenters to answer are a great way of improving the interaction within your virtual event.
Our final tips, tricks and things to remember
If you were unable to attend any of our face-to-face Learning Pool Live Locals or the live online event, you can access the recordings here. If you’re interested in any of our new remote working or COVID-19 related material, you can also access our free Coronavirus Essentials Library now.
Get started by telling us what you need and one of our team will be in touch very soon.
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