Settling in for EuroTLC 2020

It’s nearly time for the 2020 edition of the European Teaching & Learning Conference. We were going to be in Amsterdam, enjoying all the nice weather we’ve been having, but now we’re doing it at mine.

We’re going to need cushions. Lots of cushions.

And yours.

A fully-virtual conference is new ground for me (and for most of us), so as one of the organisers I’ve wanted to try and make the most of the opportunity to try out some different things to keep people engaged.

During the two days, we’ll be having lots of different types of sessions, with plenty of loo breaks, and nothing more than an hour. We’re flipping stuff and setting challenges, and generally asking all our participants to think about interaction as a key objective.

From the teaser videos we’ve received, it’s already clear that this has really been taken to heart and I think the record-breaking registration figures bear out how much of an impact this has.

Of course, the proof will be in the eating and I’m starting to think about how I’m going to be engaged myself.

With the best will in the world, I’m going to assume that we’re not going to get everyone logging in for every session they can, but rather a more piecemeal approach. Indeed, that’s one reason we wanted presenters to create materials to be shared/viewed after the event.

But as someone with a solid schedule of chairing/hosting Zoom calls for two days, I’m in it for the long-haul.

Part of that will be a move to a different room, since my (now) usual space is really bad for lighting, plus it’s the room where we eat. My thought is to get the comfy chair into the sitting room, check that only the fancy books are visible behind me and then hunker down.

But it’s also going to be about finding the right balance of chairing, taking notes for myself and going some live-tweeting for others (on #EuroTLC2020, hashtag fans). From previous experience, it’s not possible to do all 3 simultaneously at a face-to-face event, and hard to do for even a short time online, so something will have to give.

Fortunately, the pub quiz for the evening is self-marking (thanks Google Forms), so we don’t have that to worry about, although who knows how it’ll be to be distanced while doing this.

However, the biggest concern remains good intentions.

Having talked with many colleagues about this event, there is a very positive vibe and a fond memory of previous editions in Prague, Brussels and Maastricht. But will that translate into the kind of participation that makes the most of the potential we envisage?

I’d hope so, but when I look at all the other things I have to do on my list – not least the various meetings I’m excusing myself from on the days themselves – I can see that there is likely to be a limit to what can be done.

Still, we travel hopefully – and we’ve got some great activities to get people in the mood at the start of the event – so I’ll report back, maybe with some more guest authors to share their great ideas.

Now, where’s that extra big cushion gone?