The ESERA summer school 2020 was jointly planned by Oxford Brookes University and University of Oxford, UK. In January 2020 Oxford College accommodation was booked for 49 doctoral students and 14 members of staff, all of whom should have been staying for a week from Sunday June 28th – Saturday July 4th as participants in the annual summer school. Little did we know that in March, England and many European countries would be ‘locked-down’ and international travel would be severely curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite not being able to meet physically, the local organising committee* and several members of the ESERA Executive Board** worked together to organise a totally on-line virtual experience for all the students. Thus, the 2020 Virtual Doctoral Network (VDN) replaced the physical experience of the summer school.

So, on Sunday the 28th of June, many mentors and students met online socially through zoom as part of a welcoming activity. On Monday 29th of June, the VDN began in earnest.

The participants involved 49 students from 21 different countries; 14 mentors from 11 countries; 4 keynote speakers from 4 countries; 2 workshop leaders from 2 different countries and 3 Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from the Oxford Local Organising Committee (LOC).

The zoom online platform provided the vehicle by which all the VDN activities took place.

As all the members of the VDN met virtually, photographs of the event involved thumbnail pictures of those taking part at the time, like the illustrations below (of a mentor meeting and a planning meeting). The picture below is of a keepsake mouse mat provided for all the mentors contributing and leading each of the seven student groups.

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The following timetable provided the framework for the online activities.

The students were engaged in small group in-depth discussions concerning their research projects; reviewing each-other’s posters presented in a virtual gallery; a range of social activities; listening to eminent science education research speakers as well as early career researchers reflecting on their learning journey beyond their doctorates.  

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Workshops :

Sibel Erduran – Writing and science education research

Bob Evans – using Toulmin’s argumentation model to plan a research project

Plenary lectures :

Michael Reiss – What kind of researcher do you want to be? Costas Constantinou – designing for relevance in science education research : examples from formative assessment Renee Schwartz and Lucy Avraamidou – new directions in understanding relationships among science learning experiences, science identity and understandings of the nature of science.

For further information, please see the 2020 VDN Book of Synopseshttps://www.dropbox.com/s/b46ho9k6xvssfu3/bookofsynopsesesera2020-final%20%283%29.pdf?dl=0

*LOC : Deb McGregor; Ann Childs; Liam Guilfoyle; Alison Cullinane; Sarah Frodsham; Nicoleta Gaciu; Polly Bell.

**EB : Bob Evans; Ellen Karoline Henriksen; Sibel Erduran; Lucy Avraamidou.