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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Becoming a Networked Researcher: a suite useful of presentations

10 Jul

Web 2.0 tools have finally moved firmly beyond the ‘potential fad’ stage, to gaining widespread acceptance as valuable weapons in the Researcher’s arsenal. Statistics about social media are almost meaningless because a: there’s so many of them and b: the information becomes outdated quickly, but at the time of writing it’s thought that around 70% of academics use social media for personal use, and in my view we’ve most definitely reached the tipping point where social media’s utility for professional use is properly understood.

This is directly linked to the ‘impact agenda’ – the research shows that blogging about and tweeting about research results in more citations for that research, and pretty much everyone wants more citations. But becoming a networked researcher is about more than the REF-related bottom line, it’s about being part of a mutually beneficial, supportive, and intellectually engaging community.

With all that in mind, I ran a suite of hands-on workshops at my institution, the University of York, on behalf of the Researcher Development Team. The suite was entitled ‘Becoming a Networked Researcher’ and it covered firstly blogs and blogging, then collaboration and dissemination, and finally Twitter. Rather than divide these up into three blog posts I thought the most useful thing to do would be to have them all here – so below you’ll find various links to, or embedded versions of, presentations and handouts for the course. I’ve tried to make it so they work without me there to talk over the top of them…

The workshops themselves were really enjoyable and the researchers themselves very enthusiastic and engaged – a whole bunch of blogs and twitter accounts have already sprang up since they ran!  But I’d like to improve them for next time around (we’ll be running them twice a year from now on); whether you’re a Masters / PhD researcher, an academic, or an information professional reading this, I’d be interested in your views on how useful these materials are, and any advice or tips or, particularly, examples, I should be referring to in future sessions.

The workshop materials

The three parts of the suite were designed to work together and separately – if you’re only interested in one aspect of becoming a networked researcher, you don’t need to look at the materials from the other sessions.

Part 1: Blogs and Blogging

Blogs and Blogging was the most successful session. The advice here is slightly York-centric in that we all have Google accounts, so we all automatically have Blogger blogs; if you’re reading this at another insitution it’s definitely worth considering WordPress.com as your blogging platform. Better still, WordPress.org, although that requires some technical knowledge.

Here’s the Prezi presentation:

And here’s the handout which goes with it:

Blogs for researchers: workshop handout by University of York Information

 

Part 2: Dissemination and Collaboration

I’ve decided against embedding the materials for this one – there was a lot more group and collaborative work and the session was slightly shorter, so my presentation doesn’t cover as much ground. But you can view the Dissemination and Collaboration Prezi here (the handout doesn’t really add anything); it covers LinkedIn, Academia.edu, Prezi itself, and Slideshare.

Interestingly, I really struggled to convince people as to the value of LinkedIn. I’m suspect of the value of LinkedIn myself, but I’ve heard countless researchers talk about how important it is, so I flagged it up as a key resource anyway…

 

Part 3: Twitter for Researchers

I really enjoyed this as I think Twitter is such a vital tool for modern scholarship and communication – you can see the Slides from the session here:

 

And the handout is here:

Twitter for academics: workshop handout by University of York Information

Any questions, comments or queries, leave them below.

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#EdTech: 9 useful online tools to share with the academic community

10 Jun

A while back I blogged about a session I’d run for academics on the academic skills and digital literacy we teach at York. The point of blogging was to say that what the academics were really interested in was not what we taught the students, but how they themselves could become digitally literate.

With that in mind I decided to put on a session for academics on exactly that. It was to be a taster menu on 9 different EdTech tools that they might find useful in the Higher Education environment, for engaging students, boosting reputation, and their own research.

Importantly it wasn’t to be a library session – I wanted people to actually show up, after all… I asked the central Learning & Teaching Forum if I could deliver it as part of their workshop schedule – it just happened to be delivered by a librarian. Recent experiences suggested York was completely ready for this sort of thing (and indeed we had to move the room to a bigger venue as nearly 60 academics signed up for the session) – if you don’t read any more of this post my message would be, if you think you could run a Web 2.0 type session for lecturers and / or researchers, do it! They’re really enthusiastic about it – it’s no longer seen as a fad or a waste of time.

Anyhow, here’s the presentation I used:

For anyone really enthusiastic, the full hour and a half session was recorded too;
here’s where you can watch the presentation and hear my talk at the same time.

So, how did it go? The answer is really well – the group were very enthusiastic, and the feedback forms were extremely positive with only one exception. One lecturer I really like actually left the room almost in a daze, backing away saying ‘Ned, I think you’ve solved something I’ve been trying to sort for ages, one of these tools is what we need…’ and ran off to investigate there and then! :)

What worked

  • The focus was on tools that helped solve existing problems – some Web 2.0 stuff seems to create its own problems which it then solves… This was based on tools that already fitted into the fabric of academic life
  • It wasn’t a hands-on session but I encouraged as much discussion as possible, questions and sharing of experiences, so that it wasn’t just me banging on about stuff at the front
  • The What, Why, How, Tips type format I use in a lot of my training also worked well here – it’s really important to tell people why they’d find a tool useful BEFORE you tell them how to use it
  • It was the right thing at the right time – lots of the feedback comments were things like ‘This is exactly what I wanted!’ – had I tried to do this when I first got to York 2 years ago, for example, I’m not sure that would have been the case
  • It was matter of fact and practical. One academic said they’d been attracted by the lack of ‘platitudes and concepts’ which he said dominated most courses and workshops they were offered… The whole point of the session was to give people things they could DO right away which helped them in their actual real lives
    .

What didn’t

  • I think 9 was probably too many tools for the time. I should have done 7 perhaps – I felt like I was really galloping through everything. It was meant to be a taster-menu, but still
  • As with every training session ever, a couple of people found some of it too simplistic and a couple of other people found some of it too complicated – I’m not sure there’s a silver bullet for this issue, really, I’d love to know if anyone’s cracked it
  • A couple of people commented that they found Part 2 more useful than Part 1, but Part 1 was the more substantial section. If I run it again (and I probably will) I’ll try and put greater emphasis on the teaching tools rather than the social media side of things
  • I should have used more academic examples. (I told myself I’d be using loads of examples in the Becoming a Networked Researcher hands-on workshops I’m running at the moment – but much of the audience is different for these, so it’s really not relevant to tell myself that!)
    .

Incidentally, there was a really interesting conversation (which I didn’t feel qualified to contribute much to) about the nonsense female academics have to put up with online; or indeed any prominent females have to endure. It seems that as soon as your level of exposure reaches a certain point – my unscientific guess is, when you’ve been on TV just once – there will be some idiots who will take advantage of the net’s relative anonymity to say unpleasant or creepy things. If this is a subject you’re interested in, I’d highly recommend reading about Sara Perry’s Gender and Digital Culture project, which is looking to tackle the issue.

So as you can probably guess by now, I’m really pleased that we’ve reached a tipping point and there’s enthusiasm in the academic community for the potential applications of Web 2.0 tools. This is an area lots of librarians are interested in, so I really think it’s a great time to offer up your knowledge and expertise to a grateful audience in HE. There are a few institutions doing this, and it seems to be working for all of us.

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10 non-standard tips for public speaking!

11 Apr
Old-school presentation image

Flickr CC Image via Louisville Joe – click to view original

 

I teach a full-day Presentation Skills course for the British Library, among others, and I recently sought feedback on it from someone I trust. The thing he wanted more on – and it was one of those ‘it’s obvious now they say it’ moments – was presenting itself, the process of it, rather than just preparing the materials. There was indeed a section on this in the training but it wasn’t very long, so in order to improve the course I’ve read up on it a bit more; I learned a lot of useful things (and had others I already knew better articulated to me) so I thought I’d share some of them here.

Preparation

1. It’s better to know the subject than the presentation. Learning anything from memory is really hard. But so is looking at notes, or reading presentations out from a script. If I try and learn a presentation I get worried – I’m aiming for something so specific, there’s a feeling of pressure around getting it right, and a feeling that if I forget something the whole house of cards will fall apart. I prefer to only speak about stuff I know a bit about, and just use the slides to reinforce key points and basically prompt me to talk about certain aspects of a topic, as appropriate to that particular audience. This is much more relaxing than worrying about remembering particular phrases etc. It also means you’re more flexible – things can even be tackled in a different order based on what the audience wants, for example.

In short, you can’t be derailed because you’re not on rails. That’s a very reassuring feeling.

2. Imagine your audience leaving the room (after your talk!). It’s often very hard to know where to start when creating a presentation – the default position is ‘what do I know about this subject?’ but actually that’s the wrong way around most of the time. The more pertinent question is ‘What do the audience want from this subject?’ – if you imagine your audience leaving the room after you’ve spoken, what have they learned, what do they know now, what did they get out of it? Think about what is important to them in that moment, and build the presentation from there – if necessary going and doing more research beforehand, so you can talk more authoritatively about what matters to them.

3. The rule of three – there might be something in it… I’ve heard many times now that we remember things most easily in groups of three. There’s a lot of it about – 3 act plays, stories with a beginning, a middle and an end etc. Presentations-wise, it’s relevant because the audience will likely only remember 3 things from your presentation, so you need to make sure these are the most important three! If you’re completely stuck for a structure, try the 3:3:3 method – three main parts of your presentation, each divided into three sub-sections, and if necessary each of those subsections divided into three as well.

4. Store your presentation in the cloud. Of course every presenter takes their presentation along on a USB stick but USB sticks do break sometimes, and they’re small and easily lost. So a sensible back-up plan is to store your presentation in the Cloud, and of course the easiest way to store your presentation in the cloud is to email it to yourself. (Then it’s backed up twice! Once in your inbox, once in your sent box. :) )

5. Have a one-page cheat sheet. Part of presenting well is being relaxed, and a lot of being relaxed (for me, certainly) is knowing exactly what your doing with the logistics of the day. So make a one page document with EVERYTHING you need to know in it: presentation start time, room number, directions to the venue, contact name and details, train self-ticket machine reference number, etc – print it out and carry it with you, and email it to yourself so you can check it on your phone. You’re much more likely to arrive relaxed, on time, and focused.

Delivery

6. Look everyone in the eye, then pick your favourites to come back to… This is particularly useful for nervous speakers. Public speaking is about communication, and communication is better with eye contact. So I will try to literally look every member of the audience in the eye at least once, at least as far as I reasonably can. (After 5 rows or so, it’s hard to be specific.) During this time, I’ll notice a few people who are particularly receptive – they’re nodding emphatically, or smiling at what I’m saying – and I’ll come back to them throughout the talk, as a form of encouragement… I don’t get nervous anymore, but even as a non-nervous person I like to see people on my side. (The flip-side of this idea is to work on the more indifferent members of the audience – or even hostile, but that doesn’t come up too often in our industry, thankfully – by focusing more explicitly on them.)

7. Remember if people are looking down at a screen and typing, it’s a compliment. I can imagine that it can be disconcerting if you’re not a Twitter user, and you see people looking down at their phones rather than up at you. It must feel like kids ignorning what you’re saying and texting their friends. But it’s a good thing! They’re sufficiently invested in what you’re saying that they want to broadcast it to their network on Twitter – it’s also a way for them to make notes at the same time. And of course, that means your words are reaching a bigger audience, which is excellent.

8. Have a Plan B for your intro and your outro. It sounds obvious but knowing what your opening line is going to be is quite important. Sometimes people decide to with something like ‘Hello everyone, my name is Ned, I’m from York’ but then the person introducing them says ‘This is Ned, he’s from York’ so you really can’t use that one… So know what you’ll say if your planned opener is ruled out for whatever reason. The same goes with the closer – if it’s covered in the questions for example, or if you finish surprisingly early and need some more material to call upon, have a relevant topic in mind in advance.

9. Listen very carefully, an introvert will say this only once… Lots of people reading this will be introverts; I’m one, certainly. A characteristic we share is only saying stuff once – if it’s said, it’s done with, we don’t want to say it again. I feel embarrassed telling a story to someone if I know I’ve told it to someone else, even if the two people are completely unconnected! But in presentations we have to fight that instinct, and make sure we say the really important stuff (main arguments, big statements, statistics, quotes) at least twice; perhaps in different ways but at least twice nevertheless.

10. Think in tweetbites. You thought it was enough to think in memorable soundbites! Not anymore. For the maximum impact, your most important statements needs to be tweetable so that your presentation is amplified beyond the walls of the room you’re in. You’ve put hours of work into it, so why not double, triple or otherwise exponentially increase the audience for your key messages? Think in quotable, tweetable chunks (as long as that’s not actually to the detriment of your presentation, of course…).

Is there anything else you’d add? I’ve love to hear from you in the comments so this post becomes more useful over time.

More tips

You can find all sorts of presentation tips online – the following three articles were particularly useful in assembling the list above: 30 quick tips for speakers; Compulsive obsessive details will save your neck; and the Introverts Guide to presenting.

As the title suggests, these are non-standard tips for public speaking – which is to say, beyond the obvious ones everyone knows such as not facing away from the audience etc: for more ‘nuts-and-bolts of presenting’ advice, and more on creating materials, check out these previous posts:

Plus there’s also this early blog post on: tips for first time speakers.

Good luck!

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Twitter for Researchers guide

12 Mar

At my institution we’re really stepping up our support for researchers, and I’ve been doing a lot of stuff around the Web 2.0 end of the spectrum.

I’m running a suit of workshops called Becoming a Networked Researcher, and I’ve been into departments to give taster presentations like this one:

We’ve also finally completed a guide to using Twitter for Researchers. It’s more a Twitter for Researchers actually, rather than the process of academic research itself (although that is possible). I’ve hosted it on Scribd in order to embed it on our web pages, and it got picked up and featured on Scribd’s homepage so that helped boost the number of views it has had, which is huge, relatively speaking – around three-and-a-half-thousand. Plenty of those have been from York researchers, which is great – they’ve given us a lot of positive feedback and ReTweets.

The guide took a surprisingly long time to do – the difference between knowing stuff and actually writing an ideal version of it down in a document never ceases to disappoint me… Adding examples took a while too. I couldn’t decide between very brief of very comprehensive – in the end I decided somewhere between the two, keeping it as short as possible but including a LOT of information. The idea is, if they want more, they can come to the Twitter workshop as part of the Becoming a Networked Researcher suite.

Anyhow, here it is – feel free to use stuff from it, with attribution:

Twitter for research by University of York Information

There’ll be some more University of York Library stuff on the blog shortly, around Digital Literacy, videos etc!

- thewikiman

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