Remember going to conferences? Those semi-annual meetings to commiserate about challenges in our fields, learn from each other, and catch up with friends…in person?
In the era of COVID-19, hard pass.
The pandemic has affected everything from election administration to budget planning, and it hasn’t spared professional development. But preserving educational opportunities and personal connections with colleagues is exceedingly important, and never more so than in the midst of unprecedented contingency planning. Luckily, just because we’re all working from home or avoiding close contact in the office doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice sharing connections and knowledge.
Tons of events have moved online (looking at you, #ELGL20), making them even more accessible to local government since travel expenses aren’t a concern. For example, for county clerks, recorders, and election officials, coveted training is available online through the Election Center, helping expand professionalization and education in the elections space.
Major conferences, like the annual summer National Association of State Election Directors conference and the Esri User Conference, have converted to virtual formats, too, broadening their reach and availability. Heck, even DEF CON is happening online this summer (side note: arguably one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended and I encourage any local government geek to participate).
Availing yourself of professional development might not top your list of priorities, but now is the time to look for engaging and timely options. Not only are many virtual conferences and classes much more affordable, but they also include a social component so that you can still build connections across the country. Zoom, WebEx, and Skype are being leveraged in incredible ways to build table top exercises and small group discussions that are just as robust as in-person experiences.
Take five minutes on Google to find a conference that interests you. You might find learning opportunities you never knew existed. Need a place to start?
- Drupal GovCon (September)
- DEF CON Safe Mode (August)
- NextGen (August)
- ICMA (September)
- Defending Digital Democracy Training Tour (July/August)
- American Bar Association online CLE
- and check out the webinars on the ELGL calendar
If you’re in a field that has required continuing education, many associations have even extended their deadlines so you’ve got more time that usual to avail yourself of e-learning options.