A reflection on the World of Learning Virtual Conference

It has been a strange year for conferences, with some cancelled and others deciding to go virtual. The World of Learning which is usually held in October at the NEC in Birmingham was one of the latter.

The eLN has had a stand at this event for several years so when we were given the opportunity to have a virtual stand, we jumped at the chance to try out their virtual conferencing platform.

Taking the conference virtual meant people who may not be able to attend the ‘in-person’ event were able to chat to vendors, network with attendees and speakers and take part in the many interesting seminars and workshops.

eLN Directors Gemma Wells and Jayne Davids ran a session on our mentoring programme which is a benefit to eLN members. From the feedback they received, the session participants found it extremely useful and engaging, but don’t just take our word for it! Here are some of the comments:

“Thanks lovely ladies!!! Great job :)”

“Brilliant one – well done!”

“The most involved WOL webinar all day, thank you so much, ladies!”

Gemma also had this to say about her experience at the event:

I was lucky enough to be part of the virtual WOL event this year and got to present one of the webinars on the last day. 2020 has been all about the virtual event with everyone jumping on the virtual conference or Zoom sessions to “network” and share best practices. WOL was no different and a new challenge seems to be getting participants to visit the virtual exhibition. Our stand felt a little quiet at times and I hugely missed the social element of interacting with people visiting the stand to learn more about what we do, sharing ideas and generally chatting about all things learning related.

I found the opportunity to present less daunting than it would have been face to face. The Zoom seminar felt comfortable enough for my first time presenting in that way and I found it a great opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone. It felt like we were really engaging with our audience though the interaction was via chat, because we’d planned it and integrated that into our session. It’s definitely made me feel like I have more confidence to present in this way and has reduced my sense of imposter syndrome (well, a little bit!).

So what is the future of conferences? 

We don’t know what 2021 will be like yet, but we are planning an in-person eLN Connect conference so please save the date for next year: eLN Connect 2021, Tuesday, 23rd November, nr Tower Bridge, London.