Saturday 9 January 2016

A Digital Narrative of the MELSIG event at NTU #melsigntu

Public domain image: Pixabay

I think this has to go down as one of favourite MELSIG events. My only wish is that every one of the sessions could have been recorded as I would have liked to have gone to all of them! What I get most from the MELSIG events (aside from the brilliant presentations and workshops) is the openness and willingness to give things a try; the way all the delegates support each other and share their highs and frustrations when working with technology. MELSIG events are a great space to share news ideas and approaches, as by the end of the session you can guarantee there will be valuable suggestions to develop it further, make it better or even take it in a different direction. 

As Prof Simon Lancaster (S_J_Lancaster) says:

I also love the opportunity to meet the people in person, that I have been having conversations with on Twitter but have never met, as well as catching up with those who are regular attenders of MELSIG events. The community just seems to grow and grow!

For those of you who don't know MELSIG, this is the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group founded by my colleague Andrew Middleton, Sheffield Hallam University. I joined the steering group a few years ago but have been a big fan of the regular events for some time. MELSIG have held many different workshops relating to media enhanced learning and these have been hosted at universities across the UK.

To find out more follow @melsiguk on Twitter and the MELSIG blog.

Digital Narratives

The event was hosted by Nottingham Trent University and their excellent NTU Digital Practice Team. The focus for this event was Digital Narratives: (re)storying learning experiences for a digital age. The event is described as:

"MELSIG recognises the enormous potential of digital and social media for sharing experience, bringing the real world into the classroom and taking learning to the outside world. During this event, we will explore the role of digital narratives as a part of learning, teaching and practices in a range of contexts. Consideration will be given to the place of digital narratives as part of digital pedagogies aimed at creating flexible and diverse learning experiences. This will involve reflecting on how digital and social media are challenging dominant narratives to shape our understandings of learning spaces. We will discuss the potential and challenges that digital narrative approaches present for not only teaching, learning and assessment practices, but also staff development initiatives aimed at supporting educators support their learners in these areas."

The full programme can be found on the MELSIG blog, however here are the headlines of the sessions that were on offer:

The day began with a welcome to Nottingham Trent University by Elaine Swift (@elaines), Head of the Digital Practice Team and an introduction to MELSIG by Andrew Middleton {andrewmid). Andrew then talked about the ‘Telling Different Stories’ – the Storify Challenge’ for the day where volunteers Rebecca Sellars (@becksell2001), Neil Withnell (@neilwithnell) and Graham McElearney (@GrahamMacca) have been tasked to 'storify' the event.

A rich and vibrant programme followed: 
  • Dawn of the Unread – a cross-disciplinary approach at creating multi-layered digital stories offering readers/viewers opportunities to construct their own narrative paths through the content – James Walker, Lecturer, Nottingham Business School
  • Digital storytelling to support reflective practices – this is an assessed piece of work final year students on a Health and Social Care module are asked to complete – Jane Challinor, ( Principal Lecturer, Social Work and Health.
  • Using Immersive Technologies to Demonstrate Theories of Self in the Landscape, Rob Higson (Learning Technology Advisor, Learning Enhancement, University of Derby) & Jo Bishton (Lecturer in American Studies, University of Derby)
  • The Collector: desire, research and digital curation, Jill Lebihan, Principal Lecturer, English, Sheffield Hallam University
  • #Phonarchem  - making a lab session an event and sharing it with the world, Professor Simon Lancaster, (@S_J_Lancaster), University of East Anglia
  • Bits, bobs and digital sticky tape: using what you have to create digital stories - Charlie Davis, NTU
  • The Social Life of a Note - Andrew Middleton(@andrewmid), and Helen Kay, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Setting your stories free – Chris Thomson (@cbthomson), Jisc.
  • Making and telling a good story with Storify - Sue Beckingham (@suebecks), Sheffield Hallam University
  • #DS106 Learning as a digital story - Viv Rolfe (@VivienRolfe), University opf the West of England
  • Telling Different Stories: Storify Activity - Rebecca Sellars (Leeds Beckett University), Neil Withnell (University of Salford) and Graham McElearney (University of Sheffield)
  • Social media portfolios: building the digital toolbox using social media: - Sue Beckingham (@suebecks), Sheffield Hallam University

The day ended with a Plenary led by Andrew Middleton. This included an audio roundup which every delegate contributed to - each giving one point on what they will take away from the day. This is a classic end to a MELSIG event and a brilliant way to reflect on the highlights of others.

Crowdsourcing Digital Narratives #MELSIGrecipes

In the lead up to the event a crowdsourcing activity on Digital Narratives was run. The aim is to build a set of ‘recipes’ on approaches people have taken to incorporating ‘the narrative’ in digital pedagogies. These are being collated in Google Presentation and is still open for more contributions.

You can access the digital narrative recipes here.

My favourite quote

Telling Different Stories: Storify Activity

Andrew Middleton put out a call for the challenge to Storify the event. The three volunteers were Rebecca Sellar, Neil Withnell and Graham McElearney. Here are their wonderful digital narratives using Storify. 

Rebecca Sellar

Neil Withnell

Graham McElearney

My contributions

Making and telling a good story with Storify

The workshop looked at Storify and how it is has being used to support learning and teaching. Typically those of us using Storify are more familiar with the curation of tweets for events and tweetchats, however with deeper exploration I have found that the range of social media that can be used to pull into the storyboard plus the ability to add a textual narrative, Storify has the potential to be much richer. During the session I introduced the  Storify bookmarklet and how this can make storytelling both easier and more compelling.

The final part of the workshop was an activity where participants worked in small groups to plan new ways Storify could be used for learning. These plans were captured on Google Docs and then shared via Twitter using the hashtag #melsigstorify. After the event I curated these tweets and created a digital narrative using Storify.  

Social Media Portfolios: Building the Digital Toolbox using Social Media

The second workshop I led introduced the ongoing 'The Connected U' project I have been working on with Andrew Middleton and Kelly Snape. 

This session looked at how we can enhance our digital profiles and professional online presence by drawing from a digital toolbox using social media. Participants contributed to the conversation by providing their own ideas for additional tools to add to the digital toolbox.

Useful resources

These are just a few that I have gathered from the #melsigntu tweets. I will no doubt be adding to them as I go back through the tweets and colleagues share digital links to their workshops and other useful resources. 

....and no event could be complete without a visual from the wonderful Simon Rae (@simonrae)!

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