CCCC Virtual Conference

I have the utmost respect for the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Truly. But what's this all about? Via the NCTE Inbox email newsletter, I saw this evening that CCCC is having a "Virtual Conference," a.k.a. "Flavor of the 2011 CCCC Convention," for the first time ever. The email said:

If you just can't make it to the CCCC Annual Convention in Atlanta next month, join us for the very first CCCC Virtual Conference. Designed to bring you a flavor of the 2011 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Annual Convention, the virtual conference offers some of the same great sessions and topics as the onsite conference -- without the cost of travel.

Well OK, I thought, I can't make it to the conference in Atlanta (I didn't submit a proposal this time around, rather), so I'll see what they're doing. I was unpleasantly surprised to see that the virtual conference means that:

Over the course of a month following the 2011 CCCC Convention, CCCC will host six 60-minute virtual sessions that were presented in Atlanta. With one registration fee, you not only have the opportunity to attend the live virtual events, you will also gain full access to the on-demand recordings of those events which you can revisit at any time and even share with your colleagues in your department. You will have the freedom to attend as many of the virtual events as you wish but still have access to all of them on-demand after each session.

Registration fee: $115.00. Seriously? This gets you:

* Live access to all six, 60-minute virtual sessions
* On Demand recordings of each of the six sessions
* Added Bonus: Access to the recording of CCCC Chair Gwendolyn D. Pough's Address from Atlanta
* Extended conversations and resource sharing in an eGroup within the CCCC Connected Community for all registrants

Sessions 1, 5, and 6 from the virtual conference are in the online program; sessions 2, 3, and 4 are not; I don't know if that means they aren't actually happening at CCCC or what.

My major issue with the virtual conference is the registration fee. I can't help but suspect that the videos will be streaming from NCTE's site and will have to be accessed there (I hope I'm wrong); for that price, they ought to make a DVD of the sessions and mail them to registrants. Actually, I think it would be great if CCCC filmed a lot of sessions, chose some that were excellent, and made DVDs of them, then offered them for sale at a low price -- like a video conference proceedings. I'd buy that myself.

And maybe I'm cynical due to having joined many online discussion spaces over the years that quickly fizzled out or never got discussion going in the first place, but I'll be shocked if the "eGroup" is the least bit active. Again, hope I'm wrong.

I like that CCCC is trying something new, but the barrier to entry here is kind of high, and I think the whole design of the virtual conference is ill-conceived. I'm not rushing to final judgment, though; perhaps there's good activity planned that they're just not explaining clearly.


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C&W does it for free

The past couple years, Computers & Writing hosts have coordinated video or audio recordings of various sessions and offered them for free, and -- as we're doing this year -- have also held a free online analogue to the conference, as you know.

It looks like NCTE did what they usually do with technology-related stuff: rather than figuring out how to do it on their own (recall the months-long disaster that was their website redesign), they farmed it out to a contractor, who decided to monetize the opportunity and offered them a nice, steep bid.

In this case, it's Elluminate, a subsidiary -- naturally -- of Blackboard.

Our not-for-profit professional organization seems all too quick to line somebody's corporate pockets rather than thinking through a solution that might be more in line with the values espoused by the organization.



I hadn't heard about this until now, Clancy, so I'm glad you posted about it. The price point is very surprising, if you ask me, especially with all of the DIY publishing of CCCC talks (usually as overdubbed slidedecks). The chair's address will be printed in CCC by December. Plus every year there are more solid, thoughtful reviews of sessions available online. Maybe this will catch on, but I'm out of touch with the group(s) who would find this kind of thing compelling enough to pay $115 (i.e., the price of a CCC subscription plus nine months of Netflix!). I'm also curious whether revenue generated from the commoditized talks is in turn shared with the presenters.

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