By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–If the IU Southeast Student Conference were a movie, it could be titled “Unbroken” or maybe even “Unbreakable.”
Alas those titles are already taken.
Still, the backstory of this year’s conference, to be held virtually on April 22 and 23, is one of resilience and resolve.
Due to the restrictions forced by the coronavirus pandemic, the conference will be virtual for the second consecutive year.
The pandemic has done more than disrupt the traditional presentation of research. It has upended processes, procedures and habits of scholarship across the board.
“Students and faculty have had less time for research and creative work because there are more demands on both faculty and students time during the pandemic,” said Dr. Diane Wille, dean of research.
What’s more, the logistics of working together have changed.
“All CDC and IU COVID-19 guidelines have to be followed, which may mean that communication has to be virtual,” Wille said. “So it has been more difficult for faculty and students to collaborate on research and creative work.”
Another hurdle is reduced funding for research-related travel. That includes professional academic conferences, which have largely if not entirely gone virtual.
That virtual capacity has helped the Student Conference continue throughout the pandemic.
Last year’s event took place under near-battlefield conditions, with participants still in the midst of learning how to use Zoom.
“At that time, we thought the asynchronous model, in which students upload a video of their presentation, would be the easiest for participants and judges,” Wille said.
That arrangement enabled the conference to actually happen, but it didn’t give student presenters the opportunity to interact with their audiences or answer questions.
So changes were made. The 2021 Student Conference is synchronous, augmenting the experience for both presenter and audience.
This year’s conference boasts 130 presentations from 170 students, with the involvement of 40 faculty advisors.
For Wille, it’s a bounce that reflects the efforts of the academic community to persist under the most difficult circumstances.
“That we have over 130 presentations at this conference is a true indicator of the dedication of IU Southeast faculty and the value they place on ensuring that students, even during a pandemic, have the best possible educational experiences,” Wille said.
So back to that movie title: Maybe “The Conference Strikes Back”?
For more information on the 17th IU Southeast Student Conference, April 22-23, including a list of presentations and Zoom links to sessions, please visit the conference website.