Saturday, 12 January 2019

Reflections on #SocMedHE18 and #mugafesto - Social Media for Learning in HE Conference


For those that know me, you will know that for some years now I have been an advocate of the use of social media for learning and teaching. It has provided opportunities for my own CPD that continue to go beyond my expectations. The generosity of the communities I engage with or indeed listen in to, have had such a postive impact on who I am as a professional and the work that I do. #SocMedHE18 is the conference hashtag this post is about. I have been incredibly lucky to be able to co-create, co-organise and contribute as a co-presenter at an event that brings so many wonderful people together to openly share, discuss and debate topics around social media for learning. 

So this year Rachel Challen from Nottinham Trent Uni picked up the baton and agreed to host the 4th Social Media for Learning in HE Conference. Rach made the decision to reach out to her network to look for volunteers to form the organising committee for #SocMedHE18 and I was thrilled to be asked to join her team. Her approach to leading this massive undertaking must be commended. Using social media - mostly Google Drive and a private Twitter DM group, with the odd Zoom and Skype meeting - Rachel encouraged everyone to contribute ideas. The creativity that came from this group was fantastic and the unique additional touches Rachel added were brilliant. Right at that start she involved Bryan Mathers from Visual Thinkery to help the team develop ideas for the conference themes and to help Bryan create a collection of visuals that could be made into stickers (which were gifts for delegates at the event). He also created an Inclusive Revolution remixer which was great fun to use - try it yourself.  The whole process was an incredible experience.  From start to finish Rachel made sure everyone had a part to play and inspired everyone to contribute. Meanwhile behind the scenes she worked with her wonderful NTU team to make the magic that pulls a conference together. 

The #SocMedHE18 Organising Team
Image credit Sandra Huskinson ()

The themes for the event were openness, digital identity and creativity. Deb Baff came up with the ingenious idea to ask people to tweet their proposal to make it inclusive for all to contribute something short (in 280 characters!). A great response was received and the conversation using the #SocMedHE18 hashtag was on fire right from the start! To be honest the conversation has been vibrant leading up to, during and post conference. The event included activities that enabled those who could not be there to engage. Livestreaming the keynote is one example and then there was the Mugafesto. #Mugafesto was an idea created by Andrew Middleton to develop a manifesto that could fit on a mug. Statements that could help others see why social media for learning in HE is important and something that should be supported and encouraged. See my contribition at the top of this post - my intention being to highlight the value of open sharing to encourage the making of new connections, conversations and collaborations. The more we do this, the more we can gain. The more we gain and learn through trusted networks, has to be a win win situation. 

I was delighted to have the opportunity to introduce Maren Deepwell who gave an excellent keynote on how we use social media and technology for teaching, learning and assessment by exploring three critical themes: community, equality and openness. Maren's calm approach and the ability to articulate quite often complex matters is something I really admire. She began her talk by raising something I am sure we are all semi conscious of and that is the amount of time we spend online and the value of taking time out. She recommended the digital data detox which is described as 
The Data Detox helps you look for signs that you might not be leading a healthy, balanced digital lifestyle. It gives you practical advice so you can discover what you share, when you reveal it and to whom, and what it might mean for your life.
Maren refered to social media as powerful, personal and pervasive. It is easy to get carried away with the positive outcomes of using social media, but we also need to be mindful of the dark side. Having these conversations with family, friends, colleagues and students has never been so important. 


The day continued with three sets of parallel sessions. Choosing was always going to be difficult but in a way was made easier for me as I was asked to chair three sessions in the first set and was presenting a workshop in the final set. Given the Twitter feedback all sessions brought their unique value to the day. I certainly got a great deal from all the sessions I attended. 

Reflecting on the day there is so much I could write about, but for now I will use the event themes as a useful focal point and share these thoughts:

Hearing from educators sharing their practice and being able to discuss not just what went well, but also what didn't go as planned is incredibly valuable. Providing a forum to question, discuss and offer similar experiencs or suggestions is such a helpful approach and for me the bedrock of successful CPD. Every session allowed for this and I have come away with new ideas and ways I can re-consider my own practice of using social media for learning and how to (re)evaluate it. 

Digital identity
We explored in a session what we feel it means to 'lurk' (or what I prefer to refer to as positive silent engagement), where not participating is very often because the individual is shy or just not ready to contribute immediately (if at all). I want to think more about how I can encourage and help those that want to 'cross the bridge' but also recognise that I must acknowledge others may gain as much as they wish to by just listening in. During this session I co-led with Sarah Honeychurch, Neil Withnell and Scott Turner, I was momentarily worried people were not enjoying it, mistaking the quietness. Sometimes we need quiet for thinking space. Some people may need more time to think than others. 

Secondly I wanted to mention the joy and happiness of the many first 'face to face' meetings that took place. Many selfies were posted at the start of the day! I met people I regard as friends as we have known and interacted with each other through social media for some time, yet never met in person. I'm sorry I can't mention everyone but it was a joy to meet you all. I do want to mention Hala Mansour as our friendship is deeply rooted having shared a #WOL (working out loud) experience; and also Jenny Lewin-Jones and Kiu Sum who have both been part of the LTHEchat organising team; plus Teresa MacKinnon who I've had the pleasure of meeting many times off and online but would love to see more of! I find it fascinating to observe how the use of emojis, GIFs and bitmojis can add visual cues that maybe don't make up for the face to face experience of communicating but certainly help us express emotions and facets of our digital selves! 

From the start of the day the 'build your own badge' table had everyone smiling as they happily added their own creative stamp whilst making their perosnal name badge. Andrew as afore mentioned used his creativity to create a video to introduce the #Mugafesto activity, and Bryan who made the best stickers were both brilliant; but then each and every presenter also brought a range of creativity to the way they have enhanced their practice, shared research undertaken or ongoing, and in the way they stimulated discussion around one or more of the three themes. Rachel of course has used her creative wand numerous times and made this such a special event. Thank you for making it happen. 

I really didn't want the day to end. The good (actually brilliant) news is that SocMedHE19 will take place on December 19th at Edge Hill University led by the wonderful Dawne and Sarah. If I can leave you with one bit of advice, it would be follow @SocMedHE and make sure you get yourself to #SocMedHE19!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Interconnectedness and Lifelong Learning #TEDxUoBolton #TEDx

The recording of the TEDx talk I gave at the University of Bolton is now up on the TEDx YouTube channel! Below is the tweet that let me know. The event included 12 presenters so hats off to the team who filmed and edited all of the videos.  

My #TEDx talk was about the potential of interconnectedness and open lifelong learning may be the key to finding ikigai - your purpose, your reason for being - and the key to a happier and longer life.

Below are background slides that could be seen on the big screen at the event. 

Thursday, 21 December 2017

#SocMedHE17 Social media for Learning in Higher Education Conference.

The third Social Media for Learning Conference took place once again at Sheffield Hallam. I was thrilled to have five of my students contribute to the event, their work on SMASH - Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam.

The morning of the conference was designed as a Build Your Own Conference approach whereby delegates suggested and voted up activities. These ranged from conversations, feedback on research to full hands on workshops. It was a brilliant start to the event. In the afternoon there was a collection of workshops, short papers and poster presentations in parallel sessions. 

I can hand on heart say this is one of my favourite events, bringing together old friends too many of you to mention all by name but you know who you are) and an opportunity to meet new people sharing the same interest of using social media to enhance learning and teaching. It was great to see Jenny and Scott who have been part of the LTHEchat organising team over the last few months as this was the first time we'd met face to face! 


The student founders and new members of SMASH led a session in the morning and used the opportunity to get feedback on their 7 ways to use [social media tool] cards. These were Corran Wood, Jess Paddon, Abby Butler, Callum Rooney and virtually Matty Trueman (who was recovering from appendicitis so couldn't be with us in person) They received some great feedback both in the session and through Twitter. In the new year they will develop these resources further and plan to run workshops with staff and students at Sheffield Hallam to demonstrate the different ways social media can enhance learning and teaching. The resources will be given a Creative Commons licence and then shared through a new blog and Twitter account. 


I attended a great session led by Suzanne Faulkner, which as it happens so did my students. I've been a bit of skeptical about using Snapchat but now encouraged by Jess, I will definitely look into this in the new year!

Lego Serious Play

Together with Suzanne Faulkner we ran a fun workshop using Lego to get participants discussing their online identity. I wish now we'd been able to record this as there were some great discussions, and volunteers who described their models. 

Short paper 1 

Corran Wood and Jess Paddon, two of the four founder members of SMASH led a presentation on how the group started and what they had gained from the experience.

Short paper 2

I co-presented a paper with Simon Horrocks on Social Media and Higher Education Digital Leadership. Whilst our research is work in progress, it gave us an opportunity to seek valuable feedback from the attendees and gauge interest in the work we are doing. Watch this space for how this research develops.


The final session of the day gave me the opportunity to attend Neil Withnell and Emma Gillaspy's excellent workshop 'Cracking the TEF crystal maze – technology edition'. This was a series of activities or challenges that we had to solve in small groups. Each gave us the opportunity to test out different platforms whilst trying to crack the clues. It's certainly inspired me to try something similar with my own students. 

It was a non stop day but a very enjoyable one. As you might imagine there was much to tweet about. So many engaged with the event that were not actually physically present which was great. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

The National Teaching Fellow Award Ceremony #NTFS17 #NTFS2017

The 1st October has to go down as one of my proudest personal moments. I travelled down to London with my husband to attend the National Teaching Fellow Award Ceremony which took place at Church House, Westminster. 

It was wonderful to share this event with Prof Sally Brown, a friend and colleague who has inspired me for many years.  
We enjoyed a wonderful meal and then came the time to collect our awards. Thanks David for capturing this photo!

David Smith and Kim Bower, colleagues from Sheffield Hallam were also receiving NTF awards. This was the photo captured by Graham Holden.  

On stage I was given my official certificate.

It was certainly an evening to remember! My National Teaching Fellowship profile can be found on the Higher Education Academy website 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Stemettes #MonsterConfidence Event

I was delighted to be invited by Anne-Marie Imafidon to give one of the keynotes at the Stemettes #MonsterConfidence Conference in Sheffield. The event is aimed at girls interested in STEM and co-run with Monster, a leading job site in the UK. 

Anne-Marie is the CEO of the Stemettes and she can be found on Twitter as @aimafidonAmongst other awards, Anne-Marie was recently announced by Computer Weekly as one of the most influential women in the UK

My keynote focused on the importance of networking and building an online presence. I wanted to encourage the girls attended to learn to use social media in a professional context to connect, communicate, curate, collaborate and create. Drawing on the work of Stepper, I expounded on the value of working out loud and sharing achievements so that others can learn from these experiences. Ultimately I wanted to help them see the value in building networks online through the use of social media. 

It was a fabulous event and I took great pleasure in being involved throughout the day. This included 'speed dating' sessions where the student attendees spoke to myself and others to ask questions and learn about how we had developed our careers. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

From Tsundoku to #PhDshelfie: An ongoing story

Pile of Books

Over the summer I had a number of conversations on Twitter with Sue Watling about books, PhDs, technology enhanced learning and the chasm which we still refer to as the digital divide. Twitter is my go to learning space and has become so as I have built a valued network of educators who also use this space to share their work and that of others. This leads to fascinating discussions. More often it opens my eyes to new concepts. I read a lot of things I may never have come across. I use the dictionary frequently. I realise the more I learn, the more there is to learn. At times it can feel intimidating when I don't understand new things BUT never for long as there is always someone I can go to to ask questions or at the very least be signposted to further reading that makes a topic more understandable. 

This post is in reply to Sue and other scholars who were sharing blog posts about their PhD book shelves and tweeting a link along with the hashtag #PhDshelfie. Sue invited me to contribute knowing I was in the process of starting my PhD journey. Do search for this hashtag as there are many valuable stories to read.

My study

I love books and love to buy second hand ones as well as new. The academic ones are stored in my study. (My girls have grown up and left home now so I have a study all to myself - luxury!). This has a wide bookshelf and two bookcases. They are all full. Having undertaken two Master's degrees and a PgCert in Learning and Teaching in Education, plus a a variety of projects over the years, I've accumulated quite a collection. Now embarking on a PhD, new books are being added, and those already on the shelves are being pulled out and added to a growing pile to delve into. 

I organise my books in 'collections' rather than a Dewey like system by author. These groupings have formed based on my teaching and research interests and include topics such as:
  • technology enhanced learning
  • open learning
  • creative learning 
  • scholarship of learning
  • research methods and study skills
  • communication and media 
  • networking and social network analysis
  • social media in business
  • social media and online presence 
  • social media in higher education

My book shelves are also scattered with mementos and photos of family and friends. One of my newest and most treasured is this hand crafted Twitter bird which my dear friend Chrissi Nerantzi gave me.  

As I start a new project (be this a course or some research) I tend to pull the books off the shelf and create piles. Once the project is finished I find them a place back on the shelf. Below is one of my newer piles of books I'm delving into. These of course compliment a raft of journal papers and blog posts accessed online. My #PhDshelfie is therefore in its infancy. It will evolve the more I read. Not captured will be a dictionary as I explore new words and concepts and try and make sense of them.   


My Summer Twitter links and conversations also led me to a book called Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders. In the book she captures a collection of words and beautifully illustrates these along with an interpretation of their meaning. One particular word that caught my eye in this was the Japenese word Tsundoku. This is described as:
"A book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books"
It made me reflect on the books I buy as their journey to the bookshelf often takes a while. A new purchase may be read straight away, but to be honest this is the exception rather than the rule. I tend to identify a useful book cited by a writer and want to read more in the context of that quote. In the midst of a project the remainder of the book is likely to go unread. This book and others (both bought and borrowed) will become an ever growing pile. 

However from my 'tsundoku' collections (as there may be many) I can already see scope for future #PhDshelfie posts as I gather books to address different aspects of my PhD experience and the research I intend to undertake. It will be interesting to document how this evolves. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The day I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship #NTFS2017 #NTFS17

31st August was the day many of us have been waiting for. The day the 55 successful National Teaching Fellows would be announced. I'm delighted to say that I was one of them.

I have had so many wonderful messages of congratulations on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Too many to share them all here, but you know who you are and I want you to know how grateful I am. I've shared a few further down and explain why. 

The press release from my university 'Hallam academics recognised for teaching excellence' includes my inspirational colleagues Dr David Smith and Dr Kim Bower. There are 53 others recognised and the full list can be found on the Higher Education Academy website. 

David Smith, along with our colleagues David Eddy and Julie Gillin and myself (the four musketeers) have inspired each other over the years and our mutual encouragement has seen us take innovative approaches to teaching and learning. I thank you for all of our shared experiences. 

I'd like to thank my mentors Stella Jones-Devitt, Juliette Hinrichsen, Mike Bramhall and Richard Hill who over the years have helped me to realise my own potential and to believe that I can achieve things once thought out of my reach. Also Prof Peter Hartley with whom I share a deep interest in research on interpersonal communication. He constantly helps me to expand my thinking and challenges my ideas and new approaches. Huge thanks also must go to Professor Sally Brown and Professor Phil Race who not only believed in me but helped me believe in myself. 

A small selection of the valued tweets I received:

Professor Sally Brown

I'll be honest I had to look 'doyenne' up. Having the respect of Sally Brown means the world. I have learned so much from her over the years and know I will continue to do so. 
Eric Stoller
Eric has been such an inspiring friend over the years. We connected back in 2010 when he was living in the US. I'd come across his blog and through Twitter continue to learn from him. He knows more about social media than most of us put together. His posts encouraged me to implement innovative approaches in my teaching and staff development activities. I finally got to meet him in 2016 when he was keynote for our Social Media for Learning Conference at Sheffield Hallam University. If you are looking for a keynote speaker this is your man!

Chrissi Nerantzi

Chrissi and I clicked instantly and we have shared multiple projects, each contributing different perspectives. I have learned so much working with her.  

And now I have to wait until November 1st to officially receive my award in London and have the opportunity to meet the other 54 recipients.