With both in-person and online delivery methods, the 2021 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference is a transformed event with numerous ways for attendees to network, share, and learn.
Excitement is building as we look ahead to coming together in Philadelphia and online at the 2021 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference. With both in-person and online delivery methods, we are putting final touches on not one but two annual conferences. We've never been more thrilled to bring together our members—and it's never been more critical to do so.
For those attending the online annual conference, we are excited to build on everything we learned from our virtual annual conference last year. As one attendee commented: "I loved that I could easily move from session to session and go back and watch some that were great or that I missed. This is what we have been trying to do for our students to increase opportunities for learning. It's nice to have sessions presented virtually, because even pre-pandemic, we couldn't afford to be there each year." EDUCAUSE is pleased to offer this experience again in 2021.
Unique this year, both online and in-person event attendees will have the chance to hear from remarkable keynote speakers, including Ruha Benjamin (Princeton University), Michael Sorrell (Paul Quinn College), and Susan Grajek (EDUCAUSE). The online conference will include the best from Philadelphia but also will include online-only content. On-demand options will allow in-person and online attendees to continue to learn and share for another month—until November 29. This ongoing access was a valued feature from our online conference last year.
The agendas for both events will give you a wide variety of topics and speakers to choose from, which we know you've come to expect from the annual conference. Along with myriad topics to explore, both events also give you plenty of different ways to connect with colleagues—in discussions, demos, panels, presentations, poster sessions, meetings, Braindates, and fun.
We are working very hard to protect your health and safety when you come to Philadelphia. We've long ago moved from thinking that the pandemic is a one-time crisis or inconvenience to thinking of this as an ongoing consideration as we plan all our future events. This year, we're doing more than I could ever quickly summarize, and our partners at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC) and area hotels have stepped up mightily as well. In fact, the PCC hosted a successful 15,000-person event a few weeks ago, so they will be more than ready for our conference.
Our informational website details the various steps we are taking. We are requiring all registrants to be vaccinated or to demonstrate a negative test result before coming to Philadelphia, and attendees will get information about how to confirm their status before arriving. All EDUCAUSE staff on-site will be fully vaccinated, and the PCC and our other major event vendors have informed us that they have a vaccination requirement as well. We will be following local requirements and requiring masks at the event.
We want you to be able to focus on networking and learning. Some of the changes this year will make doing so easier, including extra space for distancing, relaxing, and chatting and extra time between sessions to allow hallway conversations and avoid crowded lines. The popular exhibition hall will be live in Philadelphia this year, not online, so those of you who look forward to conversations with the vendors who join us will have ample time and space to explore as usual. We'll have fewer exhibitors in Philadelphia than in pre-pandemic years, but more than we had virtually last year. That means deeper discussions between campus decision makers and product providers.
The last two years on campuses across the world have been focused on adapting to unrelenting, dynamic change. The "pivot" metaphor doesn't do justice to the ongoing work accomplished by the technology professionals in the EDUCAUSE community. We know you want to talk, network, share, and learn. We also know that rather than think about how wonderful everything was during simpler times, you want to evolve and transform. Like you, EDUCAUSE isn't indulging in nostalgia, making lemonade, or buying time until things return to "normal." We're eager to welcome you to an annual conference that we have transformed into something truly special. We're proud of what we have waiting for you online or in-person—or both.
John O'Brien is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE.
© 2021 John O'Brien. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.