This year, the annual gathering of CollegeSource software users and staff members transitioned to a fully virtual environment. Although cancelling the in-person event was the right decision, we knew “the show must go on…LINE!” so we could still share important product updates, lead in-depth training sessions, and provide a platform for our customers to share their own successes and best practices with their peers.
The 2020 CollegeSource Virtual Conference, free for all CollegeSource software users, was held June 22-26, 2020. There were 16 live sessions with Q&A, 18 brand new on-demand sessions, 6 virtual networking events, and 3 interactive panels led by our Client Advisory Board (CAB) and resident product experts, a.k.a. the Wizards. Attendees who registered also gained access to our session archives including over 50 presentations from the 2019 conference. While attendees could tune in live only during the conference week, the recordings for all sessions are available to view through the end of the year and newcomers can still join in.*
Highlights and Statistics
With this being our first-ever virtual conference we were not sure what to expect, but our community showed up! We had nearly 1,300 registrants, over 900 logged into the portal during the conference week, and attendees spent over 17k minutes logged in with over 11k session views. Thank you to everyone who participated!
Highest Live Attendance:
TES Updates, Opening Session, uAchieve Updates
Highest Networking Event Attendance:
Closing Reception Happy Hour, Guided Chair Yoga, Coffee Kickstart – Tuesday
Most Watched On-Demand:
Condition Codes in uAchieve Transfer Articulation, Course Matching Options – On Beyond Courses, Supporting College-Wide Retention Efforts with TES
Most Facebook Live Views:
Monday Overview, Post-Opening Session Interview with Troy Holaday, Interview with the Client Advisory Board
Networking and Social
Networking can be a challenge in-person, so we wanted to get creative and find ways to engage attendees during sessions and throughout the week. Live sessions were moderated by our staff so that attendees watching live could ask questions, we had daily Coffee Kickstarts to facilitate small group discussions, we offered guided Chair Yoga, and closed the week with a Zoom Happy Hour. We still gave out awards and the 2020 Sourcie Winners were gracious in sending us videos of themselves accepting. We encouraged attendees to network within the portal and share photos. We streamed live on Facebook every day. Getting to “see” everyone this way was definitely the best part of the week for us!
It is always our goal to provide the best possible experience and learning environment for our users, and we strive to do so by considering the comments and suggestions we receive from attendees in our post-conference surveys.
The feedback we received this year was overwhelmingly positive, and included many great suggestions for future virtual training. Several users pointed out their appreciation of accessibility, including the ease of access to watch (and re-watch) sessions within the conference portal, the closed captions added to every recording, as well as the ability for fellow colleagues who may normally not attend to be able to participate because it was online.
“I thought the format was wonderful, and it exceeded my expectations. I was involved with a different virtual conference and it didn’t go so great, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. But it was great! Not that I would ever want to see the in-person conference go away, but having it virtually meant many staff members throughout our system could attend since there was no cost associated with it. In the past, they have not been allowed to attend due to the high cost/travel fees.”
“First and foremost, I appreciated being able to attend at all. My institution restricted travel due to COVID-19 and is being understandably cautious with the budget. If you hadn’t gone remote and offered this free of charge I would not be able to participate. I love hearing about the updates to the product I use daily. And I find a great deal of value in learning more about the product that I know I don’t use to its fullest capacity.”
(When asked what was enjoyed most) “That I could ‘attend’ multiple sessions easily! That there were a mix of Live and On-Demand sessions available. That each one is being recorded, and available anytime… although this was the case previously also. The Virtual Conference portal was extremely well managed. You just didn’t cancel or postpone the 2020 conference, you killed it – in a good way ;). This show that you have put up makes it very evident how much you value your partners (clients)! Kudos CollegeSource!”
“My first-time attendee staff said it definitely stood up to all the hype the rest of the team who have been able to attend the conference always talked about!”
See you next year!
An online conference is a new concept for most people, so the day-to-day work continues to pile up, meetings are scheduled at the same time as live sessions, and attendees have to balance trying to get the most out of the conference week while also trying to keep up with their already full workload. That’s the primary reason we limited our sessions to a handful each day, and are keeping the portal open, so that the sessions can be accessed and revisited at a convenient pace. We recognize that a virtual conference is something that’s going to take time to perfect, but we are determined to continue providing the best training options and experiences as possible for our users. We don’t know what next June will bring, but we look forward to celebrating our 50th year in business with you all.
*Access the virtual conference all year long.
All attendees receive access to the session recordings in the conference portal through December 31, 2020. For those who were not able to attend during the week of the conference, registration is still open and free for CollegeSource software users to watch all sessions with the exception of the networking events.