Presenting work online is increasingly used to bring together geographically dispersed researchers, with opportunities to present research to a wider audience than is normally possible. Events are cheaper through avoiding travel time and expenses, but how useful are these opportunities for online networking?
Poster Day Online has been developed for off-site research students as an alternative to the Poster Day provided on the Liverpool campus. The online participants are a diverse group based around the world including mainland Europe, XJTLU, Malawi and more distant parts of the UK. The group also includes students undertaking fieldwork and those at conferences on the date of Poster Day. Our online event aims to offer a closely equivalent experience to that on Campus, as well as allowing these students to fulfil the “Poster Day attendance requirement” for their degree.
Inevitably there are large differences between the two events. With a disparate audience working across time-zones, the online event cannot have the “buzz” of real-time conversations. We allow three weeks for Poster Day online so that viewers can read posters at their leisure, in their preferred environment, and at their chosen times of the day.
The question and answer discussion area is necessarily asynchronous, but viewers, particularly students, produce considered questions and the presenters usually answer at length, with references to further resources if relevant. As in the live event, students vote on their favourite posters, and are encouraged to view posters from all faculties. For many students this offers a rare opportunity to view widely differing research topics.
The event has developed considerably from its first conception in Vital, largely in response to constructive feedback from past participants. Adaptation of the technology in Vocal has enabled many improvements in technology and design, most notably the automatic emailing of questions to speed up the discussion process.
This year, we have added the option of a gallery style layout to meet requests. The success of the online discussions is crucial to this event. In the first year of the event only a few participants actively engaged in discussions. Subsequently this participation was included into the “attendance requirements”, resulting in much wider engagement, but, while participants are asked to comment on two other posters, most engage much more widely. The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive:
“It is quite innovative and I am enjoying the experience very much.” “Nice that you can spend a little more time frequently perusing the posters.” “It’s also really nice that people take the time to make comments, some in great detail”
A major complaint has been of the lack of outside contribution from staff members in the University! To experience this years’ Poster Day online for yourself, learn of the research of over 60 participants and engage in the online discussions, see https://vocal.liv.ac.uk/sites/posterdayonline/2012/ External visitors can access the event at https://vocal-external.liv.ac.uk/sites/posterdayonline/2012/ and login in using user-name: pdo2012; password: Liverpool; We also welcome your feedback. You may add to our event feedback form, or offer your opinions on the benefits of this form of event below. How far can we promote active networking in an online environment?