Over the past few months the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition has been promoting our December 1st conference, Restored by Compassion: Given and Received. Featuring Sr. Helen Prejean, Fr. Greg Boyle, Bp. Bill Wack, CSC, and other ministry leaders, it will be an impactful day of reflection, formation, and networking for people active in this work and supporters of prison, jail, and detention ministry. As a virtual event we are enthusiastic about reaching as many interested people as possible.
Many Dioceses and organizations are gathering their ministers and supporters together in one place to attend the conference and to have an in-person opportunity to support and encourage each other. This is wonderful! Some of those groups have asked for suggestions of how to do this and still fully participate in the virtual conference. Below are a few suggestions.
Enable individual participation.
- Encourage your group members to bring their own computers, or lend them one. Individuals will get the most out of the conference if they can attend breakout sessions individually.
- Individual participation enables people to answer or ask questions, offer experiences as appropriate, and attend a breakout group that interests them.
- Send folks to different areas of the space or into different rooms during breakouts.
- Headphones are highly recommended; this will minimize feedback from other participants in the same space.
Bring out the big screen.
- Connect a “group” computer to a large television or projector for group viewing events (see image below).
- Connect the “group” computer to a speaker so all can hear.
- Whomever manages the “group” computer will need to have a participation link for the conference.
- If individual participants want to submit a question during group viewing times they will need to do so via their own device.
Things to think about.
- Prior to the start of the conference, if you have the space to accommodate group members bringing their own computers, have your group members set up their devices in their respective dedicated spots, log on for the day, and leave the devices there for the duration of the conference. Keeping individual devices logged on and active will minimize necessary transition time from large group viewing to individual participation.
- Ensure a strong internet connection for the size of your group. Talk with your internet provider or an IT staff member/volunteer to check the strength of your network.
- Have a technical support person with you for the day to troubleshoot technology issues.
- Be mindful of other housekeeping needs. For example: Water, food, restroom access, space to stand up and stretch.
We are thrilled to hear about the interest in group attendance for the conference. The above suggestions are a starting point to help you think creatively about crafting an in-person virtual conference with Restored by Compassion: Given & Received. If you have any questions about the conference agenda, please do not hesitate to reach out to: [email protected]. We look forward to being “with” you at the largest gathering of Catholic prison, jail, and detention ministers and supporters in the country!
Jarrod Kinkley, M.A. is the Manager for Special Projects with the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition.