Scholars Day 2020: An Online Success

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A screenshot of one of the online oral presentations presented during Scholar's Day.

Despite all of the changes the Moravian community has experienced in moving to online classes, the 15th Annual Scholarship and Creative Endeavors Day prevailed.  

On April 21, students represented 14 different departments in the presentation of the research they’ve been working on throughout the past year.  And while the event itself has been one that’s a staple for the Moravian College community, this was the first time it was held online.

With seven oral presentations and 40 poster presentations, there certainly was no shortage of student scholarship. Topics included writing studies, mathematics, psychology, biology, neuroscience, and more.

So how did the Scholars Day coordinators, Dr. Nathan Shank and Dr. Michelle Schmidt, handle the task of organizing the event online?

They had a bit of help: a company called ForagerOne recently created a new platform called Symposium, which is designed to help bring conferences online, and they were “incredibly helpful in meeting our needs and helping us to pull together the online portion of Scholars Day,” said Schmidt.

The Symposium platform allowed the conference participants to browse the abstracts and posters, view student videos about their research, and leave comments for the student researchers. It also  published the program, with Zoom links added. Even with the new online format, the event was  very successful.  

Approximately 25 participants attended each oral presentation more than in previous years.  Holding the event virtually also meant that more alumni were able to attend and keep in touch with their Moravian community.  

Schmidt was really pleased with the outcome of both the oral and poster sessions, and said that the only issues were “a few minor and correctable Zoom setting issues.” 

From the student perspective, transitioning online didn’t seem much of a hassle, either.  

“Overall, I feel like the oral presentations haven’t changed that much due to moving everything online,” said Chris Shosted, a senior English major who presented in both the oral and poster sessions. “It was definitely different presenting research from my bedroom, but it still felt like that kind of academic setting where you get to act like an authority on a subject you’ve worked on for a while.”  

Shosted did find the poster sessions “a bit odd,” however, though only in the sense that it was difficult to engage with attendees because he could not pick up on their social cues, given that they were “just on your screen as a name in a box.” 

Overall, it was uplifting to bring the Moravian community together to share in the passion for scholarship and research by participating in Scholars Day.  

Faculty, presenters, and attendees found the day-long event to be positive; some faculty members even asked Schmidt to retain the online portion in future years.  

Schmidt agreed that the day went well. “Having organized or co-organized each of the 15 Scholars Days, I am more and more impressed each year by the level of our students’ research and the commitment of our faculty to these students,” she said. “This year, in particular, I was thrilled with the ability of everyone to be flexible and adaptable. I always end Scholars Day with an immense feeling of pride for our community.”