Mini in a bush

A PhD in greyhounds riding a tall ship #oneyearon

This morning I had a notification from Linkedin that I had a work anniversary. It’s not only a year since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games opened but it has been 4 years since I started working at UWS as a …  I don’t know, captain zero hour multi-project wrangler, making it over 3 years since I moved back to Glasgow and nearly a year in this flat – which also makes it nearly a year since I officially became a red-headed greyhound adopter. Yay, greyhounds!

Professional greyhound whisperer NVQ 3
Professional greyhound whisperer NVQ 3

These sort of time stamped anniversaries offer a kick up the arse when it comes to reflecting on where you are at, what you have achieved and where you want to be – and to blog about it, naturally. I’ve not wrote anything since May, but it is not to say I haven’t been writing. In fact, I’ve been hibernating from a social life for the last 3 months, growing my hair and eating 85% dark chocolate, writing (and reading, lots of stuff)- and when I bump into people, they ask me things like…

“How you getting on with the PhD?”

Rather than quivering and deflecting the question… Well – On May 31st, I submitted 40000 words of my PhD. A symbolic submission, I’m sure – I still have a long way to go – and only a short period of time, part time, to finish it whilst keeping the money flowing in. But 40k was a big deal for me. 3 years I stopped. Dead. 2 years ago, I wasn’t registered, I couldn’t even open the document and I was sans supervision team. Now I’ve went from nae words I’d want anybody read, to submitting drafts of 7(!) chapters and now at a stage where I’m reforming those words, learning my theorists and getting my research design and data modelling tight. I feel like I’ve definitely over that hump of “will I ever finish?” and now at the stage where it is just a question of when.

When? Well, I’ve been saying I want a full 80k draft by September, but I’m going to aim for the end of the year – because I’m at that stage where writing “insert reference here” won’t do, and I need to actually go and put that damn reference in, and I need to know why that reference, not that reference and what is all that reference is about. My endnote database is looking bang tidy.

Between now and September the 10th, I need to be working on refining what I’ve written based on the feedback I’ve received from my supervisor. It’s a big task, but now I’ve established that it is a case study, rather than an ethnography, I feel it just fits better and everyone (well, me) is happy.

The on September the 10th, I am going to Japan with my supervisor Rowena Murray and her other PhD student, Alison McEntee.

We are visiting Osaka University to take part in an intensive week of academic study skills with their graduate school – as well as delivering a presentation on our work. I’m delivering a short session on social media and academic literacies. Whilst I’m there, I’m planning on visiting Tokyo when I’m out there to make connections with some of the alternative media communities ahead Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics that can connect with what I’ve been looking at PhD-wise.

So yeah, exciting!

I’m looking forward to writing retreat beginning again in September, I’ve been missing my monthly trip to Gartmore.

“What are you working on at the moment?”

As always, my occupation has been rather flexible, made up a number of short term contracts and freelance work – that’s ranged from research assistant, film making, digital media tutor, community media training and project management.

I’m currently working on a small piece of research for my school (Media, Culture and Society) at UWS, looking to develop and recommend a social media strategy to support research and impact activity within the school. It’s been a really interesting process so far, especially exploring the different forms of social media strategies within an academic context. This will be wrapped by the first week in August.

At at the same time, I’ve been a research assistant on the ongoing research project ‘Leveraging ParaSport Events for Community Participation’, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for Canada and Sport Canada. This will conclude in August with a series of focus groups speaking with host city volunteers from Glasgow 2014.

My role as the project coordinator for Digital Commonwealth is sadly coming to an close at the end of this month. I’d been working part-time on concluding the project since January, which has involved taking part in a number of presentations (such as being part of a keynote for Education Scotland in March), running and taking part in a community media archiving symposium and working on completing the final outputs for the project. This included coordinating and taking part in the filming and production of the Digital Commonwealth documentary that was produced by Peter Murray from the Media Trust. The last bit of work on the project involves putting together a physical memory box to send out to those who took part, containing the documentary, a copy of the Digital Storytelling handbook, the creative writing anthology and a CD of song produced by those who participated in the community songwriting workshop.

 

It’s been a real pleasure to see a project like Digital Commonwealth from idea to delivery to completion – and I’m glad I was able to stay on the project until the end. I’m hoping to continue working in project management, especially with an academic focus, as it not only allows me to take part in a whole variety of different things, but I also enjoy writing and disseminating work about the process through journals and conferences.

As a project team we already have one article accepted for publication by the Leisure Studies journal for a special issue on youth and digital cultures, entitled “Digital Commonwealth: Young people, digital media making and critical digital citizenship.” 

‘Eh, did I not see you posting about being on a tall ship?”

Yeah, that was … random.  I have been working as a sessional Digital Media tutor within Z1 Girvan Youth Bar as part of the Ayrshire Youth Arts Network, to increase opportunities for 11-19 year olds to participate in arts and creative media within their local community (and there is a separate blog post to follow about that…) … and thanks to my PVG, I happened to be in the right place at the right time when the opportunity came up to sail with the Jubilee Sailing Trust as a buddy for two young people from trust.

HNC in being a pirate boat captain
HNC in being a pirate boat captain

I’m still in the process of editing together a short film I made whilst we were on board –  so I’ll update again once I’ve got through my editing queue. It was such an amazing experience, even though I had the ‘sea boak’ (and proceeded to write about it for the ship’s (b)log here), I also created a record of the trip for z1 using the hashtag #z1tallships. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a journey that warrants its own hashtag.

“What’s next then?”
Yeah, still hibernating – got a number of projects that I need to wrap up, get off my desk and move on from. I’m hoping this will be the final push for the PhD, it has been over half a decade of my life and I’m ready to complete now. I’m also looking to apply for my senior fellowship at the Higher Education Academy, and get a few more academic publications under my belt. I’d like to begin working on a few new things, in particular work related to digital literacies, both in and outside of the university – and connecting the dots between projects – so things are a little bit more joined up in approaches. I’m looking forward to speaking about digital storytelling in Belfast in August (more details to follow) and attending the What’s next for Community Journalism? symposium in Cardiff in September – with the premise of working on a solo article for publication.
Running late for my next workshop, so best finish how I started with a picture of a greyhound being daft.
Mini in a bush
Mini in a bush

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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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