This is the Qiskit Virtual Event Guide This guide is prepared by the Qiskit Quantum Community Team, and is meant as a companion for anyone looking to host a digital event. It includes resources, templates, and ideas. With that said, most things you'll find here are suggestions . At the end of the day, you know your audience best. We are here to help you make it as successful as possible, whatever you choose to do.
If you only have a few minutes to read this document, feel free to skip to the TL;DR section at the end.
This is your event. IBM Quantum is more than happy to sponsor or support you, but at the end of the day this event is owned by you and your group of collaborators. As a Qiskit-themed event, there are a few rules that we would like to see put into place. If your group is on board, we may be able to send swag, or even have IBM Researchers attend.
One good principle to always follow: the most successful events have a theme. Gaming, chemistry, quantum 101, exploring new algorithms, and adapting classical approaches are all themes we've seen before. You can, and should, adapt one of those for your event, or create something entirely new.
Intro to Virtual Event Opportunities
There are a lot of opportunities to create, host, or participate in virtual events. Virtual events remove the physical interaction from the activity, which can make them unique experiences with a slightly different approach to planning. With virtual events on the rise, we wanted to offer our resources and guide for how you may be able to optimize your own virtual event.
What are virtual events?
Virtual events are online events where people interact in a virtual environment online, rather than gathering in a physical location and are accessible to a larger audience. Virtual activities can also be added to an in-person event (whether it's pre-, during, or post-event) as an additional experience for your attendees.
What are some virtual event options?
There are 2 general types of virtual engagements: active and passive. An active event is asking every participant to give something at a certain time, whether it's their voice, their attention, or their work. A passive event may ask for the same things, but the participant is free to engage whenever it's convenient for them. You can think of these as asynchronous events.
Active Virtual Event Examples
Virtual Presentations (Livestream)
Perhaps the simplest of the virtual options, live streaming is probably the most accessible and usable way you can create an event online. Think of this as a lecture, with 1 or 2 people talking and the audience listening. With various free streaming platforms (YouTube Live, Twitch, Mixer, etc...), you can host a live presentation or speaker to a viewing audience online.
If you want to create a more interactive presenting experience, where the participants can contribute beyond live-chat, you can explore presentation options such as Webex, Google Video Hangouts, or other video chat options such as Crowdcast. These work best with large crowds (>30 participants).
The word "meetup" implies getting together - but it doesn't imply that you cannot do it in a virtual space. A meetup is a group connection where everyone is given an equal voice. Connecting via webcams has become more accessible than ever. You can catch up, have a viewing party, enjoy a casual hangout, and whatever else you think of! Virtual hangouts can be exciting and even keep you connected with long-distance colleagues. These work best with small - medium crowds (3 - 20 participants).
Some Qiskitters get together over Slack or WebEx and host reading groups of different quantum research papers or chapters in the online qiskit textbook. This is typically followed by a Q&A with either the author, or an industry expert on the topic. These work best in an environment where everyone can share their thoughts and opinions openly. We recommend small groups of 3-10 participants.
Meet in a Game
Between the portability of gaming systems, the huge boom of games available on PC, and every other console available, meeting up inside a game world is now much more of a reality than the days of Tron. Some qiskitters met up in Animal Crossing recently, and even created some in-game swag items. We recommend Animal Crossing - or anywhere else you can show off your creativity and build the community (and friendships).
Hackathons can come in many forms, in many places, and the virtual space is no exception. Whether it's an ongoing challenge, a problem-focused collaboration, or a live competition -- virtual hackathons can support it all. For in-depth hackathon guidelines both inside and outside of the virtual space, check out our dedicated Hackathon Guide HERE.
Passive Virtual Event Examples
Collaborate on a Project
Tools like GitHub make it simple for teams spread out to collaborate on a project together. Many members of the Qiskit Advocate group have utilized this approach to add contributions to the qiskit repo, or to add other valuable insights to the community at large.
You can organize a group to look at a specific codebase or section of a project and go hunting for bugs within it. Using Github is especially useful to do this. Some organizers set up prizes for whoever finds and fixes the most bugs within a certain time frame.
Exploring a new concept comes with many different steps or focus areas. Setting up a digital scavenger hunt is an engaging way to look at a large collection of items. You can assign different aspects with unique point values, and ask for pictures or confirmation of sorts. There are a few websites and apps that have been created specifically to host online scavenger hunts.
As always, if you are interested in hosting any type of virtual event, don't hesitate to reach out to the Qiskit Community Team! We are here to help you create exciting and enjoyable experiences, so make sure and email us!
Virtual Event Planning 101
Regardless of the event you are planning (virtual or in person), you will still have the fairly standard checklist of items you will want to have in place in order to ensure its success. However, in a virtual space it becomes more critical that those items are (a) planned in advance, (b) communicated clearly and directly to all participants in the event prior to the event start, and (c) are tracked and documented in a central location for shared visibility across team member pre-, during, and post-event.
The key difference you will want to keep in mind between a virtual and live event is location, location, location! When you're on-site at an event? It's usually pretty simple to know where everyone is, and to make sure any announcements are being heard by everyone. In a virtual space, this is more difficult (but not impossible!) to achieve, and additional steps or effort will need to be implemented to make sure you are not only reaching participants, but engaging with them as well. Reading text updates throughout a day is all well and good, but for presentations, collaborations, breakouts, roundtables, etc... you can see how this virtual "movement" is a little harder to organize and keep your eyes on, but is still very achievable.
There are many great tools and platforms available to help bridge that planning gap between live event planning and virtual event planning for you and your team, and the Qiskit Community Team has also done some research and at the end of this section you will find our recommendations for the tools we have looked into that will likely be a great fit to help support your entire event!
Virtual or not, we are also available as a resource in creating, planning, and executing an event - so don't hesitate to email if you have any general or more specific questions!
Regardless of how you are managing the event, you will want to make sure and have the following predefined and finalized prior to any public-facing communications (and most certainly prior to the event start date):
Clearly Identified Team Roles
- Each component within an event should have a clear lead, and all team members should be aware of "Who To" go to for any contributions or questions.
- Examples of team roles: Moderator, Emcee, Coach, Mentor, Catering, Room set up, Clean up, etc...
- While some team roles may be supported by multiple people, the general best practice is to make sure to designate a clear lead individual for each area.
Event Schedule & Agenda
- Clearly identify daily start and end times (and don't forget to include the time zone).
- If there are multiple platforms or resources being used, make sure the agenda reflects when you may be alternating from one to the other - everyone should know where they need to be and at what the time.
- If there are any event-specific benchmarks throughout the event, make sure they are clearly communicated in your agenda for all participants and team-members.
(Optional for less formal events or open-ended invitations)
We suggest you try using Airtable for registration and tracking participants. Here is a Sample.
Code of Conduct
(encouraged for any/all events)
Here is IBM Quantum's Code of Conduct that you can use for your event.
Communication & Promotion Plan
- Promotion and communications are critical when it comes to making sure people are aware your event is going on, and how they may be able to connect with it or join in. Make sure you give yourself several weeks for pre-event promotion!
- Identify what channels you are using (Examples: Slack, Twitter, Bulletin Board, Forum Announcement) to do your promotions and outreach.
- Identify the dates or general time frames when you would like to announce the event, if/when any pre-work will be recommended or required for participation, or any important updates or engagements you may have with participants (and observers from home) leading up to the event.
- For the event itself, you want to have a system in place to communicate with all participants for any important announcements, engagements, benchmark reminders, and what have you.
- Generally speaking, you will want to have one central location for all communications during the event. The Qiskit Community Team primarily uses Slack for these types of communications, but you can also explore other options that may be a better fit for your group. Whether it's an open forum, Discord, or a good old-fashioned mass-group chat on Google Hangouts or Facebook Chat - you want to make sure you have all your participants' eyes (and ears) in one place.
- Email is NOT recommended for these communications, and can often result in unwieldy delays or logistical confusion (especially in the face of ever-vigilant spam and quarantine filters).
Finding Virtual Tools & Platforms
- Instead of finding your "venue" and reserving your "space" - you want to find the platform that works for you, and make sure it's all set up to your desired "floorplan" so that your virtual event flows just as smoothly as it would in person.
- Depending on your event, you may want to use different tools or combine different platforms in creative ways - which is highly encouraged! There are many many options available to host a virtual event within, and while some may meet your specific needs without meeting others, there is no rule that says you can't use more than one!
- IMPORTANT! Whichever platform(s) you end up using - not only should you make sure your team and you take some time to be familiar with the system (we recommend an internal dry-run within the team - just to work out any planning kinks). You should also be making sure that every participant knows where they need to be and when - so make sure and make that explicit and clear, and share with participants at least several days prior to the event start day so they can also take their own opportunity to become familiar with it as well.
Virtual Event Planner Checklist
Recommended Virtual Tools & Platforms
from the Qiskit Community Team
As mentioned above, the Qiskit team here has been working hard to identify what resources and platforms we think would be the optimum fits for Qiskit and Quantum Events. Based on that, we have some recommended tools listed below. This is by no means a restrictive list, and every team is highly encouraged to see what tools are available and choose the one that fits best for whatever specific event is planned.
When University College London (UCL) produced their (in-person) hackathon, they created one document with details like location, schedule, and the code of conduct all together. That is a really effective way to communicate the important information all at once. Look it over, and feel free to use it as a template!
With that introduction, and no further ado, here is the "short list" of the options we recommend (in order of how highly we recommend them!):
For Live-Stream Style Presentations
General capabilities: Have the ability to live-stream (or host pre-recorded) content or presentations to an audience with minmal-to-no gatekeeping. Collaboration and communications restricted to text-based chat.
NOTE: Due to concerns around privacy, hacking, FBI warnings, and "zoombombing" we do not suggest using Zoom as a tool for your event.
For Collaboration Style Presentations
General capabilities: Have the ability to host participants and attendees (gatekeeping optional) to host a content session/presentation that includes the capacity for participants to converse face-to-face with the presenter, or make contributions of their own.
For Team Collaboration & Live Event Communications
General capabilities: To host communications between various groups, where particpants can collaborate together privately from other teams, mentors and admins can support questions, and hack-work can be completed without the disruption of hosting a live stream or series of video chats or phone calls to stay connected. Essentially, where all those productive and collaborative conversations are taking place.
For Hackathon Logistics & Event Platform
General capabilities: Host the hackathon event in a central location, support team formation, live announcements and communications; in addition to (optional) registration, team formation, and project submission processes for your hackathon.
Becoming Quantum Ready
One of the most important aspects of any event is making sure your partcipants are prepared for what they're signing up for! Offering a few pre-event resources goes a long way to ensuring success. Below are a few.
The IBM Quantum Experience has opportunities to start playing around with the circuit composer, and we recommend signing up for it! Have a meetup with friends or colleagues, and explore what you might be able to do together. If you are planning on doing a hackathon, participants need to have an IBMid created in order to participate, so this is a good preceding activity.
Maybe the most important workshop to hold is a qiskit 101 tutorial. We know installing and running Qiskit for the first time may be a little confusing.
Having someone on site to go over the steps and then walk through a few of the qiskit tutorials hosted on our public GitHub is a great introduction to Qiskit, and can be a very educational live stream or presentation! Our Coding with Qiskit Youtube Series and our open source Qiskit textbook are both popular resources that people have used to help get people up to speed or familiar with Qiskit and Quantum. There are even live Q&As that are hosted by Quantum teams, that can be great opportunities for virtual viewing parties!
It may be hard for some participants to know where to start on collaborative events. Challenges especially like a hackathon or joint project need a spark of creativity or curiosity to really get going. Below are the project collections from two previous hackathons, one held at MIT and the other in South Africa.
Use these collections to see the wide range of projects that you can use as jumping-off points, or as inspiration for your own new original topic.
- The Qiskit Community team is always available to answer any questions over Slack or email us! There are many different kinds of virtual events, some of which are active and some of which are passive. Depending on what you want to do - examples and options of both types of events are available!
- When transitioning from Live Event planning to Virtual Event planning - the basic checklists and principles remain the same. Remember to increase your communication, and plan your promotions to reach your potential participants (wherever they may be).
- There are more options than you think for tools and platforms that are available to support virtual events. While the IBM Qiskit Community Team has compiled a list of recommendations, they are just that. Whatever tool you end up using, you will want to make sure to explore and test-run the tools functionality before the event itself goes live.
- In preparation for a Quantum Event - are you sure your participants are Quantum Ready? Engaging with event participants prior to the event, with online resources already available and ready to use, you can make sure that everyone participating is on the Quantum Level and has a more prepared and enjoyable experience.