Written by Debra Wingfield
If you’ve never been involved with planning a large scale event, working on a planning group, like the one for the eACH Conference 2016, is an exciting experience. Our team is made of up experienced planners who have done this now for a few years and a few novices who are “learning the ropes” as we go.
For me, that’s exactly why I volunteered. I want to learn more about what it takes to pull a conference like this together! I attended the conference last year and was impressed by the organization, the quality of the presenters, the amount of inspiration I got and the camaraderie of the committee. Getting involved also gives me the opportunity to strengthen the connections I have with the local eLearning community. So far, I am learning a lot and getting a chance to watch some very savvy people in action.
One of the key things I’ve learned so far is that it takes a lot of organization to get things rolling. There are role descriptions for each of the planning teams and each team has a director or team of directors. Some of the teams also have a junior person, such as me, tagging along and helping out. I truly don’t know what I don’t know – and am learning on the fly. I feel sometimes like a fish out of water, flailing about, trying to anticipate what I should be doing or how I should be contributing. But the planning committee is incredibly supportive and it’s been a good experience so far.
I got to choose the sub-committee I’m working on – Social Media and Marketing – so I’ve been very lucky to be able to work with Tracy Parish. She is an active blogger, tweeter and elearning guru who is always full of great ideas and willing to share her knowledge and expertise with others. I chose Social Media for two reasons – firstly, to be able to work with Tracy, and secondly because I do not work or live in Toronto, where most of the directors either work or live, and I wanted to be able to contribute virtually.
The geographical disbursement of our membership, as I suspected when first joining the committee, creates communication challenges. Fortunately we’ve got some great technology to help us communicate and overcome those challenges. So far I’ve used email (of course), Slack (a great app for team collaboration), Google Circles and Docs, Doodle Polls, Zoom Conferencing and I am sure I will use a few others before the conference is upon us in July.
The planning committee currently meets once a month (and no doubt will meet even more frequently as the conference draws closer) either in person at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Ken Murray, our Administrative Director, calls “Sick Kids” home, at least from a work perspective, so he has arranged for anyone who wants to attend in person to meet there and those that can’t join in virtually. Thank you Ken! Since Sick Kids is located in downtown Toronto, there are a few other committee members who either work there or at hospitals nearby and it’s great opportunity for them to see each other in person and network.
Although the majority of the committee is from the Greater Toronto Area (known to locals as the GTA), work schedules, hospital location and even transportation are barriers to face-to-face meetings. For some of us, it’s over an hour to get to the meeting location by train, subway and foot. Somehow that doesn’t seem to faze the committee members, as there is a lot of work being accomplished in a very short time frame. From finding and booking keynote speakers, arranging the venue, recruiting concurrent session presentations, sending out email blasts, talking to sponsors, updating the website, planning the program to organizing the pre-conference education, this has been a very busy committee!
What I’ve been impressed with is the level of commitment of members of this committee. We all have our regular day jobs at each of our hospitals and yet are still able to contribute, organize, coordinate and manage all the details. It’s no doubt because we value what we do and know how much good learning, whether it’s online or in a conference format, can transform someone in a positive way. All of us want your conference experience to be a good one and that’s one of the reasons we’re so invested in what we’re doing.
That’s what we want for everyone who attends eACH Conference 2016. Not only will you learn about elearning and leave with some nifty tips and tricks that you can immediately apply in your own practice, but you will be inspired to do great things! And in the end, a little inspiration can go a long way to helping you solve your own learning challenges.
Join us for inspiration at eACH 2016!