Using virtual tools to enhance your meeting or event

On 21 April 2021, Lou Woodley and Jenny East of the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE) hosted an interactive session on virtual events as part of the Code for Science & Society (CS&S) grantee workshop series. They focused on how to select and test online tools to help facilitate your meeting activities, and shared a guidebook to help you decide what tool to choose. This post, authored by Jenny and CSCCE’s communications director, Katie Pratt, gives an overview of the workshop and the motivation behind creating the guidebook. 

This post also appears on the CS&S Event Fund blog.

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New resource addresses virtual event security and dealing with “Zoom bombing”

For our March 2021 Tools Trial, we hosted a safety drill to refine how virtual event hosts can respond to “Zoom bombing.” As a result of the trial, this week we published a CSCCE tech tip sheet, which contains a series of checklists to help you and your team configure your meeting settings, plan out how you might respond in the event of a bad actor disrupting your event, and recover from the intrusion after the fact. 

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March’s community call recap – Sharing our collective learnings from a year of running and attending virtual events

For our March call we flipped the script, and instead of hosting presentations we made space for discussion on the broad topic of “virtual and hybrid events.” With so many members of our community of practice involved in convening events large and small over the last year, we had a hunch that by bringing us all together and carving out 90 minutes to talk, we could all learn a lot. And we weren’t disappointed! 

In this blog post, we summarize the key takeaways from the four parallel discussions that took place in breakout groups. The conversations included a valuable mix of lessons learned, ideas for supporting virtual and hybrid events in the future, and suggested resources. A big thank you to everyone who contributed, and especially our discussion moderators: Amber Budden, Emily Lescak, Chiara Bertipaglia, and Megan Carter. 

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CSCCE Tools Trial 2.0: Preparing for, and reacting to, Zoom bombing

After a year of working online and meeting virtually for many, we’ve grown accustomed to Zoom norms and etiquette. We all know to mute our microphones when we’re not talking, use the “raise hand” function to ask a question, and use the chat to easily share links and resources. 

Unfortunately, we’ve also grown accustomed to the threat of “Zoom bombing,” that awful situation when an outsider breaks into your virtual space, disrupts your meeting, and causes distress to your participants. While always a risk, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from such an eventuality. And, with practice, you can quickly kick a troublemaker out of your meeting, prevent them rejoining, and carry on with your event. 

Interested in finding out more? Join us on 25 March 2021 at 10am US EDT for our next CSCCE Community Tools Trial, and read on for more details. 

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CSCCE Community Tools Trial 2.0 Recap: Virtual networking events

In late February, we relaunched our Community Tools Trials. This time around we’ve adjusted the format to provide the time and space to solve a specific challenge related to hosting online events each month, by pooling the diverse experiences and knowledge of the members of our community of practice. 

Our earlier tools trials, “Tools Trials 1.0,” took a methodical approach to testing a variety of events platforms, with a primary focus on how the tool worked and what kinds of events it would be suited to (you can read our recap blog posts here). This series, however, “Tools Trials 2.0,” is putting the specific use case first, and then figuring out a solution (or choice of solutions!) that is engaging, inclusive, and accessible. 

The first of the 2.0 series took place on 25 February 2021, and focused on virtual networking events. Community member Rachael Ainsworth of the Software Sustainability Institute wanted to test out an icebreaker idea with a sizable group, as well as have a larger discussion about what icebreakers work online, what platforms are out there, and how different users might experience the event. 

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March’s community call – Virtual and hybrid meetings

For this month’s community call we’re going to try something a little different, and instead of hosting speakers, we will create space to brainstorm ideas and share experiences of running virtual and hybrid meetings. In the spirit of “working out loud,” we invite you to join the call to connect with your fellow community managers and meeting organizers to pool your knowledge. At the end of the call, we’ll synthesize what we all learn and share it on the CSCCE blog. 

How will this work? 

We will set up four themed breakout rooms with expert moderators from the CSCCE community to guide you through a series of prompts. CSCCE staff will support the rooms by taking notes and collecting resources, leaving you free to vent, brainstorm, and problem solve with others who are working to make virtual and hybrid events more accessible and inclusive. 

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Prioritizing Accessibility in Organizing Online Events

In this guest blog post, Serah Rono and Emily Lescak summarize Serah’s presentation and discussions from her Code for Science and Society community talk on accessibility in virtual events, and share an accessibility checklist to guide you as you plan virtual events.

Accessibility is to equity as a foundation is to a house. A well-rounded and intentional approach to making your community spaces and resources accessible levels the playing field for all in your community, and benefits everyone in the long-run.

December 3, 2020 was last year’s International Day for People with Disabilities. Under the theme “Not all Disabilities are Visible,” the day’s focus was on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.

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CSCCE Tools Trials 2.0

In 2020, we conducted a series of virtual tools trials, to test out platforms and apps that help communities connect and work together online. Together with members of the CSCCE community of practice, we tested eight platforms, and recapped our findings on the CSCCE blog

This Spring, we are launching “Tools Trials 2.0.” Instead of focusing on a single platform, we’ll devote each monthly trial to discussing, and hopefully solving, a specific use case. We’ll then take what we learned and share it with the broader community. 

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November’s community call: Shaping the future of CSCCE programming

This month we spent our community call brainstorming ideas for CSCCE programming that meets the needs of scientific community managers who are facilitating online meetings, events, and conferences. We used Padlet boards to collect ideas, and these boards will remain open for a couple more weeks for any community members who were unable to join the call (read on for more information).

The November 2020 CSCCE Community Call. Image credit: CSCCE
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CSCCE Community Tools Trials Recap: Wonder

In our sixth tools trial we went full circle to the tool that started it all: Wonder. Over the summer, an impromptu group of CSCCE members (inspired and led by Naomi Penfold) tried out what was then called YoTribe, a gathering that inspired our ensuing Tools Trials. Some updates to the platform, a new name, and some new use-cases to experiment with later, and it was time to try Wonder out again. 

Since our first tangle with YoTribe/Wonder we have tried out virtual conference spaces Qiqochat, Remo, and Gather; ideation tools Mural, Padlet, and Jamboard; and collaborative workspace Etherpad+Video. You can catch up on what we thought in our series of blog posts. 

Our Wonder trial involved seven volunteers from our community of practice, and was co-hosted by community member Cass Gould van Praag. If you have ideas for future trials, whether it’s a tool you want to know more about or one you have experience with that you’d like to share, please reach out to us at info@cscce.org

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