How a NOAA Supported Conference Used Kumospace to Create Community
The second Mid-Atlantic Climate Change Education Conference was held June 28 - Jul. 1, 2021. Supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among other environmental-focused organizations. More than 250 individuals were registered for the environmentally-focused virtual conference.
Bart Merrick is the Education Coordinator for NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office's Environmental Training Center who served as a co-organizer for the all-digital conference."We wanted to make sure folks know that they're not alone; that there's a good bunch of people out there doing this, and there's a really cool model for what climate education programming looks like in the region and beyond," Bart says.
For socializing and fun activities outside of the conference panels, the event organizers turned to Kumospace, an immersive virtual event platform with interactive features that mimics real-life.
Hannah Chamberlain, an Environmental Literacy Intern for NOAA's Environmental Training Center, says Kumospace helped build community and connection outside of the event's Zoom panel discussions. The conference organizers also got creative with how to engage attendees.
"We decided to do a virtual gallery walk through Kumospace. We had three artists that exhibited their work. They gave 10-minute presentations about the work that they were doing. We had one photographer, one woman that was making quilts, and another person who was a cartoonist," Hannah says. "We uploaded their images into Kumospace and then they were able to lead people around the floor as they were talking about their work."
According to Hannah and Bart, both the artists and guests enjoyed switching up the platform and moving around and talking to one another similar to an in-person party. "I'm personally tired as heck of using Zoom and doing something a little bit different really helps people's ability to explore and play," Bart says.
He especially appreciated that they were able to customize Kumospace to set up four different zones for the virtual gallery walk. Each floor held roughly 5-7 works from the artists, and guests got a kick out of the virtual bar where they were able to have virtual glasses of wine.
Approximately 30 people floated in and out of each floor of the virtual gallery. "It was really fluid," Bart says.
Hannah says she has already used Kumospace again for an intern symposium she organized. She looks back on the Mid-Atlantic Climate Change Education Conference virtual gallery walk as a success for deepening connections and sparking dialogue among conference attendees.
"I was just really glad that we were able to make it work for what we wanted," she says. "It ended up working perfectly."