The Technology, Colleges and Community Worldwide Online Conference is an annual professional development event organized by TCCHawaii.org, a U.S. 501c(3) educational non-profit in collaboration with the Learning Design & Technology Department (LTEC) at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu and LearningTimes of New York. TCC is the longest running worldwide online conference designed for university and college practitioners.The virtual venue is a gathering place for faculty, staff, administrators and students worldwide to share their expertise and engage in discussions about innovative practices in the use of learning technologies.
A particularly enjoyable feature of TCC are student presentations. Graduate students from Department of Learning Design and Technology Technology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa take a two-semester course sequence in their last year in which they design, implement and analyze their capstone project and ultimately they present the results at the TCC online conference. In addition, students from Master programs anywhere receive a waiver on the conference fee.
For a conference to run smoothly and professionally, a large amount of work happens behind the scenes without the conference attendees being necessarily aware of it. For AACE Review I have the pleasure to talk to the conference organizers.
During the pandemic, conference organizers all over the world were faced with the choice to go virtual or go silent. TCC has been operating as an online venue for 28 years: What makes or breaks a successful online conference?
Individual faculty and researchers in higher education make this event successful through their participation, presentations, and most importantly, their volunteering. The event is supported annually by over 60 faculty that assist through their engagement in the conferenceʻs advisory panel, editorial board, session facilitators, and conference staffing. Partnering with LearningTimes has added needed expertise and technical support for this event.
Additionally, the quality of faculty presentations and communications that occur in real-time with an engaged audience raises the quality of the conference experience. In 2023, we will use Gather, a virtual platform available to enable participants to further connect with presenters.
What aspects of the online format do you find particularly challenging and what aspects do you find especially engaging?
It is a challenge to engage online participants for more than 2-3 hours at a time. In todayʻs “online culture,” the event is viewed as an “add-on” to most individuals. It is typically added on top of an individual’s daily commitments. Participants may choose to be involved on a real-time basis or review session recordings.
The time difference between Hawaii and the US mainland means that real-time sessions occur in the afternoon and evening. In Asia, early morning sessions occur before sunrise when most are at sleep.
In 2020, we delivered plenary sessions each hour for 24 continuous hours. Our conference team was thoroughly exhausted and therefore, we have not attempted to repeat it.
What role do student contributions play in making TCC online a vibrant community?
Students are outstanding presenters. They are prepared, practiced, organized, and polished. Their sessions serve as models for delivering excellent online presentations. Graduate students are generally more aware of a wider range of current trends and modern applications. They are a bit more in tune with emerging technologies, having had a wide range of exposure in their courses. The topics covered are typically based on original academic approaches to research problems.
Student presentations encouraged us to promote 25-minute rather than longer 50-minute sessions. They proved that it could be done in a shorter session and done well.
For many students, this is their first presentation in front of an international audience. How do you prepare them for success?
Students are completing a practicum course in instructional design with a departmental professor responsible for that degree cohort. The course is delivered in two parts over an academic year that concludes with the conference presentation. Consequently, their presentations are rehearsed, timed, critiqued, and revised prior to the conference.
The first semester is designed to create and develop a research project prototype based on an instructional or training need, while the second semester involves implementing the project, collecting data, and completing a research paper that is published in ScholarSpace.
What are educational technology trends that currently excite you and that you look forward to having contributions about at TCC 2023?
In 2023, we look forward to presentations related to emerging learning technologies such as:
- The use and educational value of mixed realities, such as AR & VR.
- The emerging controversy about AI and Chat GPT in particular.
- Student voices and experiences such as the engagement and value of esports.
- Emerging best practices that are coming out of the past three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are some tips and tricks to make the most out of attending an online conference?
When attending an online conference or other online events, we encourage the following:
- Minimize other commitments as you would when attending a F2F event after travel to another region or country.
- Focus on the event as your primary activity for the day.
- Treat it like a real conference. Post a “do not disturb” door sign that you’re attending a conference.
- Take advantage of recordings, since it is impossible to attend all sessions simultaneously.
- Participate actively in community building opportunities such as discussion forums and related activities.
TCC 2023 has scheduled a special preview session and presenter orientation on March 23, 2023. There is no charge to participate in this pre-conference event.
The TCC 2023 Online Conference will take place April 18-20, 2023 and currently invites proposals for presentations and papers. The submission deadline is Wednesday, December 27, 2022. Accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings and considered for publication in the International Journal for Educational Media and Technology. For the 2021 selection of conference papers, see IJEMT 15 (2).