In the spirit of experimentation, the 2020 Virtual ATE Principal Investigators’ Conference is launching ATE Connects. The live session from 2:45 to 4 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, October 20, is an attempt to create opportunities for virtual networking and connection at the conference hosted by the American Association of Community Colleges with support from the National Science Foundation.
Through the ATE Connects platform everyone attending the conference remotely will be able to explore the work underway in the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. To facilitate navigation, projects and centers will be grouped by STEM category (e.g., biotech, advanced manufacturing, etc.) and information, resources, and materials will be keyword-searchable.
Best of all, as individuals view a video or read grantees’ one-page handouts they will be able to join group chat channels by discipline using the Slack app within ATE Connects. People will be able to direct message ATE principal investigators (PIs) through the app, too.
“The goal is to create connections and conversations around the materials,” Ellen Hause said during an ATE Central Office Hours webinar on September 30 where she fielded questions. As AACC program director for Academic and Student Affairs, Hause is leading the planning for the 27th ATE PI Conference.
To help conference attendees maximize their engagement in the virtual meeting, AACC is offering the ATE Virtual Conference Orientation Webinar from 1 to 2 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, October 7. For more information about ATE Office Hours email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hause said she hopes that ATE Connects group chats and the individual dialogues with PIs will in some ways mimic the spontaneous conversations that typically happened after plenary and breakout sessions, and the energetic exchanges of the conference’s previous showcases sessions.
In response to a question about how elaborate the 90-second videos should be, Hause reassured PIs there is no need for flashy productions at a time when everyone is dealing with COVID-19 challenges on their campuses and in their personal lives.
Many of the materials submitted in September were PowerPoint presentations with audio narration, she said.
Hause said the content requirements for the videos due on October 7 are deliberately open so PIs can choose what and how to spotlight their ATE-funded endeavors.
For PIs still working on their submissions, she suggested thinking about the presentation as an “elevator speech” that provides an overview of their ATE project or center.
Another option is to share an effective strategy or explain a promising outcome of their ATE initiatives.
“We know that nothing can replicate the in-person experience of the ATE PI Conferences that AACC has hosted since 1994, but we hope ATE Connects will help members of the ATE community explore their colleagues’ work and engage in productive ways to advance the development of the skilled technical workforce,” Hause said.
The ATE Connects Submission Guidelines include step-by-step directions for converting video or audio content into MP4 files and a template for the one-page handouts.
AACC will add closed-captioning to the media files before posting them.
ATE Connects materials will be available for three months following the conference to further facilitate the productive collaborations that have been an outgrowth of past ATE PI Conferences.