On the Accessibility of Conferences - A Next Gen Commitment

Author: Ryan O'Donnell, MS, BCBA

Author: Ryan O'Donnell, MS, BCBA

Conference Costs

Let’s be honest – if you can knock out a conference for under $500 you’re doing something amazing.  Sure there’s the occasional one that is in your backyard, but typically there’s airfare, boarding, ground transportation, expensive meal prices, etc. One model that I have been exploring to various capacities is an online platform.

4 years ago I began experimenting with a few colleagues with the possibility of an online collaborative group called Bx+.  It’s been a hell of a learning experience, but what we’ve experienced is a group of passionate behavioral scientists and practitioners from around the world that come together to push each other to expand their skillset.  Norway, Italy, Cuba, France, Canada, Brazil and the United States are represented in weekly meetings where we collaborate on projects and troubleshoot with each other about the vision that many behavior analysts share: a Walden Two-esque type world.

The downfalls are that it’s quite easy for competing contingencies to get in the way, as well as it’s completely extracurricular (i.e., it doesn’t offer continuing education credits, institutional credits, etc.). It serves some of the functions of a conference for me. But it's not quite the same thing that you get from a conference (it's part of the solution). It allows us to continually work towards goals, but it still requires that we make sure we are all meeting each others' needs and respond to the data that we have available. 

In-person conferences have a lot to offer that you can’t quite experience online. There’s the intimate setting where you can feel the ideas, data, and success stories circulating throughout the environment. It’s really something to cherish. I always imagined that same experience at a cost point that got close to the same effect that I had during and after a conference but allowed me to interact with it more often. 

Let me bring this back into conferences. We need to collectively strive to make our materials more accessible. That could be by reducing the content behind paywalls, creating free materials like we have through our blogs, or through utilizing technology to our advantage in workshop and conference settings. We're committed to continually working towards this vision as much as possible. Here's where we're starting. 

Where We're Going at Next Gen

Online Events with Live Production

We've invested in hardware and software that allows us to livestream the events to people anywhere in the world securely WITH additional production value added to the event. So things like cutting to and from slides, following the presenter as they move about the room, all of that is part of the live experience on top of your normal chat rooms and tools. We're pretty excited. Not because this is necessarily new, but because it's part of the experience that is coming to the comfort of your office or home.

In-Person Student Scholarships for our Events

Nose to the Grindstone

Creating content daily, engaging with everyone on social media, and connecting with like-minded people has been non-stop since we announced this event (~100 hours a week). It's led to a lot of exciting opportunities that we need to review and take into consideration. With that said we're trying to not get too caught up with the future and focus on delivering an amazing 1-day event. We'll spend the month of May receiving feedback, sleeping a few days, and then plan the next new months of strategy and execution, but we have a few great ideas in store.  

Click to enlarge.

Where should we go next?

I'd like to take a minute to offer some ideas as to where we could go but receive your feedback as well. What do you think we should do? Are you interested in joining us to some capacity? Let us know through the quick form below or schedule a quick call to chat with one of the organizers. 

  1. Continue our in-person events like the Next Gen Revolution Summit
  2. Create online-only Continuing Education Event for Behavior Analysts. 
  3. Establish more partnerships with behavior analytic businesses and explore options for providing more value to their organization. 
  4. Create meaningful content (blogs, videos, etc.) that can be shared in an effort to further disseminate the science of behavior. 
  5. Seek and create partnerships outside behavior analysis and explore the options that are available for bringing together more specialized professionals in helping professions.

What are your thoughts?

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