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Complete summary of @UWSInteractive Festival 2012: So what’s next?

Last week was a blast. It has taken me 4 days to archive the social media content that was produced during the first @UWSInteractive Festival, and 4 days to come to terms with the sheer amount of energy behind the event that lasted 4 days across 4 locations in the South West of Scotland.

This was the first time since UWS was formed has their been a series of connected events to occur across all areas of the university’s catchment area and now having driven the entire distance between them in one week, you can really see and feel the size of the area that UWS covers as a ‘local’ university.

Below is the round up of each day of the festival, based on the tweets, images and videos from participants and partners and hosted using Storify.

Day 1: Social Media for Community Engagement, The Cat Strand (New Galloway)

We started the week in Dumfries and Galloway, where we have a campus based in Dumfries. The first day was formed from a previous public engagement project that was funded by the South of Scotland Business Solutions and aims to support local independent businesses in the South of Scotland.

Working with an existing community network that we has encountered during the first part of the SoSBS project in November (social media surgeries for small businesses), we met with the Glenkens Community and Arts Trust and hosted a community news cafe, workshops on community engagement and an afternoon of idea generating for the final section of the project, towards community education programs provided by UWS.

The archive from day 1 is here.

Day 2: Launch of #citizenrelay -from 2012 to 2014 in media and mega events. (Hamilton)

Tuesday brought us to Hamilton Campus, that specialises in events and journalism and to the launch of the #citizenrelay project, part of #media2012 network and aims to follow the torch relay across Scotland, covering the alternative stories of the event. There was plenty of free workshops and stands set up with our visiting partners and UWS students covered the event as part of their coursework.

The archive from the launch is here.

Day 3: Social Media Surgeries, Film Making and Screen Acting @UWSAyr

The new Ayr campus was officially opened just before Christmas and hosts some excellent film making and screen facilities, as well as having an amazing central atrium that is acts as a meeting space for both UWS and Scottish Agricultural College students. There were workshops from citizen’s eye, somewhereto_ and the library, careers and student support – as well as contemporary screen acting students producing a play in under 6 hours. The event concluded with a teachmeet and a dogwoof documentary pop up cinema screening of Blood in the Mobile.

The archive from day 3 is available here.

Day 4: Launching @UWSInteractive Social Media Alliance, @UWSPaisley

The week concluded with a social media roadshow in the library learning space on the Paisley campus. This formed the basis of the next steps for UWS Interactive, moving it from a one-off week long festival to a longer, more relentless project centred around social media for learning and teaching, support, research and external activities – beginning with those who took part this week, with the aim to grow support and training over the next few months.

The final archive is available here.

Next Steps:

I’ve converted the UWSInteractive festival website from a schedule to a wider resource, where over the next few weeks I am going to profile UWS staff and students who are using social media in their day to day work practice – as well as connecting to our external partners who can offer mentoring and support in this area. It is hoped that @UWSInteractive, the event, will have given people enough energy and confidence to take forward a more coherent and connected support network or as I’ve started calling it, the UWS Social Media Alliance. Stay tuned.

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Why Social Media Surgeries Work… @UWSDigital #uwsltas

Social Media Surgeries in Melrose on Flickr

Last week we completed the final set of social media surgeries, the first half of the project that I’ve been part of  in the south of Scotland. So far I’ve made 6 round trips (and about to make the 7th) to Scotland in 6 weeks (a new record even for me), equating to over 4000 miles on the project alone (not including the ad-hoc trips to London and Manchester in between). Of course, part of this is my doing, living in Loughborough and working in Birmingham one day a week – it could be easier if I just stayed in Ayr for duration – but then I could get to do what I do, Ayr’s too far away from everywhere else, including the rest of Scotland (believe me, I spent 21 years finding that out.) Which is ironic really, when I’ve been working on a project that very much concerns the local and the face-to-face and how the internet can help small organisations in part of Scotland that lack the same resources that I’ve been accustomed to over the past 5 years.

The project was spread across 3 areas, Dumfries, New Galloway and Melrose – all in very different locations and venues, all with a very different set of local businesses and organisations, different networks, who had their own needs, expectations and requirements around the use of social media. I’ve spoken to people who have a business without a website, to award-winning young entrepreneurs who are addicted to their iphone and what facebook has allowed them to do with their business. I’ve reassured people that they personally don’t need to use social media *at all* – but to respect that others that they work with might need their support and understanding in company meetings – and I’ve met many who have been locked into awful contracts with web development companies who have charged thousands, to have blocked access to administration rights to their own website.

In 4 weeks, I’ve personally spoken to 30 independent businesses – and I’ve learnt a great deal about each of the regions, the united force of those who already use social media to not only promote their businesses, but also the areas as a whole. I could not have done this if I was expected to deliver the support as a 30 spaces collective workshop. I would have not have been able to prepare a session that could help a golf course in the same way as a jewellery maker or a creative copywriter that was beyond simply talking about technicalities of tools. Each session that I did do was vastly different from the next, and there wasn’t a single moment where I felt as if I was repeating myself. I can’t say it solved all the problems of the world, but it was tailored and it was personalised. I had to think on my feet lots, which I prefer to rattling from a script, but overall it just worked and we left each time with an amazing buzz from spending time with a range of different and passionate people.

Now I wish to see how this can be taken further, or used in a different context. For instance, UWS are currently implementing a new learning, teaching and assessment strategy (#uwsltas on twitter) across the university – something where social media platforms have cropped up on several occasions, from using posterous as a tool for consultation, to having our library live-tweet the proceedings of ltas dialogues happening across campuses. I see social media as a bit of a trojan horse in a way, it is now at the stage where those who may have not looked at it previously are now asking for the crash course in adoption – and I think the notion of social media surgeries/drop-ins could work nicely in a higher education context. Having already ranting about social media workshops in previous posts, where sometimes attendance is shifty and expectations are varied, and the importance of research/teaching practice is lost in the shine of uncritical technology, drop in sessions would be a much better use of time both in terms of resolving specific issues and widening networks across faculties and services within the university. I could also see it happening in the classroom, as I write between student 1-2-1s in my own classroom, where I didn’t provide an opportunity to sign up for specific slots, I just be somewhere for a couple of hours and be online at the same time. I’ve had higher numbers than previous years – and I’ve still got another hour and a half to go.

Now the first part of the @UWSDigital project is over, we will be spending some time evaluating formally and presenting the finding back at the university as a model to take forward in future projects. The next part of the project is to work with two existing networks in the south of scotland to help build a long term term strategy through a series of workshops and hack-days in the region – it will move from one to one to many to many – allowing for each network to take ownership of their own web presence. More details are on the UWSDigital website.

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What I’ve been working on: UWSDigital.com

http://www.uwsdigital.com [October, 2011]

Last month I wrote about a research project that I’ve been working on with UWS where we would be running workshops and social media surgeries in the south of Scotland in partnership with South of Scotland Business Solutions.

I’ve been working on the website since August, which contains some informations about the events, some resources and will act as a hub over the course of the project. It is built using buddypress, rather than wordpress, so at later stage if we want to maintain a community beyond the session dates, we can use the social features and encourage users to sign up to profiles. We’ve launched it this week as now most of our slots for the first stage of surgeries are full – in Dumfries, Melrose and New Galloway. There is also a twitter account @UWSDigital which is worth following if you are based in the south of Scotland, as we’ll be tweeting about the events and the businesses who are involved.

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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.