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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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Project: Championing Social Media Practice through Student/Academic Partnerships at @UWSInteractive

I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to announced several opportunities through two different, but very connected projects that I am part of at the University of the West of Scotland.

The first is the opportunity to recruit current UWS students as social media student champions to work alongside academics and support staff to deliver social media surgeries during the UWS Interactive Festival that I am curating in May.

Details of this are available on the UWS Interactive website. The deadline is this friday (24th Feb)

The second is part of a bigger project called #citizenrelay, that is part of #media2012, the citizen news wire for the London 2012 Olympic Games, that Dr David McGillivray is leading on. I developed the website, the host platform for citizen media content and the accompanying literature around #citizenrelay (including the branding) so for me, it is exciting to promote opportunities to recruit eight interns across the entirety of Scotland, in collaboration with colleges and HEIs, to work alongside both of us (and the wider #media2012 network) to cover the alternative stories of the torch.

There will be a second call for #citizenrelay reporters in the coming months, who will be supported by the interns, to follow the torch for two days in their designated area. It is hoped that through the relay process, we will be able to gather a more in-depth picture of Scotland during 2012 than the accredited media outlets, and who knows, be able to break a story or two!

For details of the intern role and the citizen relay in general click here. There will be a #citizenrelay launch event during UWS Interactive Festival on the 6th of March, all welcome.

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Workshop: @UWSDigital Social Media Masterclass at Bournemouth University

Introduction

On Thursday and Friday of last week (16th and 17th of February) David McGillivray and I were invited to Bournemouth University, School of Tourism to deliver a full day workshop around social media and higher education for their staff and students in the department.

The day was split between a two hour workshop designed to demystify some of the risks and opportunities of social media in the university environment through a (short) presentation of some conceptual ideas about online identity and talking through some examples of projects and websites that we have recently used at UWSCreative.

This was quite an honest experience, as it hasn’t always been a smooth ride in terms of being ‘allowed’ to manage our own presence as a school, but I think by reflecting and tracking of the process of where we have came from and what we have achieved in terms of negotiation with corporate communications and wider spread uniformed strategies of the university, was useful for both us and for our Bournemouth colleagues to see.

WordPress, oh lovely WordPress.

For example, we have had to rely on external WordPress websites (either on WordPress.com or on staff’s own servers) to host project websites that need a more dynamic, realtime online environment that the corporate website. This is because there is not currently a server within the institution that can handle multiple WordPress installs (so I’m told) and there are a number of restrictions on the current website that allows for full integration with social media platforms (beyond share buttons and embedded content.)

Bournemouth, like DMU and Lincoln, already have a WordPress ‘blog’ system at play, so we spent much of the workshop explaining the language of the system and how to ask for things that you want from the people who are charged with looking after the system. Through speaking to staff individually, we learned how they came about getting the wordpress system installed and how it is referenced to within the university (important for arguing the case for it at UWS) and they learned how to utilise it a bit better in terms of what a school might want from having access to individual, module, subject area websites and how powerful it can be when you have access (as a tool and as a learning experience.)

Social Media Surgeries revisited.

Again, like the work we did in the South of Scotland before Christmas, the 1-2-1 social media surgeries that we held in the afternoon were a good opportunity to focus specifically on each attendee, rather than simply rely on a 1-2-many workshop for disseminating information. They allow for interested participants to ask questions in an informal space, perhaps about things that they may not feel comfortable asking in a larger group.

Never a dumb question…

Interestingly, the ‘dumb’ questions that people think they are throwing at you, actually vary so much that it is impossible to say that there is a particular level of social media expertise that people need to work towards. In fact, it is more down to curiosity and willingness to learn than it is to ticking a box to say you are now an competence in social media.

One person’s idea of a ‘dumb’ question is another person’s aspiration and you can see that very clearly when you exposure yourself to them in the same space. Ideally, groups of people who work under the banner of an institution need a support network, rather an individual technical person, for it to work as a long term movement. As always, I’m happy to try and fix things for people, but I’m even happier if I can empower people to try things out themselves.

Hell, I need to ask around to solve most problems online, social media as a departmental tool relies on individuals to work together and seek out the best practice in their area. Twitter (and other platforms) allow you to monitor it, but the best solution can sometimes always be sitting down and having a coffee (other drinks are available) and a chat with a person. Social media can encourage that, which often leads to better, more open work environments through the act of communicating better and more often with others in your area.

Conclusions

Overall, it was useful for me to try out the ‘workshop/surgery’ model in a university, my home territories, as I’ve been struggling with the pedagogy teaching such a subject area and managing the expectations of those who have signed up to come along. There is something interesting in teaching social media in itself, as it isn’t just about tools and practices. The closeness to a person’s identity to the subject area can play a huge part in the usefulness, and I don’t like objectifying it away, you, the person is as important as the tools that you select. The personal is political and will dominate the fact you prefer LinkedIn to Facebook for instance, and dominate the predijuces you may have against how other people chose to use it.

I always say to people that you have to give yourself permission to use the web in a way that you feel most comfortable. I’m not going to say you ‘have’ to do certain things, but it is always worth noting that it isn’t going to go away *at the moment*, if there is a way that you can use it to make your workplace, your social life, your interests a happier place to be, then the benefits will emerge on their own.