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Annual Research Conference goes digital

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After the Annual Research Conference (ARC) was canceled, its organizers wanted to provide students the opportunity to present their research. The ARC will be held online from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 17.

Less than 18 hours before the Annual Research Conference (ARC) was set to begin at the University of North Georgia (UNG), the March 13 event designed to highlight undergraduate research projects was canceled.

Based on the directive from the University System of Georgia (USG), instruction was halted for two weeks to allow faculty and staff to shift courses to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ARC organizers, however, wanted to provide students the opportunity to present their research. The Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) decided to use a different medium for students to deliver their research posters and oral presentations.

ARC will be held online from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 17. Conference schedule details are on the ARC virtual webpage. Students previously scheduled to present at ARC or at other conferences had to register by midnight Tuesday, April 7, to participate.

"We wanted to honor and celebrate the hard work students put into preparing for the Annual Research Conference," said Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president of research and engagement.

Graduate student J.J. Gilleland, who is enrolled in the Master of Arts in International Affairs program at UNG, was excited to hear that the ARC planned to go forward. The 34-year-old from Cleveland, Georgia, was scheduled to present his research about LGBTQ international relations at ARC as well as conferences in Chicago, London and Tokyo. All were canceled.

gather in the grove

UNG graduate student J.J. Gilleland, who is enrolled in the Master of Arts in International Affairs program at UNG, was excited to hear that the ARC planned to go forward. He will give his oral presentation April 17.

"I spent a year on this research, so I'm excited to get it out there," Gilleland said, explaining it is his capstone project. "Having the conference online has been a motivating factor to finish it."

Gilleland is set to present his paper in a 15-minute oral presentation between 11 a.m. and noon.

The CURCA office worked to accommodate new presenters and reschedule students whose original time was no longer feasible. The full schedule is expected to be updated and live a week before the conference, Lin said.

Oral presentations will be delivered through Visual Huddle and supported by UNG's Information and Technology Services. Instructions on how to join the presenter will be available with the full conference schedule the week of April 6. The link will be on the ARC webpage.

"Anyone who wants to log in to watch can," Lin said.

The posters session will mimic the original face-to-face concept, Lin said. Students may narrate their PowerPoint poster or record a 3- to 5-minute video in front of the poster or screen of the poster. Lin said the task can be completed in a couple of ways. She suggested the following links to help students:

Student then may send their presentations to curca@ung.edu by April 15. It will be uploaded to the ARC webpage and accessible through it. The library has enabled Digital Commons' chat feature for the comments to allow attendees to ask questions.

"We are asking poster presenters to try to be online from noon to 1 p.m. April 17 for real-time chat with faculty and students logging in to submit questions and feedback," Lin said. "We will leave the posters open for a week after the event so others can comment and ask questions asynchronously."

Lin said she is eager to see how this new digital platform will work.

"I like that we are interacting in a different way," she said. "It will keep the conference's integrity and hopefully encourage students who may not ask questions to speak up. The pressure of asking a question in front of a group of students is lessened as students will be at home on their computer."

Students may also feel more relaxed as they present their research in a familiar place. Gilleland said he has already practiced his oral presentation using Zoom in preparation for the conference. But he plans to examine the other students' research, too.

"With the posters, I will have more time to look at it online and ask questions," he said.

For more information, visit ARC virtual webpage.

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