First time at OCALICONLINE? Welcome! We're so glad you're joining us! Last year, over 50% of participants attended for the first time – so you are certainly not alone! Can we offer up some words of wisdom for how to make the most of your time with us? Here are a few suggestions to help you have the best experience possible!
- Get acquainted with OCALI.
Are you familiar with the organization behind OCALICONLINE? Our conference is but a glimpse into everything else we do, as there is SO much more we offer. Visit our website, browse around, and learn more about our different centers, services, and offerings.
- Read each Backstage Pass.
Backstage Pass is the attendee newsletter delivered straight to your inbox in the months and weeks prior to the event. It's loaded with announcements, instructions, and tips – so be sure to read each issue.
- Make the Session Sorter your new best friend.
This handy tool (which will be available by late summer!) shows you the entire conference schedule, including all sessions, presenters, days, and times. It's the best way to browse the catalog in its entirety, but it's also how you can sort and find content that fits YOUR specific needs. Try selecting a combination of items from each drop-down menu. The more items selected will help you narrow your results!
- Plan in advance which sessions you want to attend.
Map out your personal schedule a week or two before the live event. Use the "My Schedule" feature (which will be available closer to the event) to customize and add sessions to your schedule. This doesn't reserve a seat for you, it merely helps you track which sessions are when. We also recommend choosing more than one session per time block as a back-up plan. You might find your first choice isn't quite what you thought, and with another option lined up, you can make a quick switch!
- Prioritize networking sessions.
These are live-only sessions and will not be available to view later on-demand. Use the Session Sorter (which will be available by late summer!) to sort by type, and from that list, you'll see which sessions are only offered during the live event. If you want to engage with and meet others, then these are the sessions to put at the top of your list!
- Pace yourself.
We get it. Four days is a long time for an online event, so we're under no illusion you are going to be glued to your computer screen the whole time. Nor should you be. Find a rhythm that works for you. Take breaks. Eat. Yes, eat. (One attendee once told us she didn't eat lunch for three days, she was so engaged in the event.) Remember that on-demand is available, which is where you can watch a vast majority of the sessions later. Don't feel like you have to 'jam and cram' it all in at once. Give yourself some space.
- Choose at least one session outside your area of interest.
Are you a general educator? Then we challenge you to attend a session on supporting students with visual impairments. Are you a social worker? Then we challenge you to attend a session on sensory regulation and motor control. Branch out! Explore! Choose content that will stretch your ways of thinking and give you some new or different ideas and perspectives. Still plan to attend sessions that are most relevant to you, but don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone! You never know what you might learn!
- Take notes!
Not all presenters upload their handouts prior to the event, which means you may not have access to their slides or materials. Take notes as best you can, and when all else fails, ask the presenter directly in the chat for a copy of their handouts! This is also where the beauty of on-demand comes in – you can always go back and watch the session again to catch anything you might have missed!
- Be brave and ask.
Don't know something? Ask. Want a presenter's contact information for more follow-up? Ask. Aren't sure where to find something on the conference website? Ask. As the saying often goes, "Use your words!" There's no need to hang out on the sidelines when you're unsure of something or want to know more. This is a community where you can reach out and find a helping hand in return.
- Browse #OCALICON2022 on social media.
This is a great way to see what other attendees are chattering about as well as important conference announcements! Follow the conversations on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.