I have worked at several conferences over the past couple of months, that have attempted to extend their services into the blogosphere and other planes of Read/Write web activity. I know of several others who will be attempting to implement web 2.0 features in the near future.
So here are some of the things that I’ve seen, that seemed to work — and a couple of ideas that I’ve thought up by myself. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll refer to the Our State Technology in Education Conference, or OSTEC:
- Communication: The conference should have a web page linked from the front page of the site. It might be called something like OSTEC Extended. This page could link to online handouts and other standard resources, but also include information about Web 2.0 features such as suggested tags, links to and information about the conference blog, links to conference wikis, and an aggregation of conference related blogs and pictures. You might also include a search box that will search conference blogs for key words.
Also, consider sending out e-mail and snail-mail notices of your Web 2.0 features — especially to presenters. A conference blog is an excellent place for speakers to promote their sessions.
- Tagging: Suggesting a tag for conference bloggers and photographers makes it easy to aggregate the discussion into a single page and into attendees (and lurker’s) aggregatores. There are three essential rules for establishing a conference tag. It should be simple, simple, and simple. The simplest tag is ostec (or fetc or whatever). Many conferences, though, are adding the year, asking bloggers and photographers to tag their material with ostec2006. It is probably wise to aggregate both tags.
- Conference blog: Several conferences I have worked in the past couple of weeks have offered a conference blog. This is easy to do with Blogger. Post the e-mail address of the owner of the conference blog, usually the communications officer of the association. People who want to blog, send the e-mail request, and the blog owner:
- logs into blogger,
- clicks the “Settings” tab, and
- then “Members”.
- Then paste in the return address of the person requesting to blog, and click “Save Settings”.
An e-mail goes to the person with a link that will click them in as a user. If they are not already a member of Blogger, they will have to establish an account.
- Photos: Include, in the conference extension page, instructions for tagging photos uploaded to flickr with the conference tag. Also include instructions for creating a flickr e-mail address, for people with mobile phones that can e-mail pictures. Designate someone with a mobile phone to take regular pictures at the conference for e-mailing to flickr.
- Wiki Notes (advanced): Establish a conference wiki and set up a page for each presentation. Then set up a way that attendees can add their notes to the wiki for their presentation. I have done this with my presentations, with varying degrees of success. When it works, it is a great service.
- Session blogs: Ask presenters to establish tags for their sessions, encouraging attendees to blog about the session, including their insights.
- Infrastructure: Hands-down, this is a necessity. Have wireless Internet in every session room. It should be robust and dependable. If there is a password required, it should be posted on the wall in every room.
- Blog Reporters. Establish conference blog-o-reporters. Also establish a team of podcasters, who go around recording interviews with attendees and with selected presenters. Reporters and podcasters might be pre-service education students.
- Podcasts & Webcasts: Podcast (or Webcast) selected sessions. Be careful about seeking permission to podcast sessions, especially from people who make a living by delivering presentations. They may be reluctant to grant permission, or they may be eager to.
- Training: Consider offering a pre-conference (day-before or early morning) session on Web 2.0 and the conference, helping participants to establish a blog, set up an aggregator, or other applications that will enable a more productive conference and to help them to contribute more ideas to the conference.
These are just 10 tips. Please add by commenting on this blog entry.