Announcing the #socialmediaretreat – 2 day retreat for academic practice

I’m very excited to announce the next project that I am currently in the process of developing, the #socialmediaretreat to help support developing social media usage in academic practice. The first retreat has been supported by my PhD supervisor Prof. Rowena Murray and uses her well established structured writing retreat model as a basis for delivery of the retreat. It is also supported by my colleague Dr. Larissa Kempenaar who is helping with the organising and evaluation of the process.

The idea for the #socialmediaretreat was born during our time in Osaka, Japan in September. I had been talking about how frustrating it can be to only ever deliver workshops about social media in academic practice within short and one-off timescales – if it was funded by schools and departments as a taster to the area, or you never really got the chance to scrap the surface on what was possible with regard to developing long term, sustainable practice that can be used to drive other initatives in this area.

Rowena suggested that we could adapt the writing retreat model, after successfully delivering 2 retreat facilitator retreats this year (I was at the one in May, so I can say I am a full trained writing retreat facilitator :-) ) and build the retreat around workshops and practical activities which I’ve delivered in the past – whilst including the holistic benefits of working in a peer-to-peer environment, the space to think and develop and focus on one task – where often these sessions are delivered as drier training tasks.

I was sold.

Thanks to Larissa, after much scoping, we’ve managed to book a venue that is suitable for ‘retreating’ to – unlike the Gartmore space we use for writing retreats (which lacks wifi and 3G, for concentration purposes) in Howwood and over the next few months I am going to develop a website to support the retreats, where I am looking to develop the ideal course of learning to support PhD and early-career researchers (in the first instance) to help develop a professional online academic profile (and much more.)

The first #socialmediaretreat will take place on the 10-12th Feb 2016. It is aimed predominately at UWS staff and students at the moment, but we have opened up spaces for externals at a subsdised cost in order to aid the development of the project and to ensure diversity in the cohort who may attend. I’ve drafted the initial blurb for the event below. It is important to note that this is very much a work-in-progress from now until Feburary, with much of the development being mapped out online as I go. I don’t believe in remaining stuck to a set of fixed ideas and from my experience of attending over 20+ writing retreats, as much as there is familarity in the format, each session is different, dependant on who is there and what the outcomes are that you are working on. I will update this post with the project’s website when it goes live in the next few weeks.

If you’d like any information or like to contribute to the dialogue, why not share and discuss using the hashtag #socialmediaretreat – my email address is below.

#socialmediaretreat – social media for academic practice

This event is designed to provide development for those who wish to use web and social media to build and enhance their academic footprint online. It will run over two days, using the timings and format of structured writing retreats: starting on Wednesday at 5pm and finishing on Friday at 4pm. The facilitator will be Jennifer M Jones (University of the West of Scotland).

Writing retreats are known to increase and improve scholarly output and research activity. Structured writing retreats can also be used to develop research capacity and grow research cultures. Attending multiple retreats is an effective way of making research part of academic work and life. Consequently, Deans, Research Coordinators and Heads of Department at several universities have now integrated writing retreats as a core component of their departmental research strategies.

This workshop explores the strategic context for web and social media in higher education. This retreat will focus on the use of web and social media within academic settings, focusing on developing a professional online presence as a researcher. It will explore a brief history of the emergence of social media in higher education, exploring the common myths, opportunities and challenges of utilising online media as a researcher.  It will address writing, research and external communication activities through blogging, multimedia (video and audio) and social networking sites.

There will be practical sessions when participants can work on their approach to developing practices: developing content, writing for impact and public engagement, digital literacies within groups and institutions, maintaining public, professional and private boundaries, growing organic and effective networks and ensuring that a growing online presence can be maintained as part of their academic practice.

The venue is Bowfield Country House, Howwood.

This event costs £200 for UWS participants. The cost for external participants is £300, which covers full board and fee to UWS.

For an informal chat about the retreat please contact

To register for a place please email