An article about the 2020 ESERA Virtual Doctoral Network (VDN) has been published and can be accessed at https://bera-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjet.13195

The ESERA VDN event was held from June 28th- July 4th, 2020 as an exclusively online event.

Similar to all ESERA summer schools, the event included mentor group discussions, workshops, plenary presentations as well as social activities. While most of the activities were restricted to doctoral students, the three plenary talks were open to all as a way of engaging with researchers from different parts of the world at a time period where on site conferences and professional development events were cancelled. The three plenary talks were attended by a total of 675 people from across Europe and the rest of the world and recordings are also made available to everyone.  The ESERA Board met in early March 2020 in Oxford to finalise the in-person arrangements for the ESERA summer school. At that time a plan was discussed about the possibility of transforming the school to a virtual one if that was deemed necessary. Indeed, only a few weeks later that plan was put into action.

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ESERA Board and Local Organising Committee members of ESERA Summer School in March 2020.

The transformation of the regular in-person event onto an online platform was a major challenge for the ESERA Board. When travel restrictions related to then emerging Covid-19 pandemic necessitated new arrangements, a fair amount of deviation from the original arrangements had to be managed, which were mediated and facilitated by the ESERA Board in supporting the local organising teams at Oxford Brookes University and University of Oxford, United Kingdom.A sub-group of the ESERA Board including Lucy Avraamidou, Ellen Karoline Hendriksen, Sibel Erduran and Bob Evans engaged in the recruitment of the mentors as well as the re-conceptualisation and re-organisation of the event content. The team also introduced a new component to the event by proposing a panel discussion with early career researchers composed of postdoctoral researchers, a cohort that has not been a typical part of the regular summer schools. The transition to the online environment enabled the recruitment of new mentors who may not have been able to travel to Oxford, including Isabel Martins from Brazil and Doris Ash from USA.

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Mentors meeting for ESERA 2020 VDN.

The local organising team worked closely with the ESERA Board members over a period of two months to finalize the event programme as well as the technical aspects of the events.

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ESERA 2020 VDN Local Organising Team and ESERA Board members. 

ESERA is pleased to have provided a forum for discussion and to support the networking of the science education community during the difficult times at the onset of the pandemic. The record of the event in a publication form is testimony to the dedication of the ESERA membership in supporting doctoral students and other early career researchers such as postdoctoral fellows in their professional development, not only as participants in events but also as co-organisers of events and authors of research publications. Further information about the VDN can be found at the following link: https://esera2020ss.web.ox.ac.uk

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