It was only 30 years ago that educational services provider Pearson first held its annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM), but it might as well be another century given how different the conference experience is today.
“The graphing calculator was a controversial technology when the conference started, and the first time we had internet in our sessions was 1995. But the hotel we used didn’t have internet capabilities – we had to bring our own,” said Joanne Foster, Manager, Event Programs, Higher Ed at Pearson. “Now we’re all sitting here thinking ‘How can I do my job without the internet?’ It’s an interesting transformation.”
Back then, if someone couldn’t make it to the conference they were out of luck. But recognizing that providing an online component to its conference would expand its reach, Pearson sought a way to turn ICTCM into a hybrid event with in-person and online attendees.
Pearson didn’t have the in-house bandwidth to create the virtual component, so it partnered with Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite Events to provide turnkey streaming services for ICTCM.
“The biggest need we had was a platform that would support the bandwidth needed for streaming an event of our size and also a video library of content we could promote after the event,” said Janna Dinolfo, Manager, Event Programs, K20 Virtual at Pearson.
Nearly 600 people attend the conference onsite, and attendees unable to meet in person can buy a virtual pass and have access to the on-demand videos for several months. The conference registration and ecommerce are provided by Mediasite Events.
Mediasite Events provides streaming services for hundreds of hybrid and live events of all sizes, like ICTCM every year. The Mediasite Events team then creates a secure customized, branded video portal where viewers can create channels, playlists and catalogs of video.
“It’s been fantastic to have all the content built into our website. It’s been synonymous with our website design – really seamless and easy to navigate,” Dinolfo said.
Foster said: “The virtual portal is great. I like the polling and chat features in Mediasite that allow for interaction between the onsite and online attendees.”
Going hybrid allows Pearson to cater to a much larger audience. It’s also able to promote the captured conference content long after the event ends.
“Being able to promote a different type of interaction has been invaluable in the education field,” Foster said. “Educational professionals found it very helpful to be able to work the conference in around their academic schedules, and we here at Pearson are able to tap into a knowledge base virtually. The accessibility is key, and that really does open up a completely different forum for discussion.”
Pearson strives to stay up to date with the latest technologies and trends.
“We want to be part of the companies that are on the forefront of how they’re hosting and managing events, and Mediasite makes that possible,” Foster said. “Our attendees say being able to be in the comfort of their offices or homes and being able to sit in on a keynote speaker who is revered in their industry is a great opportunity.”