In March, staff at the University of Kansas Professional & Continuing Education (KUPCE) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by transitioning their 800+ attendee Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference to a virtual format.
“Hotel meeting and sleeping rooms were booked, speakers were lined up, 400 research poster presenters were finalized, 850 program books were printed, and food and beverage was ordered,” said Stacy Cordell, KUPCE’s director of professional programs. “But considering the event is attended by pediatric psychologists from across the country, many of whom work in hospital settings with immune-compromised children, we thought we had a social obligation to consider whether people should be interacting in that type of environment.”
When Jennifer Pendley, president of the Society of Pediatric Psychology, and the planning team suggested moving the conference online, Cordell was open, but hesitant. But, after confirming with the IT department that KUPCE had the necessary bandwidth and software, she agreed to the change.
The KUPCE team had only two weeks to transition the format of the conference, which was slated to run March 18-20. Along the way, they learned some important lessons.