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Social Media in Teaching and Research


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I gave this presentation at the "Hands on the Future" event at the University of Leeds in May 2014. The aim was to discuss the options, the pros and the cons of different social media in teaching and research within a Higher Education environment.

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Social Media in Teaching and Research

  1. 1. Social Media in Education and Research Dr Christopher Hassall @katatrepsis Hands on the Future technologies to enhance student education and research
  2. 2. Advantages Disadvantages Example (teaching) Example (research) Conference calls Blogs (and websites) Twitter
  3. 3. Conference calls “Hoover” of VoIP software Groups/videos/screen sharing Low cost calls to landlines (int.) Adopted by some universities for remote office hours More flexibility than free Skype registration
  4. 4. Conference calls Advantages 10 simultaneous videos Free screen share Automatic YouTube upload Integration with Google Docs Everyone knows it Reliable and straightforward Allows access to guest speakers from around the world Collaboration becomes much easier Screen sharing allows remote lectures/demonstrations Doesn’t have to be done live – record, edit and show later Disadvantages Need a Google Account (to be involved) Need to download Occasional technical problems (need to trial first) Internet connection can be strained with video
  5. 5. Conference calls Teaching example Remote guest lecturer Researcher at a museum Guided tour of collections using webcam Q&A with students during and after Research example Real time manuscript/grant writing Document editing in Google Docs Conversation using Hangout or Skype Removes travel requirement Enriched conversation
  6. 6. 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 Feb-11 Sep-11 Apr-12 Oct-12 May-13 Nov-13 Jun-14 Monthlyhits Blogs External vs internal blogs Value in outreach (Pathways to Impact) Easy extension to websites (projects, CVs, labs), indefinite life
  7. 7. Blogs Advantages Very flexible Very attractive Very simple Clean and elegant Linked to Google Simple interface Free for use, charge for unique domain (~£15 per year) Permanent ownership of online profile, archive of project activity Public facing – “contributing to something” Opportunity to learn coding (HTML, CSS, Javascript) Disadvantages Slight learning curve (but worth it) Not so flexible Not so flexible Students have to sign up for an account with a 3rd party Hesitance to broadcast learning Requires (small amount of) training
  8. 8. Blogs Teaching example Evaluation of media reporting of subject The “blogosphere” is more manoeuvrable than convention press and so offers an opportunity to respond rapidly to current issues and the reporting of those issues in the mainstream media. Students monitor media outlets and produce one blog post per week critically analysing media coverage of their topic. Research example Research grant website Key part of Pathways to Impact is public communication. A PI allocates responsibility for weekly update posts (<500 words each, with a photo) to the PDRA who also builds out pages on background, aims, and methods for the project. The site is left when the grant ends and forms part of the PI and PDRA’s portfolio of outreach activity.
  9. 9. 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Twitter (“microblog”) Who are my followers? 140 character limit, topic-specific hashtags (#) A “different crowd” for networking and outreach Reasonable analytics to quantify reach
  10. 10. Twitter Advantages Quick and easy to post Can “stalk” if preferred, or contribute Very rapid reach (via “supernodes”) New group of people with whom to interact Increasing use at conferences (e.g. INTECOL2013) Disadvantages Needs maintenance to retain momentum Slight learning curve (hashtags, DMs, RTs, MTs, etc) You need to be organised to manage info! Students need accounts to engage
  11. 11. Twitter Teaching example Twitter as a “backchannel” During class discussion time Set up a Twitter ticker using “Twitterfall” or “Tweetwally” Either class hashtag or general hashtag Research example Project Twitter account Public outreach Networking with researchers Announcement of papers