Taking research and teaching outside the classroom
Last week I’ve had the pleasure of spending two days at Birmingham City University’s School of Media. participating in two excellent events that provide an illustration of the value of sustainable collaborative work crossing institutional boundaries. The first event was a research seminar for the School’s Centre for Media and Cultural Research. Along with my UWS colleague, Jennifer Jones, we presented on the #citizenrelay project, theorising a deliberate intervention that sought to disrupt the existing media landscape around the Olympic Torch Relay.
Those smart people at BCU had also invited along Dr Paul Reilly from University of Leicester to talk about his work on Social Media, Sousveillance and Civil Unrest in the United Kingdom which complemented our presentation and made for an extremely engaging research seminar. Out of this session, there was broad agreement that we need more analysis over description of citizen media, social media activism and related themes. From this research event, collaborative possibilities emerged and were crystallised – emphasising the value of cross institutional gatherings of this sort.
The second event, hosted by BCU, was a Higher Education Academy seminar on Collaborative Learning, Collaborative Journalism building on a project called Stories and Streams produced out of BCU in 2012 by Paul Bradshaw and Jon Hickman, but also involving Jennifer Jones. Jennifer and I were invited to present on the learning and teaching elements of the #citizenrelay project, especially those taking place outside the University. Rather than provide my own summary of the day, I’ll leave it to one of the attendees, Sharon Wheeler to describe it in this excellent Storify. This was one of the most interactive sessions I’ve been involved in, partly aided by the social media savvy attendees who took the discussion outside the room with the use of the #HEABCU tag. University of the West of Scotland hope to continue with this collaborative research/teaching project next year by hosting a follow up seminar.
These two events left me with these main impressions:
- collaborative work is only possible once mutual understanding and trust have been developed between partners – though that not need to be facilitated (initially at least) through face to face interactions. Social media can act as the catalyst for collaboration.
- collaborative learning and teaching approaches (like Stories and Streams) can enable participants to challenges their own institutional processes and practices – based on the notion that ‘they’re doing that at x or y institution – why can’t we do it too?’.
- rather than retain and protect our own institutional intellectual property, we need to collaborate if we are to complete in an environment where students (quite rightly) expect a high quality learning and teaching experience.
All in all, two very productive days of debate, discussion and progressive dialogue that will lead to further sharing in the future.