17 March 2021

Virtual posters

 In a normal year, our master students present their work in a poster session. It is a bit like a scientific conference poster session, but then smaller. We use one of the more glamorous lecture rooms for that. And to draw staff in, there tend to be nibbles.

This year, this couldn't happen. Of course. And I was amazed to see how this had been dealt with. We all got an invitation to attend the poster session virtually. We got a link, which brought us to some portal where we had to choose a name and an avatar, and then we found ourselves outside one of our buildings. I had to figure out how to walk my avatar around. This really looked like an old-fashioned computer game, and I don't play computer games. But I figured it out, then walked into the building, where I quickly found the posters.

I had to also figure out what to do when I got to a poster. You could click on it to read it, and if the student who had produced it was there, their face appeared on screen. I could then unmute myself and have a discussion with said student. And there could be several people there! You could have a nice chat.

The virtual room also had a space where you could access a feedback form. So after you had seen the poster you could physically (well, almost) walk there and provide your feedback.

It was a bit weird to have to get used to, but I think it really worked! You had the overview and could see which posters were busy and which weren't, and whose they were, so you could make an informed choice of where to go. And with the cameras and microphones you really had an idea of useful human interaction. I was impressed! So I suppose next year we are back to physical posters, and that is better, but I think this was as good is it could have been given the circumstances!

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