Everything you need to know to host a VirtCon Viewing Party!

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We all love free professional development.  And we all love spending the day at home in our pajamas.  While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the Spring VirtCon on the sofa with your slippers on, it can’t compare to hosting your own Viewing Party!   Whether you’re a seasoned vet of previous VirtCons, or a first time host, we’ve got all the info you need to organize a spectacular PD day for you and your colleagues.

The Spring VirtCon will be broadcast from Discovery HQ in Silver Spring, MD on April 25th, from 9am to 4pm ET.  If you’re in the area or interested in making the pilgramage to the home of Discovery Education, we’ll be sharing a link to register on this page soon.  Seats are VERY limited, so only register if you are committed to being there.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a Viewing Party is basically a professional development event where all the presenters are being streamed to you live via the internet.  We’ll put together a fantastic day of inspiriing presntations, and all you have to provide is find a space to host it and send out invitations.  The final agenda will be posted the week of March 16th, but you can count on four dynamic sessions targetted at K-12 educators.

The presentations begin at 9am ET, which may be a little early for those on the west coast! However, since every session is being recorded and will be available immediately, people typically tweak the schedule to their own needs.  For example, Californians might choose to begin their day with the 12pm ET Keynote, and when the live broadcast wraps up at 4pm ET, go back and stream the sessions that they missed.

Another way that Viewing Party hosts customize their own events is by combining the virtual sessions with conversations, reflections and presentations by the people attending at their event!  For example, they may watch one of the keynotes, and then choose to turn the projector off for an hour and share amongst themselves.  Afterwards, they can rejoin the broadcast at the point where they stopped, or attend the next live session.  The options are endless, and there’s no wrong way to VirtCon!

You can see the current map of Viewing Parties at the bottom of this post.  And if you’re interested in hosting a Viewing Party, here are a few tips to make it an outstanding event!

Before the Spring VirtCon

  • Find a location and get it reserved.  While most people host it at their school or district office, we’ve seen people gather together at Panera’s, Starbucks, or even open up their own homes!
  • Once you know where you’ll be hosting your bash, submit the registration form here.  We’ll add it to the official list as well as the map of Streamathon viewing parties.  We’ll also be sending you over a small party kit from Discovery Education to help make the event even more memorable.
  • Let people know about it!  Email your colleagues, post a note in the teachers’ lounge, tweet it to your PLN, walk next door and invite your neighbors.  It’s never too early to start promoting your event, and the more you remind people, the more attendees you’ll have!

During the Spring VirtCon

  • Make it festive!  Streamers are optional, but people do love the personal touch.  Have pens and notebooks available for jotting down ideas, or perhaps sticky notes so people can add them to sharing wall.
  • Everybody needs a little nibble while they learn, so have a plan for feeding your guests.  You can ask them to bring their own, bring something to share with the group, or provide a spread for them.   It’s your event, there’s no wrong way to do it.
  • Tweak the agenda to suit your needs.  We know it’s a long day, and not everybody is in the same time zone.  Boston’s lunchtime presentation might be the opening session for a party in Los Angeles.  Every session will be archived in real time and made available immediately, so feel free to re-arrange the order for your attendees.  We’ll still be there when you get back!
  • Share your ideas, both with the people in the room and online with the hashtag #SpringVirtCon15 We’ll be sharing our favorite tweets live during the broadcast, so you just might see your post on the screen!

After the Spring VirtCon

  • BW9ZZNSIMAAobu8Take a well deserved evening off!  Cash in that coupon for a free foot massage and bask in the glory of having created a phenomenal learning experience for your attendees!
  • Share out the archives.  Every session is being recorded and saved, share it out with any colleagues who weren’t able to attend.
  • Send us a picture of your event, we love to see the learning in action!  Share them out with the hashtag #SpringVirtCon15  and we’ll find them.

We’re looking forward to another incredible virtual conference and we hope you are too.  So what are you waiting for?  Choose a location get your Viewing Party registered today!!