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Online conferencing FAQ

Not everyone has attended an online conference before. For those who haven't, this FAQ gives some background to online conferencing.

Where is the conference?

The conference is online, i.e. on the Internet. There is no physical location for the conference. You do not need to go anywhere to participate, except to an Internet connected computer.

Who is the conference for?

Deaf people, interpreters, CSWs, teachers of the deaf, lecturers for deaf people, deaf studies or interpreting students, anyone who works with or has an interest in deaf people.

What is an online conference?

Traditional conferences mean participants have to travel and stay in a particular place. This takes time and is expensive. An online conference uses the Internet as a conference 'venue'. This means that participants can access the conference from anywhere in the world and can do this at any time. Participants will be able to log on as little or as much as they wish to - before, after or during office hours. They are given a password to access the various conference and seminar groups as well as live chat. Anyone with access to the Internet can participate (so long as they have a login!).

The conference will use discussion group software (like a bulletin board), and is backed up by a web site with additional content. Participants log in and read the messages and contributions from other participants, facilitators and presenters. All discussions within the conference will be asynchronous, meaning there will be no set time when participants have to log in. There will also be a chat area where people can talk in real-time as well.

Will I be able to view the conference before the opening day?

Participants will have the opportunity to have a look at the conference environment in advance of the conference to familiarise themselves with the layout of the site, try out the conference software, and, very importantly, download and view the papers and presentations.

What will happen during the conference?

Each keynote presentation will feature for two days and participants will be able to read papers and view the presentations, and have a discussion about the issues raised in which the presenters will participate. Simultaneously, there will be a number of other seminars and discussions, usually backed up with other papers and presentations. A live chat room is also available for participants.

Do I need any special equipment or software?

No. Just access to the Internet, and a browser. However, some presentations will use, Flash, video, etc., so players for these will be required - these can be downloaded for free.

How much time will I have to spend at the conference?

Like any conference, if you don't go into the conference room, you will miss out on information. The conference won't stop just because you are not logged in, so checking in regularly will allow you to keep up to date with what's going on.

To participate fully it is very important to set some time aside to log in and read and compose postings.

We would recommend that you spend at a minimum 1 – 2 hours a day at the conference. This will allow you to keep up with debates and the volume of messages coming in.

What if I can’t log in every day?

Although we recommend that you log in at least once a day to read daily summaries, if you can't, please don’t get overwhelmed with the number of messages that will be posted to the conference. If you get behind, use the summaries which are posted each day to catch up.

The conference will also be open for reading only for a month after the conference finishes, to allow delegates time to catch up on sessions they have missed.

If it is online, why is there a delegate fee?

The cost is far cheaper than an equivalent physical conference - not least, because there is no travel or hotel accommodation which you have to pay for. However, there are still costs - for example, the cost of the online conferencing software; presenter fees; fees for the organisers. Even though it's online, this takes a lot of organisation. The only difference is, there is no need to hire a physical room. But other costs associated with organising a conference still apply. Even when a physical conference is free to delegates, there is still a significant cost - it's just that that cost is absorbed by someone else, rather than being recouped through delegate fees.

Can we share a login between more than one person?

No. Each login is for a single person, not an organisation. If you want to send two delegates to a physical conference, you book two places. This is the same for an online conference.