Virtual Chair Frequently Asked Questions

This year’s summer conferences will be held virtually using the Virtual Chair online platform with the exception of the “Economics of Cryptocurrencies” conference. A separate invitation will be sent to you with instructions on how to access the session you registered for a day before the conference.

Many of the most commonly asked questions can be found below.

Visit the demo page to familiarize yourself with the venue.

The 2021 Cowles Summer Conferences will be held virtually using the Virtual Chair online platform. A separate invitation will be sent to participants with instructions on how to access the conference session you registered for. This brief overview video explains how to navigate the Virtual Chair space.

A list of frequently asked questions for Virtual Chair guests can be found on this FAQ page. To familiarize yourself with the different features available while attending a Virtual Chair session can be found on the Glossary Page.

Computer and IT

Before joining a Virtual Chair conference session please take note of these recommendations:

  • Use a desktop or laptop computer, not a mobile device such as a phone or tablet
  • Use either Chrome or Firefox browsers to connect to a session
  • Disconnect from VPN before joining a session
  • Download and install Zoom video conference software to view speaker sessions

Joining a Virtual Chair conference session:

  1. An email will be sent to you containing information on how to access the conference session(s) you registered for. Follow the link in the email to access the Virtual Chair session webpage. Click the Join button on the Virtual Chair session webpage. Enter the provided password when prompted.
  2. When prompted, enter the password provided in the email.
    Password prompt
     
  3. You will then be prompted to enter your name and configure your Virtual Chair avatar. It is here that you can also verify that your computer camera and microphone are working. Click the Join the Gathering button to enter the Virtual Chair venue space.
    Virtual Chair avatar settings window
     
  4. You will enter the venue where you can use your keyboard arrow keys to navigate the space to converse with your colleagues.

Additional information can be found on the Virtual Chair Help Guide page, or in this Virtual Chair PDF Help Guide.

Computer and IT

Once you have signed-in to Virtual Chair, use your arrow keys to navigate around the virtual conference space. The following video has more details about using Virtual Chair.

Additional information can be found on the Virtual Chair Help Guide page.

Computer and IT

If a paper discussion is to take place, the Virtual Chair venue has provided two areas in the main lobby where participants can congregate. The rug areas will be clearly marked with signs. To join the discussion, navigate your avatar onto the  rug where you will hear and see only those other participants in the discussion.

If your avatar is unable to access the rug becuase it is being blocked by another avatar, hold down the G key to move through the other avatars.

 Virtual Chair Lobby for Cowles Conference

Computer and IT

Each conference space within Virtual Chair has a presentation area called a Plenary Room which is found at the top of the screen.  Navigate your avatar to the plenary room door to enter the room. To join the Zoom presentation, have your avatar take a seat on a vacant stool and press “X” on your keyboard. At this point you will be presented with a Zoom link on the screen. Clicking the link will automatically launch Zoom on your computer to watch the presentation. Steps below:

  1. Enter the Plenary Room at the top of the screen through either of the doorways.
    Virtual Chair Lobby
     
  2. After entering the Plenary Room, have your avatar sit on a vacant stool.

    Virtual Chair Plenary Room
     

  3. At this point, press the “X“ key on your keyboard to join the Zoom session; click the link to launch Zoom.
    Join Zoom

    Enter Zoom link
     

  4. Once the Zoom presentation has finished, click the Leave Meeting button to bring you back to the Virtual Chair session in your browser. Exit the Zoom browser tab if necessary and on the Virtual Chair browser page, click the green Re-enter button to bring you back to the plenary room.

The following video shows what the attendee will experience joining Zoom from Virtual Chair, and re-entering the Virtual Chair venue once exiting the Zoom session..

Visit the Virtual Chair help page for additional information on how to connect to Zoom sessions.

Computer and IT

Your affiliation will be displayed if another participant clicks on your name. Additionally, you can display your affiliation on your avatar by using the Status field found in your avatar settings (click on your name at the bottom of the screen to display the settings).  To save the status text, click anywhere outside of the settings window. Click image below to view a help video or visit this help page.

Computer and IT

You can see all participants who have signed-in to Virtual Chair by clicking the people icon in the toolbar found on the left of the screen.

Computer and IT

You can find a schedule of all the presentation on the left sidebar. Click the calendar icon to show upcoming events listed at the top of the sidebar.

Computer and IT

As with in-person conferences, you can approach anyone in the Virtual Chair venue to interact with colleagues. When you approach another participant, that person’s camera will appear at the top of your screen allowing you to converse. If you would like a more private conversation, you can sit at one of the tables in the lounge area. The number of chairs dictates the number of people who can interact with each other. If there are no empty chairs, no one else can join the conversation. Thus, if you want a one-on-one conversation, sit at a table with only two chairs.

Interacting with others

Seating Options

Private Table for two
Private table for two Table with four chairs Table with eight seats

If you need assistance navigating Virtual Chair, you can contact a support person in one of the following ways:

Help Desk

In (virtual) Person

  • Walk to a virtual Helpdesk to discuss your question directly. Helpdesks will be located in the lobby

  • Chat one-on-one with a Helpdesk staff member by scrolling through the participant list and clicking on their name, then “message”. You can also search for the Helpdesk staff member using the search bar, found above the list of participants.
     

     

Via Email

  • Email the Virtual Chair staff to alert them if you have trouble navigating the event space     on gather.town; they are available at the unique help email found on your event’s  landing page.
  • Or email help@virtualchair.net and put the name of the event you’re attending in the subject line.

In order for Virtual Chair’s Helpdesk team to best assist you, it is recommended that you confirm which browser you are using, and provide either a screenshot or a description of the specific webpage where you encountered an issue. Specific information on troubleshooting audiovisual connection issues is available by clicking here.

Via the Web