Each year, Lee University celebrates International Women’s Day by hosting an International Women’s Week Student Poster Session, during which students are given the opportunity to present information that furthers the knowledge of how women have positively contributed to society, including discussions concerning obstacles women have had to overcome and have yet to overcome. Check out how they were able to transform this event into a virtual symposium and the creative tools they used to make it successful. Scroll down to see the entire blog post.
How Lee University Celebrated International Women's Day
Changing an In-Person Poster Session to a Virtual Event
Each year, Lee University celebrates International Women’s Day during the first week of March. Lee University's culminating event is the International Women’s Week Student Poster Session, during which students are given the opportunity to present information that furthers the knowledge of how women have positively contributed to society, including discussions concerning obstacles women have had to overcome and have yet to overcome. This past spring, because of the pandemic, Lee University was unable to hold the event in-person, so they made the decision to move to a virtual platform. It is typically advertised in the fall semester, in order to garner greater faculty support, so Lee University made the decision early to go virtual and communicated this change to its sponsoring faculty.
Communication Change to Student Participants
Since all students have access to the Microsoft Office suite, students were asked to submit, in lieu of the traditional paper poster, either a PowerPoint slide presentation or a PDF of their poster created in PowerPoint. Students were also to include a 300-500 word written script explaining their presentation or they could prepare a 3–5-minute video presenting their topic. An instructional video was created and made available to students to assist them with the technical aspects of creating their poster in PowerPoint, to guide them through recording their presentation in PowerPoint, and to aid them in exporting the finished product in the correct format. Student projects were then submitted, either in the MP4 file format for videos, PDF format for written scripts, and/or PNG format for images of posters, via a LibWizard form.
Making it Work in Wordpress
All of the students’ work was then uploaded to a WordPress site, created specifically to host this event (https://iwwpostersession2021.wordpress.com/). Each student presentation was added as a separate blog post, which then allowed judges and visitors to view specific presentations and interact with participants and judges. Students and faculty judges were given the opportunity to dialogue by utilizing the blog posting feature within WordPress. Lee University had 41 student poster submissions and 31 judges who participated in the 4-day event. These participants generated almost 300 thoughtful and meaningful comments via the blog posting feature, creating a wonderful atmosphere of learning and academic exchange.
Behind the Scenes Work
Overall, the virtual poster session was a great success, but it did require quite a lot of work on the back end to make it happen. First, a WordPress site was created to host the event. Secondly, a form had to be created in Springshare’s LibWizard that would allow students to submit their work. Because not all students are tech-savvy, an instructional video was created that walked students through the process of creating a poster inside of PowerPoint, showed students how to record a video of their presentation within PowerPoint, how to export the posters and presentations in the correct file formats, how to upload those files in the submission form, and described to students how they would be expected to interact with their judges via the reply function in their WordPress blog. Once submissions were received, a separate blog had to be created in the WordPress site for each one of the student presentations and their posters and presentations uploaded. Because not all faculty are tech-savvy, a presentation had to be created to show faculty judges how to access the WordPress site and how to engage in discussion with the student via the reply function on the student’s blog. Once all the information was uploaded and all participants adequately instructed in the use of the site, comments had to be approved before they were posted. The poster session took place over the span of only 4 days, so this created a heavy workload in reading and approving the comments so they could be posted in a timely manner.
Feedback from the Participants
Poster participants were asked to fill out a short survey about their experience after the conclusion of the event. Eleven judges and 12 student participants responded to the survey. Of those respondents, 78% expressed that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the ease of use concerning their experience uploading their projects (for students), navigating the website, viewing presentations, and making comments/replies. 91% were either satisfied or very satisfied with their ability to engage with the materials presented and interact with the judges/student participants. No respondents expressed any dissatisfaction with the event. Looking forward, 52% of respondents preferred the virtual format for future incarnations of the event.
Blog written and video recorded by Lee University's Julie Burchfield, Distance Learning Librarian