ICTA-UAB researchers explain the virtues of virtual conferences


Virtual events have a great potential to become the new norm among academics, according to the results from a survey that was filled out by the participants of the ICTA2020 conference on Low-Carbon Lifestyles, in which they shared their experiences.


The conference was organised by ICTA-UAB in May 2020 in a virtual format due to the situation generated by the global pandemic by Covid-19.

Researchers consider that virtual events have advantages beyond just environmental aspects. They found that virtual events increase societal outreach, improve the academic quality of discussions, create new opportunities for networking, and provide an inclusive environment. Attendance costs and the amount of time to attend are two other strong advantages.

However, among the main challenges, the find that virtual conferences do not provide quality informal spaces for social interaction and give rise to problems related to "screen fatigue". The number of technical problems and the chances of meeting new collaborators were rated as another disadvantage, compared to physical conferences.

The researchers share their experiences and provide an overview of tools that can be used by future organizers. They argue that virtual events are not only of interest in times of confinement and other social distancing measures, but that they have potential to become the new norm among academics, that is to say, the ‘new normal’ of international academic events. The paper has been recently published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

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Link to the research paper