Our exploration of hybrid learning events

It is becoming increasingly important to enable hybrid events in addition to solely on-site or online events. Providing an exceptional hybrid experience means finding a way to integrate different technologies and welcome online participants into in-person settings and vice versa.

efiport set about tackling this challenge in the first EdTech & Organizational Learning Meetup – Onboarding with EdTech. To start, we broke our objectives into three main “problems” we had to solve. Once we knew what we were trying achieve, it became much easier to figure out if our solutions were helping us to achieve that goal or not.

1. Making the hybrid Meetup interactive and accessible

The first hurdle was how to adapt a typical on-site event like a Meetup into an engaging online experience. Simply replicating the event online has issues: online observers often tune out or “watch” the event like they would watch TV. We wanted to find a way to get online participants to interact throughout the event, just as they would if they were present on-site.

Our approach: We decided to have participants join the event itself through a Discord channel where they could communicate over voice and text channels. This allowed them to immediately interact with other users, regardless of if they were participating onsite or remotely.

2. Integrating online and on-site participants for the talks

Next, we needed a way to share both the content and the atmosphere with those joining virtually. This meant not only sharing the talks themselves, but also sharing the other participants and the space we were using. It was also crucial that we enable participants to ask questions during the talks and Q&A sessions.

Our approach: We used the live streaming tool, Twitch, to stream the presenters and the room. Twitch enabled us to aggregate the other tools we were using, e.g. Zoom for our remote presenters, into one seamless feed. Because online participants weren’t able to ask questions directly, we gave them a “voice” by having an on-site moderator collect their questions over the Twitch chat, and ask them by proxy during the Q&A session.

3. Enabling a networking session between all participants

The final challenge was integrating online and on-site participants for networking session at the end of the Meetup. We needed to find a way for everyone to participate equally. If you’ve ever been to a Meetup, you’ll know that at the end, people tend to break off into groups and chat about what they’ve learned. We wanted a way to make sure those groups were mixes of on-site and online participants to enable one of the biggest benefits of a Meetup – meeting up.

Our approach: Participants were able to communicate with each other and with the speakers through the Twitch chat and Discord channels. Most importantly, it was possible for users to initiate interactions with the people they wanted to speak to, rather than waiting for a host to send them into Zoom breakout rooms.

The tools we chose:

A key goal was to expose participants to, and give them the opportunity to experiment with, tools they weren’t familiar with. A follow up survey showed that Twitch and Discord were indeed new for many participants.

Which of the following tools had you used before the Meetup?

onboarding follow up chart
  • Discord: an instant messaging and chat application. Though it was started to create communities for gamers, it has expanded into business and education environments.
  • Twitch: one of the leading live streaming platforms. It is most often used by gamers, though it’s becoming more popular for broadcasting and creative content.
  • Zoom: a video and audio conferencing tool for meetings, webinars, conferences, and so much more.
Are you planning a hybrid event?

Get in touch to learn more about our set-up and find out how we can help you create an exceptional hybrid experience!

Do you want to know more?

Join us for the next event in the series – The Learner – to continue experimenting and learning with us.

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