Thanks to all who attended the December online conference, Serving the 21st Century Patron, and special thanks to those who gave us their feedback in the post-conference survey.
Building on what attendees told us after last February’s conference, Technology Essentials 2010, we made some tweaks to the format for this one. But, our main goal was once again to provide a conference experience to those who can’t normally attend conferences due to budget issues or other resource constraints. And we also enjoy encouraging attendees to play with online learning, social tools, and to collaborate with colleagues from across the miles.
Some of the changes we made:
- We shared a set of Best Practices for Cohorts attending Online Conferences. 35% of respondents indicated they attended conference sessions with colleagues or as a cohort and anywhere from 2-18 people gathered at a time.
- We reduced the number of sessions per day, to accommodate as many timezones as possible.
- We experimented with a Battledecks session, (we think the first-ever online Battledecks!) and heard mixed reviews of the format:
“REALLY enjoyed Battledecks with the presenters! I give them a lot of credit and it was a fun relaxing way (for the audience anyway) to end the webinar especially some of the silly chat.”
“All were good, but the Battledecks session was not as helpful to me as the rest.”
“I know you were trying out Battledecks. It did not work well in the webinar setting. Good job for trying something new.”
“Battledecks was a scream! Much Fun.”
“Battledecks was a new concept and I wish the overall explanation could have been a bit better (or maybe I needed to scrub out my ears more). Anyway, I caught on and it was a fun exercise to watch and comment.”
“Battledecks! It’s like an informal wrap-up of the whole conference…”
According to the survey responses, 95% of attendees agreed that the conference content was “relevant to my library”; 91% agreed that the content “will help me in my work”; 95% agreed that the content was “worth sharing with my colleagues.”
To make sure that we know what we are getting right, we asked respondents to list one thing they thought was done particularly well, and here are the top responses:
- Interactive format (chat, twitter, presenters and moderators engaged)
- Presenters (prepared, clear, quality of presentation)
- Interesting/relevant/timely topics
- Clear instructions/tech support
- Time management of sessions and transitions
And as always, we wanted to hear where there could be improvements and these topped the list:
- Audio Quality
- More engaged and prepared presenters, vetted presentations
- Breaks: more, less, or 30 minute lunch break (hard for us to accommodate with so many timezones!)
- More online conferences (working on it!)
- More chat/less chat/chat distracting/private chat
We asked what topics would be of interest for future conferences and here are the top 10 suggestions:
- Tough Times (economic challenges for libraries and patrons)
- Programming (Adult, Teen, Children)
- Reference and Readers Advisory
- Staffing and Performance
- Fundraising and Grants
- Collections (managing, cataloging and circulating)
- Leadership, prioritization
And there were lots of other great ideas and comments shared:
“Definitely felt like I was getting training “from the trenches”…I was being taught by people with experience practicing what they were preaching…not someone presenting a cookie-cutter class about something they’ve never done or even seen first-hand.”
“That we could tune in as a group or individually!”
“As the director of a library with no budget for continuing education and a small staff, I really appreciate these free webinars both for the content and the ease of use.”
“Conferences like this help me get beyond the day to day to see the bigger picture.”
With this valuable feedback, we plan to offer another, even better conference in the future on one or more of the topics you suggested. Stay in touch with Crossroads to learn about this and other events at WebJunction.