The #et4online virtual participant - no longer wants to be virtual!

I'm too excited about the upcoming #et4online to settle for virtual participation

I'm still a big fan of virtual conference participation. It works great for people who cannot travel to a lot of conferences for financial or social reasons. I still strongly believe in the power of social media to enhance one's virtual conference participation.

So why do I really really really want to go to the 2015 #et4online in person? Three main reasons:

  1. I've been fortunate enough to be chosen as a steering committee member, and we have an awesome, awesome team of people who met for the first time this week on Bb collaborate (and my internet cooperated; 3G kicked in for my iPad when the electricity was cut 3/4 of the way thru the meeting). I've never met a single one of the team in person but know many from twitter. I'd love to be able to meet them after months of hopefully working together productively;
  2. As a steering committee member, I now know who the keynote/plenary sessions are - and I had goosebumps hearing the names; some of them are people I am absolutely DYING to meet in person (one of them I've been dying to meet in person for ages). I'm also dying to meet many people I think will be attending as well.
  3. I'll be working mainly on a sub-committee for virtual participants. I think that one way of knowing whether I've done a good job of enhancing virtual participants' experiences, is to attend face-to-face in order to compare the two, and see if there is potential for future conferences to offer more to virtual participants. If that makes sense?
  4. My f2f colleagues have met some of the et4online/Sloan-C folks at another conference and I have not met them myself yet! That's frustrating ;) I'm jealous :(
  5. It's in Dallas again. I used to live in Houston. I'd love to be back in Texas again.
  6. There is a risk that things can go wrong when attending a conference virtually, as I said during #blend14 - this is fine, but I don't want it to happen if I've been on the steering committee; I want to be able to enjoy the fruits :)

What's standing in my way?

  1. Family: should I bring my preschooler with me (which would entail another family member traveling with me)? Will that be too exhausting, too financially straining? It's hard to travel all the way from Egypt for just 5 days. More days would help make the trip less exhausting and give us a chance to visit Houston where we used to live, but... again, more financially straining, and more time away from work... Should I leave my kid and just go alone? I'd be better able to focus on the conference but it'd be the first time I leave her. Is it worth it?
  2. Will it be a good time teaching-wise to travel? It'll be just after Spring break, probably an important time in my teaching as I usually teach a module the last 1/3 of the semester. How can I manage that, especially if I only meet them just after Spring break?
  3. Finances: is this conference one my university will be willing to sponsor?
  4. A philosophical one, this: since I truly do believe in the value of virtual conference participation, maybe I'd better attend virtually for that reason alone. Make sure my work for virtual participants ends up helping me enjoy my virtual participation more than last year :)

Still trying to decide, lots of time still... I know there will be other opportunities, but I'd like to seize this one... I have not been to a conference outside Egypt since 2010. I didn't have a child at the time, but I also didn't know that one day there would be a conference where I knew a lot of the speakers & attendees in advance - and how exciting it would be to meet them. I did not imagine that one day I'd be on a steering committee of an international conference, and a big one in my field like #et4online. Maybe I'm hyper-excited and should calm down... but let me tell you what would excite me more? If I knew more people who were going!

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