Posted on: September 4, 2020
Author: Dr. Tynnetta Kelley
The Virtual Conference: An Interesting Trend to Watch image

The field of continuing education and training (CE/T) allows employees to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements required for particular industries and disciplines. Certain professions like teaching, engineering, medicine and law, for example, require practitioners to take CE courses and attend industry conferences to maintain compliance with laws, licensing, and membership in certain professional organizations; these have traditionally been held in synchronous environments. But a new trend is forging headway into the new normal amid COVID-19, and that is virtual conferences.

Data Connectors’ 2020 research study found the following:

  • The $1.5 trillion global events industry has suffered severely due to cancellations or events being rescheduled or virtualized
  • With the mandate for social distancing and organizations restricting non-essential travel, the numbers of conference attendees have come to a screeching halt
  • Rising expenses to attend conferences reaching the $4,000 range as a result of travel, accommodation and missed work
  • Cancellations of the 10 biggest tech conferences have exceeded $1.1 billion and $1 trillion in direct spending
  • By 2021 video and web conferencing will account for at least 80% of all web traffic
  • Eight-six of percent of participants in online meetings report more engagement than in-person meetings
  • After COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, 15% of travelers say they will avoid public transport and large cities

With U.S. unemployment at 10.2% for July 2020, the virtual conference is a viable option for professional meetings, and this will probably hold true well into the foreseeable future. The use of video streaming and virtual event planning will definitely eliminate the geographical constraints of producing and attending in-person conferences. Other added advantages include less environmental pollution and being able to invest in guest speakers and entertainers, who are capable of increasing attendance.

A final note on virtual conferences would be the imperative of cyber security. The information collected before, during and after conferences would be prized possessions for hackers. IT professionals need to ensure that digital data on your networks, computers and devices are protected at the highest level against unauthorized access.

Speaking of virtual conferences, IACET will host its first virtual conference: The Annual Conference and Awards and Recognition Ceremony. This three-day event, hosted on the Zoom platform, will feature more than 9,000 international educators from more than 100 countries. For more information and to register, click here.

About the Author


Dr. Kelley is the Director of Accreditation and Training at IACET.  With nearly two decades experience as a learner-focused educator with an orientation toward knowledge acquisition and application, Dr. Kelley has worked with many students throughout the world to facilitate meaningful learning experiences through critical thinking and reflection in order to inform theory and practice, and stimulate a rich marketplace of ideas.

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