The FTU Virtual Conference did require a paid registration. It is not my goal with this post to get into a discussion about cost or whether the price was worth it. Clearly it was worth it to those who registered. What I would like to focus on is the concept of a totally virtual conference.
I was not sure what my learning experience was going to be like. Would I get as much out of it as I do at an in-person conference? I was surprised that I found the conference to be very fulfilling. In addition to the webinars which could be downloaded and saved on my computer, there were live-chats, discussion boards, raffle prizes and more.
I love to listen to webinars from all the various providers that are out there today. Having a conference with lots of webinars over the course of a weekend really made it feel like a conference. I have to admit that I learned a lot. Like at any conference some presentations will interest you and some won't. All the ones I watched were professional and well done. There were 15 webinars in all presented at this conference.
The benefits of the virtual conference for me were:
- Front row seating with clear sound for all talks
- Food and bathroom breaks at my convenience
- No traveling, dressing nice or putting on makeup
- The ability to watch the videos at my own convenience on my own schedule
- Not having to pay for parking, hotel and restaurants
Virtual conferences may not be for everybody but I can see them really filling a need for those with young families who can't get away, people who live a great distance from available conferences or people who simply can't afford the cost of a national or regional conference.
The Face of Education
I believe that there is room within the genealogy community for all types of education whether they are institutes, stand alone webinars, online or in person classes or traditional conferences. The variety of different types of genealogical education is a real benefit for the 21st century genealogist. I really believe that all these types of educational programs can provide quality education. Granted they each have their different levels, focus and goals but overall they are all advancing genealogical education.
My Crazy View of the Future
I am really excited by video learning! I could envision a company developing and focusing on the production of genealogical videos. They would produce courses that start with step one and can meet the needs of novices such as those that are getting excited about family history from watching Who Do You Think You Are? each week.
Is there enough of a mainstream market for these videos? Maybe not directly to the general public but I would love to see these videos created and sold to public and private libraries. Wouldn't it be great if someone watched a genealogy program on tv and then went to their local library and got out an entire video course on genealogy research? There could be videos geared towards adults and others targeted to children. The videos could give them a complete education on genealogical research and get them started in the right direction. I think it would be a wonderful thing.
What's Your Take?
How do you feel about the concept of a virtual conference? Would you attend? Have you attended one in the past? Do you feel that taking classes from videos is a viable option? Let me know what you think.