Coping with COVID: JOLT turns to online solutions for virtual training event

The global coronavirus pandemic has presented a variety of challenges for everyone. The JOLT Action has not been unaffected.

The original plan for the JOLT Action included a training event in Thessaloniki, hosted by the Aristotle University there, in June of this year. Obviously, the health, safety and wellbeing of our whole community means that a physical trip and meeting would be impossible.

Instead, we have turned to technology to allow us to meet (and so continue to progress on our implementation plan) and still maintain a suitable social distance! This plan is not without logistical headaches: internet connections are variable, online conference calls often result in people talking over each other and, on this occasion, we have the added complexity of participants being spread across four time zones on both sides of the Atlantic!

Despite all this, the JOLT team has risen to the challenge and has developed a comprehensive programme of training, discourse and collaboration.

In a break form the norm, each of our 15 ESRs will not present their usual research update. Instead, pre-recorded presentations, following the now famous Three Minute Thesis model, will be shared. This will help to ensure that poor connectivity or network latency won’t have too significant an impact on the event. This event, and the other logistical and administrative components of the meeting, will take place on Tuesday, 23 June.

In a slightly more traditional programme, the JOLT Action is delighted to welcome a number of world-renowned experts to share their thoughts on views on a vriety of topics.

On Wednesday, 24 June, we will have a discussion on The Politics of Pandemics, Platforms and Journalism, facilitated by Nikos Smyrnaois and Eileen Culloty. Contributors to the session include Cristina Tardáguila, Laura Nolan, J. Scott Brennan and Donie O’Sullivan. This panel will explore how COVID-19 has amplified core issues surrounding platforms and digital technologies including the spread of disinformation; the economic precarity of news media; and the use of digital technologies for surveillance.

On Thursday, 25 June, the focus is on data processing and management as the focus shifts to Methodological Approaches to Research. For these sessions, we are delighted to be joined by Athena Vakali, Vasileios Mezaris, Carlos Arcila Calderón, Deen Freelon, Chris W. Anderson and Tanya Lokot. Here, the focus will be on sharing experiences and best practice across a number of methodologies relevant to the JOLT research areas.

The final training component will take place on Friday, 26 June. Here, a special session, facilitated and lead by Jemimah Bailey, will take a detailed look at work of the ESRs and equip them with the skills required to understand the gender dimension of their research.

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This project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska Curie grant agreement No 765140