As the COVID‐19 pandemic spurs all of us to keep spatial (- not social) distance, we must adapt to this new circumstances by going digital wherever possible. For a distance-learning program such as UNIGIS not a problem at all, considering that our modules were designed to be studied individually from home.
Still, we traditionally held our kick-off workshops on-site in Salzburg to meet our students at least once in person. Nevertheless, yet for the second time and for the sake of safety, we decided to relocate this workshop into the online world. To overcome one of the major downsides in online meetings, namely the lack of personal relationship building and social interaction within the group, we tried out a new tool called Gather. It combines video-calling with a 2D map, letting the participants walk around and talk to people that stand next to each other. We shared this experience with 18 new students, who decided to join the German speaking UNIGIS program and become GIS-professionals in our one-year study program.
In our two-day workshop, we did our best to create an energizing, motivating atmosphere within the group and to deliver the most important information that is needed for a successful start into a year full of new experiences and insights into the world of geoinformatics.