We are excited to bring you a fully virtual experience in 2021 in place of the in-person conference. We believe this is the most responsible path forward to maintain safe conditions for our attendees, presenters, exhibitors, and the communities you serve.
With this announcement, we anticipate that you have a few questions and we will do our best to respond to inquiries in a timely manner. We have compiled a few commonly asked questions to add more clarification to Eval21 Reimagined: A Virtual Experience.
We are working to bring you a virtual experience that is inclusive and reflects the core value of AEA, advancing the practice of evaluation. Building off the success of last year’s virtual experience, this Eval21 Reimagined will have opportunities to connect with other evaluators from across the globe and will offer insights into diverse topics. Please know that we have evaluated all options to ensure that the offerings we bring forward will create value for our attendees and our program is strengthened.
When is the Virtual Experience?
Eval21 Reimagined: A Virtual Experience will be taking place virtually from November 8-12, 2021.
When will registration open for the Virtual Experience?
Registration will open for the Virtual Experience in summer 2021. There will be an early bird deadline, allowing for registrants to take advantage of maximum savings.
When will proposals open for the Virtual Experience? Are there any new requirements?
Proposal submissions will open in March and last into May, allowing an extended period to submit your work. More information will follow.
What will the virtual platform look like?
If you joined us in 2020, you’ll be happy to hear we are moving forward with the same user-friendly platform. The virtual platform will be easy-to-use and interactive. You will be able to use a chat box during each session to connect with attendees, visit and trade information with exhibitors, schedule one-on-one meetings with your peers, and more! Plus, you can customize your profile by uploading a photo of yourself, and adding contact information such as company and location, and other details to help you connect with peers.
Why did AEA decide to pivot the 2021 Annual Conference to a completely virtual experience?
While AEA had planned to host an in-person conference this year, we have made the decision to move forward with a virtual experience due to a change of circumstances with our contracted venue and the current uncertainty surrounding large scale in-person events due to COVID-19.
Why can’t AEA choose a different venue?
The District of Columbia is currently not hosting events of our size due to COVID-19, and we do not know when the restriction will end. The AEA Annual Conference takes several months to plan and market, so we could not delay our decision. We also did not consider venues outside of the District of Columbia because of COVID-19 gathering and travel restrictions.
Will future AEA Conferences be virtual?
We cannot predict how COVID-19 will impact 2022 in-person events. We are planning to host an in-person event for Evaluation 2022 in New Orleans, LA, scheduled for November 7-12, 2022 and will continue monitoring circumstances as we move forward.
What will the schedule look like for Eval21 Reimagined?
Although our program will be pared down to about 125 sessions, we will still provide great value to the evaluation community. We will leave intact many elements of the live conference, including posters, exhibitors, and community engagement.
Due to the virtual aspect of the event, some of the activities that normally take place in person will not be as valuable in a virtual format and will not be included. However, the virtual nature of the event will also offer several unique opportunities, including a variety of lectures and panels with real-time chat boxes, direct messaging options, access to all session recordings for an extended period following the virtual experience, and more!
Please note that Eval21 workshops will be held following the virtual experience.
Why does AEA charge a registration fee for a virtual experience?
Although we are not meeting in person, there are still costly fees associated with producing this event, including the virtual platform, daily technical support from the platform host, increased staff time and training.
In addition, the virtual experience is a major source of revenue for AEA. We heavily rely on revenue from this event to fund programs, publications, governance functions, and general operations of the association, many of which are not covered by membership dues. Additionally, sponsorship and exhibitor sales are lower than usual due to the pandemic.
Will speakers need to register for the virtual conference?
Yes, all speakers must be registered by a deadline (TBD) in order to remain on the posted program.
Will poster presenters need to register for the virtual experience?
Yes, similarly to the in-person annual conference and last year’s virtual experience, you must register for Eval21 Reimagined to present (or virtually “hang”) your poster. Posters will be accessible to attendees throughout the entire virtual experience.
Will AEA offer a registration scholarship?
Yes, we will offer a needs-based scholarship for AEA members who have experienced financial hardships due to the pandemic, and to student and international members based on need.
Will Eval21 Reimagined include the Presidential Strand?
Yes! Presidential Strand sessions connect to the virtual experience theme “AEA at 35: Meeting the Moment,” which focuses on it being a time for us to look into the mirror and reflect on ourselves as individual professionals and as a field of evaluation. Many sessions will relate back to this theme and will encourage deep and thought-provoking conversations centered on this topic.
Will AEA be hosting an Annual Business Meeting?
Yes, the virtual Annual Business Meeting will be held prior to the virtual experience.
Will AEA be hosting TIG Business Meetings?
Yes, we are planning to host virtual TIG Business Meetings that will be open to all members and attendees. We will share more details as they become available.
Will AEA be hosting the Silent Auction?
No, we are not planning to host a Silent Auction in 2021. We feel this event works best in an in-person setting. We anticipate that the Silent Auction will resume in its normal capacity in 2022. The funds raised at the Evaluation 2019 Silent Auction will be applied to the 2022 International Awardee Program.
Will job boards be included in the Virtual Experience?
Because AEA offers the Career Center, job boards will not be a feature of the virtual experience. The Career Center is free for members to search for available positions and allows you to save and submit multiple resumes and document. There is a charge to post a job listing in the Career Center.
Will AEA be hosting an Awards Ceremony?
The AEA board voted unanimously to pause awards in 2020 and to improve not only the processes associated with them, but also their meaning and service to the overall Ends Policies for the organization. A task force, which reports to the Board, is convening to look at awards more closely and craft new and improved processes reflecting who we are and what we stand for. As a result of this pause, AEA will not be distributing awards in 2021 and looks to reinstate the awards program in 2022.
Will AEA still be offering Student and International Travel Awards?
The funds raised at the Evaluation 2019 Silent Auction will be applied to the 2021 International Awardee Program. We are looking into ways we can support the international community through the virtual experience, but no decisions have been made at this time. Details will be shared as they become available.
While the traditional Student Travel Awards will not be offered in 2021, student hardship scholarships will be offered. Details will be shared as they become available.