What I’ve been working on: #dgsocialmedia explained

Realised that I’ve been *really* busy on a couple of things but I haven’t blogged about anything in a while (the problem when you only seem to write up things that you’ve completed or attended) – I’m going to try and write some more “what I am working on” posts rather than simply waiting until the final product. 

At the end of July I began a new role as a research assistant at the university where I am registered for my PhD (UWS). I will be ‘in post’ until Summer 2012. Already, this has been my most ‘virtual’ of research contracts, where most of the activities will be undertaken at home (here in Loughborough) in preparation for project delivery over the winter and spring months (in the South of Scotland). It helps that I’m very familiar with UWS (and Scotland!) and already have worked with the team behind it in different capacities, but it certainly a new lesson in personal project management – where I manage my own time sheets, meet via skype and set my own perimeters for complete each stage of the project.

#dgsocialmedia is the pet name that we’ve given the project – ‘dg’ standing for Dumfries and Galloway. UWS has recently has been funded by the South of Scotland Business Solutions to provide research knowledge exchange to small independent businesses located in the South of Scotland (Dumfries and Galloway) as part of the Skillset Media Academy. UWS have a campus in Dumfries, which is over 50 miles away from the other campuses, so the subsequent aim of the project is to help build stronger relationships with the university and those who live in the area.

I had a role in the bid development (which has proven to be a very useful experience in terms of what I will need to do post-PhD) and was very excited when the development agency had agreed to fund us fully for the role.

The project has several stages – all of which I am heavily involved in delivering alongside David McGillivray. The first is to design and develop a web portal that contains resources and training materials for those participants who wish to take part. From this, we will manage a series of social media surgeries and workshops for existing business networks across the south of scotland who have had some previous experience with social media training and/or using the internet in this way. Our aim is to enhance existing relationships but also build on some of the things that they have already done – rather than ‘social media 101’ and walking away – it’s something a bit more.

It is hoped that the pedagogical techniques that come from working as a university/research project, rather than a commercial entity, will allow for the creation of materials and supporting learning with a combination of one to one sessions, group workshops and online platforms. I think it is important to remember that we are a university – and instead of simply copying what is out there, instead looking at innovative ways in which to incorporate research into creative practice. Therefore, the project’s working title incorporates “Creative Futures” – the name of the research centre that my PhD supervisor, Andy Miah set up this year – and reflects much of theory/practice that our school wishes to champion.

The plan to tour various parts of the South of Scotland (rather than asking them to meet in larger towns or in Glasgow) will allow for us (as a university) to engage with local communities better and to understand the rich and differing contexts of that part of the world. The first set of ‘face to face’ activities are to begin in November (which means several trips up north and visiting the places that we used to go on holiday when I was younger.) The launch of the web portal is due in mid-September and I’ll update here with more details nearer the time.