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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

The Virtual Conference Attendee: A New Model for Participation

Whitney Kilgore (University of North Texas, USA)
Maha Bali (American University in Cairo, Egypt)- virtual presenter
Additional Authors
Rebecca Hogue (University of Ottawa, Canada)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 2:45pm
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research Study
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere E4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 3

Do virtual participants feel connected to the conference experience? How can the affordances of technology improve the virtual attendee experience?

Extended Abstract

Conferences on emerging learning technologies, online and blended learning should be exemplars for the affordances of technology for lifelong learning. For this reason, Rebecca Hogue proposed the et4buddy pilot program to support Maha Bali, who could not physically attend #et4online 2015.

Judging by feedback during the hangouts and via Twitter the program was a success. In this presentation, we share results from more formal research done via survey and online interviews with people who participated in or watched the program in action. During this session we will share the variety of different technologies used to make this happen and the limitations of this approach.

During pre-selected conference activities (such as social events), the virtual buddy program partners virtual conference participants with participants who are physically at the conference. The partners connect using video conferencing, allowing the physical participant to share the experience with the virtual participant.

The goal of the program is to enhance the conference experience for both the virtual participant and the physical presence participant. Since the interviews and conversations were of interest to other virtual and on-site participants, if permission of those involved was granted then the video was recorded and posted. The hashtag #et4buddy was used on Twitter when sharing updates and videos.

To ensure interactivity in this session, we will consider questions such as: How a program like #et4buddy might be replicated, scaled, and sustained beyond the particular context we first piloted it in? What are the questions that need to be answered before we replicate or expand the program? What are the ethical implications of running this program? Would you participate? What would stop you?

Lead Presenter

Currently, Whitney is a consultant serving institutions of higher education to build scalable online offerings. She recently served as vice president, Academic Services International for Academic Partnerships (AP). In this role, Whitney is responsible for the planning, development, and assessment of AP's international partner universities' high-quality online degree programs (in Latin America, UK, China, Australia, Spain, and the Philippines). She has an extensive background in education, leadership, educational technology, strategic planning, learning management systems, professional service delivery, and organizational change.

Prior to joining AP, Whitney worked for SunGard Higher Education. Starting as an academic services consultant and learning management system expert providing services to 25 institutions nationwide, Whitney later became the director of academic technology for the College of Southern Nevada, a SunGard Higher Education partner. In that role she led the cross-functional expansion of the virtual campus and upgrades to more than 300 smart classrooms. Under her leadership, the Online Campus grew larger than any of the brick and mortar campuses, serving 46,000 students. In addition, she also taught online accelerated courses and has made numerous presentations around the country on topics such as: Building Retention into Online Programs; Transition to Hybrid/Online Learning; 7 Things You Should Know About Web 2.0 Tools; and Engaging Millennials with Mobile Technology. She is a member of the Sloan Consortium, EDUCAUSE, and is a Quality Matters certified peer reviewer.

Whitney received a post-graduate certificate in Educational Technology Leadership from George Washington University, and holds a Master of Science in curriculum and instruction from Texas A & M University - Corpus Christi. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational computing at The University of North Texas.