c) Supporting Deployment of Learning Technologies

Core area 1: Operational issues
c) Supporting the deployment of learning technologies

In this section I reflect on my experience of supporting colleagues to use social media to amplify academic events and disseminate their own academic practice. 

In 2016, I was invited with my colleague Nicola Osborne to present a workshop on Tweeting and Blogging for Academics as part of the University of Edinburgh’s Digital Day of Ideas [1].  Digital Day of Ideas, is an annual symposium “showcasing the best of recent work in digital humanities scholarship which gives members of the university community the opportunity to connect with others working on digital scholarship.”  Nicola presented an overview of social media tools and how they can be used to communicate research projects, while I focused on the use of social media to amplify academic events [2].

My part of the workshop began with an introduction to the concept of event amplification, why event amplification is beneficial for academic events, and how different social media tools can be used for amplification and dissemination.

I then went into more detail on steps to take in order to amplify events successfully including choosing and disseminating hashtags, effective use of twitter, managing the backchannel, logistics of livestreaming, event photography, graphical recording and sketchnotes, sharing presentations, archiving amplified events using Storify, social network analysis with Tableau, twitter archiving with TAGS and TAGsExplorer.  The workshop concluded with an optional activity to create a Storify of Digital Day of Ideas tweets using the hashtag #DigScholEd [3].

The workshop was well attended and the event organiser thanked us for

“giving participants the benefits of your expertise on academic social media in a workshop. I talked to many people who, though they were clearly apprehensive about starting their own blogging/tweeting lives, now felt like they were in a much better position to begin doing so.”


Although I have used social media to communicate my own academic practice for many years, and regularly amplify a wide range of academic events, from small workshops to major international conferences, this was my first opportunity to teach other colleagues how to develop these skills.  I found the process of creating the workshop to be very useful as it gave me the opportunity to step back and think about the way I use specific social media tools and technologies and the steps I go through in order to successfully amplify academic events.  It was a valuable opportunity to think about my own practice and to identify potentially problematic areas that colleagues might face when amplifying events, such as managing a hostile back channel.

Planning the workshop also gave me the opportunity to explore new social media tools that I had not previously used such as Tableau which I first came across on twitter when it was recommended by a colleague from Leeds Beckett University.

In her e-mail thanking us for the workshop, the organiser of the Digital Day of Ideas noted that many participants she spoke to had expressed anxiety about blogging and tweeting, but that our workshop gave them to confidence to consider moving forward.  As a learning technologist working in the connected world of open education who uses social media routinely, it is sometimes easy for me to forget that colleagues from other domains of academia are much less familiar and confident with using social media to disseminate their academic practice and scholarly activities.   Facilitating this workshop was a valuable reminder of this and encouraged me to step back and consider how I use social media myself, and how I communicate its use to others.

The reticence of some researchers and academics to use social media in  a professional capacity was also brought home to me in another field I work in.  For a number of years I have undertaken independent academic research in the domain of naval history and I sometimes attend and co-chair conferences in this domain. As I reflected in the previous section, I have made extensive use of social media for many years, to disseminate my own academic practice and to amplify learning technology conferences and events, so I was initially surprised to discover that some historians, particularly early career researchers and academics, were reluctant to have their presentations live tweeted as they did not want their research to be broadcast while it was incomplete.  Others worried that their words would be taken out of context, or their ideas appropriated by others.  In some cases I was able to discuss these concerns with speakers and explain how social media could be used as a tool to disseminate their research and raise their profile as academics.  Although the use of hashtags and twitter to amplify maritime history conferences is still far from routine, I was pleased to note that a maritime history conference I co-chaired in December 2016, Maritime Masculinities 1815 – 1940, had a lively and engaging twitter stream [5], with some of the delegates tweeting

The experience of running the Digital Day of Ideas workshop and engaging with maritime history researchers has been a valuable reminder to me that a nuanced approach to the use of social media in academia is required as colleagues perceptions and concerns may differ significantly from my own experience and practice.


  1. Digital Day of Ideas workshop programme http://www.digital.hss.ed.ac.uk/digital-day-of-ideas/2016-2/workshops/ 
  2. My sides from the Using Social Media to Amplify Academic Events workshop https://www.slideshare.net/LornaMCampbell/using-social-media-to-amplify-academic-events
  3. My Storify of tweets and social media from the Digital Day of Ideas https://storify.com/LornaMCampbell/digital-day-of-ideas-2016
  4. Email from Dr Anouk Lang, organiser of the Digital Day of Ideas, thanking me for live tweeting the event.
    From: A E Lang
    Subject: Digital Day thanks
    Date: 21 May 2016 at 11:12:56 BST
    To: OSBORNE Nicola, CAMPBELL Lorna
    Hi Nicola and Lorna
    Thank you both very much for coming to the Digital Day and giving participants the benefits of your expertise on academic social media in a workshop. I talked to many people who, though they were clearly apprehensive about starting their own blogging/tweeting lives, now felt like they were in a much better position to begin doing so. I’m also deeply grateful to you for generating the digital record of the day with your own blogging and tweeting – I can’t do much more than amplify other people’s interesting thoughts while I’m at a conference, and I continue to be amazed at your ability to capture things in depth in real-time! We’ll put links to those up on the digital.hss.ed.ac.uk website, but it may take a week or so as there’s a lot of mopping up to do, so forgive me if we’re not as lightning-fast as the two of you!
  5. Maritime Masculinities conference twitterstream https://twitter.com/search?q=%23mmasculinities&src=typd