What Makes an Event Platform Work for Academic Conferences and Higher Ed Events?
Academic, scientific and medical conferences are content rich experiences that enable niche networking. In the context of event planning, these higher education events seem to occupy a space of their own.
Since they occupy a space of their own, it’s a challenge for higher education organizations and associations to find the best virtual conference software to put on a niche virtual event experience successfully.
Surprisingly, there isn’t much discussion about what higher ed organizations should look out for when searching for a virtual conference platform.
The purpose of this article is to provide some context for higher ed organizations that seek to organize an academic, medical, or scientific virtual conference.
If you’d like to learn more or see some of the features discussed below on OpehWater’s platform, please request a demo and we’ll reach out to schedule.
4 Great Higher Ed Event Management Platform Features
- Abstract Management
- Poster Gallery
- Dedicated Poster Pages
- Niche Networking Over Chat or Video
Academic Conference Software with Abstract Management
If your organization is running an academic, medical, or higher ed conference, make sure your academic conference software has the right tools to assist your higher ed event managers.
An abstract management tool is one of the most important highered ed event management tools within a higher ed event management platform.
Abstract management is key for both in-person academic conferences and virtual academic conferences.
At OpenWater, we have hundreds of customers that utilize both our abstract management software and virtual conference platform.
Managing the process of collecting abstracts and implementing an academic conference in one platform reduces the workload for higher ed event managers.
Virtual Poster Galleries for Academic Conferences
You may be surprised how much goes into virtual platform poster galleries. It’s not often discussed, but we often hear that it makes academic conference management challenging for some.
Below are some features you might want to look out for in your search for the best academic conference platform:
- Simple search tools so attendees can find specific posters
- Chat tools so attendees can connect with poster exhibitors
- Ability to accept large file sizes
- Ability to build out several poster booths and poster pages in a short period of time.
Also, your platform should include networking features on a poster by poster basis. For example, each poster should be able to have its own chat room link so that attendees can engage with one another about a specific topic.
The Fatal Design Flaw in Some Academic Conferences
Navigating a virtual conference shouldn’t feel any different from navigating a website. For example, OpenWater’s virtual conference platform is built to look and feel like your higher ed or association website.
A virtual conference platform should be intuitive. To expand on this, attendees, speakers and sponsors shouldn’t have to learn how to “play” your virtual conference.
Academic conference software built around a virtual reality concept (or worse: built to look like you’re inside a conference venue) inhibits your conference through a design flaw known as skeuomorphism.
Skeuomorphism is a term most often used in user interface design to describe digital objects that mimic their real-world counterparts.
Skeuomorphism occurs in virtual conference software design when the virtual conference look and feel mimics a real world conference room.
You can Google “Virtual Exhibit Hall” to see some examples. Skeuomorphism designs are often limited, clunky, and difficult for conference participants to navigate.
Networking Best Practices for Online Academic Conferences
Niche networking is a vital aspect of an academic conference.
Speakers and attendees need a virtual space to discuss subjects, and get in touch with one another for private conversations.
OpenWater gives academic conference managers robust tools for networking.
To elaborate, we are a Zoom partner and can automate breakout rooms for large virtual conferences. Since most higher education professionals use Zoom, the learning curve to participate virtually isn’t steep.
Additionally, OpenWater’s virtual conference platform features a networking lounge that can be built to foster niche conversations. Building out chat rooms by topic, session, or even by poster gives attendees a starting point to network with other conference participants.
Also, OpenWater’s virtual conference directory feature lets attendees request conversations with speakers or other attendees. Attendees are also given the option to meet face-to-face in a private video conferencing room.
What is Higher Ed Event Registration Software?
Event registration software for higher ed is a tool used to keep track of attendees and payments.
Often, academic conference managers will use a registration tool that integrates with their virtual conference platform. Conference managers might also utilize the registration tool inside the conference platform itself.
For example, OpenWater can integrate with an AMS or utilize an export from a third party registration tool. This enables the ability to set up attendee access to a virtual academic, medical or scientific conference.
Note that event Registration systems for higher education alone may be insufficient to handle the rigorous management of abstracts, sessions, and posters that come hand in hand with.
Want to learn more about your virtual conference platform for your academic or higher ed event? Request a demo and we’ll help get it scheduled!