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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 118-119

Repurposing conferences – Is it time?

1 Department of Periodontology, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Mangalore, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission27-Jun-2019
Date of Decision31-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance09-Feb-2021
Date of Web Publication16-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Swati Pralhad
Department of Periodontology, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Mangalore, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_161_19

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How to cite this article:
Pralhad S, Kushtagi P. Repurposing conferences – Is it time?. Educ Health 2020;33:118-9

How to cite this URL:
Pralhad S, Kushtagi P. Repurposing conferences – Is it time?. Educ Health [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Feb 3];33:118-9. Available from:

Dear Editor,

Of late, there has been a surge in the number of academic conferences. Conferences allow meeting peers in the profession, exchanging ideas, updating knowledge and concepts, and communicating research and acquisition of new skills. Knowledge is always welcome from whichever corner it can come. Before Covid-19 pandemic there were concerns expressed about rising number of in-person conferences and their futility. Use of virtual platform, remaining live and interactive even after the conferences was considered as the remedy to address to them. Post Covid-19, there has been an onslaught of these virtual conferences as webinars and meetings. These appear to have failed to prove their utility in meeting the objectives of conduct of conferences.[1],[2]

The virtual mode used for conferences has, however, ensured that the physicians remain at their place of practice and have brought down the inconvenience caused to the needy patients, due to their absences because of the conferences. The major concern that remains is making conferences accountable and making them meet the set objectives of updating and enhancing skill-based knowledge of the participants. A variety of reasons considered for conventional conference failures were sponsored academically uninterested delegates, multiple halls with simultaneous sessions, sessions being too cluttered, poor selection of resource persons, poorly conducted sessions, disorganized halls, too many attractive distractions at exhibition area, and sightseeing trips during the meeting hours.[3]

However, there are currently too many virtual meetings. On any given day, one may find an average of at least six meeting invites and please to log in specialty-sponsored meetings. I did welcome the seminars on web initially and was quite enthusiastic in listening and watching them. Setting in of webinar fatigue did not take more than a fortnight. Are these master classes, international webinars of symposia, and workshops without hands-on learning able to achieve the objective of knowledge and skill transfer? Do all those logged in continue to be attentive until the end of a session? The resource person may be well equipped and clear in his/her presentation. However, this does not ensure that the listener on the other end has appreciated and understood it. Absence of the eye-to-eye contact with the audience is the major disadvantage in these virtual meets. During the virtual conferences of the present, to keep the audience attentive and to check as to whether the objectives of the session have been achieved, conducting polls during the session need to be utilized. Displaying those results will keep the audience engaged and make them feel involved.

Making participation asynchronous is beginning to gain acceptance. The meeting events should stay online even after the physical or virtual conference to keep the discussion lines open. It will then be a complete education event with the objective fulfilled. In addition to curbing the number of conferences and their calls, emphasis should be to make them focused, interactive, involved, and available to access at anytime from anywhere. It should be possible.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Ioannidis JP. Are medical conferences useful? And for whom? JAMA 2012;307:1257-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mishra S. Do medical conferences have a role to play? Sharpen the saw. Indian Heart J 2016;68:111-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
Roos G, Oláh J, Ingle R, Kobayashi R, Feldt M. Online conferences – Towards a new (virtual) reality. Comput Theor Chem 2020  Back to cited text no. 3


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