A "Virtual" Roundtable
University of Southern Mississippi
As with many graduate students, my first SIOP conference experience was
extremely inspiring. The coming together of researchers, practitioners, and students from
all over the globe to exchange ideas and develop new directions for the field of I-O
psychology was exhilarating, to say the least. There were so many symposia, discussions,
and presentations that it was difficult to absorb everything I wanted to absorb. Three
days and only one body just wasn't enough to take in all that was available.
The annual conference is an unparalleled opportunity for networking and
the dissemination of current information. I wondered if there wasn't any way to keep the
momentum going throughout the year. It wasn't until I began exploring the opportunities
the Internet afforded I-O psychology that a solution came to me. The Internet could
provide a medium for hosting a "virtual" roundtable discussion, accessible from
anywhere in the world at any hour of the day, 365 days a year. In addition, this virtual
roundtable would not be limited by time constraints, as participants could offer input at
their convenience. Thus, the
I-O Psychology Online Forums were born.
These online forums are my attempt to facilitate the continual exchange
of ideas in our field and to provide a resource for solving problems. The first forum I
created, the I-O Psychology Forum, provides visitors with 16 discussion areas. Recent
discussion areas include I-O International, Leadership, Training & Development,
Personnel Selection, and The Future of I-O. Within each discussion area, visitors are able
to enter a topic and post a message regarding that topic. Future visitors may view and/or
respond to these messages, or post a message under their own topic. If your question is
not easily answered in the published literature, the forum may a good resource. Since its
inception in October of last year, the I-O Psychology Forum averages about 40
"hits" per day.
The second forum I created is modeled after the "TIP-TOPics for
Students" column in this publication. The I-O Psychology Graduate Student Forum
provides an opportunity for graduate students to post messages in discussion areas such as
Surviving Graduate School, Theses/Dissertations, Comps, Current Research, Thinking
Globally, and Jobs/Networking. This forum, like its parent, has also served to facilitate
the exchange of ideas. In addition, it has served as a resource and a quasi-support group
for those of us enduring the rigors of graduate school.
In both forums, visitors are also able to initiate and/or participate
in chat rooms. The topics for the chat rooms are specified by the visitors, providing an
ever-changing list of discussion areas. Large and small groups of collaborators,
practitioners, and researchers (or just people interested in the same topic) can hold
"virtual" meetings, free of charge. This will be particularly useful if hundreds
or even thousands of miles separate group members. Perhaps, in the near future, people
might be saying, "I'll meet you at the Forum."
At this point, both forums are housed on a commercial server, which
provides space for such forums in return for attaching a small banner advertisement to the
opening page. The advantage is that there is no charge for using the forums, and
maintenance is rather simple. In the future, I hope to house the forums on a private
server (if I can encourage the faculty to provide financial support for this in the
budget). This will enable me to enhance the design and capabilities of the forums.
What began as a search for extending the SIOP conference experience has
resulted in fulfilling a need for many others in the field. The "real time"
exchange of ideas is no longer limited to 3 days a year and small networks of I-O
psychologists. With online forums, the virtual roundtable can operate around the world,
all year long. These forums may one day facilitate a more rapid advancement of the field
of I-O psychology.
The forums are extremely easy to use, there is no software to download,
and best of all they're free. Although I have provided the means for keeping the momentum
of the SIOP conference going, the forums rely on the material provided by their visitors.
As such, I would like to extend an invitation to all those interested in I-O psychology to
visit the forums via the following URL: http://www-dept.usm.edu/~psy/io/forum.htm.
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