Pattern, David, Stone, Graham and Collins, Ellen (2011) 25 Research Things: engaging academics with social media tools. In: LIBER 40th Annual Conference, 29 June - 2 July 2011, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona. (Submitted)

A growing body of research from around the world has demonstrated that uptake of social media and web 2.0 tools and technologies is not yet embedded within the research community. One important reason for this is that researchers often feel bewildered by the array of technology available to them, and struggle to understand how it could support their professional activities. This poster reports on a recent project, undertaken jointly by the University of Huddersfield and the Research Information Network (RIN), to enable a group of researchers to engage more effectively with social media tools.

’25 Research Things’ is an innovative online learning programme which gives researchers a structured way to engage with selected web 2.0 tools. It is based upon a previous course run at Huddersfield for its library staff, which itself borrowed from ‘Learning 2.0’, developed by Helene Blowers at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, USA. A number of web 2.0 tools are introduced each week and the ‘thingers’, ranging from 1st year PhD students to professors, are given specific tasks which encourage them to experiment. The first cohort ran from November 2010-January 2011, the second will run from January–March 2011.

The course is run via a WordPress blog, all participants establish and maintain a blog of their own to report on their experiences with each tool. This approach helps to build a supportive community, with participants commenting on each others’ blogs. As a result, they not only receive peer support on the various tasks, but also begin to understand the benefits of being part of an active online social network.

All ‘thingers’ complete a survey before and after the course. The preliminary results of these surveys, along with analysis of the blogs, suggest that researchers have found the course to be useful. For many, it has increased their confidence in using web 2.0 tools, and every participant has found at least one new tool which they will continue to use after completion of the course. Many have also commented on the engaging and stimulating nature of the course, suggesting that the interactivity and structured learning are welcomed by researchers.

This poster will use data from both rounds of the programme to evaluate its success. It will consider the efficacy of the ’25 Research Things’ model as a way of engaging researchers with social media, and will suggest how others could experiment with the project in their own institutions.

PatternStoneCollins_25_Research_Things_poster.pdf - Accepted Version
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