Future Perfect: How to Produce Great Online Conferences
The BC Museums Association and Heritage BC have embarked together on Future Perfect, an initiative funded by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund. The work is led by Inga Petri, Strategic Moves and her uniquely qualified team includes Lynn Feasey, Points North Consulting, and Jason Guille, Stream Of Consciousness.
Through Future Perfect, they will rethink, research and develop new models for online conference experiences that take advantage of the strengths of the digital world and mitigate its weaknesses.
In the sudden rush toward digital due to COVID-19, the needs of arts service organizations to connect with each other, our members, and the wider sector have been difficult to meet effectively. The relative novelty in our sector of online video chats and webinars is quickly wearing thin as the level of large group engagement meets the limits of these readily available digital tools. We also see that event organizers, hosts and speakers – many who are relative newcomers to these digital spaces – have not fully made the leap toward digital engagement, learning and interaction in a virtual conference or meeting. There is a knowledge gap about how to structure conference content in the digital world, and how to create digital experiences that are valuable for and valued by participants.
Through Future Perfect, we seek to create a comprehensive framework for a new breed of digital conferences which are more accessible, more affordable, and minimize the digital divide that impedes communities with less access to high-speed internet from participating fully online. This new framework can be adopted by other disciplines, such as performing and visual arts organizations that present and share knowledge through conferences, and other events.
This project will assess existing online collaboration tools, video conferencing and cloud-based information repositories and how they could be integrated or used to deliver an excellent equivalent conference experience. We will also gather information and input on what makes digital engagement and participating worthwhile for speakers and participants. And we will explore behavioural dimensions of the use of digital tools for work during this pandemic to learn what the persistent behaviours might be beyond the present crisis.