Follow on from #dr10

We delivered a one day event on Monday called the Digital Researcher (#dr10). At this event I spoke about,  iamongst other things, the value of blogging for reflective practice. Ironically it has then taken me days to  find a window to blog about my experience of #dr10.

#dr10 is a bit of a labour of love for me. Obviously I’m pretty keen on the use of social media, social capital, the training of researchers and careers work. #dr10 was an attempt to bring all of these things together into one happy event. The idea was to take 80 or so researchers and bring them together in such a way as to convince them that social media has the potential to be useful for their research and their career. We wanted to do this in an experiential way, getting people to use social media as a way of exemplifying its purpose and utility. We weren’t just trying to teach people tools, rather we were trying to show people a way of engaging with a peer community and hoping that some learning of tools happened along the way.

I like running training courses but I’ve become increasingly convinced that people learn most of what they learn from their peers. I’m also pretty convinced that people learn on the job much more than they ever do in training rooms. Trying to emesh a load of researchers into the social web is designed to be a way to emesh them into peer learning communities and foster reflective practice. Involvement in the social web encourages you to think about what you do, why you do it and to process what other people think about it. This seems like an ideal environment to learn about being a researcher or indeed about being any kind of professional.

So did it work? Well at the moment it is honestly difficult to say with any certainty. Did things go wrong? Yep, of course they did. We had technical problems, some of the activities could do with sharpening and we were dealing with a group that had a wider range of knowledge than we expected. However, I did feel that the experiential and exploratory elements worked – there was lots of learning going on throughout the day, often in ways that we wouldn’t have been able to predict before we set out. We’ll do some analysis of whether those who attended have changed their level of engagement with social media over the medium term and see what the outcome of day was. We’ll also almost certainly try and run it again and see if we can make it work even better.

Since the event there has been a lot of debate about how to carry on the discussions. This has manifested in ways that we weren’t necessarily expecting, but has been very stimulating. The potential of social media to democratise something like a training course has been remarked on before, but we’re really seeing this in action. This isn’t always comfortable as one of the organisers who’s event is being democractised, but it is definately a much better learning opportunity for all involved.

Thanks to everyone who took part. I hope you learnt half as much as I did through running the day.

Onwards to the next one…

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