International Education Group Rolls Out Asynchronous Hybrid Conference

As associations emerge from the pandemic, many are trying out different hybrid formats. NAFSA: Association of International Educators will host its 2022 annual meeting as an asynchronous event that starts virtually, is followed by a month of online discussions, and culminates with the in-person meeting.

Like many organizations coming back to in-person events, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, has opted for a hybrid annual meeting this spring. In a slight twist, the virtual and in-person meeting components will be separated by a month and bridged by online discussions.

The event will start virtually May 4-5; be followed by online discussions around the meeting’s theme, “Building our Sustainable Future;” and finish with the in-person event May 31 to June 3 in Denver. NAFSA opted to try this approach in response to member feedback.

“We learned from previous attendees through a survey and other mechanisms that our members and attendees were eager to reconnect in person,” said Dorothea Antonio, NAFSA’s deputy executive director of knowledge development. “We also learned through the pandemic that many participants enjoyed the expanded access and flexibility inherent in virtual events. We want to continue to provide an option for those unable to travel or in need of greater flexibility.”

Having the virtual and in-person events separated by a month will make it possible for staff to run both events without being overstretched, as well as provide a natural bridge for both sets of attendees.

“We plan for the discussions that begin at the virtual component to continue on in Denver, at the in-person program,” Antonio said. “Both components complement each other, with intentionally curated programming featuring global voices and perspectives. In addition, providing programming asynchronously is important to allow our attendees to pace their learning experience and take the time in between the two components to connect and enjoy on-demand content.”

NAFSA, which experienced robust global interest and participation during the pandemic, doesn’t want to lose that momentum. It hopes the virtual component will help keep that international engagement high, which benefits all members by diversifying voices.

“The pandemic has underscored the importance of the international education community and the value of a diverse range of voices,” Antonio said. “This year’s conference is an important milestone in the field’s recovery from the setbacks of recent years and a pivotal moment in its path to thrive in the future.”

While people can choose to register for only the virtual experience, the all-access pass covers both components.

“We hope that attendees can participate in both the virtual and in-person components this year and help us learn more about the shape of future conferences,” Antonio said. “The virtual component will also prepare participants for the in-person component.”

Member feedback about the new conference format has been positive so far. “We have received a great response from our members as we unveiled these two options,” Antonio said. “Some members report that the dual component will allow them to send more staff to the conference due to the inherent flexibility.”

(masterSergeant/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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