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Guest posts: Mental health and grassroot politics (Mindwavesnews.com)

As we approach the final leg of the Westminster campaigns, I just wanted to cross post a few blog posts which I have written elsewhere on mental wellbeing and participation in politics. I was approached by Rosie from Mindwaves, a Glasgow based community media for mental health and wellbeing (of which I’m a board member through my role at UWS) about potential ideas for blog posts, so I decided to focus on two elements; firstly reflection on the first experience of highs and lows of becoming politicised and the second, some coping mechanisms for maintaining civic participation whilst looking after your own wellbeing.

(Note: I don’t normally talk about politics on this blog – and this isn’t going to become a regular thing, but I feel that the journey since the independence referendum has been a massive influence on me – and I wanted to use a photo from last October where I got the chance to share a platform with Patrick Harvie MSP, reflecting on similar themes that I addressed in the blog posts below. Regardless of the result on Friday, the last 6 months have be transformative in terms of political engagement – but I’m also aware that there are phd/work priorities I need to focus on from now until the end of the year, so giving myself a permission to step back is also very important) 

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Visual Methods and Ethnography Workshop (12th May 2015 – all day, free)

I was approached by Dr Ivana Rihova to take part in the following free all day workshop that is to take place at Napier University on the 12th of May 2015. I will be collaborating with Sharon Greenwood (PhD researcher at University of Glasgow) on a practical workshop entitled: “Where do you stand? Reflecting on ethical considerations of using social media data within a visual methods context,” and will be drawing on the discussion chapters of my PhD research around working with social media from self-defined citizen journalists operating during the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. More details about the workshop and the full event are available below.

Workshop outline:

Social media data can be considered freely available. However, this opens up questions of the epistemological grounding of the research as well as ethical issues related to the researcher’s position in terms of how they chose to present and work with data. This session will not offer a one size fits all approach, but instead will provoke discussion and debate surrounding the use of social media data within visual methods contexts. Focussing on two cases – the citizen journalists of Vancouver 2010 and identity construction through fashion blogs – we will tell a compelling story of the challenges we faced when using social media as data in our own research. The session features a hands-on group exercise where participants will be given a dataset and asked to articulate their own position with respect to working with the data, and to identify the issues that may stem from this.

Location and Time: 9am – 5pm, Tuesday 12th May. The Rivers Suite, Craiglockhart Campus.
What are the roles and application of visual methods and ethnographies in contemporary research? We warmly invite you to a day-long research workshop, organised by researchers in the School of Marketing, Tourism and Languages, where we attempt to answer this question.

Part of the Edinburgh Napier University Researcher Led Initiative, the Visual Methods and Ethnography Workshop is aimed at colleagues from across the Business School, the University and beyond, who wish to develop their knowledge and skills in applying visual methodologies in their research in innovative and critical ways.

The workshop provides a platform on which various research projects and approaches are brought together to communicate the role and potential of ‘the visual’ and the ways in which it can benefit academic research. Over the course of the day, conference-style presentations from leading researchers in (visual) ethnography will be combined with participatory activities and opportunities for the sharing of knowledge and experience. Topics discussed range from the use and analysis of ‘traditional’ visual methods, such as photo-elicitation, academic film-making, semiotics and ethnographies, to research participant co-creation, mash-ups and social media imagery. Guest speakers include Prof Eric Laurier (University of Edinburgh), a world-leading figure in visual methods research; Dr Tijana Rakic (University of Greenwich), an experienced academic and film-maker with interest in ethics in visual research; Dr Diane MacLean (Edinburgh Napier University), a producer and journalist with experience of using commissioned broadcast technologies in academic studies; Ms Anne Burns (University of Sheffield), researcher from Sheffield University’s Visual Social Media Lab; and, Jennifer Jones (University of the West of Scotland) and Sharon Greenwood (University of Glasgow), doctoral researchers interested in the use and ethical implications of using social media images in research.

By attending the workshop, you will:
• Gain appreciation of the importance of visual methods and ethnography in social sciences and tourism in particular
• Extend individual expertise of innovative use of visual research methods and ethnography
• Reflect on ethical issues in using visual material in research
• Apply principles of analysing visual data in an interactive small-group activity
• Connect and exchange ideas with a community of like-minded researchers interested in visual methodologies
Tea/ coffee and refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

​The workshop is free to attend, however we ask that you register by Wednesday 6th May 2015, using the Eventbrite link below:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/visual-methods-and-ethnography-workshop-tickets-16765004580
Free
Contact Details
​Dr Louise Todd (L.Todd@napier.ac.uk), Tel. 0131 455 4409 or Dr Ivana Rihova (I.Rihova@napier.ac.uk), Tel. 0131 455 4613

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New publication: Stories and Streams: A problem-based design for student-Led collaboration and peer-to-peer teaching across media practice modules

It’s been a long time coming but we’ve finally had the chapter developed from the Stories and Streams project (that took place at BCU in 2012/2013) published in a new book called “Collaborative Learning in Media Education.” The book is available to buy here but is also available through open access.

Citation: Marcus Leaning (eds), 2015. Collaborative Learning in Media Education. Santa Rosa: Informing Science Press. ISBN: 9781932886931

by Dr. Marcus Leaning (Author, Editor)

Abstract: This collection of papers was developed from an HEA discipline seminar held at the University of Winchester in May 2012. The aim of the seminar was to bring together academics working in the field of Media education in higher education in the UK who have an interest in the use of ‘collaborative learning’. While this might seem a somewhat small area of research, the response to the initial call for papers was stronger than expected. Furthermore there was considerable interest from people who wanted to observe the papers and what started out as a small symposium soon developed into a one-day conference with ten papers and a significant audience. The papers that were delivered presented a very interesting overview of the current state of the field and collected here are a range of these offering a number of different positions and approaches.

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Event report: Keynote for Education Scotland Social Studies Digital Learning Day #digilearnscot

As part of the outputs from the Digital Commonwealth project, David and I were invited to deliver one of the keynote’s for Education Scotland‘s Social Studies Digital Learning Day (#digilearnscot)

The event was broadcast live on Glow Scotland (the virtual learning environment for schools in Scotland) but we were asked to record the talk again so it could be embedded in other places too. The below video gives an overview of the project and key learnings/challenges from the perspective of the schools programme. It also gives wider insights in terms of delivering a similar digital literacy project of this scale.

The schools programme promoted digital media literacy skills through a series of in school training workshops, using readily available technology to help pupils tell their own stories through blogs, video, audio and social media. As part of their participation schools received learning materials (the digital storytelling handbook) enabling schools to built upon for future school projects and creating a legacy.  The materials including topics such as e-safety, copyright, active citizenship and media ethics which help pupils use their imagination and knowledge to produce creative, appropriate and engaging content.

 

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Event report: Be the Change Cambridge (a long-over due write up!)

2 months ago (seems so long ago!) I had the pleasure of being invited to Cambridge to take part in a social-media driven civic engagement gathering called “Be the Change Cambridge” as their lead facilitator for the day. I’ve known Antony Carpen for several years now (both the man and the dragon fairy), first meeting in Cambridge back in April 2011 when I was speaking at an event about networked politics, which resulted in some plotting and scheming over alcoholic slush puppies in a bar near the conference venue instead of y’know, eating dinner and other things you should be doing on a school night.

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I’ve been following the process of #changecamb for a while, originally I was meant to be in Cambridge for the first event prior to the independence referendum to run a workshop on community journalism, but as you can imagine, it was all a bit .. hectic … back then (all of 6 months ago!) – so when the event was rescheduled for March 2015, I was delighted I could attend and without my indyref hangover clouding my brain.

So after a 3.30am alarm call, a 5am taxi and a rather sleepy flight to Stansted, I was greeted outside (a very different) Cambridge train station by Ceri, who took me the scenic route to the venue via a lovely coffee shop to Anglia Ruskin University who had kindly donated space for the event to go ahead.

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The event was designed as an ‘open space’ event where the participants are asked to come prepared with issues that they feel are important to the future of Cambridge, which they are then asked to pitch to the rest of the group. Each pitch lasts only 30 seconds, and then is added to the timetable within 45 and 90 minute slots. The event organisers had pre-prepared several of the workshop titles ahead of the event and invited some local experts to help facilitate the chat, mainly to ensure that some of the previous discussions from past events were addressed on the day. They also had the chance to give a 2-5 min pitch for the their event.

From this the event schedule was constructed and organised by participants around the available time-slots and locations, with each session being allocated a volunteer to minute and report back on the discussions through a final feedback session in the main lecture space.

For me, the open space aspect of the event meant that there could be space to discuss issues and topics that were brought to the event by those taking part, but provided enough structure to ensure that people weren’t left without guidance or momentum around the day. If anything, some wanted to carry on beyond the allotted times – which says a lot for a grassroots event happening on a Saturday afternoon.

You can find out more the Be the Change Cambridge event on their website, twitter account @BetheChangeCam and they have some great videos (like the one below, introducing the open space format) on Antony’s Vimeo channel. The photos from the event (and used in this post) were by Lucinda Price Photography, you can check out the full set here.

Be the change – Cambridge. Introducing our community action event on Sat 14 March from Puffles2010 on Vimeo.

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PhD Update: Enter the warpzone…

Reading through my research diary and blog posts at the time, I realise it’s been exactly five years since I was in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. In all honesty, back then I would have thought my PhD about the alternative, resistance and social media of those games would have been long completed by now. In fact, it is only really been the last year where it has felt entirely possible that it could happen. I’ve had to reverse engineer much of my research design and conceptual framework – despite much of it being close to my original thinking at the time, I had really no idea how I would begin to write about something that has taken me working at 2 mega events, 7 house-moves and 2 supervisor changes & a 16 month suspension from registration to finally get to grips with.

The story of my PhD and how it gets finished is not about my displacement and what I haven’t done – it is what I have done, where I’m at and what is happening now. I posted on Facebook last night about how I have reached a turning point – after 10 months re-registered part-time back on the programme, technically my ‘4th year’ – I’ve now completed a thesis summary for the last 4 chapters of my PhD. Something has had to tip from “what I am going to do?” to “what I have done!” – and having spent the last 2.5 days working through my record of data collection from 2010 – which, when I was feeling at my lowest, I thought was a pile of shit and a waste of time – actually is a pretty reflective, organised and backed up collection of materials, that makes sense and actually can start to be analysed, presented and contextualised in these last 4 chapters.  Similarly, I have set a deadline to submit 40k words (that’s exactly half of the final word-count) to my supervisors by the 30th of May 2015 (before a week off to York). That’s chapter 1-4, much of which is drafted and needs a couple of rounds of editing between now and May. It’s not an unrealistic goal, I have it all there – it does require quite a bit of library time, quite a lot of reading about epistemologies and ontologies and paradigms – but in terms of chapter plans, outlines and structures, I’m working with a jigsaw, not a blank page.

It makes me super happy to be able to write about this in my blog – especially as this blog has pretty much been with me through the whole process from application, data collection, dropping out, angst and PhD blues – it’s not a stage where I’m not having to write about how I am going to restart my PhD, it’s about how I am going to finish it, and perhaps even be able to share results, discussions and thoughts about methodology (which I feel I was much better at before I embarked on this half decade of brain-freeze!) I owe most of it to writing retreats and being able to spent more of my time with people who understand and encourage and notice change and progression. Also, I enjoy my job, it’s close enough but different enough to be able to explore the same themes from different perspectives.

The consistency of the writing retreat format means I can see my progress, I can notice how my mood and experience of working on a PhD changes. I’ve arrived at some retreats and been through the roof with stress but more recently I’ve been a chilled customer, finding it much easier to let go of things before it gets to that stage. I even have a detailed record of what I was writing this time last year, what my goals were and have I made them.

So, yeah, in terms of accountability, here we go – plan is full draft of PhD in by September this year, done by January 2016? I think that’s entirely possible now.

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