The Digital Engagement Council recently wrote an article about The American Institute of Physics’ FACETS report which examined the current and possible future state of scientific conferences. Here are some descriptions of innovative virtual conferences that have taken place over the last year:

  • APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) are three-day regional conferences for undergraduate physics majors which have the goal of helping undergraduate women network. Events are scheduled so that all participants in all regions can join in simultaneously. Community building is encouraged – for example, a video chat is held to take a “group” picture of all the regional meetings together. The undergraduate audience means that the reduced travel and registration costs due to the virtual format is appealing;
  • Society of Women Engineers “WE 20” went from a one-week conferences to a virtual event schedule spread out over two weeks. Session materials are now available for up to one year.  Gamification was also used to gather data on how attendees engaged with the conference content and reward engagement with badges and recognition;
  • Science Foo Camp from O’Reilly Media is an informal conference with no predefined agenda. Attendees collaborate to create the entire agenda on the first evening of the event. The emphasis is on discussion and networking rather than on the traditional series of talks and one-way transfer of information;
  • The Midwest Climate Summit includes participants from across sectors, such as academia, NGOs, municipalities, students, and activists and focuses on a specific topic, in a constrained time frame, concentrating on regional aspects that are part of an international program; and,
  • TEDx – which currently has 3000 events held annually – brings the format of TED to local communities around the world. The events are organized by individuals who have a message to share. TEDx events include live speakers and recorded TED Talks, and are organized independently under a free license granted by TED.