Amplifying an academic research conference

Corpus Linguistics Conference

We used a recent academic conference – Corpus Linguistics 2017 – to try out an ambitious  approach to amplifying online impact through video, photographic and social media documentation.

The work produced was high quality and curated – to show the conference in the best light and to encourage others to share.

We’re very pleased with how the project went and received very strong feedback from academics within our institution and outside so I thought it was worth collecting a few thoughts together here for anyone else looking for ideas in documenting academic conferences.

Why this conference?

This was a major conference taking place over five days with several hundred attendees from international institutions. A major international conference offers a rare and valuable opportunity to enhance international reputation.

Willing partners

Importantly for us, the organisers had proved very willing partners in the build up to the conference – providing information to us well in advance for the call to papers and showing an eagerness to engage with their audience online. We felt confident that they were a department that would do their part to share the content we created to their academic networks.

Making the most of the short timeframe

Interest in a conference is at its peak while the conference is ongoing. We aimed to ensure that all work was completed and published while the conference was still happening. We didn’t want to film a keynote lecture, only to publish it weeks later when interest has quickly waned. We wanted attendees to share the content we produced to their networks. The graph below shows the conference hashtag peaking in conference week (-5 weeks on the x axis) and falling away rapidly.

Interest in a conference hashtag

Video recording of keynote lectures

We filmed the conference’s six keynote lectures. We then edited each of the lectures to embed the powerpoint slides at appropriate points (corpus linguists love powerpoint slides, with 80 or more slides for a single presentation not being unusual!) and published to YouTube. Morning lectures were published later that day, evening lectures were published first thing the next morning.

Photography of the conference

We planned our photography of the conference to fit around the filming/editing schedule, while capturing the full range of the conference experience – poster sessions, workshops, lectures, informal networking and social events. A collection of images were made available each day, again with the aim (achieved) of attendees sharing the photographs through their own social media accounts.

All work produced in-house (almost!)

To achieve a fast turn-around, maintain control of the experimental nature of the project, and keep costs as low as possible, we produced all work within our web team (ie not using external photographers/videographers). The only aspect that we outsourced was the transcription of captions for the lectures. As a result this was the only thing added at a later date – something we’d look to address in the future.

Billy

Billy

Web Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.

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