AV + Connectivity

A Turning Point for Hybrid Meetings?

The conversation about digital events is making a U-turn, we report in the September issue of Convene.

Instead of fearing that digital extensions will take attendees away from face-to-face events, meeting organizers are beginning to appreciate the ways in which they can bring more awareness — and ultimately more attendees — to meetings.

There’s a similar shift toward hybrid in  higher education, where educators have long debated the effectiveness of online classes vs. traditional classes. A recent study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University shows that students complete online-only classes as a lower rate than students enrolled in traditional classes.

However, the same study reports that students enrolled in hybrid classes, which mix online and classroom instruction, complete classes at nearly the same levels as students  in traditional classes.

The study focused on community college instruction, but elite universities also are experimenting with hybrid models. This fall, students enrolled in an introductory sociology class at New York University will watch lectures online and then use classtime for  discussion, the Village Voice reports. (Convene columnist Jeffrey Cufaude wrote about a similar model last December.)

Lesson learned: As part of an overall strategy, digital content is a tool, not a threat. Instead of online vs. face- to-face, the new question is, “How do we leverage the strengths of each?”

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.

  • Michelle Russell

    >And yet the either/or — virtual vs. face-to-face event — thinking still is prevalent outside of our industry. As I was browsing through the October issue of The Costco Connection (I'm a big-time Costco shopper) this evening, I came across this headline in a column written for entrepreneurs: "Trade in the Trade Show?"

    The columnists, Paul and Sarah Edwards, write: "If you've been to trade shows lately, you may have noticed attendance has slipped. A major factor is the cost of travel and people not spending as they have in the past. Most important, businesspeople and consumers increasingly use the Web for contacts, product information and to know what their competitors are doing. As a result, we're seeing the growth of virtual trade shows with 3-D exhibit halls and show floors, and even social networking."

    See where they're going with this? That virtual trade shows are being offered as a replacement for face-to-face.

  • Joyce

    >I guess it's just easier to get published if you go with a super-simplified premise than a more nuanced treatment, especially in a consumer-focused magazine. Because our industry is SO simple…HA!

    Either way, it looks like live shows may now be able to promote themselves in a new way, as having the most highly motivated audience to offer to the exhibitors. "Sure, Vendor A, you can (and probably should) put yourself in front of the virtual participants, but don't you really want to connect to the MOST qualified, MOST interested, MOST committed-to-the-industry (or cause or product…) folks? The ones who are willing to spend the time and money to travel to you? Of course you do!"

    Joyce Paschall, CAE, CMP

  • Samuel J Smith

    >Thanks for sharing this stuff.

    I think we have a lot to learn from e-learning, training and development and higher education about hybrid meetings and virtual meetings. Most of these folks have been doing this stuff for 10 years or more.

  • Dave Fellers, FASAE,CAE

    >Thanks for getting the word out about the value of Hybrid — and virtual — meetings. I typically have heard fear from meeting planners that virtual or hybrid will take away from their face-to-face event, but every indication is it increases the numbers. The new Virtual Physicians Network (VPN) should be a tremendous boost to medical societies and their ability to provide hybrid and virtual events. It's great to see CONVENE sharing the research on these areas.

    Dave Fellers, FASAE,CAE

  • Barbara Palmer

    >Joyce, thank you for your comments, good point about the greater motivation of live audiences. Face-to-face allows for a different quality of interaction than the transfer of information.

  • Barbara Palmer

    >Sam, I agree! Have you checked out the HASTAC community (hastac.org)? Great research and an idea playground.

  • Barbara Palmer

    >Dave, thank you for your comment. It would be interesting to see some case studies from VPN, particularly about hybrid meetings.