At Savonia University of Applied Sciences there are 3 online Master Degree programmes: Digital Health, Global Public Health and Energy Engineering. The programmes are fully conducted in English. All these programmes consist of Specialised Professional Studies, master level Elective studies and master’s thesis. The extent of studies varies from educational background from 60 to 90 ECTS.

One of the elective studies is Working and Studying in International Environment (5 ECTS). It is open to all students. The objectives of this course are strengthening student’s communicative skills and professional expertise in an international learning environment. In addition, the student will gain experience to work and learn effectively as a team member in another cultural environment.

The implementation of the course may vary according to destination and the role of the international co-operative partners. The execution can be e.g. training in another country, participation to a congress or report of an international group visiting Finland. However, due to the pandemic, travelling around the world cannot take place and live happenings have been replaced by virtual meetings and congresses.

Student Katja Parviainen (Master’s Degree Programme in Digital Health) has participated to two online conferences, eHealth 2020 International conference and Digital Health World Congress 2020. Here are some tips from Katja to a virtual conference so that you get the most out of the event. These tips are part of Katja’s performance for the course “Working and Studying in International Environment”.

Luxurious breakfast to start the conference day.

Before the conference

• Spend the night before the virtual conference after work doing nice and relaxing things in order to forget all the work stuff. Think like it is a start of the weekend! Remember to make sure you have ingredients for nice breakfast and lunch…
• While relaxing, make sure you have peaceful, quiet and calming atmosphere at your home for the next day (= make sure no one else is at home and your home is nice and tidy)
• Make sure you have received the link for attending the virtual conference and you have all the equipment needed (working computer or mobile device, speaker, microphone and camera if needed). IT IS IMPORTANT TO TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT! If you were to attend as a keynote, make sure you know how to share your screen if that is your intention.
• Have a good night sleep in your own comfortable bed in order to be well rested for your virtual conference. Set your alarm, make sure to wake up in time in order to all the preparations!
• After waking up, go outside and have a nice walk to get some fresh air and to make sure you wide awake and ready to spend the day in.
• Choose comfortable clothes to wear and definitely, put your wool socks on!
• Prepare nice atmosphere: perhaps put a fire in your fireplace, if you have one and light some candles. This creates a relaxing feeling for your virtual conference day.
• Choose the best location for you to attend. If you are attending using your portable computer or mobile device, you can even choose to attend outside on your porch while sun is shining! I highly recommend that…
• Prepare a luxurious breakfast for yourself. Start enjoying it when the conference starts.
Then it is time for enjoying the actual virtual conference. I found attending virtual conference at my own home to be extremely relaxing and peaceful as there were no surrounding sounds, irritating smells, bright lights. After experiencing this, I feel like attending at home is a best way. When you create your environment and atmosphere most suitable for you, attending virtual conference can be relaxing, in addition to its educational effect.

Breaks and lunch

Use the breaks to get some fresh air and move your body. I did some virtual yoga, which was relaxing as well as made it easier to sit down on my computer the whole day easier.
Prepare yourself a nice lunch! Eating well and enjoying good food often is an important part of attending live conferences, so why not in virtual ones! You just have to make it yourself, but at least you most certainly can enjoy the food you like – and you can always order in!
During the conference
Be virtually active; answer pole questions and type your own questions for the keynotes. And enjoy of not needing to talk anyone. If you enjoy connecting and communicating with others, you can do that on social breaks virtually using your microphone.
Write notes! Keep the notes short, just write down the highlights and keywords. You will receive the material of the keynotes after the conference.
After the virtual conference, enjoy the time spared – you have the evening to anything else than travelling back to home – because you already are there!

We hope you can have a good experience in a virtual conference!

Katja Parviainen, RN, Master’s Degree Programme in Digital Health
Liisa Klemola, PhD, RN, Lecturer

How to make virtual conference comfortable

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