Twitter-only conferences can have global impact

Twitter-only conferences can have global impact

Last month PressED became the first teaching and learning conference to conduct its entire proceedings on Twitter, enabling anyone, anywhere to attend. As its closing keynote speaker Jim Groom highlighted, this was the first conference he had attended that was the hashtag. #PressEDconf18 drew in more than 40 presenters, including people from the University of British Columbia, the University of Cambridge, CUNY and the University of Edinburgh. That showed how PressED could run on Twitter and open up to an international audience. Thankfully, one by one the keynote invitees, Gurminder K. Bhambra, Jana Bacevic, Mark Carrigan, Derek Robertson, Pat Thomson and Jim Groom responded positively and the conference started to become a reality. Any nervousness on the day of the conference was quickly allayed as the first keynote and sessions ran without incident. Topics ranged from using WordPress to create open courses, open textbooks and eportfolios to using WordPress for university special collections. With each session archived in a Twitter moment and embedded into the schedule on the conference website, the entire proceedings remain openly accessible and anyone can instantly connect with a presenter. The first tweet of the conference keynote by the University of Sussex’s Gurminder K Bhambra had over 11,000 impressions on Twitter. You would not be thinking $12 of web hosting and a hashtag.

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Twitter logo above silhouettes of people in discussion
Twitter logo above silhouettes of people in discussion

Academic conferences have been a staple of academic life for decades, but attending them has become increasingly challenging.

Witt the required funding for fees, travel and accommodation becoming scarce, it is not uncommon to instead follow a conference hashtag from afar via Tweetdeck.

Last month PressED became the first teaching and learning conference to conduct its entire proceedings on Twitter, enabling anyone, anywhere to attend.

#PressEDconf18 ran over the course of 13 hours on 29 March. As its closing keynote speaker Jim Groom highlighted, this was the first conference he had attended that was the hashtag.

#PressEDconf18 drew in more than 40 presenters, including people from the University of British Columbia, the University of Cambridge, CUNY and the University of Edinburgh.

We conceived the idea for PressED six years ago, thanks our shared interest in open education practice and WordPress, the open source platform most synonymous with blogging.

Their conference plans were, however, hindered by a lack of funding until we came across the Public Archeology Conference, which ran on Twitter in November 2017. That showed how PressED could run on Twitter and open up to an international audience.

With a touch of nervousness, we approached six potential keynote speakers, unsure of how they might respond to being invited to take part in a conference on Twitter and deliver a keynote talk. Thankfully, one by one the keynote invitees, Gurminder…

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