On this page we gather practical tips to reduce the amount of travel that academics do in their regular working lives. The tips are connected to Die Junge Akademie’s statement “Proposal for promoting sustainability in academia through the reduction of travel”. Unlike the statement, these tips do not reflect the views of the entire Junge Akademie. Rather, it is an ongoing collection of ideas that will occasionally be added to. You are also welcome to suggest ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practical tips for online meetings: personal experiences and tips
Technological and legal aspects
- Microphone: Good audio quality is essential. When acquiring microphones for tables or desks it is important to make sure they meet requirements regarding distance and direction.
- Headphones: Comfortable headphones, for example over-ear headphones, are recommended for longer meetings. (Semi-)open headphones are comfortable to wear. They allow air to pass through the ear cups, leading to greater heat exchange and spatial sound; however, some sound is leaked. Participating in meetings without using headphones can lead to echoes. So if you are not using headphones it is important to turn on the “mute” function when not speaking yourself.
- Video: A good webcam is less important than a good microphone. All teleconferencing software allows you to see your own image. You should do a brief check to make sure that you are clearly visible – including your hands and face – so that other meeting participants can easily see the majority of your body language and gestures.
Moderation and etiquette
- Moderation: Participants in online meetings are often more reserved. Clear moderation can help with this.
- Focusing: It is important to consciously engage with the meeting. Many people lose focus more quickly when they think they are unobserved. So it can be a good idea not to turn off the video. This also helps the speaker, as they can see some of the participants’ faces. Some participants say that they find it easier to concentrate on online meetings as there is no distraction from the immediate surroundings (unlike, for example, in a lecture hall or seminar room).
- Questions: A chat that runs parallel to the lecture should be used in a well-thought-out way, for example for questions that arise during the lecture and which can be directly integrated by the moderator.
New ways of interacting
- Breakout sessions: Automatically generating many, randomly selected breakout sessions can replace coffee breaks. During lessons these sessions can replace conversations with one’s neighbour (“Discuss this question with your neighbour and try, if necessary, to convince them of your answer.”).
- Non-verbal communication: Ways to virtually raise one’s hand; emoticons are a useful way to quickly assess the mood or views among participants.
- Virtual worlds: Virtual spaces enable new forms of interaction. See, e.g., gather.town. It offers possibilities for keynotes, poster sessions, etc. You can often create your own environment.
Reports on the experience of virtual conferences
- The following major conferences (> 1,000 participants) were held online: sites.usc.edu/pom/mission/staff or also medium.com. A report on the first conference can be found in a Nature Comment: rdcu.be.
- Several annual conferences relating to machine learning were held online. The respective codes of conduct are often available, see, e.g. iclr.cc or auai.org.
Die Junge Akademie veröffentlicht Stellungnahme „Vorschläge für einen nachhaltigeren Wissenschaftsbetrieb durch Reduzierung der Reisetätigkeit“.
Mitglieder der Jungen Akademie geben praktische Tipps, wie eine Reduzierung der Reisetätigkeit im Arbeitsalltag von Wissenschaftler*innen gelingen kann.