Adding Self-Discovery Learning to Live Online Conferences: Using Digital Poster Sessions in Higher Education

Adding Self-Discovery Learning to Live Online Conferences: Using Digital Poster Sessions in Higher Education

Shalin Hai-Jew (Kansas State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-071-2.ch016
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In recent years, pre-recorded digital poster sessions have become more widely used as parts of real-time face-to-face conferences and as complements to online conferences and colloquiums. The multimedia-enriched building of various types of digital poster sessions offers high potential for conference organizers to be more inclusive of a variety of topics, and it helps conference participants gain more value from the shared synchronous time and virtual experiences. This chapter examines the role of digital poster sessions in contemporary online conferences and highlights some basic production-quality issues in the creation of digital posters.
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Recent global economic pressures have pushed a number of academic conferences to move from real-space to virtual. Virtual conferences involve wholly online conference interactions: the live (and pre-recorded) presentation of papers, live-stream video-ed or simulated demonstrations, the sharing of multimedia, and the promotion of scholarly interchanges and networking among all the conference participants. There are small-group decision-making sessions. The real-world metaphor of a conference has offered a potent organizing structure for ways that people interact and share information in online virtual spaces, based on understood conventions. Many online conferences follow the chronology and flow of a real-world conference. Some even emulate a conference environment. According to Ball (2000), virtual conferencing refers to

a time-limited series of research presentations and discussions among academic practitioners within a discipline or on a specific topic. Virtual conferences take place over the public Internet, but participation may be restricted (pp. 147 – 148).

The harnessing of these virtual conferences may enhance authentic learning in higher education (Basque, Dao, & Contamines, 2005). These conferences offer ways for professionals to share their research and to learn from others; they also offer venues for students to acclimate into a domain field and advance their respective careers. Some early research has been done to understand how to promote social interactivity in online conferences, in terms of both enablers and inhibitors. Nyirenda and Seymour (2009) found that in one online cross-disciplinary research conference that it was important to consciously promote social communications:

Effective enablers were found to be the facilitation and the use of prescribed topics of discussion. Some major inhibitors of social interaction were found to be the lack of community amongst members, poor conference timing and notice period, lack of immediacy and unclear or not relevant topics (p. 93).

These connections and communications may be enhanced by year-round electronic interactions, collaborations, information sharing, and research. These online academic conferences (through desktop machines and laptops) have recently started adding digital poster sessions to their offerings. As such, it is important to examine these digital forms to consider some ways to more effectively use these.

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