Taking Part as a Virtual Attendee

As ITAKOM approaches, whether you’ve already registered to attend virtually or are still deciding, here is a useful overview provided by ITAKOM’s Programme Chair Sue Fletcher-Watson, together with her Top-Tips for those joining us around the world! 

How is the Programme Structured? 

This exciting two-day programme is based around the following elements: 

  • Plenary keynote lectures, delivered live at the venue and simultaneously broadcast
  • Parallel sessions: a choice of three sessions at any one time include Big Talks, Topics and Panel sessions, all of which will be broadcast. So, digital attendees will be able to watch live from home as a panel of individually miked and professionally filmed experts from a range of perspectives, debate key issues of neurodiversity’s impact in healthcare, education, workplaces and communities
  • Stories:  this fourth track will run a sequence of pre-recorded Stories submitted in advance. Because they are all recorded, digital attendees can dip in to view the loop whenever you would like, just as in Edinburgh, people can drop into a room to view them.
  • Workshops: our 5th track is made up of eight workshops, available only to in-person attendees. That’s because we want to be cautious about broadcasting conversations that might sometimes be private, and we don’t expect the format to translate well for online attendees.  

Note: a handful of our talks will be pre-recorded by the speakers themselves, generally because of where they are around the globe and our consideration for whether it is reasonable, affordable, and sustainable to fly them to Edinburgh for two days! Those talks will be broadcast live to our digital attendees, and the live audience at EICC in Edinburgh. 

What if I Miss a Live Broadcast Session? 

We realise that a big reason to attend ITAKOM online is because you are far away from Edinburgh and may be in a different time zone.  

After the live event, we will be making all broadcast sessions available for 90 days to all registered attendees, so don’t worry if you cannot be with us real-time or want to view something that’s running at the same time as your first choice. Once the live event has ended, we’ll be setting up broadcast recordings as fast as possible and you’ll be able to select whatever you want to view in the weeks following the live event.  

Will I have access to Abstracts and Posters? 

You will! Another way to promote a “level playing field” for attendees joining online is our decision to facilitate only digital “e-posters” in our Poster Chat sessions.  You’ll be able to browse posters and the original abstracts, on your screen, using a range of key words. You can directly message the lead author to ask questions too, although in this case, they might not be answered at the very moment you ask them. This is because during the designated poster groups, authors maybe busy chatting with other attendees at the live conference.  

Can Digital Attendees ask a Question During a Session? 

Yes, this will be easy via the ITAKOM Conference App, which will be downloadable before the conference. For every broadcast session, there will be an online discussion board in the App where you can post questions to the speakers. In fact, even those physically present at the conference will post their questions in the same way (using the Conference App). This means that all questions will have equal status and opportunity for answer – whether from someone in the auditorium or someone joining the conference online. Session chairs will select questions, read them out to speakers and invite speakers to answer live, for people in the room and those watching the broadcast remotely.  

Can Digital Attendees Contact other Attendees, In Person or Others Online? 

Yes, this will be facilitated on the ITAKOM Conference App. We want to make sure attendees at home can interact with each other, with in-person attendees, and with the speakers.  There will be a general chat function and the option to directly message a specific person (our Code of Conduct will provide a basis to throw out anyone who abuses this option).  

Why is the ITAKOM Virtual Registration Fee almost the same as the In-Person Fee? 

In-person attendees at ITAKOM incur specific costs: namely catering! But so do virtual attendees – we need to provide a sophisticated audio-visual set up to record and live-broadcast the programme content. In-person attendees do get some advantages, like getting to meet others at the event, and attend workshops.  But of course, online attendees don’t need to travel or pay for a hotel. All attendees get to access what we think is the real value: our speakers. So, we felt that we wanted to offer both options (online and in-person attendance) and we wanted to share the costs of staging the event between everyone.  

How can I Make ITAKOM a Really Great Experience if I’m Watching Online?! 

Registering to watch a conference online can feel like a big commitment when the day arrives.  Other demands on your time can prevent you from giving the sessions your full focus. Of course, you can catch-up later, but we really want our online attendees to feel part of the ITAKOM experience! To make the most of your online conference experience, we recommend: 

  • Consider registering with a colleague and watching some sessions together  
  • Create a wider group in your organisation or community to watch and discuss sessions together 
  • If you’re watching alone, try to set yourself up somewhere comfortable with a nice drink and snack – move away from your usual workspace and let yourself sink into the amazing ideas being shared.  

Please also join the discussions we’re having on social media, via our twitter account and #ITAKOM, on LinkedIn, or Instagram. Sue has found that live tweeting the talk she is watching is an amazing way to resist the pull of her email!  

 Like everything at ITAKOM, we can’t promise that the online experience will be 100% perfect for everyone, all the time.  But we CAN guarantee that we have thought hard about how to make this conference accessible and open, we’ve planned carefully to avoid common problems, and we’ve invested in reliable kit and expert support. In fact, we’re doing all we can to make sure the It Takes All Kinds Of Minds conference works for All Kinds Of Delegates. 

I am excited about what we can all learn and contribute together, and I look forward to welcoming you digitally or in person to Edinburgh in March 23! 

Sue Fletcher-Watson,