In-Person Poster Symposium Goes Virtual

Taking a traditional in-person course and transforming it into an online-only format can be challenging. How do you stay engaged with your students? What happens when an essential course assignment is a highly interactive, face-to-face activity? Believe it or not, CarmenCanvas has the functionality to make engaging assignments work in a virtual space.

Associate Professor Brian Lower and Instructional Aids Associate Ella Weaver, from the School of Environment and Natural Resources, used CarmenCanvas to create a virtual poster symposium. For the live sections of their Introduction to Environmental Science course, students complete a research poster on a topic that interests them. Students then attend an in-person symposium to share their posters, view other posters and provide peer reviews.

When Lower and Weaver offered the course online, they did not want to lose this capstone assignment. Utilizing the group discussion and peer review features in the Canvas LMS allowed them to build a successful virtual poster symposium for their online students.

“We were very happy with the overall results of the virtual poster symposium,” said Weaver. “We saw 485 successful submissions, which correlated to about an 87% success rate. This is typical to what we see in the live class as well.” Peer reviews had similar success rates, and students posted over 1,000 comments in the discussion board symposium itself.

Lower was initially concerned about teaching an online-only course, as he expected less engagement from his students. However, he discovered that he actually received more interactions from his online-only students.

“Overall, I think it's a really successful platform to really get student engagement,” said Lower. “We would encourage other professors to do a similar type of engagement activity.”

Learn how Lower and Weaver set up their virtual poster symposium with this tutorial:

Looking to use a similar assignment in your courses? Check out this Box folder of resources Weaver used to build the virtual poster symposium assignment or reach out to her with any questions.