35th IAS Meeting of Sedimentology
The Congress which was originally scheduled to take place on 23–25 June 2020 at the Diplomat Hotel in Prague was transferred to virtual form after careful consideration of the situation regarding the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. After the announcement of the change of the event format, the greatest challenge consisted in finding the right format and platform which would include all the necessary features to serve the ultimate needs of the event.
Field trips, short courses and ECS activities that participants looked forward to very much form an integral part of the Congress. It was therefore necessary to make a decision about these activities and to answer the question of the forms in which they could take place during the pandemic.
Last but not least, the challenge was to handle more than 500 active participants who connected to the event from their homes, from their research centres and from the field, each with different technical equipment and different experience in an online environment.
The aim of the Congress was to allow sedimentologists from all over the world to meet.
As a suitable platform, our tailor-made gCon platform was chosen, whose virtual environment looks professional, which is intuitive to use and easily accessible to speakers and participants. Here, the transmission was streamed from the main rooms, including panel discussions. Posters were displayed, including ongoing discussions, virtual exhibition and networking among participants. Other activities took place through the Zoom platform which was chosen as an additional platform for smaller groups of people and one field trip took place even physically. For the speakers, manuals were prepared and a test session was held so that on the day of Congress they felt comfortable and were not stressed by the online environment.
The rich programme was divided into four parallel sections (rooms) and five days, with various forms of lectures.
Within the Congress, an accompanying virtual exhibition was prepared which offered the partners opportunities in the online environment for introducing themselves and for networking with participants. Virtual stands offered direct contacts to participants with company representatives, with an option to view their brochures and other video materials.
The virtual Congress of the 35th IAS Meeting of Sedimentology was attended by 522 experts (373 men, 179 women) from 55 countries. China, Italy and the United Kingdom had the largest representations. Among the participants, there was a large number of students.
After the end of the Congress, all the lectures were available to the participants as recordings. They could thus watch a lecture they missed or watch again the one that they found the most interesting.
According to the participants, speakers and partners, the virtual congress was very successful and exceeded the expectations of the virtual event.