A virtual conference is like a traditional conference but attendees don't need to travel, incur travel expenses, or spend time going to and from the event the entire conference is held online over a specific period of time. Accessible through a password protected website, the conference includes all of the tools and technology necessary to deliver content-rich presentations, provide useful resources, and foster a true "learning community."
Through real-time and asynchronous interactions, attendees participate in introductions, presentations, Q&A sessions, informal networking and even facilitated "breakout groups". Most of the presentations are delivered in the form of narrated PowerPoint slideshows that can be accessed and viewed at any time during the conference. Attendees may then post questions and interact with the presenter and each other inside the presenter's virtual conference room.
Like a face-to-face traditional conference, the online conference runs on a real-time schedule. It has a starting date and a closing date. It also includes activities such as livechat that begin and end at a certain time allowing real-time interactions between presenters and participants or asynchronous discussions that run throughout the conference.
However, unlike the traditional conference, the online event, is not tied to a specific geographical location; doesn't require participant's physical presence; includes numerous opportunities for interaction with fellow participants, presenters, keynoters, and conference hosts and staff; can be archived and provided as a permanent record, i.e., most if not all the discussions in the various media can be recorded for future review; and isn't, for the most part, timebound, i.e., presentations and forums are available at any time, virtually, whenever the participant logs on.
To participate, all you need is an Internet connection (at least 56K recommended), web browser, and Macromedia's free Flash plug-in. If you're using Windows you'll need either Internet Explorer version 5 or later or Netscape Navigator version 6.2 or later. If you're using a Mac, you'll need Netscape Navigator 6.2 or later.
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