Creating Community During a Pandemic
The second episode of Profound Insights, Realtime Pivot – Connecting the Dots for Multi-Faceted, Engaging Virtual Events at Scale presented a compelling case study on how the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo employed the Profound Impact platform to significantly increase interaction between the faculty and alumni, students and partners – all in the midst of a global pandemic.
The Faculty of Mathematics had developed key goals for engaging with alumni in 2020:
• Build a sense of community and connection amongst global alumni, faculty, students, and partners;
• Regain lost alumni;
• Build a community of support and encouragement among female-identifying alumni, current/future students, faculty and researchers.
Two strategic initiatives were planned to achieve those goals:
Waterloo Math Digital Community, with a planned launch date of September 14, 2020
WWIN – the Waterloo Women’s Impact Network, with a planned launch date of May 12, 2020.
In March, 2020, COVID-19 hit the world and the Faculty of Mathematics pivoted to achieve those goals by working with Profound Impact.
In the space of two weeks, the planned Waterloo-local launch activities scheduled for the May launch of WWIN was transformed to a day-long online event hosted on the beta version of the Waterloo Math Digital Community platform. This allowed for an expanded program to include speakers and attendees from around the world and hundreds of users engaging in a real-time trial of the platform.
Instead of attracting the anticipated 100 attendees for a locally-based, in-person WWIN event, use of the Waterloo Math Digital Community allowed over 400 alumni from around the world to participate in the day’s activities, with fewer than 1% experiencing technical issues with the platform.
This inaugural use of the Waterloo Math Digital Community allowed UW Math to understand how users were engaging and interacting with the system and provided feedback by 87% of respondents that they would be likely or very likely to use the platform over time to discover relationships and network with alumni, students, and faculty members.
The successful launch of WWIN in May inspired UW Math to employ the Waterloo Math Digital Community platform in June for a celebration of the Class of 2020. Adjustments were made and additional features were added based on the previous user experience. As a result, over 600 participants were able to safely celebrate their graduation in a year when all in-person convocations were cancelled.
UW Math has continued to successfully employ the Waterloo Math Digital Community to engage with alumni, faculty and partners with events on Profound Impact Day on September 14 and Black and Gold alumni day on September 26.
The community maintains engagement with global alumni through webinars and alumni events and has grown to include over 800 participants from around the world.
The Profound Impact platform has provided the Faculty of Mathematics with a branded hub for engagement with alumni from around the world, real time access to data and visualization maps, integration with YouTube/Twitter and Zoom, the ability to develop groups within the hub to build communities of interest and unparalleled privacy and security features. Most importantly, UW Math has created a global community of alumni who continue to engage with their alma mater and each other.