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It is still a time of online conferences, unidirectional presentations, hardly any audience interaction, very few questions, virtual meeting fatigue…does it have to be like this? The definitive answer is: NO! The DATE 2022 BarCamp organizer team consisting of Anton Klotz, Georg Gläser, Christoph Wagner and Gregor Nitsche came together to prove that online conferences can be highly interactive and multidirectional for highly motivated presenters and attendees. All it requires is the right recipe consisting of a good format, intriguing platform and some courage to pitch a topic and lead a session.
The motivated organizers
The first ingredient is a good format and BarCamp isn’t just good, it’s a great format for interaction, as there is no agenda beforehand, instead, attendees have to pitch their topics, then attendees vote for topics, and the pitches with the highest number of votes are added to the agenda. Each topic is a 45 minute brainstorming session, there is no presentation, no slides, just questions, answers, discussions, and notes on a digital whiteboard. Almost always, after the 45 minutes, new ideas are born, new action items are decided, and new partnerships are created.
The second ingredient is choosing an intriguing platform. During the DATE 2021 BarCamp there was an extensive use of Zoom’s breakout room feature, where the attendees could join a room with the session they were interested in and miro boards were used for quick sketches and documentation of the session. This time the organizers went one step further and created a whole virtual world with arena, coffee rooms, discussion houses, billboards, and mailboxes. The platform was provided by workadventu.re and everyone’s reaction after entering the world for the first time was always the same, “How cute!” In order to increase the cuteness, the attendee can even select a variety of cats as companions. But besides the cuteness factor, the most important feature is the ability to interact with avatars, when two or more avatars are close to each other, a video chat opens. And while chatting, it is possible to open Miro boards and capture the ideas during the sessions.
The third ingredient is motivated attendees, who are courageous enough to pitch their own topics and lead a session. As you can see from the agenda, there is a wide variety of topics and the attendees must be open minded so they can take in the breadth of discussions. We really mean it when we say you are able to pitch anything, and this is exactly the advantage, open minded attendees can contribute to the topic with unbiased questions and opinions, this is how the best ideas are born!
At the end of an exciting, but also exhausting day, the organizers were able to show, that it is possible to reach high levels of interaction, engagement and fun at online conferences, but still everyone misses real meetings, not via video and microphone, so it has been decided to do a live BarCamp event as soon as time and regulations permit it. Stay tuned for the announcement of the next edaBarCamp!