Shorouk Elkobros is Europlanet Magazine’s columnist on science communication topics and tools.
Read article in the fully formatted PDF of the Europlanet Magazine.
Since the pandemic started, I expected social distancing to feel, well, distant. But I have found that regardless of isolating in my home office, I’ve been more connected than ever. In this issue’s column I would like to share some of the useful tools I have used over the past year that have allowed me to facilitate workshops and embrace the new norm of remote working.
The Europlanet media team, of which I’m part, has recently organised a workshop in collaboration with the European Science Foundation on common challenges and actions for distributed research infrastructures in Europe. We had more than 130 registered participants from 23 countries within the EU and beyond. To make sure we fostered interesting outputs we used a Mural board, a digital workspace for visual collaboration to help participants brainstorm ideas. During the workshop, people collaboratively added and edited ideas live. After the workshop, we assessed the value of the Mural board for efficiency, time management and creativity. The results were great! Similar online platforms are a game-changer not only for organising events but also for meetings, voting processes, etc.
You might wonder, if sessions are disseminated via platforms like Zoom and workshops are organised using visual collaboration tools such as the Mural board, how can we incorporate networking?
Europlanet joined Slack, a networking platform to formally and informally chat with colleagues. Slack is a great communication tool for communities and a perfect complement to emails. It simplifies communication between different teams, committees and working groups, and thus increases collaboration and productivity. Once workshops are done, Slack provides a space to continue the conversation and keep the collaboration alive.
We are on the brink of what Ezra Klein calls a ‘social recession’. Using virtual platforms that can boost effective communication is thus crucial to maintain an active work culture. At Europlanet, we aspire to use digital tools that help us create connections on virtual meetings and allow us to come up with collective solutions. We want to question strategically how to have a healthy and robust version of digital culture. Yes, we are losing physical proximity, but we should stay positive and always think of new ways to revolutionise our digital spaces.