We believe virtual events can be a great way to build and cultivate communities. Reliable computer and internet access can be a barrier for participation for some communities in need. These are the same communities that often benefit the most from participation in virtual events.
Many organizations are banding together to provide help and resources for those in need. We’ve compiled a few tips and resources to help get the right tools into the hands of those who need them.
The closure of libraries has had a large impact across many communities, shedding greater light on many inequities in society. Libraries have worked to make as many of their resources available through onlines sites, and many also have taken steps to boost their free WiFi so that it is accessible from their parking lots. Contact your local library to assess which resources may be available to assist in boosting technology availability for your community. Many librarians are still working behind the scenes to ensure their communities are continuing to be served.
Internet Service Providers
Most internet service providers are offering free or discounted service for teachers, families in need and college students. We encourage anyone who has access to the internet to reach out to their providers to find out what options may be available for anyone within a lower income bracket, or those who may have found themselves furloughed or unemployed due to the pandemic.
Consider pre-loading devices (e.g. tablets) with the content for your virtual event. These devices can be distributed to some or all of your target audience. These devices can then be collected, cleaned and shared with more attendees.
Donations or Leases
A lot of this depends on the budget for an event. You could purchase devices or rent them from vendors. Devices can also be donated (e.g. devices no longer used by a local company) to your organization. Reach out to local businesses and organizations like Computers Technology Assistance Corps and the World Computer Exchange can help anyone from individuals to schools and libraries get technology into the hands of those who need it most.
Not all events need to occur live, and asynchronous learning can be more productive for participants. Pre-recorded sessions, videos, and webinars are a great way to reach a wider audience. This also allows attendees to re-watch items of particular interest or concepts they did not understand the first time around. Simply add videos to your event website and event schedule , and participants will be able to access those at any time.
The ideas and resources we’ve provided can help bridge the technological divide present in many communities today. Implementing these ideas can help make sure that no one is left behind and that the entire community, not just the parts of means, can benefit from virtual events.
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