Digital Scholarship Workshops, Spring 2021

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This semester the Digital Scholarship team is hosting a number of workshops focusing on different tools and skills. Our workshop instructors, Jiebei Luo, Allison Xu, and Matthew Naglak answer questions about the online workshop experience and what to look forward to this semester.
Check out the Digital Scholarship events page for more information and registration links.

What was a highlight from last semester’s workshops? 

Allison: Because we are still in the pandemic, the COVID-19 topic is truly timely. I know that a lot of data visualizations related to COVID 19 have already been widely shared with the public on the news/social media, and they shape the way we think about this crisis.  But not all the visualizations on the web are well-designed visualizations; they can be misleading. So I thought it would be an interesting topic to showcase some of the COVID visualizations (COVIZs) and discuss what makes a good/bad visualization.

Are there any new tools or strategies that you have adopted from making the change to leading workshops virtually?

Matt: I think it is more useful to have an “example-based” presentation rather than a step-by-step hands-on workshop when working virtually. No one wants to watch you click buttons for an hour; they want to see interesting and fun results and then have resources available that let them know the details later. 

Allison: I found one of the most useful strategies of virtual synchronous workshops is to make it interactive and keep participants engaged throughout the session. Zoom offers some great collaborative tools that encourage active learning such as breakout rooms, whiteboards, polls, and chat. I tried to at least use one of them in each of my workshops.

What was the hardest part of conducting workshops over zoom during the pandemic?

Jiebei: Data services workshops feature hands-on experience for participants. A great challenge in the virtual environment is person-to-person interactions. For the instructor, Zoom makes monitoring the ongoing progress of the whole group during the workshop challenging, which in turn limits real-time troubleshooting compared to in-person sessions.

Matt: Similar to Jiebei, I found that trying to conduct hands-on workshops on Zoom was difficult without the ability to “walk-around” and see how people were doing. Instead, my synchronous session became more of a lecture/demonstration about the process with instructions/tutorials & follow-up assistance for them to engage with later. I think my workshops this semester will be similar.

If I am coming to a workshop, is there anything I need to do in advance to get the most out of it?

Jiebei: On some occasions, we may ask you to install the tool that will be introduced in the workshop. Such information will be provided in the workshop description, and you will notice that when you register.

What are the biggest advantages to coming to a workshop with live instruction rather than watching a recording?

Jiebei: A great advantage of coming to a live workshop is that attendees will have the opportunity to communicate with the instructor. For questions such as troubleshooting or data questions related to other topics, the workshop provides a good opportunity to find more information and also let us know the research interests of the BC community.

Allison: The interaction between instructors and participants is an important part of the learning process. The live instruction provides that opportunity to see and interact with the participants.  For example, during a live instruction, we can do exercises and discussions in a break-out room, which will help people to get more engaged and have good conversations; this is something that watching a recording session is missing.

Gabriel Feldstein

Digital Publishing and Outreach Specialist, O'Neill Library