Adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, the Minnesota Department of Education in partnership with the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) offered their annual back-to-school conference as an online virtual event for the first time ever this year.

This year’s conference was named “Back to Better.” Its goal was to help superintendents and school administrators offer the best experience possible as they bring students together again this fall for school.

Back to school has always been an exciting time, full of newness and hope for a great year of learning ahead. But of course this year is different. This year we are tasked with designing a system that not only ensures that every student in the state of Minnesota receives an equitable education and has equal access to learning and instruction, but also that our students and staff will be safe among the challenges of a pandemic. We know that many of our students and staff are additionally challenged by economic hardship and social isolation. Reopening school is critical during the pandemic. Schools are an essential part of community life and the well-being of students and families, and education supports health by building life skills, social-emotional awareness, and community engagement. For months we have talked about getting “back to normal.” Join your colleagues for the MDE Back to School Conference and learn, share, and envision how, together, we will get Back to Better!

Over the course of the two day event, hundreds of attendees viewed more than 25 content-rich sessions. Sessions included topics on technology, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, relationships, building trust, mental health care, partnerships, assessments, school meals, the CARES Act, Ed-Fi data, equity and civil rights, multilingual learning and more.

MASA has been a client of LuminFire’s for many years. We maintain all of their Macintosh workstations and network, we build and maintain their FileMaker custom solutions, and we have also helped with their WordPress Jobsite website. Because of our trusted partnership, MASA came to us to help make the online conference experience a success.

With the conference less than 2 weeks away, LuminFire immediately began work creating a brilliant solution, guiding this project from start to finish. This included:

  • Confirming MASA had purchased the correct Zoom software to handle multiple rooms and breakout sessions for up to 500 participants
  • Setting up and configuring the users, groups, roles, and meeting sessions
  • Designing and building a custom WordPress conference website

  • Creating a custom registration form with the ability to limit the number of attendees at each session
  • Crafting and publishing how-to guides for attendees, presenters, and moderators
  • Uploading the schedule, presenter handouts, videos, and links to each of the meetings
  • Sending out reliable attendee bulk emails and troubleshooting client email issues to ensure they were received
  • Setting up security to prevent Zoom bombing
  • Creating introduction and exit slides for each session/virtual room
  • Providing trained moderators for each breakout session to assist with technical issues and ensure smooth transitions between presenters
  • Editing videos of all the sessions
  • Posting sessions on both YouTube and on the conference website for viewing after the event

LuminFire accomplished all this within just a few short days – and was able to stay within budget.

“Everything went so well. LuminFire rocks! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!… for all your really, really, really fast help! It’s evident to me now that you can’t just buy Zoom and do a 500 person meeting on your own. But with your help, I felt confident that we could deliver this conference. LuminFire really came to the rescue. You guys are our magic wand. Your team members have been really great and there were literally no issues. I don’t know how we would have done this without you.” – Mia Urick – Director of Learning, MASA

If you are producing an online virtual conference of any size via Zoom, LuminFire can help you make it a success. Virtual video meetings can be held with up to 1,000 people, or you can scale your virtual conference to up to 10,000 attendees in a webinar with Facebook Live or YouTube streaming. Contact us for a free consultation.

Tim Cimbura – CEO and Software Engineer

Tim is an expert in creating custom business solutions that make businesses more effective, productive, and profitable. He specializes in rapid application development with the Claris platform including FileMaker and WordPress. He also knows Apple macOS technology inside and out.