The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference – 2020
The 2020 conference of IAMCR, probably the largest event in media and communication studies worldwide, is preparing to take place exclusively online from 17 until 22 of July. Titled ‘Reimagining the Digital Future: Building inclusiveness, respect and reciprocity’, the conference already moved once its physical location as a result of the early year sweeping spread of COVID-19 in China. Its host city, which was initially Beijing, became the city of Tampere in Finland. As the whole world got gradually swept over by the virus, Tampere University remained the official host of IAMCR 2020 yet it will not host the conference in the traditional, physical sense. All activities will be online. The core of these IAMCR 2020 online activities revolves around two models, what they named ‘Online sessions and plenaries’ and ‘Online conference papers’. According to the organizers, the first model will be ‘a series of high-quality pre-recorded and live sessions’ and the second will be ‘oriented to IAMCR members who want to present and get feedback on their work and/or to get certification of their presentation of a conference paper’. For IAMCR, these two models will differentiate the event from a simple ‘virtual conference’ and all practical details are due to be worked out in the coming months.
This comes at a time when higher education institutes are seeking to adjust to the new reality of social distancing that the pandemic has engendered. In the previous week, one of the world’s leading universities, the University of Cambridge, announced that all its face to face lectures for the following year will move online. It is certain that many other universities will follow, in a lesser or larger degree, Cambridge’s lead as in this extraordinary new reality higher education institutions have to adjust teaching, supervising and learning activities. One thing is for sure: the increasing reliance of higher education on online media platforms is here to stay.