Connecting 8,000 learners worldwide.
Adobe eLearning World 2020 becomes Adobe’s biggest virtual eLearning event delivered on Adobe Connect.
Plan and deliver a virtual conference in just three months
Scale to reach thousands of attendees from around the world
Include interactive elements that connect participants and build community
Received 12,500 registrations from 125+ countries
Achieved 30,000 session views from 8,000 unique participants over the three-day event
Ran multiple Adobe Connect rooms capable of supporting up to 1,500 attendees each
Measured 4,000 conversations and social actions during the event
Every year, thousands of learning professionals gather to hear from industry experts, explore modern technologies, and share best practices during Adobe Learning Summit and Adobe eLearning Conference, Adobe’s two biggest learning events of the year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events were no longer an option. Adobe wanted to continue bringing the learning community together just as always. The company shifted gears and started working on a new virtual conference: Adobe eLearning World 2020.
“We had always planned for a virtual event during the summer between our two conferences, Adobe eLearning Conference and Adobe Learning Summit,” says Nipun Sharma, Principal Product Marketing Manager at Adobe. “It was originally envisioned as a smaller event to supplement the two large in-person conferences. With those being canceled, we started to think big. We wanted to deliver a virtual event that would provide the same enriching experience and sense of community that attendees expect from Adobe events.”
More than 100 Adobe employees came together to deliver Adobe eLearning World 2020—Adobe’s first virtual digital learning summit—in just three months. Delivered over Adobe Connect, the event was a huge success, with 30,000 live sessions from 8,000 unique attendees around the world.
“Adobe Connect allows attendees to reach a level of interactivity and engagement that just isn’t possible with other solutions.”
Principal Product Marketing Manager, Adobe
Reaching global audiences
Adobe frequently uses webinars to connect with audiences. Virtual events offer many benefits, such as greater flexibility and lower costs for both event producers and attendees. These virtual events can be recorded so that people can watch and learn at any time, even months later.
“Virtual events are sometimes considered a compromise compared to in-person events,” says Sharma. “They’re just two unique propositions, each with their own advantages, with virtual affording far better results in terms of reach and engagement, especially when you are empowered by the right technology. When planning Adobe eLearning World 2020, we made sure to lean on the benefits of the virtual medium to make the event as valuable as possible for attendees.”
Without the need to travel or take time off work, Adobe knew that the virtual event could have a wider reach with audiences around the world. An in-person event typically attracts about 1,000 attendees, so Adobe expected to attract up to 5,000 registrants. The eLearning World resonated with the audience and it received 12,500 registrants from more than 125 countries.
Adobe quickly realized that Adobe eLearning World 2020 would be the largest virtual learning event that the company had ever delivered. And even with the massive audience, Adobe still wanted to foster the peer-to-peer communication which is typically the highlight of in-person conferences. It chose to run Adobe eLearning World 2020 on Adobe Connect due to its scalability, reliability, and strong interactive engagement capabilities.
“We didn’t choose Adobe Connect just because it’s an Adobe product,” says Sharma. “It was important that we use the most scalable and reliable platform available. Adobe Connect allows attendees to reach a level of interactivity and engagement that just isn’t possible with other solutions.”
Planning a global, high-performance digital experience
The Adobe team took full advantage of the digital medium to create a unique virtual experience for Adobe eLearning World 2020. Rather than a one-day event, sessions were spread across three days to provide greater flexibility for attendees. Adobe compared time zones and scheduled each half-day during times that would be the most convenient for its global audience.
“We knew that due to the pandemic, many attendees would be working from home and between work or taking care of family. By spreading the sessions out across multiple days, we gave attendees more opportunities to attend,” says Sharma.
Adobe also made each session shorter with clear breaks to better fit a work-from-home lifestyle. Attendees have more opportunities to walk away from their computers, check emails, or grab a quick bite between sessions.
All attendees started their conference experience at the Conference Hub, hosted on the eLearning Community website. This landing page served as a virtual lobby where attendees could network by joining peer discussions, asking questions, checking schedules, or navigating to one of the sessions. Like typical in-person conferences, Adobe scheduled four parallel tracks to let attendees find a topic that interests them in any time slot. Each session was held in an Adobe Connect room capable of supporting up to 1,500 attendees. Taking advantage of the flexible virtual format, each session had two viewing options: the live presentation or a pre-recorded version of the session.
Adding a pre-recorded version promotes flexibility for attendees. If a session peaked to room capacity, attendees could still watch the pre-recorded version. People might also choose pre-recorded versions if they wanted to hop between multiple sessions, allowing them to cover more ground in a short time.
“Unlike typical video recordings, Adobe Connect recordings are almost like live sessions with many of the interactive elements preserved,” says Shreya Sinha, Marketing Specialist at Adobe and Lead Producer of Adobe eLearning World 2020. “The recordings can also be used long after the live event to reach and inform wider audiences."
“Adobe Connect scaled brilliantly to support all of our participants. It proved that it’s a great solution for large scale events for a mass audience.”
Group Technology Evangelist, Adobe
Scaling to support a record-breaking event
With the combined power of Adobe Data Centers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, and built-in load balancers, the Adobe Connect network architecture design inherently takes advantage of the flexibility, scale, and global reach of the cloud.
To ensure a fail-safe platform for such massive loads, a team of DevOps and Performance Engineering experts adopted the industry best practice of running simulated load tests in staging environments, ahead of the big event. It was to proactively address any bottlenecks and provide the highest quality audio and video experiences for global attendees during the event.
“Don’t underestimate the human connection at these events,” says Ashish Garg, Director of Engineering at Adobe. During the live event, the support team had a live communication channel with event producers for quick problem reporting and resolution before it could affect the event.
“Adobe Connect scaled brilliantly to support all of our participants,” says Allen Partridge, Group. Technology Evangelist at Adobe. “Adobe Connect proved that it’s a great solution for large scale events for a mass audience. Attendees were able to join sessions from any browser without needing to download any apps or add-ons. We had 2,200 conversations with 3,500 participants in our live sessions and 1,800 comments from 3,000 participants in our video sessions.”
Focusing on audience engagement
The Adobe team worked closely with presenters to make sure that they took advantage of the unique features of Adobe Connect. Layouts and pods encourage interactive design by allowing presenters to do more than just show slides and monologue to an audience. They can embed audio and video, present interactive polls, draw on a white board, or share a screen. Not only does Adobe Connect support chat, but presenters can add different types of chat to the session, such as moderated Q&A pods or multiple chat windows made for simultaneous chats.
The Topic Chats were one of the most important ways that Adobe Connect helped foster peer-to-peer interaction for conference attendees. During the conference, Adobe moderated several “birds of a feather” sessions where attendees were invited to join discussions on various topics.
Rather than having one large chat window, Adobe Connect allowed adding multiple chat windows representing different industry subjects. Participants could jump into the chat of their interest or area of expertise and share problems, solutions, and successes with their peers. Participants could also jump between chats to compare experiences on different topics.
“It was important to us that the virtual sessions didn’t just end up being an expert speaking over a slide show to a passive audience,” says Alistair Lee, Senior Product Enablement for Adobe Connect at Adobe. “Adobe Connect offers many ways to interact with the audience. We worked with presenters to help them find interesting ways to get audiences involved and promote social connections during the conference.”
Adobe Connect also boasts several features that improve experiences for producers. Adobe designed a different template for each of the products featured during the event: Adobe Connect, Adobe Captivate, and Adobe Captivate Prime. Templates allowed producers to customize the aesthetics of the interface, adding logos, colors, and backgrounds with clear branding for each product.
With the templates in place, producers could quickly and easily create rooms with consistent branding, while customizing pods to add a unique experience to every session. In total, Adobe created 36 different rooms quickly with little effort.
Another feature that improves production is the availability of persistent rooms. Adobe set up each of the session rooms days before Adobe eLearning World started. Producers could upload audio, video, and slide decks, create polls, and finalize the layout ahead of time. This eliminated the need to have producers scramble to prepare rooms before each session. Instead, they could talk with presenters, answer questions, and concentrate on delivering exceptional sessions.
“Moving online extends an event beyond geographical boundaries and allows companies to deliver a really effective experience at a fraction of the cost. Don’t just recreate in-person events online. Instead, explore unique and engaging ways that you can make the most of the digital experience for attendees.”
Senior Product Enablement Manager, Adobe
Looking to the future
Even when travel and public gatherings resume, the team would like to continue doing major virtual events as a way to connect with audiences who would not normally be able to attend in-person conferences.
The team has many ideas for future possible events. Incorporating modern digital technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality could further elevate the virtual experience of participants. Creating a virtual exhibitor area could offer an interesting way of helping attendees interact with other companies or partners. For future events the Adobe team plans to leverage reporting or analytics in Adobe Connect to gather deeper insight into how users interact during sessions. These engagement scores can be used for lead qualification and to help to improve future virtual events.
Words of advice
With so many companies exploring virtual events recently, Adobe offers words of advice.
“Moving online extends an event beyond geographical boundaries and allows companies to deliver a really effective experience at a fraction of the cost,” says Lee. “But you need to take the time to think through their event design. Don’t just recreate in-person events online. Instead, explore unique and engaging ways that you can make the most of the digital experience for attendees.”