Today I’m at the University of Edinburgh Moray House Making Research Visible event, where I’m delighted to have been asked to give the opening keynote this morning. Once that’s done I’ll be liveblogging the day (with all the usual caveats – do send me any corrections, edits, additions, etc.).
Welcome (Do Coyle)
I’d like to welcome you to this morning’s event which I think is really exciting. When I looked at the programme I saw “what happens if you Google yourself?”, so I did… And there was a photo with the most ugly necklace! It’s levitous but these are things we need to think about…
I want to thank Jen Ross for all her work today. She emphasised that it was as much about celebrating what we do – which is so important – as it is thinking about what we should or could do.
I’m Do Coyle and I’m director of Research Knowledge Exchange in Moray House. I’m relatively new here, but I’m surrounded by amazing people and teams. And by chance we have a brand new RKO office, led by Simon with Greg and Lilleth supported by Roz and David. New office, new times, and a huge thank you for Jen as she comes to the end of her
Nicola Osborne – ‘Curating an Effective Digital Research Footprint’
I was giving this presentation so I’m afraid no notes here. But my slides are included below:
Holly Linklater – ‘Making Inclusion Visible: We Make a Film to Show How We Make a School’
I’m going to talk to you about a project we’ve been doing over the last year, funded by an ESRC Impact grant. It was to bring together conversations between my work on inclusion and agency and my colleague Natasha’s work in agency and inclusion, as well as school perspectives. And we particularly wanted to think about “hard to reach families”. The school is a large school in Cambridge, it’s in the city and very diverse and international (47 languages) and socioeconomically diverse student population. And the school was aware that the way that they do things is not necessarily how you’d expect schools to do things, your expectations from the culture or country or context you are coming from. We wanted to do a project that connected up all these different forms of knowledge.
We decided we wanted to make a film as we wanted to create something sharable, and to really engage with parents who so often are looking at their phones in the playground – to get them to look up! But we also wanted to engage trainee teachers, those engaging in CPD around learning. So it needed to be a short film. We had a survey and interviews, workshops in the school, to really make sure we were working in partnership with the schools.
We started with thinking about “What is it that I know?” – using the knowledge already there, and bringing the research and clarity of research to that. The school knew that the way I concluded my arguements was genuinely from the work with that school – there was trust, and they recognised themselves in that work. The head said “I’d never have said that in that way, but I recognise what we do in that work”. By delightful coincidence – and it was a coincidence – a parent in the school is a director who makes CBeebies Hettie Feather, we totally couldn’t afford her… We massively underestimated what was involved. Then I made friends with Neil at ECA to find out what materials I could borrow for free for this (lots!), and Chloe, our director, found students in Anglia Ruskin who were up for film making and mainly had advertising focus but were keen to do other things, and wanted to work for Chloe. So they got some CPD, and we got great people involved.
We were aware of the sensitivities of not everyone wanting to be in the video, and privacy sensitivities, so we focused on what it is to make a mini cardboard school – to animate children’s stories from interviews to collect core data. But in fact what happened was that everyone wanted to be in the film, really wanted to be in the film. We had four 12 hour days of filming! But we stuck to our guns of a 10 minute film, and it’s been really exciting and engagement in the school, the children have a real sense of ownership. The film is called “We Make a School”.
We asked teachers, students and parents about trust, relationships and support, to draw out themes and then we show that and link that across the film in quite a light touch way, and in the words of the people from the school.
I want to finish with an email that came in today from the Deputy Head of the School – the school board are delighted and excited to know what’s next – including CPD programmes for teachers to look at working together to make an inclusive school community.
Ailsa Niven & Shaun Phillips – ‘Using Animation to Make Research Visible: Can Academics do this Easily and Effectively?’
Ailsa: We want to talk about how we might use animation in a way that is accessible, easy and effective and we were funded by a CAS grant to do this. We are all very mindful of our pathways to Impact, and find Morton (2015) approach of Uptake>Use>Impact very useful. And we wanted to find effective ways for our audience to find and uptake our research, and we wanted creative ways to do this.
We know the adage that a picture paints a thousand words: a 5000 word article won’t be read and engaged with by many of our key stakeholders. But we were well aware that web videos were great to reach stakeholders. Shaun and I attended the 2D Animation course from the IAD and I’m shamelessly borrowing their stats: online videos will be 80% of web traffic by 2020; 8 billion videos are viewed every day on Facebook; and videos have to be short or they won’t be watched.
And publishers are engaging. Taylor & Francis now promote video abstracts. And the video “How to get kids moving”, in my research area, got lots of attention. And just last week JOVE offered to make us a video of our research for $2800. But we thought we could do this ourselves, with the key aim of making our research on race running accessible and effective.
Shaun: Race running is particularly useful for neurological impairment, including cerebral palsy. It uses a kind of bike that you’ll see in the video to provide balance and support. So, to communicate that we had our research associate look at available softwares – some easy to use and free, some complex or overspecc’d, some less flexible and some more, some not as appropriate for academic use. We looked at pros and cons and decided on Powtoon. Why? It was a reasonable price (~$500), it’s professional and modern looking, it’s relatively easy to use – you can storyboard to make production easier. That storyboarding is really important to being efficient with your time and getting your message across. It is voice-over enabled. Can import own images and can embed videos.
So, we recruited an RA to lead creation. We clarified the focus and target audience – we wanted to raise awareness of race running and also disseminate existing research finding on the activity as well. It was two aims but we wanted to keep the video short – that was challenging. We storyboarded the story. That preparation makes the video much more easy and productive to make. Then we revised again and again and again – more than we expected for such a short video! We are now at that stage, the next step is stakeholder feedback – and then more revision. Then we’ll finalise and disseminate.
Best thing to do is to show you a short section of the animation. (It looks really good!)
So reflections here… It is possible to develop the skills required to create animations with some time investment – more than we thought – and some pre-existing skills.
Ailsa: Links with creative teaching and assessment methods – we are reusing the skills and resources in teaching, students really enjoy it.
Shaun: Further evaluation of our animation is needed to determine effectiveness. And we are moving forward with either up-skilling and use of these resources.
Shari Sabeti – ‘Embedding the Visual Arts Throughout the Research Process’
This project, the Mashallese Arts Project was exploring forced displacement of children and families from the Marshall Islands, working in the Marshall Islands and Hawaii. So, as background, the US undertook extensive cold war era nuclear testing on Bikini ad Enewetak; fall out of Utirik and Rongelap. The people were evacuated from Bikini, told that the testing was good of mankind, and was much more powerful than expected, three times more than Hiroshima. And the fall out effected islands that had not been evacuated, with some locations rendered uninhabited for 30,000 years. There is still use of Kwajalein as a ballistic missile testing base. That was agreed to under a Compact of Free Association (1986) – giving free migration rights to the US as exchange/compensation for giving up land rights and claims against the US. At the same time the Marshall Islands are also at risk of disappearance due to climate change.
The Marshallese culture was based on parcels of land, so we were interested to understand how that changes when people are displaced. We also wanted to look at the potential of indigenous art movements/artists to encourage senses of confidence and pride in heritage. This was also about the impact of textbooks, materials from the US and Asia, and scope for Marshallese materials given that there are now 9000 Marshallese people in Hawaii.
Our method was to nest art educators in the project based in schools. We had three participatory workshops on performance poetry, mural painting and photography. These were also research activities, about belonging, displacement, and things that matter to them in their lives. The outputs generated materials for the community and for understanding these experiences. The children wrote poems, and then the murals were based on the poetry. We worked in various areas including Ejit, where direct descendants of Bikini islanders live – in fact the school t-shirt shows the mushroom cloud and the Bible – reflecting that sense of having been told that their island was being given up for the good of mankind. In Honolulu the murals looked different – the teacher didn’t want writing/graffiti – so the artist created outlines and the children contributed.
So, the research connecting to what is visible… This mural designed by the artist talks about Aloha as “hello” but really “you are in the presence of another’s breath (another living creature or consciousness)”; IAKWE – a Marshallese greeting meaning “You are beautiful, like a rainbow”. So the continuous faces and the brow becomes a rainbow – “a kind of collective orgasm”.
We did get press coverage – we “had things to take photos of as research” so it was a press friendly thing. We have shared the texts, a map of materials, and we have a graphic adaptation from one of Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. And we now want to take things forward – we have a CAS impact grant to follow this more and develop this on. The college knowledge exchange grant is about making sure people actually use these things – not just to have things be usable, but make sure they are useful. I am limited by funding because the flight from Edinburgh to Honolulu is £800, but from Honolulu to the Marshall Islands is £1200. So we are going out to Hawaii to work with schools to make sure this is used, and to ensure this feeds into the curriculum in the region.
Just thinking about your talk and social media earlier Nicola, in the pacific everyone uses Facebook for everyone. Even in the Ministry of Education – no answer to email, but send them a Facebook message and instant response. It is the space to engage. It was the opposite of my normal practice. But if you gave them a USB stick they wouldn’t use it. But I know the government has increased the tariffs on wifi and mobile data so that raises new problems about engaging and access. That use of social media in the global south can be so problematic.
Michael Sean Gallagher – ‘Near Future Teaching and Shaping Education Futures: Social Media as Communication and Data Collection’
This is about the Near Future Teaching project, led by Sian Bayne with myself and Jennifer Williams at IAD, with a much wider group engaged. This project is futures research, so about the “possible, probable and preferable” (Facer and Sanford 2010). And not all futures work is dystopian – at least they don’t need to be.
So we are working together to co-design the futures of teaching at Edinburgh. We performed vox pops about “what values shape how we change?”, “how does technology impact your study, teaching, or research?” and how should we shape the future at the University.
We have undertaken research and Sian and I created two documents to distil the key issues on Future teaching trends. This is the basis for our research. We had a series of events around campus in 2017 and 2018, using topics like Block Chain to then start wider discussions on the future of digital education – seeing how these issues trigger and force discussion on the future of Higher Education. We then undertook interviews and focus groups with staff and students. The range of who we spoke to included about 100 staff, about 100 students and 9 alumni. That was then distilled into a series of very short thematic videos – extracting those emerging themes. Some were direct responses to our questions, some were not but revealed key themes, such as “too much tech”, “automation”, “ways of learning”, “distance”. Those videos are drivers for subsequent activities.
We then entered into 2 different workshops, again playing to the Facer and Stanford notion of “critique the assumption that there is an inevitable future to which we must simply adapt or resist”. So we created cards and materials imagining future worlds. Some of those were quite out there – like the quantified future where we imagined a deceased student graduation by virtue of never having logged out! And then we had design workshops to build those ideas and visions.
Communication was key to these events. We had Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – the latter most viable probably as our work was very visual. We also used Padlet to get contributions – with mixed success. But really it was about how all of this allows for a strategy to emerge. So we had future world scenarios, future education scenarios, and future University of Edinburgh scenarios.
So, lessons learned. With social media you have to be ready to course correct. We were using Storify… It was relatively good but has shut down mid project. So, you have to be flexible about what you use and see yourself using. Also a larger cultural history of these spaces – you can extract the data but you lose the cultural context of that data. Use cautiously. And you have to think about how the medium shapes the message, how these media interact, and needing to have a coherent dialogue there, and course corrections as needed.
Q1) How did the workshops and the social media engagement intersect or shape each other?
A1) The design workshops were invited, and largely represented the students and staff who had been interviewed.
Q2) How often has an issue like Storify arisen, and how did it disrupt the work?
A2) It does happen, it forces course correction. It took part of a week to course correct. I try to use multiple channels to allow options. Storify was more a writing than a data problem, as it was about capturing what was taking place.
Q2) That is a barrier for newbies… Does it have a shelf life?
A2) That shelf life thing is a big issue. I think about shelf life when I pick channels… But you need to have a contingency plan.
Divya Sivaramakrishnan – ‘What I Learnt from Organising a Yoga Knowledge Exchange Event’
I’m going to talk about organising a yoga knowledge exchange event, and particularly working with illustrator. My PhD work is about developing and evaluating a yoga intervention for older adults in Scotland. As it turns out it’s more developing than evaluating. I had research findings already: I’d done a systematic review and evidence of benefits of yoga, and wanted to communicate and share that.
So, at the event we had presentations of the evidence, and opportunities to capture data from the participants, and we had a live illustrator capturing discussions into visuals. For instance the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy at UoE use illustration a lot. My illustrator was Josie (studiojojo.com) and I found her through word of mouth. If you look at e.g. chrisshipton.co.uk you can see some helpful guidance on the possibilities for live illustration.
So, the output includes discussion of the research and reflections on benefits and opportunities. Josie created a huge physical diagram, also a digital copies. And she also gave me small key aspects that can be used elsewhere – memorable comments and advice.
The Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy at UoE have also used postcards, bookmarks etc. to disseminate their live illustrations from workshops etc. And another possible format – a comic book called “Cathy’s Relaxation Story” to share (non live) illustrations, an accessible takeaway guide.
How was this useful? It added zing to the event and produced beautiful material that can be used in the future. I used this material in my report of the event. It’s great for social media. I’ve used it in all my posters and presentations. It will be in my thesis. And it’s also marvellous office decoration!
How to get the best out of this process? You should really have an idea of what you want. Or you can leave it up to the illustrator – and that might mean you get great images, but you can also end up with side comments/less relevant things, or cute pictures without content. I didn’t have a clear focus and I got great things out but I would have a clearer idea next time.
Think about how you are going to use this illustration process, how you will use the output, etc. to help you get the best out of this.
Quick discussion and themes raised there:
- Can we combine live illustration and animation
- Sometimes illustration not looking like your expectation can be very helpful and very useful. Can draw new things out to explore.
James Lamb – ‘The Manifesto for Teaching Online’
Nice to have the chance to talk today about making research visual and visible. I feel the case has been made for images, video and visual… I hope to add something different. I want to talk about the video I prepared for the manifesto for teaching online. I want to talk about making research visible and visual, but also use the filmmaking and visuals to actually to make the point we are talking about.
We live in a visual age and we see changes in the visual, and I think we can see the trajectory of the visual through the development of mobile phones. My 1998 Nokia was designed for the spoken world, the language driven world, and up to 20 texts. My modern phone is a sophisticated computer in my pocket and it’s about sharing gifs and memes, and much more visual. Society is becoming more visual and our research needs to keep up with this.
The Manifesto for Teaching Online originated in 2011, and was revisited in 2016. It makes 21 key statements and provocations about teaching online. In each manifesto it has been communicated with websites, postcards, etc. And for each iteration I’ve made a video – an opportunity to do this through text and visuals and video and languages. And that is a real opportunity. Text has been troubled: many modes matter in representing academic knowledge. Jewitt (2008) encourages us to think about true multimodality. Remixing digital content redefines authorship – this video is a form of mashup (as Cathy Fitzpatrick (2011) would put it). I am remixing academic knowledge through the format itself.
And that’s my prompt to play the video…
What about the audience and reaction? Nancy Heath wrote about it in Internet Learning, 5(1). Justin Marquis provided comment. But others’ critical reaction (e.g. Keller 2012) suggests that the video has been seen but not always engaged with, responded to – it has been seen. We see it shared on Twitter. The video is portable across sites and online. But the video has worked for us in (1) making the case for our work and (2) extending the audience for our work beyond the print based form. As the manifesto says itself “Many modes matter”.
Q1) Where did the statements come from? It’s interesting how it distilled down.
A1 – Jen Ross) It was developed from an internally funded Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme projects. And now we revisit it when everything changes. We made statements, reviewed, argued, etc.
A1 – James) It is provocative – we get comments, reactions, remixes, cartoons, texts etc. We are writing a book and journal article about that now. And that’s important as it is intended to provoke and engage.
Lucy Hunter Blackburn – ‘Combining Old and New Media’
So, a little background to who I am and why I’m here. I’m a post graduate researcher at Moray House working on student funding. I t. started out as a freelance researcher. I was writing big analysis of public data, with a story that I felt needed wider attention. So I wanted to share that and get it out there… I have a poster that will show you the various things I have done and how they connect. I wanted to reflect on what I have learned from working across these media, and how they interrelate. I want to talk about the visual as well as the audio.
So I want to start with the conventional media and conventional engagement. The conventional media – once you are in a journalist’s phone, they will contact you again. They all work to tight deadlines, they’ll come to you with stuff that is relevant, and sometimes least relevant. One of the tricks of conventional media is to know when to say “no”. BUT… You have to get in there in the first place… I started out by being cheeky, asking around… But once you are there you get visible, you are on people’s radar.
But now, there is also social media. You may have a lively community online through web magazines. I had a blog as first because I needed somewhere to put that big analysis and that’s how I’ve used it over the years… Writing about data… And social media interacts with the conventional media… They find you, you find them, you can have a discussion. Fun memes get all sorts of views… Visual things are very powerful. And none of the visual things I do compromise what I do in my research. But I started doing this was a friend dared me that “you shouldn’t do graphs, it’s all kittens now”. I put out as a joke a kitten with essentially my PhD strapline: “I wish people cared about student funding as much as they talk about free tuition”.
From my experience I haven’t felt unsafe on social media – and I say quite controversial things about policy. And having the blog available means I can point to evidence. These channels interact, they play together. Don’t think of them as being in single boxes… They are all one single way to communicate.
Some lessons from the conventional media: they matter; say “no” when you have to; but say “yes” when you can. And don’t be precious – be confident in expressing your messages concisely and compressed in what you say – without pages of footnotes. Know how to summarise with integrity. Listen to yourself, watch yourself, and learn… It’s horrible to do but important. When you write for the media look at how you are edited – and learn from that. When talking with journalists, a lot of time is not about your name in the paper… And often you are just explaining for half an hour, a source of advice. If you are trusted, they will play nice with you. I find it hugely rewarding and haven’t had bad experiences. Social media has been hugely useful for research links – it pushes you to go places you don’t normally go. The visual stuff encourages you to play – and that is good. And I find on Twitter that students share experiences on Twitter. I wouldn’t use that in my research, but that contributes to my deeper understanding, to discover things I didn’t know, links to articles, links from the community, and knowing how to engage with being argued at and cope with that. But they all stick together, they all play off each other. I only got invited to write a chapter for a book for Scots interested in policy was because I was visible in the media and on Twitter. Almost everything is connected.
Jen: Lucy was awarded “Wonk of the Year” for her blog last year.
Q1) Is there a place you go to find images that are free to go?
A1) I use image searches and try to look for copyright… But I’m not a great example. Sometimes I’m sent people’s own kittens to use… I encourage you to use Copyright free imagery.
Comment) Use Flickr to look at appropriate licenses, or use Creative Commons website to find other sites and searches.
Group discussion & summary feedback
Jen: Thank you so much again for all of our speakers today. It has been everything I had hoped for! For the last 20 minutes I would like people to think about these questions:
- What kinds of visibility does your own research have? What does it need?
- What ideas and questions have been sparked by the talks today?
- To feed back to the full group: two key things your group would tell someone who hadn’t attended today.
- There are so many different ways to make research visible, so many formats: look at good examples and use what works for you.
- I really appreciated having so many different speakers and so much knowledge in their areas – that knowledge exchange is so valuable.
- Variety is great. Visual presentation can be playful and achievable – we need to think less about text and do new things.
- You usually don’t think about making research visible early in your career, but these amazing things can integrate into research and combining visibility with data – can start right now already!
- Illustration can be really useful with ethically sensitive age groups and vulnerable groups – an imaginative way to represent that work. Be aware of copyright, fair use, plagiarism – credit visuals, sound etc. as we would text. For impact look beyond viewing and download figures but actually think about impact – what does that mean? Did they watch it all? What did they take away?
- How can we enable more people to understand the potential; and what the next step is – mapping connections, support, and what’s available. I wish everyone in the School of Education had been here!
Jen: I had a final thought…
We work in the most inspiring and exciting part of this amazing university. Your research matters to our disciplines and fields and also to wider publics. Boldness, creativity and a willingness to engage can take us a long way. We also need time, support, encouragement (and funding) to make our research visible. So, onwards and upwards!