How to Run Online Events for Students

Graduations, projects, and performances in light of COVID-19.

Young female student graduating from university

by Clara Galán

posted on 05-01-2020

May is a month that we all look forward to — graduations, final projects and ending the academic year. This year, these things look very different. From drive-by graduations to virtual choir performances, students and educators are coming up with creative ways to stay connected and celebrate one another.

Joe Dockery, a high school digital media teacher in Snoqualmie, Washington, usually spends the first week of May hosting the All Girls Film Challenge , an event that celebrates young female filmmakers and connects them to industry professionals. I had the opportunity to join Joe and his inspirational group of students last year at the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond. Together with Victoria Nece, the Adobe Education team led a workshop to help students think through a creative campaign to promote their original film.

All Girls Film Challenge, 2019.

While they couldn’t be together in person this year, Joe and his student team have developed strategies to create an interactive experience for participants. Whether you’re planning an end-of-year assembly or hosting a spring performance, here are some helpful ideas to keep students connected:


To connect students virtually, determine the best platform that meets your event’s needs. Zoom, Bluejeans, and Adobe Connect all allow for a large number of attendees and host a chat functionality. If your school or class has active social media channels, you can also use Streamyard to simultaneously stream to multiple channels (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) at once. The best part is that you can record the event or performance so that viewers who missed it can watch at any time.

Professional connections

The goal of the All Girls Film Challenge is to give young women filmmakers the opportunity to create films that showcase their perspective. It is juried by experienced women filmmakers and screened at high-profile events that help to connect students with women in the media industry. This goal can still be accomplished virtually with a much larger audience, such as in the YouTube Global Film Festival with Cannes, Tribeca, and Sundance.

In fact, a virtual environment makes it even easier for professionals to connect with students, as they don’t have to account for travel time or distance. For your next student event or project showcase, connect with relevant industry professionals, and organize a virtual Q&A or panel.

Ongoing calendar

Connecting your school community doesn’t have to be tied to a single live event. As a follow up to the event, host ongoing touchpoints. These can take the form of blog posts or livestreams on social media. The All Girls Film Challenge, for example, has organized weekly webinars, promoted through a Weebly site, leading up to a larger keynote event presentation scheduled on May 8th.

Social distancing

Where it is applicable, and where social distancing allows, create a special in-person component to your student event. A drive-by diploma ceremony or car parade allows students to feel connected, even if for a brief minute. Also, shipping notes or celebratory gear (like t-shirts) to students provides them with something tangible and special from the event.

Watch the on-demand interview with Joe Dockery on our Adobe for Education Facebook.

Topics: Education