Blog - Sharing Virtual Experiences in Unprecedented Times

Caroline Dickson

Sharing virtual experiences in unprecedented times

Dr Caroline Dickson, Secretary to Omega XI Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International and senior lecturer at Queen Margaret University shares her recent virtual experiences at the European Sigma Conference in May 2020.

I joined up with two Sigma colleagues, Birgit from Sweden and Marie-Louise from the Netherlands to facilitate a virtual workshop at the 5th Biennial European Sigma Conference. This was a new experience for all of us and it felt a bit daunting.

The workshop, “Pearls and Pitfalls: Making long-distance collaboration work”, was intended to give some background to participants about the research collaborative, the research topic and then give an overview of the evaluation that we as a group undertook to consider how our research collaboration was working. This part went well, but was didactic.

We then ‘broke out’ into smaller groups to discuss others’ experiences and the shared learning we could gain. I found this daunting because of the technology involved, relying on someone else to put us into small groups and the fact that I would be facilitating a group of colleagues from different countries from around the world. I need not have worried! The technology was great and we had someone to do the ‘techy things’. Although technology also worked well throughout the virtual conference and there were diverse and interesting presentations and topics discussed, it was in the small workshop group where I felt I got to meet people, have conversations about working together to undertake research and start making connections. This, for me is such a valuable part of attending a conference. The organisers did a fantastic job bringing everyone together in this virtual setting given the unprecedented situation and impact of the global pandemic and there is nothing quite like networking, making connections and learning from each other.

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