Online conferencing: participant preferences for networking and collaboration

Murphy, Angela and Antonio, Amy (2013) Online conferencing: participant preferences for networking and collaboration. In: Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia Distance Education Summit (ODLAA 2013): Eeducation Across Space and Time: Meeting the Diverse Needs of the Distance Learner, 4-6 Feb 2013, Sydney, Australia.

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Conferences and training events have, for many years, been perceived as a primary tool for improving professional knowledge and networking, resulting in improved competence and performance in practice. With the increasing economic and environmental costs associated with long-distance travel, many organisations have implemented environmental policies to limit meetings that involve travel and professionals are required to be more restrained with the number and range of professional development opportunities they engage in. Online professional learning conferences or events have the potential to combine the e-learning models developed for online tertiary education with the needs of participants prevented from attending conferences as a result of time or travel restrictions.

Web conferencing software enables synchronous, internet-based collaboration and communication and is therefore ideally suited to enabling the interaction between facilitators and participants that is so valued in traditional face-to-face training or conference proceedings. The increasing use of social media platforms and the availability of interactive spaces has also increased opportunities for dispersed participants to collaborate, share and network long after completion of the event.
This study was aimed at identifying participant perceptions towards social networking and trends in the use of online and social networking tools provided for use during an online conference, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Three primary sources of data were collected during a recent online conference to achieve these aims. The conference was delivered through the web conferencing system, Blackboard Collaborate, and ran non-stop for 48 hours, with consecutive handovers between partners in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada. The non-stop nature of the event aimed to mirror a 24-hour digital society and the 21st century learner who wants to be engaged with other learners around the world at all the times.

The first data source was the recordings from the online conference technology, 'Blackboard Analytics', which included such information as drop-out rates and active participation in live sessions, such as whether or not the participant used the chat function. The second data source was the actual content of the online chat boxes during each session and the frequency and content of any discussions posted via the conference social media environments. Content analysis was used to assess the themes and types of discussions generated in these environments. The final data source was a summative online survey that requested information about participation trends and use of social media during the conference and in general. The data from these three resources, as well as recommendations for encouraging collaboration during online conferences, are presented visually using an info-graphic presentation style.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Poster)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA) 2013
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Australian Digital Futures Institute
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2013 01:48
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2017 05:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: higher education; online conferencing; networking; collaboration
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130306 Educational Technology and Computing
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930202 Teacher and Instructor Development
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930203 Teaching and Instruction Technologies

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