By Elisa Maldonado Greene, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) decided to move the Creative Collaborations Undergraduate Research Conference to a virtual platform. Virtual Creative Collaborations took place from April 21- 23, 2020.
With help from the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), we investigated several different platforms. Because one of the main complaints of Creative Collaborations is that people don’t have enough time to view all of the presentations, we decided to do an asynchronous conference. This way everyone would have time to view a variety of presentations. In the end, we decided to use Blackboard to limit it to only the USD community. Students recorded their presentations using a video recording platform called GoReact that was integrated in Blackboard. We chose GoReact because it had a comment feature to allow viewers to leave questions and comments for the presenters.
Virtual Creative Collaborations was a success! Students submitted 79 presentations. They were very creative with the platform, presenting their posters using screen share and slide decks, individually and in groups. The bright spot was getting to watch all of the amazing research that students have been working on. The main challenge was engagement in the interactive component of the conference. Although we had several people view the posters, very few left questions or comments on the student presentations. And even fewer students responded to the viewer questions / comments. We will be conducting a survey to compare the student learning gains and participant engagement between a virtual versus in person conference. But we hope to hold Creative Collaborations in person again next year!