Looking Glass Livestream Series Launches
In April 2020, Webster University Geneva launched a new series of Livestream events designed to showcase an expert speaker on a current topic.The next event on Mindfulness Through Photography Practice with Athena Carey will take place on Thursday 14th at 6pm Geneva time (11am CDT in St. Louis)
We spoke to Francesco Arese Visconti, the Head of the Media Communications & Photography Department, who initiated the project about how it started and where it is going:
Tell me about why you decided to launch the Looking Glass Livestream series?
On March 16th 2020, the Swiss Confederation government decided to undertake measures
against the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence of that decision, Webster University
Geneva applied the rules and from that day all the activities of our campus were offered
remotely from home. All the courses were delivered through the online platform WebEx
by Cisco, but the other events could not take place.
In those days of lockdown, I was fascinated by the explosion of online offerings of all kinds. I was amazed by the case of a motorcyclist YouTuber who obviously could not produce more videos on his journeys around the world on his motorbike. He was stuck at home. The only things he had were a computer, the internet connection, his social media accounts, and his followers. His reaction to the lockdown condition was to start live streams to talk about his adventures and answer to the questions he received in one-hour long online live events. This activity, not only gave him the possibility to keep his audience but even to increase it. I, then, wondered why I could not do something similar on academic topics.
I realized that I had everything I needed: an excellent platform (WebEx), easy access to great experts (all the Webster Faculty), and fantastic technical support from Webster IT staff. I only had to think about the format and test it. Each livestream has a short introduction to an expert who then speaks on a current topic for about 30 minutes followed by a Q&A session. The entire event lasts no longer than one hour. We have planned livestreams every fifteen days until the end of June. We realized that the stream could simultaneously go live on WebEx and Facebook. The event on WebEx is also recorded and posted on the Webster University Geneva YouTube channel.
How have the events that you have run so far been accepted ... have they been successful ... do you think they replace/complement in-person events?
We ran the first event on April 16th. I decided to be the first speaker and planned a talk on visual semiotics in the age of Coronavirus. The title was 'May the Force be with you against the virus.' We had 28 participants on WebEx and 16 on Facebook (996 people reached with participants from Switzerland, France, US, Italy, and Columbia). For the second event of April 29th with Prof. Kasia Jagodzinska on how to successfully conduct virtual negotiations, we had 52 participants in total (WebEx and Facebook) with 623 people reached. The results are encouraging and we have received positive feedback. For their nature and structure, they complement our in-person events and won't replace them. The 'The Looking Glass' is a series of live streams which can be followed from any place. The only two necessary things needed to 'attend' are a device and an internet connection.
What do you have planned for the future of the series ... do you think it will continue after social distancing measures are lifted?
I have planned other four events between now and the beginning of the summer also with external speakers (including Webster St. Louis main campus). The last live stream will happen on June 25th. I think that interrupting 'The Looking Glass' series would be a missed opportunity to add academic value to our Webster University Geneva activity. We will continue in the fall with a new series.