2021 Virtual Open edX Conference Recap

@braden @antoviaque Was there anything in this year’s conference that would be worth any of us watching or commenting on? Was it a worthwhile exercise to have it virtually, or was it a waste of time?

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@jill The recorded talks bit wasn’t great imho – I often found my attention wandering off, and I don’t think there was much gain from doing that bit synchronously, especially since the platform was buggy and lagging, making many of us miss part of the talks. I would have preferred getting the recordings that I could have chosen and watched on my own time (and not a 5h marathon that let my brain fried), and instead focused more on the social interactions.

The talk from Sanjay Sarma about the Future of Education was interesting though, as well as @braden’s about LabXchange for those who don’t know the project :) – and some interesting bits in the State of Open edX Community and Architecture Engineering, which might be the most directly relevant to watch, but there wasn’t much most of us already don’t know though.

The gather space, the AmAs and the questions to the panelists were definitely the most interesting and engaging parts, though a lot of it was still too much structured as a one-way talk, and there wasn’t much time and space left for more unstructured conversations and social interactions. Though I do understand that for a first attempt, it’s probably better to be a bit too structured, rather than a big unstructure mess :)

I think @Fox or @gabriel you are planning to post a recap/review here too no btw? Maybe you, or @braden , will have had a different perception :)

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The talks were pre-recorded? Sigh.

@antoviaque sure, I’ll write up a quick summary. I’ll probably move it (along with your review) to a separate thread, so that it’s obvious to other team members that we’re discussing the conference. cc. @Fox @braden

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Sprint Updates - Non-cell team members

I think the event was a success, in spite of technical hiccups with the pre-recorded talks. I personally very much enjoyed attending the event. It was nice to “meet” with familiar faces, and new people as well. More than 300 people attended the event.

In regard to sponsoring the event, as the main sponsor: I’m not sure if we’ll gain any new net business as a result of our sponsorship, but I think it reflects and consolidates our leading position in the community.

I have compiled the following feedback from myself and members of the marketing working group (with whom I’ve met earlier today):

Positive takeaways

  • The length was appropriate (half-day or so)
  • The time was appropriate (morning for the Americas, afternoon for Europe, evening for Asia)
  • Gather was really fun. It is the clear winner of the conference, based on the feedback received so far. I even heard that edX will probably use Gather for internal events. I’m glad we suggested it :slight_smile:
  • People appreciated that none of the tech required users to install something.
  • The Gather space made me (and other people from the martketing group) feel like they were “in an actual conference”, at least to a point.
  • Gather worked without a glitch, even with 150+ people present in the space (I think I heard about issues with Firefox… or maybe this was about Loudswarm?)

Things to improve

  • More time should have been allocated for AMAs/questions
  • Advance access to the pre-recorded talks would have been great, and then host the live event in a flipped-classroom style as @antoviaque suggested, with a focus on discussions
  • High/confusing number of platforms (Loudswarm, Jitsi, Gather, Slack)

Other things to consider for a future virtual event

  • It seems like people really wanted to discuss. Idea: host online meetups on Gather, maybe every 3-6 months? To be discussed in the conference work group.
  • Idea: Incentivize attendees to “do something” in Gather, or set up activites (ice breakers, longer/better planned BoF talks, etc.) and allow proper time for it.
  • People hosting discussions and AMAs should record their screen so that people can watch afterwards
  • Gather does almost everything: discussion, presentation, etc. → maybe host everything there next time?

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I feel like your assessment is pretty dead on, @gabriel .

I was especially happy with how Gather worked. I got to talk with a few of our clients as well as a couple of interested people-- so there are some leads we will be able to follow up on for this. One of them was talking about VR learning integration, which sounds like a lot of fun :slight_smile:

I also spent some time going around and getting to know some people, like Regis with Tutor and then a few of the other companies who are doing Open edX deployments. I’m glad to hear that Open edX was pleased with Gather as a platform and am looking forward to seeing it used more in the future.

I’m glad that the talks will be available for watching for a while longer, since the glitches were pretty bad in a number of places-- I was surprised. I was also amused listening to one speaker tell us that the ‘optimal length for a lecture is about 10 minutes’ about 11 or 12 minutes into his talk. :stuck_out_tongue: But he didn’t make the schedule, so I suppose it makes sense.