(Virtual) ICER 2021 Reflection

Socializing

This online conference was the most social I’ve been to yet, and I loved it! I think part of it had to do with the benefit of lowering the number of tools/apps/sites that people are using and baking in the ability to socialize. SIGCSE didn’t have an easy way to socialize outside of the actual activities. ITiCSE had ohyay, but it was not in the platform they were using (Moodle). Clowdr had both the actual conference and the ability to socialize. Moreover, ICER lowered the barrier more by building social time into the program. These times were 20 minutes long, which I think was just right. Not too long to feel like you could go off and do something else for a while and leave the conference context entirely. Not too short that it doesn’t feel like a real break.

Processes/Practices

The biggest thing I found helpful was opening multiple windows on different pages of the platform. This setup was especially handy during sessions.

Change Wishlist: Discussion

There is so much I loved about how ICER was done, so I hope this section does not come off as overly critical. I honestly don’t think they could have done better, given the times and circumstances. What’s important is to ask what went well and what didn’t and how we can do better next time.

Highlights and Memories

I socialized a bunch and loved it! I met people in one-on-one, private, on-demand chats attached to the direct message chat. I also visited a bunch of different social rooms, including making a few of my own. I first made “Parenting + Conferencing,” a continuation of the text chat I asked for in last year’s Discord. Closer to the end of the conference, I made “Airport Carpool and “Airport Lobby/Line.” People preferred the carpool room to the lobby/line. One person even commented that they wouldn’t want to be stuck in an airport line after all. I love how our community doesn’t take ourselves too seriously, as evident by a “Cat Chat” social room that Amy Ko created.

Conclusion

Overall, ICER was worth attending. I hope it will be hybrid going forward because travel outside of North America will be hard for me for the foreseeable future. But if it’s hybrid, I can at least virtually attend.

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Kristin Stephens-Martinez

Kristin Stephens-Martinez

Assistant Professor of the Practice in Computer Science at Duke University