After two years of online learning during the pandemic, Tessa Davis,
co-founder of the paediatric community Don’t Forget The Bubbles (DFTB),
was “100% certain that face-to-face events weren’t worth the effort”.
“Who needs them when you can learn everything online, right?" said
the paediatric emergency medicine consultant at the Royal London
Hospital and senior lecturer at the Queen Mary University of London, who
started DFTB with three friends in 2013 to deliver high-quality
"Online we can connect with people globally, we can avoid the hassles
of travel, we can dip in and dip out of the conference, they’re far
cheaper to attend and, we can do it all in our pyjamas.
"Conferences cost a fortune to run, especially when you compare them
to online events. They take a massive amount of work to make it all flow
smoothly. The returns simply aren't worthwhile," added Davis, who had
to postpone DTF 2020 when the pandemic hit. "Since then, the conference
has been a financial millstone around my neck."
Prior to the start of DFTB22, which took place as an in-person
conference in Brisbane in August 2022, Davis was convinced that this
year’s paediatric community conference, organised with the assistance of
ICMS Australasia, “would be the last we’d ever run”.
But Davis completely changed her mind after feeling connected,
energised and inspired after running the in-person conference. "Seeing
our community face-to-face was a thing of beauty," she remarked. “I
spent [time] hanging out with my tribe. You simply cannot replace that
feeling with online content.”
She believes that it’s easy to slip into thinking that in-person
events could be replaced. “Our DFTB community hasn't been able to meet
together for three years, and in that time the memories of why I did it
faded. I'd forgotten why the conference was such a special place.”
She says that in 2022 about 90% of the learning she does happens online and it is a “killer way” to deliver education. “It is one way to learn, but it is not the best way to connect," she stressed.
“I know that connecting with other people in online communities is
possible. I've met some of my closest friends through Don't Forget The
Bubbles on Twitter. But our relationships are always brought closer when
She urged everyone to attend at least one in-person conference this
year to rediscover the joy and meaning of connecting face-to-face.
Echoing Davis' sentiments, ICMSA owner and managing director, Emma
Bowyer, adds it is in human nature to work with people we like and it is
far easier to determine that in a face to face setting.
“Personally, I see that moving forward we may see people attending
less conferences because we are all used to doing more online but those
events that are deemed important and where people want to make true
connections will remain strong and maybe even have record attendance