Virtual Sessions FAQ

2020 LERA Virtual Sessions FAQ's

Please see below for answers to the most common questions about our shift to a virtual meeting experience. We have also developed a toolkit for session organizers that includes a quick collection of best practices and options for transitioning your session to a virtual format. Presenters - please also reach out to your session organizer directly to let them know that you are interested in participating virtually. 

Background: LERA has been working on virtual meeting tools as part of our contingency planning for the COVID-19 pandemic. We are building online engagement tools to support virtual communities needed to conduct a virtual event, and we will be rolling out new functionalities in the next six weeks as well as building a virtual session gallery. This list will change as organizers opt-in to go virtual with their session.

I have a great idea for something virtual. Can I add it to the Virtual Session Gallery (coming soon)?

We would love to hear your ideas. Please reach out to us at [email protected]. We will do our best to incorporate your idea into the meeting!

Can I still participate virtually if I registered for the place-based conference?

Yes, all previously registered meeting participants are entitled to participate virtually; the registration is valid for the conference even though the conference has changed venue from a place-based meeting to a virtual conference.

I registered for the meeting in Portland, but I don’t want to participate or attend a virtual conference. Can I get a refund?

Yes, you can. These are extraordinary times, and LERA will charge only a small cancellation fee to help cover our credit card processing fees and sunk costs, and we very much appreciate your flexibility.

The virtual conference costs less than the conference that was going to take place in Portland, but I registered at the higher rate. Can I get a partial refund?

Yes, you can. If you can afford to do so, we invite you to donate the partial refund back to LERA, to help us recover some of our sunk costs in the Portland meeting and make the best of a difficult situation. If you wish to get a partial refund, we can provide that to you, or we can provide a letter of contribution for that amount. LERA is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization, and donations made to LERA, not exchanged for goods or services, are considered tax-deductible.

I haven’t registered yet, can I view the virtual sessions?

Anyone who attends the meeting must be registered for the meeting. For attendees (who did not previously register) that wish to view the virtual sessions, we will offer a reduced rate of $150 for regular members, $45 for student/apprentice members, $100 for emeritus members, and $200 for non-members. Register for the LERA 72nd Virtual Annual Meeting.

What time zone will be used for virtual sessions?

Sessions will take place in Eastern Standard Time. We are aware that these times won’t be perfect for some presenters. If session organizers wish to accommodate presenters by allowing them to pre-record their presentations, that is perfectly acceptable.

Will presentations be given live (synchronous), or will they be pre-recorded (asynchronous)?

We want to allow session organizers to be flexible and responsive to the interests of their participants. Session organizers can opt to take either approach, we just ask (as we would in an in-person session), that they be cognizant of the session time and fair with its allocation to all participants.

Do all of the participants in a session need to agree to participate in the virtual session for a virtual session to be held?

No. We understand that some individuals may not want to participate in this format, so we do not want to structure it so that one person prevents all the others from presenting. Please send your edits to [email protected] by April 17, 2020 to remove anyone who does not wish to participate remotely.

If my session organizer or chair does not make my session virtual, are there other opportunities for me to present virtually?

We recognize that the decision whether to go virtual with a session may not be unanimous. Some wishing to participate virtually may be in a session that has opted to not take place as part of the virtual meeting. In such circumstances, we want to make a concerted effort to provide online participation opportunities to anyone who was previously accepted to the program. For individuals wishing to present virtually that are in need of a new session, please fill out this online form ( We cannot promise that every person will be placed in a new session, but we will work to set up presentation opportunities for as many people as possible.

Will attendees be able to ask questions or participate in the session, or is the session just going to consist of streamed presentations? 

We are aiming to make options available that include attendee interaction options like a live chat window, discussion boards, break out rooms, and/or polling. We would like for sessions to be interactive when possible and desired. There will be moderated questions and answers at the end of each session, and possibly breakout rooms where attendees can interact one-on-one with participants who spoke in the session.

Will sessions be recorded and archived for later consumption? 

Our thinking at the moment is that they would be archived and available online through the end of June to meeting participants, and available for longer duration to current LERA members. If this thinking changes, we will update this ASAP.

How do I find and access which sessions will be virtual?

Sessions will be marked in the system as virtual and found in the virtual session gallery (coming soon).  We will add a link for the audience to join virtual sessions in the online session gallery. Only registered attendees who are logged in will be able to access these links.

What would the discussant's role be in the virtual session?

This depends on the session structure/delivery chosen and the participants so we encourage you to think creatively. For example, if the session is held so that pre-recorded presentations are viewed beforehand (e.g. via YouTube) and then the live virtual session could be a discussion of those recorded presentations. The discussant could provide the initial, conversation driving thoughts on each presentation to prompt others.  This is just one very specific example - so yes, do be creative!

What if plans change and the session chair/organizer cannot attend? Or a presenter/panelist cannot attend?

We understand that plans may change for participants. In the event that the session organizer/chair is no longer able to attend, we encourage another participant to volunteer for this role. The virtual sessions will be launched by LERA staff/volunteers so access to and use of the platform will still be available. If one of the participating presenters can no longer attend, we encourage the session to go on with the other presenters/participants. If the session is using pre-recorded presentations, we encourage you to still share the absent presenter’s video and discuss their work as they will be able to access the recording later and still gain important feedback.

What happens if there are technical issues during a session? For the organizer, presenter, panelists, discussant, and/or audience?

Technology is great, but it doesn’t always perform how we need when we need it. With the added strain on networks as more people are at home and online, sessions may encounter technical glitches. If your session is disrupted (e.g. the chair’s internet connection drops, or a presenter is unable to stream video), we encourage you to continue the session if at all possible (e.g. another participant could step in to moderate and chair the session, presenter order could be changed while someone is working to fix problems on their end). If your session is disrupted and unable to proceed due to network or platform issues for the organizer, presenter, and/or audience, you can request to reschedule your session. Please email [email protected] to make this request. Note: If there is still 1 or more days left in the Annual Meeting time frame (June 13-16, 2020) and your participants have flexibility, we will try to reschedule it.

What happens if I am unable to see the session that I want to attend?

Virtual sessions will be recorded and archived where possible for 30 days after the meeting for meeting attendees. If your connection does not allow you to participate live, we encourage you to access recorded sessions once they are made available (this will be announced and communicated by the LERA).

What is a “host”, and what role will this individual serve in the virtual session format?

We will ask that each session who wants to participate in the virtual conference to identify someone who will act as the virtual host for the session. While the Chair will still be introducing speakers, enforcing time limits, framing the discussion, etc., the Host (who will be named in the program along with other session participants) will be busy moderating and responding to Zoom chats from attendees, moderating the discussion board, pushing out polls if appropriate, setting up and opening break out rooms for one-on-one interaction with speakers, potentially tweeting session details in real time, etc. Creativity in this new role is encouraged!