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The School District of Palm Beach County Technology Conference is an annual event hosted by the Department of Educational Technology in the School District of Palm Beach County. The school district is the tenth largest in the USA and the fifth largest in the state of Florida, employing over 13,000 educational professionals.
The event has run for over 22 years, but this was their first time hosting it virtually. The event aims to provide educational professionals with the knowledge to implement technology into their roles, whatever that may be within the organization. This year’s theme was “Fast Forward: A Decade of Change in a Year.”
Even though it was their first virtual event, the Ed Tech Team had been streaming workshops and building up their YouTube channel since the pandemic hit in March 2020. However, with the conference, they were looking for an option that would help them fully shift from face-to-face to a virtual conference, including avenues to monetize the event.
The virtual conference sought to accomplish a few key objectives:
To achieve this, the Ed Tech Team, in collaboration with vFairs, put together a virtual event space that fostered interactive presentations, exhibit booths, engagement activities and sponsorship opportunities.
Let’s have a look at a few key features that made the conference a success.
The virtual event venue was designed to be user-friendly and made attendees feel like they were actually at a conference venue. To offer additional support, the Ed Tech Team published a ‘Welcome Video’ offering information about how to navigate through the event and pointing out important features within the event, such as ‘update profile’ option, ‘search attendees’, scavenger hunt and leaderboard, and virtual auditorium.
Additionally, there were two exhibit halls available, where attendees could view exhibitors through a birds-eye-view or scroll through each exhibitor’s booth — however they chose. Within each of the halls, the Ed Tech Team created clickable signs that led them to other spaces, such as the other exhibit hall or the virtual auditorium.
Prior to hosting this event, the Ed Tech Team was already familiar with how to host presentations using StreamYard & YouTube Live. They wanted to incorporate these two tools into the virtual conference, which was easily done through the vFairs virtual auditorium.
The auditorium hosted links to their live presentations on YouTube. This helped attendees easily find sessions they were interested in by splitting sessions into their own tabs, offering descriptions of each presentation, and an option for attendees to add the session to their personal calendars so they didn’t miss anything. Following each presentation, links to the YouTube recording were offered so attendees could revisit sessions afterward.
One very important goal for the team was to monetize the event through sponsorships. They created tiered Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum sponsorship packages that offered different levels of value and brand visibility. To complement this, they needed a platform that offered enough value to attract potential sponsors.
vFairs offered a range of opportunities for the Ed Tech Team to monetize their event space. Sponsorship opportunities included items such as:
Additionally, sponsors who did not purchase a package that included a virtual exhibit booth were still provided a ‘vendor profile’ i.e. a space for them to showcase their brand messaging and links to their webpage and social media channels.
vFairs offers a platform that suited the professional look and feel the Ed Tech Team was looking for. The design and layout offered the team a lot of opportunity to create an immersive, user-friendly experience for their attendees.
Additionally, as the project rolled out, the Ed Tech Team was impressed with the way the vFairs team helped find solutions to challenges that arose. Not only was the team helpful in sharing resources and information for sponsors and exhibitors, they also made sure they could get the most out of their sponsorship by developing new event aspects, such as the vendor profile pop-up window.
The Ed Tech Team was able to extend their reach beyond just the educators from their jurisdiction. In fact, they saw some attendees join from outside the United States! This extended reach was a notable benefit for their team, as they believe it’s useful information for anyone looking to update their education tech stack.
As John Shoemaker, Educational Technology Program Specialist, noted, “We strive on creating professional looking events and everything we do as a team, we try to be as professional as possible… we try to rival national and state-level educational technology conferences and we’re a school district… We just love that we were able to provide a free event to anyone who wanted to join in the world because why not share it with the world?”
Within the event, they saw high levels of engagement within the various booths. Not only were they able to track engagement metrics internally, they were able to share those metrics with their sponsors to show how each virtual booth performed, increasing the value of their sponsorships.
Dana Rubenstien, Educational Technology Program Specialist, mentioned, “For us, transitioning from a face-to-face conference to a virtual conference was new for our team as well as our exhibitors and attendees. We rely on our sponsors to support this distinguished event, and we are so thankful for Rita and her team [at vFairs] for helping us make it successful.”
For more information about the Ed Tech Team, please visit their website located at http://edtechtraining.palmbeachschools.org. You can also follow them on Twitter @EdTechPBC
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