Last October, the Innovation and Research Office at UWS asked if PhD students would like to give seminars to the research community based on their specialism. I offered to do a few sessions around social media and events (The first I wrote about here) and yesterday I delivered the rescheduled “Amplified Events” workshop for PhD students. The purpose of the session was to introduce some of the concepts behind academic conferences which might not be touched upon or indeed offered as part of a PhDs training process. Much in line with the Digital Researcher event at the British Library a few weeks ago, I wanted to be able to introduce some ideas and some tools – rather than offer the definitive package or ‘how to’ for such seminars. I have to admit, taking on a PGCert in Higher Education/working on education research projects has helped me be critical about methods that are often used to teach or disseminate information – but it is actually quite difficult to introduce such ideas to your peers in specific set contexts with specific expectations (I blogged my thoughts about this last night on my PhD posterous notebook.)
The session itself (which was designed after discussions with Martin Weller and Brian Kelly who offered some invaluable advise) introduced the concept of Amplified Events from the perspective of the participant, the speaker and the potential organiser (because organising events which incorporate the madness of a backchannel is something EVERYONE should have a go at ;-))
The slides are self explanatory – but essentially I just wanted to introduce a flavour of what could be done to enhance a presentation; for multiple benefits for the speaker, audience and the institution that the person is from. Furthermore, by offering different solutions to participating in an event, such as through online participation or presentation tools, there are a variety of ways in which busy PhD students can engage with their research community beyond the traditional academic event. It always surprises me that academia can feel so behind when it comes to capturing, sharing, reusing and remixing content generated from such events (which often need to be recorded just to go back through at a later date in order to pick out idea.) It’s not hard to do of course, that’s the main thing – so even using your mobile phone as a voice recorder – or sharing digital notes in public is the beginnings of increasing awareness for particular subject areas.
Overall, it was a good session and I was happy with the discussions that we had around the subject area. I guess my hidden agenda is two fold – as well as gathering experience around presenting my work to different levels, but also I genuinely would like to see and encourage UWS to excel in this area (especially embracing in-house expertise of which there are many). One of the reasons why I returned to do a PhD there was because there were opportunities to try, explore and lead new things -that isn’t always possible when you are in a larger, ‘more established’ institution.
The fact that these workshops can happen makes me very happy indeed – but there is always room for improvement in delivery, context and style. By being given the opportunity has already lay the foundation to explore even more areas (rather than just revisiting the typical web 2.0/social media tool-time courses) but instead incorporating digital literacy into existing and new modules as a skill, rather than an optional extra. That would be a nice goal point to work towards – rather than delegating the internet work to the internet work (and much of it isn’t really internet work but so much more), everybody feels comfortable approaching these areas as part of their daily practice.