Online technical workshops – the ‘new normal’?

Online technical workshops – the ‘new normal’?

My posts on this blog are usually related to applications of cavitation bubbles, but for my post this week I thought it would be fitting to write a few words about perhaps a more informal topic.

Earlier this week, we held an Online Technical Workshop for members of our research partnership between Edinburgh, Daresbury and Warwick. This was, in fact, our first ability to (virtually) meet, present, and discuss research as a partnership since our last workshop in December 2019. I remember how after that workshop, Chengxi, Yixin, Jingbang and I had some time to kill before we catch our train back to Warwickshire, so we walked from the hotel down to the pier and jumped on a boat for a short cruise on Lake Windermere (I hope they don’t mind me sharing the selfie we took that day along with this post).

Needless to say, the setting for our technical workshop this week was a bit different – the views of Lake Windermere were replaced with views of each participant’s home office and, as some of us joked, we’ve had to make our own refreshments during breaks. However, I think I speak for most of our group when I say it was really great to virtually see our fellow colleagues, collaborators, and learn about the latest research in our MNF group. That said, I do hope that our next workshop will not have to be held virtually. While our online workshop this week went remarkably smoothly, we did have to compromise on a few things. For instance, I missed the ability to catch up with fellow PhD students in between sessions, meet new researchers that have joined our group, or simply chat more informally over dinner after months of hard work. We all miss the face-to-face contact, and the new normal is different to what we’re used to, but effectively works! For many that are at their home office and work in isolation, online workshops give the opportunity to query, chat, and share our experience of lockdown with fellow colleagues.

I would like to end this short blog on a positive note: although a lot has changed since our last MNF workshop, one thing has stayed the same. Our ability to adapt to the circumstances (and, of course, technology) have enabled us to continue making significant progress in our respective research projects, and the talks we’ve had at the workshop this week are a testament to that.