Event: Everyday Growing Cultures, Sheffield (23rd July)

I was invited by Farida to give a social media masterclass to PhD students at the University of Sheffield ahead of attending and covering the “Everyday Growing Cultures” event based her research around open data and allotments.

Below is the Storify record from the social media content generated throughout the day.


Workshop: 6 things learned during social media training for Renfrewshire Council

Over the last six months, Gayle McPherson and I have been doing some work with Renfrewshire Council (the local authority that our campus of the University of West of Scotland sits within) around social media for event evaluation and have recently concluded introductory training for council employees. It was delivered as part of a larger evaluation report of the Paisley Spree Festival which ran in October 2012 (and is ongoing). The prezi above is what we used for the training sessions that happened at the end of March, with a follow on session this week.

I’ve done a few social media training sessions now which cross between higher education, 3rd sector, libraries and information management now but this is my first that has encountered directly the challenges and opportunities that local government employees face when using social media within their day to day work practice. Most of my experiences working with local authorities has been from the fringe, through working with librarians, some of the #localgov chat on twitter and engagement through community journalism projects.

The results from the evaluation of the Spree will be available once published, however I wanted to write a quick blog post reflecting on some of the key points that emerged during the sessions that we delivered to Renfrewshire employees.

Thinking about social media and local authorities:

Support and empower “digital champions”: I know that expression sounds totally lame (cringing as type) but bare with me. Having worked on a few projects now that have perhaps included volunteers from other sectors (such as the library or public services), through chatting and sharing similar stories, what emerges are tales of the struggle to convince their managers that social media or indeed, ‘trying something new using the internet’ is a good thing for their role/department/organisation.

Many success stories within an organisation have emerged when people have taken initiative to do their own thing, often eating into time outside of working hours, often bending the rules, often using their own devices and generally spending time experimenting with alternative ways of doing the same task more effectively. Especially if there are firewalls in place preventing the use of social media on the premises.

These are the people that should be supported (and therefore empowered) to become ‘champions’ within the organisation (who can then go on and support others ‘in-house’) rather expecting an entire workforce to want to take up this ‘social media’ thing in one go. This can often be met with criticism and turns the process from an exciting one to something that that is seen as a chore or an additional task onto top of already busy work schedules. It is much better to capitalise on enthusiasm and let it spread rather than shutting it down dead out of fear (rather than the managing) of risk. This is because it…

The Internet cannot be ignored: This should be an obvious one – but even in 2013, increasingly hearing more stories about the layers of reporting that is required before an employee is allowed to set up social media accounts for the department or event they are organising or managing – then there is still every chance that particular services are not allowed to be used, even thought there is evidence of a core audience of service users present on them. I’m not saying that controlling the message is necessary a bad thing, but as the information flow only increases, allowing for decentralisation across departments (or even to an individual level) means that the central communication team are much more likely to be provided with up to date information “from the horses mouth” and the message can spread and be more targeted to appropriate networks. It’s ok to have multiple accounts for different services, that’s the beautiful of the platform – and these can be monitored just as effectively as requests to share individual stories.

Start small, deliver them well: One of the common issues when embedding social media within an organisation such as a university or a local authority is overcoming the fear of it becoming a massive task, often delegated to a specific job, often within corporate communications. It is positive to hear that  steps are being taken to try out new things, often with a reporting procedure attached. This is all good news and allows for records to be kept of progress. I guess the best advice I can give is baby steps. Small projects, delivered well – often as pilots, are much better than trying to take on every network, every platform, every new fangled technology. Success means becoming the ‘cutting edge of mundane’ – the process will become so seamless you’ll wonder whatever the fuss was about.

Archives can be used to develop wider case studies: Using tools like Storify to archive content produced by audiences and service users allow for employees to pull together case studies of user populations around their particular job role. These can remain private and simple enough to pull together, contextualise in order to hold together a report and as a referencing system for a particular event or context. I love using the 441265035

On why I will never *teach* social media again. #RP2NOTT #uwsltas

This is the second year that I’ve delivered social media workshops to the PhD student community at UWS through the Innovation and Research Office (IRO) – last year, I reflected on the content of the workshop, which although I encouraged IRO to let me teach people in the bar area of the student union (instead of in a classroom – I wanted to break the hierarchy that is enforced through teaching space, I was student teaching students and I was experimenting with what we had), it was still very much a workshop where I talked at people for 3hrs and my PhD colleagues (some of which had never taken their laptops out of the house) sat baffled by the whizzy and rather full prezi that I had prepared in advance.

I wasn’t happy about it, especially as I had to spend about an hour of the workshop, fixing everyone’s the wifi connection (which was proxied to hell) and just getting the poor buggers online. What we needed was something that was a pre-beginners social media drop-in, or even something that just discussed research practise in general, before I even started to convince PhD students that the internet and writing publicly (and often informally, like this post illustrates through the language I’ve chosen to use and the over reliance of winky faces ;-)) about the stuff that they are up to can be a good thing.

When I was asked to deliver them again, this time doing 4 instead of 2, I thought for a bit about what I might do – especially when I noticed that one of my beginners from last year had signed up again, and obvious sign that whatever I was doing (or whatever teaching practice I was employing) was just not working. Also, since then I’ve nailed a PGCert in Higher Ed, taught-out in various spaces and various contexts out-width the ‘university’ environment (such as the social media surgeries in Dumfries and Galloway) and had the chance to experiment with differing methods as a facilitator. Not to mention, I was still basking in the joy that was the Research Practices 2.0 event that I had attended the week previous, which felt like a real breakthrough when it came to thinking about how social media could be used as a vessel for something more than simply fetishing corporate technology (I wrote more about that at the time here.)

So this time, I have no slides. F*&k slides. Especially for a workshop that is about the people, not the things thatI have to say about technology. My internet usage is an anomaly. I have no dedicated resources for those sessions -and why should I, when there is a wonderful open educational resource as part of the Nottingham project, if  was to build my own, it would just be a rehash – and only one perspective, there are better opportunities to concentrate my efforts on the projects that I’m employed to do – such as UWSDigital.com – that I built and wrote myself in partnership with the research team that I am working with.

Secondly, I ripped up the workshop/training handbook, that is, base my class plan on the basis that all workshops of this nature should follow the same format – I repeated the exercise that we came up with at #RP2NOTT instead. I probably shocked a few people who thought that they were going to turn up for a workshop and use the 3 hours to switch off/check emails on the computers whilst I transfer knowledge to them. We had a discussion, based on finding similarities in research practices, and matched up the social media/internet platforms that they were already aware off to the practices. Once we had several lists of things where there was a mutual understanding to address, I was able to demonstrate the adequate tools in a way that was more suited to a tutorial, rather than trying to pre-guess what people might want at the beginning.

Lastly, this workshop could be repeated under different contexts, more niche/wider areas and it would have a different impact. Rather than talk people through various platforms (when really, there are plenty of those tutorials out there as part of the website’s existing functional elements) it was way more important to link them up to their daily practice. This was the only way that they were going to ever adopt it, and they could make that decision themselves – rather than use it because they it is expected of them.

I wanted to leave those who attended with a dialogue, not a piece of paper that they could file away on a PDP, e-portfolio site and tick that social media box. I wanted to be able to encourage and support people so they could feel comfortable/more confident to explore and critique the platforms on their own merit, not based on other factors such as the hysterical mainstream media & other colleagues who have probably never been trolled in their life.

Importantly, the most people using successfully social media at UWS, means that at relatively small university, we could punch above our weight when all the traditional metrics are set against us. We could manage our impact on the community better (don’t get me started on the Ayrshire Post!) and we can widen the grassroots academic commons that is beginning to emerge across the institution. Best practice is not just something that is spoken about, it’s emerges through the dialogue between colleagues (often spread out across 100 mile radius) – already beginning to see this as I connect to people I’ve never met before (and I’ve been at UWS, as a student, since 2002)

What holds us back, however, is restrictions in institutionalised technology – for instance, the second session looked at building an academic identity, where the participants decided they wanted to know how to set up a wordpress/posterous in the space of 3 hours. The machines couldn’t cope. Firstly, they ran IE, which wordpress didn’t like, secondly, I got modem error messages saying that we couldn’t set up so many accounts on the same IP address (all the computers in the lab I was using had the same log-in) thirdly, it felt a bit like I was teaching MS Word. It was boring. Especially when there is a resource online from WordPress that does it better than I could of the top of my head. Finally, if you’ve ever taught a program package in this way (a lab environment), you need to spend a lot of time darting around the room to look at individual screens – ignoring everyone else. A better way of doing it would have been for me to sit in a room for 3 hours and speak to people individually about their needs, rather than dragging everyone through that god awful lab experience.

So, in summary, 3 things I’ve learned:

1) Leaving with a dialogue is more important than ‘facts’ – it’s worth getting people to think about themselves, and chat it out – rather than slipping into the monotony/facade that a workshop facilitator is going to embark on some sort of clinical information drop off that will happen instantly & easily. If only it was so.

2) Space is important and how individuals use that can have a huge influence on what happens during the session. We ran into this issue at RP2NOTT too. Try and have a group discussion in a lecture theatre where everyone is looking down, facing the front – same thing, teaching social media in a computer lab makes it about as engaging as teaching word processing packages – people just get sapped into their own little world and you can only help them by stepping into that world personally. Something are best left for surgery/drop in style events.

3) It is pointless bulk ‘teaching’ a program that can’t be accessed on the university machines. For one, the mentality of calling IT to fix it before you google the problem yourself is only going to make the use of the more open source environments vilified even more. They don’t support it – and the system is not geared up. That raises a lot more questions than answers – but I think, instead of fighting that system and hitting a wall (which has a point), thinking of ways to put critical practice first (using social media as a hook in) is going to be more useful in the long terms.

It’s not about the platforms, essentially it is all to do with practice, which in turn will allow you to critique the platforms and therefore make they useful to you – and, that is, my dear, the reason why I’ve stopped teaching social media.

Screen shot 2011-10-29 at 09.23.53

Research Practices 2.0: Reflections on #RP2NOTT

Back in the summer, I was approached by Andy Coverdale to be interviewed and to help out on a project around social media for PhD students. The first part of the task was to be interviewed about how I use social media as part of my research practice, to be used as part of a web resource hosted by the University of Nottingham Graduate School. This was launched this week, ahead of an event in accompany the site.

The event, “Research Practices 2.0” was organized for PhD students and facilitated by PhD students – where alongside Andy, I was approached to join the exciting team of Kat Gupta, Warren Pearce, Claire Mann, Mark Carrigan and Emily Buchnea (who put together the interviews on the website.)

The event was made up on a range of PhD students from across the East Midlands (although there were some from Sheffield, Manchester and London) and divided across backgrounds (from fashion to biosciences) – with the format being designed to provoke and challenge the preconceptions of social media practice.

Of course, I’ve done a few of these events and training workshops before. I’m now approaching my second year of working with my own research and innovation office to provide ‘training’ in web 2.0 technologies to other PhDs, as well as offering ad-hock guest lectures to specific disciplines – such as screen acting, media studies and business studies. For me, being part of an ‘organizing committee’ rather than going it alone, was a good space to reflect on my own practices whilst also learning a lot from others.

I was charged with providing support in two seminar spaces. The first, an introduction to social media in research practice, was designed (after 2 hours discussion the week previously) with practice and individuality at the heart, deliberately moving away from fetishation of tools and technological commodities. That is, we would rather see what PhD student *do* – where they inhabit online and how they can match these spaces and behaviors together to see new things.

By doing this, both Mark (who I was working with in my session) and I were surprised by what actually came up. We are both familiar with the negative/challenging response that sometimes occur when trying to talk about social media in a space where you have no idea about the backgrounds, experience and expectations of the participants. Because often we are forced to focus on the tools.. “oh can you show the class how to use that twitter thing?” “can you give me some reasons why I should blog?” “I can’t image ever wanting to record podcasts about things.” This was different.

Through discussing what a PhD student actually does – and are expected to do, or think that they are expected to do, we got onto the issue of power, the reclamation of power and the restrictive nature of peer-reviewed journals through the formation of cliques and already established networks that have built around the publication of academic research. In the dawn of the post-Browne post-REF post-PhD world, it doesn’t take a roomful of budding Drs to see that the job market is bleak (the world is bleak), that the games that we play are engrained and the culture of ‘every person for themselves’ submission & fear are paramount for gaining and maintaining that golden career (that might not even exist to begin with!) – social media is more than a fancy buzzword that can be used a wedge to stuff existing concepts into newer shiny publications, it was a lifeline – potentially a device that can be and is being used to empower (for pockets of time certainly), to challenge and to bridge gaps – and blur lines of the linear path that we are expected to march down without question.

It was the discussion that I needed and helped me link up the different factors in my life. The praxi, the technical and the theoretical.

Methodology approaches 2.0

This conversation is ongoing – and was arrived at when we realised that people didn’t want methods when they were asked in advance, but found themselves at that point after the open plenary took us in that direction.

The thing that I always find hard when I’ve been asked to prepare something around social media methodology is the prescriptive nature of ‘methodology’. That is, we are asked (and we are asked when we teach) to treat certain methods as a ‘toolkit’ that we can select from when required. Need an audience reaction? Surveys. Need to search for bias in media? Content analysis. Etc. So when it comes to the discussion around using social media as a form of data collection & methodological approach, the sheer essence of fluid collaboration  and fluid identity online conflicts with the prescriptive nature of preparing and delivering workshops about a right/wrong way to do something expertly. Just look at anything that organizes itself around being ‘open’ – data, knowledge, source, access. To prescribe it is to fold it back into the system to be tacked on at the end of a conference, training manual & tick box exercise.

But there are grey shades in between which exist on the energy, motivation and the skills of the people who are involved at any one time. It cannot be prescribed, but it can be inspired. Through talking to others about shared issues, about helping each other out by sharing experiences and, in some cases, just f*&king doing it (which is always an issue if you are writing a grant application & working with ‘low cost’ tools..) things get done and solutions (even just for a brief pocket of time) are found. The amount of things we read, pass on and digest – that end up being more useful for others than ourselves directly conflicts with the notion we should only be watching our own back, our own institution, our own sector if we are to protect our own skin.

Social Media and Identity

Originally, I had prepared a abstract that looked like this:

“Much of social media education focuses on the need to embrace new technologies and to become competent with an array of online tools for practice. For some, the technical issue is not a problem – instead – it is the personal aspect of sharing information about yourself. Much of web 2.0 technology relies on an element of authenticity, immediacy of connection and the networking of individuals. Often, it is thought that to get the best out of the internet, you need to engage with technology on a personal and often, intimate, level. What does mean in an academic context, when often the conflict between professional and social, public and private comes into play. This interactive session will explore the challenges and opportunities that having an online identity can have. We will identify reasons to participate and issues of performing in public.”

And from that, I prepared a set of slides (like a nervous, over prepared academic tick). The fear of not knowing your audience, the fear that somebody else in the audience would make you look and feel stupid for not knowing their area through the medium of questions. Which was daft really – because it was meant to be informal – and I was working with people who responded the same way to these things as I do. But I still felt the need to prepare a wee talk, where I dropped my knowledge into the heads of other people – without engagement or room for discussion/critique.

After the morning, I decided to change it all during lunch. Instead, I got 6 screen captures from my own social media use. I brought out the good old ‘line up’ tool from my PGCert training (I knew it would come in useful when unprepared)  – and got participants to push all the tables back. Space was a big things at the event – it is difficult to critique and discuss when you are sitting like you are in primary school. All facing the ‘teacher’, waiting for knowledge to be delivered.

So it was simple. I showed the slideshow below – and asked people to move to one side (good) or the other (bad- like a sliding scale) if they felt that the activity was appropriate academic behaviour online. I took them through sharing slides, blog posts about events, dumping ideas, sharing a work-in-progress thesis online and a tweet which degraded the REF. All this metadata removed, all with timestamps & other signifiers missing.

The discussion, for me, was amazing. Especially as nobody clocked onto the fact that the things they were seeing all belonged to me. Which made the big reveal all the funnier, after a heated discussion about the dangers of using twitter and mixing professional/private life. I just couldn’t have done that without using myself as the target, it was too cruel to do otherwise – like in a space we have a moral superiority to judge behaviors out of context.

And this spontaneous exercise really made me think about the materials that I use in the sessions that I’ve delivered in the past – and how I’ve found myself getting into the loop of only showing best practice, good examples, metrics and levels of ‘success’ – when I get reflective that I realize the internet and the people I meet through these relationships and friends of friends are much more important than restricting myself to pretend I’m something more than I’m not. So.. if I’m going to tackle the issue of identity again (which I am on Friday for the PhD students at UWS) I’m going to rip up my rule book and start again.

The Research Practices 2.0 website has a wealth of resources on tools and practice, discussion and reflection and definitely worth visiting if you are thinking about running social media sessions in the future.

Screen shot 2011-04-26 at 20.56.41

Social Media for @UniWestScotland PhD Students: Overview of Workshop (21st April, 2011)

This 3 hour workshop broadly explored the role of new media within academia from writing, research and dissemination perspective. It tracked the ongoing history of social online technologies, unpick the common myths associated with web 2.0 platforms and discuss the cycle of activity required in order to create and maintain an academic profile online. This workshop provided an opportunity to brainstorm strategies surrounding the use of social media for promoting independent and group work. This was recommended for all levels and is a trans-disciplinary activity (and is not exhaustive)

The workshops was split into three sections, lasting 45 minutes each:

Part 1: Building a postgraduate Social Media Toolkit:

The first session explored the different ways in which emerging platforms online can be used to support and challenge the ways in which we might think about our postgraduate experience. It focused on techniques and tools which could be used to change the ways we might think about our daily writing, reading and research practice. It offered examples of tools which have been used by other PhD students in the last 18 months to improve thesis management, literature search/ databases and social support networks to discuss specific (and not-so specific) questions and issues that may emerge during the PhD process. The tools offered are not exhaustive, with the focus being on self-discovery and adapting online spaces for personal and professional requirements.

The platforms discussed:

Scrivener: A non-linear writing program for managing long documents (such as scripts, manuscripts and dissertations) by allowing for each section to be broken down, organized and tagged by specific sections. It has a number of functions which allow for easy organization, note taking and research databases. It has a large support network online which offers free tutorials around the different functions and ways in which scrivener can be used.

750words.com: A private writing platform to encourage daily writing practice. Those who use it are asked to complete a daily, 3 page writing exercise in any subject or form they wish – with the only function being that it private and it keeps tracks of writing ‘streaks.’ It can be used to promote a regular writing discipline, especially when working on large documents such as a thesis or a manuscript.

Blogging: Using a blog to keep a public record of your work and the things that may occupy your mind. It used examples such as wordpress, blogger, posterous and tumblr (all with varying degrees of difficulties and facilities – but essential do the same thing) I prepared a workshop for PhD students in November on using posterous (with a how to..)

Cite-u-like:  Cite-u-like is a social bookmarking website for academic researchers where users can upload reading lists and share what they are looking at with a community of people with similar areas. It can also be used as a starting point to find out what others are reading and to find a quick overview of papers which are ‘similar to’ other papers.

Delicious/Pinboard: More general bookmarking sites, but can be used to share interesting links – but also search for links and topics based on keywords. Both are organized around the sharing of user data and similar databases (rather than keeping data strictly on one, private machine.)

Mendeley: Mendeley is one of a number of new breeds of reference database management systems which can be used to, not only save and work on research papers (can annotate them and add notes to .pdfs) but also can have an online, sync-able profile which can be assessed on multiple machines (allowing for suggestions – much like itunes – can be formed based on similar readings) It is both a space to use on the desktop as an offline management tool, with an optional ‘social’ aspect to it.

Twitter: Even if you do not have a twitter account, you can use http://search.twitter.com (and other tools) to listen and engagement with particular topic areas from afar.

#phdchat: An example of a topic that you might wish to engage with if you have never used twitter before. It is a hashtag community (where when you click #phdchat, you are redirected to a list of people who are currently using that tag at the moment.) You can use software such as tweetdeck (installed on a computer or phone) or hootsuite (browser based or installed on a mobile device) to monitor particular hashtags so they you can follow people that might be talking about similar things that you are interested in following.

Part 2: Social media for research methods

The second session addressed social media in the context of research methods. It looked at existing research methods and offered examples towards how social media can be used to support or enhance particular methodologies. It looked at concepts such as open data, measurement tools, ethnographic tools, focus groups and interviews. The purpose, again, was to emphasis the use of these tools as a supplementary force, something that does not need to be taken as a one sized fit all approach and recognizing where you might use it as a primary research tool. It is about using the web in a smart, but critical way.

All platforms are detailed in the slides.

Part 3: Amplified Events for PhD Students

This was an adapted version of the Amplified events workshop that I ran in Paisley in February, focusing on how to enhance presentations at academic conferences and building  research presence- which goes beyond simply attending conferences and writing papers but working with the support communities they are within in order to ‘promote’ and disseminate knowledge. It is a move away from the institutionally organized research community into a space which is much more organic in its uses and its needs. It explored this from the perspective of a participant, speaker and an event organizer.

More details of amplified events are here.


Reflections on “Amplified Events Workshop for PhD Students” and research cultures more generally. (Snappy title..)

After being postponed due to snow before Christmas (these things happen in Scotland) I finally got to deliver my workshop on Amplified Events to UWS’s PhD cohort. As expected, it wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be (I deliberately decided not to water it down with “WEB 2.0!!” and “SOCIAL MEDIA” buzzwords – perhaps I should have, but I hate tacking on 2.0 to things to make it sound like progress. The word ‘amplified‘ is misused enough.) Unlike last time (Academic 2.0 – #killmenow) which gathered 30+  – I had 10 registered and 5 turn up. If we were talking bums on seats, that would have been a big waste of resources – however- I had 5 really interesting and exciting people who were doing different and interesting things within the University – people I would have not have met had they not chose to sign up to the workshop. Certainly, I would have not been able to engage in the same way if it was like the last time – lots of people, abilities and expectations.

The last time it felt like I was participating in a tick box exercise (like – hey, you know how to work powerpoint [tick], you know how to make a academic poster [tick], you heard about social media being used in different contexts [tick]) and through discussions about learning and teaching strategies (in different contexts) I had an inclination that much of the stuff that I would like to really do wasn’t particular suited to this particular workshop environment.

Nevertheless, I had to go through this process (and the opportunity arose when there was some funds to facilitate PhDs training PhDs in their own skillset) before I could really make a judgement that this wasn’t going to work as the best way to facilitate a ‘digital’ research culture – at least amongst my peers. I use the term ‘digital’ loosely as it’s much more of a concept around pervasive technology, shifting attitudes – rather than simply an attempt to get people online and using twitter (the new common misconception) – it needs to stick, it needs to have a long term projection, it needs to fit as part of the University’s overall vision – otherwise it would be easier to just run “this is how to work twitter 101″ or “how to blog” events in the same frame as powerpoint workshops. This is a much bigger beastie than a couple of sessions on ‘web 2.0′ – this is a transformative step for where our school (@UWSCreative) can be at the heart of such discussions around campuses. 

Therefore, part of the overarching philosophy which is consistently framing the direction in which I would like to take my work practice is around the notion of open access. If there are only going to be 5 people in the room – arrived at through their interpretation of the way in which the workshop is promoted – then what is the harm in sticking the content and the workshop online for others to take part in. The training was funded out of a particular pot dedicated to training PhDs – not anything else. This raises questions of ownership and responsibility in terms of costs etc – BUT – What’s stopping the session being opened up the wider community at large, would it not be better to encourage a wider research community than it would be to treat social media as a tacked on session for a tacked on community of PhDs who actually would do no harm in integrating with everyone who is doing research, not just other PhD students. I’d say that that would/should be the next steps…

The irony is that the solution is being stared at in the face – the fact that workshops in social media (demonstrating the potential to ‘democratise’ structures that have never been seen in this way before – I always use extreme examples of occupied space or challenging the conventions through hacking or activism to case in point)  can’t result in social media being picked up, ran with and stuck is probably one of the reasons why investing frequent and often one sided workshops in social media is destined to fail (if to succeed is to see those attending actually trying something out and reporting back on it.) I can plant a few ideas in the heads of the people who are already using it (like today – most had interesting stories about bad conference presentations or ways in which media technology had enhanced their life/work) but it’s not really about them – we should be doing more with that in general anyway. It’s the many others who are reliant on fusty, controlled systems, locked down windows machines and the “stability” of the 9-5 physical workplace (and potentially still using internet explorer 6!) – too busy to engage new ideas or think critically about this existing practice. Their world is the university owned and controlled machine and the outlook email box that they can switch off at 5pm on a Friday (I certainly can’t imagine suggesting they blog at 10pm on a Friday night ;-)). And there is so much we could do to make that world a much more useful and efficient and a place where those who work in that environment are trusted to make their own decisions about what they do on their computers and with their online presence.

Through ongoing work at UWS, I know there is a real shift in the culture of our school. There are some existing ‘hubs’ (an overused word but the best way to describe what it is) – we’ve now got a space in Paisley, having always existed in Ayr, making the School visible to the other departments on the main campus. This is useful for a number of reasons, but with talks of developing a creative space to work and run sessions, it could be that drop in sessions and open door policy for people to stick their head in to ask questions and enquiry about the stuff that we do as a research centre/media academy is a better approach. 

Citizen’s Eye, for example, are already running informal sessions in Leicester where anyone can pop into particular coffee shops on certain days and learn how to use twitter in 20 minutes, facebook in 40 minutes – that’s all it really takes. It doesn’t need anymore than that – and often those who are trainees tend to be the trainers at the next session. They debunk the myths and it allows people to move forward with cooler things. It’s about planting seeds and hoping they take hold and grow, not filling people’s heads and melting their brains with as much as you can in three hours because that’s the only time we can do that. I can see the hub being a space where, amongst lots of other things, we can let it be known that there are people there who can help people help themselves. The emphasis being that it is an open space where this dialogue and relationship can happen and be seen. There really is so much potential and I know that with UWS these are open doors that can only really get wider. 

So really, I just wanted to write down my reflections from running the sessions, I’ll probably finish the ‘official’ post that goes with the slides at another point – so much stuff to just think about when moving towards some of these things being actualised in the future.