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Every sector has been turned upside down by Covid-19, and the education sector is no exception. But, like other industries, the education industry is gradually returning to normal, with the touch of technological advancement that would have taken much longer to implement otherwise.

Education fairs are beneficial not just for the organisers but also for the students and colleges that participate. Students have the incredible opportunity to communicate with dozens, if not hundreds, of college representatives and obtain information all in one spot.  University representatives, on the other hand, have the opportunity to interact with students and recruit them to their university. Students further plan their future actions depending on their interactions with different university representatives. However, the pandemic and implementation of travel bans and social distancing have made us all wary about huge gatherings.

But, as we’ve all heard, “the show must go on,” and thanks to event techies and digitalization, even a pandemic couldn’t put an end to education fairs. Imagine receiving all of the advantages of a traditional education fair without ever leaving your couch!! It appears to be too good to be true, but it is. And, as people, especially the younger generation, have become more accustomed to digital technology and interaction, virtual education has become not only the new normal but also one of the most effective and successful methods of hosting education fairs.

In this article, we will be revealing the differences between traditional and virtual education fairs and how a virtual education fair trumps a physical one. So, let’s dig in.

1. Accessibility: Imagine cancelling your entire day’s plans and driving for hours (if it’s a national education fair) to a destination that will already be crowded with hundreds of students. Doesn’t sound good, does it? Virtual education fairs, thankfully, eliminate the need to travel! So you can access a virtual education fair anytime, anywhere with just a couple of clicks. So you can be in Delhi and attend an education fair held in Australia from the comfort of your own home. Another benefit of virtual education is that students can make an informed decision about their future studies while remaining at home with their complete family. Universities, on the other hand, get to represent and recruit students from all over the world in the most convenient, time and cost-effective way possible (because they don’t have to go at all!)

2. Time efficiency: Traditional education fairs require a greater time commitment from both students and university representatives. Students must travel and wait for hours in long lines to speak with a university representative or counsellor. When students have the opportunity to interact with counsellors, they are frequently fatigued and less eager to get information. Whereas, in a virtual education fair, counsellors and university representatives are available to speak with students with a click of a button. So, there is no waiting time! Also, online chat with representatives/counsellors allows students to get to the point faster, allowing more students to interact with a greater number of university representatives in the shortest amount of time possible.

3. Availability of content: While it’s great to nod along while university representatives deliver important information about their institutions, students are likely to forget what they discussed after they leave the physical fair. Students could also attempt taking notes, but taking note of everything while simultaneously absorbing everything representatives say, especially in a busy area, sounds stressful and impracticable. This is not a desirable situation to be in, particularly for students who want to get a jump start in their academic careers.

Whereas, virtual education fair provides students with access to both live and recorded presentations, webinars and content. Because students have the convenience of arriving at different times, organisers can ensure that everyone who attends has access to all information irrespective of what time they are attending. However, those who attend live presentations or webinars have the advantage of interacting with the presenter/speaker in real-time, but those who cannot do so are not left behind. Organizers and participating universities make recorded sessions and downloadable content available for interested students to access as needed. It can stay there after the fair is over. You can still get access to the content.
4. Interactive Experience: Virtual education fairs, as opposed to traditional formats, provide a more participatory atmosphere for students. At a traditional physical event, the organisers can only accommodate so many activities due to time constraints. However, in a  virtual event, organizers have the ability to provide features such as live chats, live Q&A, live polls, one-on-one or small group networking sessions, contests, quizzes, and a variety of other activities that make the entire experience of attending a virtual education fair an interactive one for students.

5. Breakout Sessions: Students attend education fairs to find answers to their questions from reputable sources. With a huge turnout at traditional education fairs, conducting small specific topic-focused sessions is always a challenge for organizers/universities. It is easier for university representatives to manage all queries seamlessly in the virtual or digital format of education fairs, with multiple sessions running at the same time. Smaller focused group sessions are held online to discuss certain topics of interest for students, where they can discuss and ask questions about issues on which they want more or deeper knowledge. These breakout sessions are beneficial for students who require more tailored interactive sessions or who find it difficult to interact with presenters in a large group setting.

6. Brochures: Education fairs attract a large number of universities. Students visit various booths and speak with university representatives in the traditional format. Throughout the process, they collect a large number of brochures from each booth they visit. Students usually have a stack of booklets or brochures to take home with them by the end of the fair. In general, only one of the two is used, and the rest is forgotten because there is only so much information to which one can refer. There is always the possibility that these hard copies will be misplaced.

However, at a virtual fair students can select to download the material such as brochures only if and when they want them. They are conveniently available once downloaded and can be referred to as needed. This approach is also environmentally friendly because it is paperless. A student does not need to download all of the brochures at once; instead, they can attend sessions of their choosing and then collect material that is easier to save and organise if necessary.

7. Sustainability: Undoubtedly, virtual education fairs help in keeping the environment greener & healthier. Unlike physical events, virtual events create no amount of waste products like thrown out food, physical promotional materials like pamphlets, banners, brochures etc. Since virtual events do not require venue or travelling, the energy consumption also cuts down drastically. All in all, it is safe to say that virtual education fairs are completely sustainable and eco-friendly.