Events, Research

Graduate student symposium successfully moves online

April 06, 2020

History was made at the Faculty of Education. For the first time, the Robert Macmillan Symposium in Education (RMSE) went completely virtual.

Organizers moved to an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. RMSE chair Aide Chen said with the help of the Dean’s Office, Graduate Office, Research Office and Technology Support, they were able to move 30 presentations to Western’s online learning platform in under one week.

"We thought it would be quite unfair for students' efforts to go in vain this year," said Education Graduate Students Association president Mohammed Estaiteyeh. "Students worked hard on their presentations and some of them wouldn’t have the opportunity to present next year, so we didn’t want to deprive them of this opportunity."

Graduate students at the Faculty of Education organize the annual event. It showcases and supports education-related research projects, conceptual research and studies at the master’s and doctoral level.

The symposium allows graduate students to share their work with the wider community. Traditionally, presentation formats included posters, round tables, papers, and creative formats such as songs, dances, or other forms of art. However, this year’s virtual format allowed presenters to use different methods to deliver their topics, such as digital posters, YouTube videos, and PowerPoint presentations with or without audio, said Chen.

'Empowerment in Education: Creating Possibility and Change' was this year’s theme.

Although organizers were worried about how many students would participate virtually, they were pleasantly surprised how the event turned out.

"Many presenters and attendees approached me to express their gratitude for having this symposium online," said Chen. "They found a sizeable number of presentations to be engaging, informative, and thought-provoking."

While this year’s online format was successful, there aren’t any plans to make this move permanent. However, a virtual component could be added to the symposium in the future.

"It's always nicer to meet other graduate students and faculty members in person, network with them, and ask and answer questions. For these reasons, I believe we can't replace our face to face annual symposium," said Estaiteyeh.

"However," added Chen. "We’re not rejecting the online possibility as we have seen its multiple strengths. In fact, we may integrate both formats in the months to come."

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