Digital Economy USRG

SMiLE research project

My experience as a Digital Champion at Random Hacks of Kindness (#RHoKSoton)

December 4, 2012
by Farahnoosh Berahman

Random Hacks of Kindness was a delightful experience for the Digital Champions. Before the event we met twice to learn more about #RHoK, our tasks, and technologies that we were not familiar with, and that we were supposed to use during this social hacking weekend.

Ivan (@IvanMelendezCh) was responsible for managing the Digital Champions and arranging the meet ups before the event, to let us know about the required tasks and technologies used during the weekend. He suggested that we make a Google account, so that we could use Google docs to share information about the essentials proposed by the organiser of #RhoKSoton, Dirk Gorissen(@elazungu). Google Hangouts is used for communicating with all the other #RHoK people all over the world. We practiced using it in case hackers needed help with Google hangouts and then we could be able to assist.

In contrast to the previous events that the Digital Champions participated in, we formalised the way videos were produced, recorded and uploaded. We assigned the tasks of recording and editing to specific people. Ivan was responsible for editing and uploading the videos on the #RHoKsoton Youtube channel. Furthermore, he was responsible for uploading all of our photos on the #RHoKSoton Flickr

Amir (@amir_arya) was the only person responsible for tweeting from the main account of #RHoKSoton, as well as his own account. Additionally, he made a really beautiful Instagram photo gallery during the two days of this event.

I (@farnooshbr) was responsible for tweeting, taking the videos, photos and interviewing the organisers and sponsors of the event. I also helped each team make a one minute video about their project and the outcomes of it, as shown in Lisa’s Storify

Nikoletta Toumazatou(@speckidea), Nader Tibi(@ntibi04), and Evi Sopasi(@ESopasi) were responsible for taking photos, tweeting, and supporting people with the use of devices (yes, in a room full of hackers you might need support with technology).

In general, this event could be considered as one of the most successful events aided by the Digital Champions. Our social media activity was highly regarded by the main organisers of this global movement. We discovered some areas of opportunity, for example if all the Digital Champions could gain video editing skills, our presence could become even more helpful.

Note from Lisa – yes we are planning a #digichamp video editing workshop :-)

Here is Dirk’s summary of the event.

SMiLE virtual presentation to PLE Conference

Avatar photoJuly 19, 2012
by Lisa Harris

Nicole Beale and I recently presented a paper via Skype to the PLE conference on the value of event-based social media to the development of personal learning networks. Remote presentation is hardly noteworthy these days, but participating in ‘real’ group discussions on a laptop screen by being picked up and moved around from group to group was a slightly surreal experience :-)

Our paper focused on the role of social media in building learning networks and increasing subject knowledge from a interactions before, during and after a live event. It is based upon our experience of managing, curating and archiving social media data centred upon a major academic conference. We have reported more detail of this project on the LSE Impact and Smart Insights blogs.

In terms of building an individual’s learning networks, we summarised the value of social media as:

Allowing people to ‘meet’ others that they would not have had time to meet if those tools were not being so extensively supported
Strengthening and extending circles of contacts through conversations occurring on Twitter around a common topic
Identifying new contacts with whom a connection was not apparent before engaging with their social media user profiles
Providing a way to find out more about delegates who were at the conference, in order for new possibilities for connections to be explored
Increasing interest in face to face sessions being run at the conference therefore broadening the group of participants

And in terms of enhancing an individual’s subject knowledge:

Twitter provided a safe environment to ask ‘silly’ questions that delegates would not be comfortable asking F2F
Social media provided a platform for conversations between individuals who were not together physically (because of differing interests)
Online interactions made the subject matter more accessible for newcomers to the discipline
Additional tools and resources were linked and saved
Social media provided opportunities to follow up things that were happening at the event and therefore led to the discovery of further information, more quickly
People could easily identify relevant sessions and attend the most useful parts of the conference

But there are also learning challenges from social media activity of course, as these quotes from conference delegates indicate:

“If you have no social media account you are no one…”
“I think just looking at the twitter stream gives a skewed idea of what people really think is interesting or noteworthy.”
“It was hard to follow since so much posting was going on. I also felt like some folks were tweeting at the expense of hearing the presentations or discussion effectively.”
“…. I just think people aren’t good at multi-tasking even though they think they are.”

The PLE community obviously makes very effective use of social media in terms of learning from interactions inspired by the conference content. We welcome comments from PLE delegates on our findings, do they chime with your personal learning experiences via social media? Do you identify with any of the challenges highlighted above?

SMiLE: Early Reflections and Next Steps #caasoton

Avatar photoMarch 31, 2012
by Lisa Harris

Last week I posted about our plans for the action research project SMiLE at the CAA2012 conference at Southampton. We tracked the use of a number of social media tools by both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ attendees and interviewed people about the value they got from this activity, in order to explore the dynamics of the relationship between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ communities. Now that the event is over it is time for the team to gather thoughts about next steps.

This post is a initial attempt to summarise what went on during the week in terms of social media and how we might best take the work forward. Feedback and offers of help are most welcome!

1. The sun shone *all week*. We had arranged this :-)

2. Full statistics are still being collated but as a taster there are so far over 13,000 tweets quoting #caasoton,  with more discussions continuing, 435 photos on Flickr and video views from nearly 40 countries:

3. Nearly half of the 450 conference delegates were active on twitter, and there were many new converts, and also old hands describing the significance of this:

4. tweeting during sessions allowed people to make connections and curate the discussions going on in different rooms, in real time:

Some of these discussions could even be considered as defining new online ‘sessions’ or themes:


5. there was an active group of ‘virtual’ contributors (over 70 registered as ‘virtual attendees’, with some 20 more beaming in randomly on the Wednesday morning alone)

Overall it was a bit of a result, really:

So what next?

We have *much more* data than we expected, but this is a nice problem to have! Already people are tweeting ideas about how best to archive and reuse it, as well as curating data from various sources such as Foursquare to provide an extra layer of value. We want to try different ways to integrate and visualise the data, and also the possibilities of network analyses and data mining.

We will be checking out our interview and survey data and writing up the early findings over the next few weeks to present at the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) Conference in July. Using the principles of crowdsourcing we have requested Session Chairs to gather relevant materials, add their own narrative and Storify each session which can be archived as a permanent record of specific discussions and decisions taken.

We have also spoken with Faculty event managers, the digital media team in comms, and the University’s CITE team about sharing the lessons learned for the benefit of people organising future events. A series of posts charting our progress will follow shortly! We will carry on listening and talking via #caasoton :-)