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Tips For Planning An Educational Conference That Adds Value

Educational conferences are an important part of academic life, enabling experts from a range of disciplines and institutions to come together and discuss the latest developments and challenges in education, as well as the latest research. They are also an opportunity to provide workshops and training sessions and present new resources.


The less formal networking that takes place at educational conferences is also important for the exchange of new ideas and opinions among educators and industry professionals. Here are some tips for organising a successful educational conference. 


Choose a theme

When selecting your theme, consider the purpose of the conference. Is it to present new research in a particular field, to showcase new resources or rollout training to teachers, or to discuss regulatory updates with exam board professionals?


Ensure that the theme is not so broad that the conference has no focus, nor too narrow that it won’t generate enough interest among potential attendees. 


Select a location

Academic conferences often take place within a university campus, but consider how central this will be for the type of delegates you want to attract. It may be best to pick a dedicated conference centre that is situated for easy access to major cities with good road, rail, and air links. 


If the conference involves workshops and introducing new ways of working, consider if the venue has an adequate number of training rooms as well as a main conference theatre. 


Set a budget

Plan a detailed budget that encompasses venue hire, technology hire and associated costs of set up, catering, marketing, speaker’s fees, and any other miscellaneous costs. Make sure the registration fees will cover all of the costs, and more if you are aiming to make a profit. 


It is sometimes possible to find funding for academic conferences. Potential sources of funding include subject associations, publishers, the Higher Education Academy, businesses or organisations with links to the subject matter, or departmental funding bodies. 


Organise keynote speakers

Keynote speakers could include someone from your own institution, or an expert who is distinguished in a field that is relevant to the theme of the conference. A well-known name will create a buzz around the conference and drive up attendance, but they usually command a sizable fee and may be booked up for months in advance. 


For an academic conference, another route is to submit a call for papers. This gives you less control over the content of the conference, but could throw up some interesting new perspectives that add value to the field of research. If you go down this route, give plenty of advance notice to give researchers time to plan and prepare their submission.


Set out clear guidelines about the discipline, type, and length of the presentation, and make sure that you select papers that will appeal to the majority of the attendees. Book reserves for each speaker in case they decide to change their plans at the last minute. 


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