During this difficult year, we are happy that we have been able to support associations and professional conference organisers to bring people together and keep the research conversation active.

Research is never a purely individual endeavour – it relies on teamwork, collaboration, discussion and the spark that comes when you bring together smart people and interesting ideas. Conferences are a key place for those catalytic meetings of people and ideas and 2020 threatened those meetings.

It has been wonderful therefore to play a role in helping these research communities to continue to share, present, discuss and develop their work as their conferences moved online. Learning Toolbox has been used in a very wide range of international & national conferences this year covering topics including healthcare, dentistry, education, technology, music, engineering and renewable energy. Our existing clients have been able to easily move online (since our ePosters always had an online presence) and we have helped many new clients to take the jump from flat, traditional ePosters to rich, interactive, multimedia ePosters that can be shared, presented and discussed online.

It has been exciting to see the creativity of the authors who have used Learning Toolbox to produce really rich and engaging ePosters. In fact (as many of our authors have pointed out), the term “ePoster” does not capture the richness and flexibility of what they can create in Learning Toolbox.

Across this year’s ePosters we have seen examples of all of the following:

  • Video and audio introductions of the research – letting the author speak directly to the delegates
  • 360 degree videos or 3D animations – letting the delegates explore a physical location or experience from a different perspective
  • Links to apps and interactive websites – where delegates can interact with the research data
  • Sharing of re-usable (and analysable) research materials such as interview guidelines, questionnaires or thematic frameworks – allowing the delegates to fully understand and potentially repeat/re-use the research methods
  • Rich discussions and meaningful connections being forged in the ePoster’s chat channel – future research collaborations being built
  • Surveys to get feedback from delegates – including surveys used by the author to get feedback on their work and by the organiser to determine eligibility for Continuing Education Credits
  • Links to meeting spaces (e.g. a Zoom meeting) included within an ePoster itself – letting delegates step in to meet and talk directly to the author
  • Exhibitors using ePosters to give delegates a rich presentation of their company, allow them to download reports/brochures and provide a space to talk
  • Researchers using the interactive functionality of the ePosters as a way of gathering new research data from delegates
  • Delegates returning to ePosters regularly after the conference – demonstrating the ongoing value of the ePosters

Thank you to the many associations, conference organisers and authors who have worked with Learning Toolbox this year – we love what you’ve achieved!

And finally, we believe strongly that research and innovation thrive in an environment in which people share and discuss their work – that it is when you bring people together and allow them to explore ideas over time that new unexpected solutions and developments are made. A festive example of this from the world of music is the story of the creation of the classic Fairytale of New York song – as the story shows many people had a creative input into this song and it developed organically over time and through several iterations. We believe that that our ePoster approach can support such collaborative and episodic learning & development – as the rich content remains available for longer and discussions are kept and can be returned to, reflected on and developed further by a wide range of people. We’re excited to see how these creative and innovative research communities will continue to use their ePosters and Learning Toolbox in future years.

The future is looking bright, with people using ePosters to share and develop their work in a creative and flexible ways – online, onsite and ongoing.