Back in July this year, we were part of a group of ten students selected to participate in a week long attachment at the Open University. Our aim at the start of the week was to produce two short films, exploring how scientists have been represented in popular culture. To do this, we split into two groups; each group produced one film.
Creating and sustaining an online research presence
As part of a small team of researchers working within the OU's Public Engagement with Research Catalyst team, Trevor Collins and I have been exploring how researchers across the OU are using digital tools as part of their public engagement with research activities to develop an online presence that sustains public engagement with their research. Here's an update on the work we've been doing...
Research staff surveys
The first step was to include four questions in the Vitae CROS and PIRLS research staff surveys in 2013. In one, we asked respondents to give us an example of a public engagement activity they had undertaken; only 3.5% (six people) identified some form of digital engagement (e.g. blogging, citizen science, podcasting, etc.). This suggests either that respondents are unaware of the potential of digital tools as an engagement technology or do not think of digital technologies as a means for engagement.
Leadership; Mission; Communication
Champion’s blog; star date 2014.03.10 (in effect, an update on the first post on this blog, 'An open research university').
Nearly two years of the mission completed; 14 months of funding left. "Where do we boldly go from here?"
I was interviewed late last year by Lucian Hudson, the OU's Director of Communications, to explore this question. We also discussed progress with the core mission of the OU's Public Engagement with Research Catalyst.
You can see the results of our discussion in the video below. If you'd prefer to read the text of the interview, select transcript.
Public engagement with research has come a long way since 2000. The pace of change has quickened significantly following the establishment of the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), the completion of the Beacons for Public Engagement programme, the embedding of research impact within Research Council grant applications and the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), and the 2010 publication of the RCUK’s Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research.
Whilst each of these developments was significant, the publication of the RCUK Concordat three years ago was a watershed. In effect, its four principles were a mandate for embedding public engagement within the UK’s research culture. To celebrate the third anniversary of the Concordat's publication RCUK have published another booklet called Inspiration to Engage. ...continue reading →
As well as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Physical Sciences at the Open University I have also been selected as a TED Fellow. Having been an avid watcher of the TED talks for many years I was inspired to apply to the Fellowship scheme so I could have a global stage on which to share the fantastic research being conducted in Astrobiology and to educate people worldwide on the subject of life in space.
The potentials and pitfalls of social networking and blogging about research
Over the last few years I've developed a number of blogs to accompany my various academic/research projects and have become a big advocate of using social media in conjunction with research. Along with wordpress - which is a really easy way for non-technical folk to put up a website or blog - I've also used prezi to ensure that my presentations are publicly available, youtube for filmed clips, facebook and twitter for discussion and sharing relevant links, and storify to record online conversations such as livetweeting from conferences and other events.
Over the five days of this practical course the students developed and practised new skills, such as working with digital tools and technologies, producing pieces to camera, and editing footage. Six short films were produced over the course of the week. Here three of the students—Alice Rose, Connor Bean and Heather Stone—describe their experiences. Links to the completed films are embedding throughout the post.
* This post was originally contributed to the Isotope repository on 14th August 2008 by Eric Jensen at the University of Warwick and has been reposted here.
Traditionally used by market researchers and social scientists to identify a range of interpretations on a topic of interest, focus groups have recently been adapted by at least two independent teams of public engagement practitioners with the aim of generating dialogue about robotics and health. This article describes the mechanics of planning, design and moderation of focus-group based public engagement events, making reference to these two cases, which were evaluated as part of the Isotope project.
I finished my PhD in volcanology with the Open University earlier this year, and spent my summer working for the Brilliant Club. The Brilliant Club are a small but growing charity whose mission is to widen access to highly selective universities in schools serving low participation communities. They do this by placing postgraduate research students in schools to deliver small group university-style tutorials to pupils aged 10-18.
While most postgraduate research students teach one or two groups a week over the course of five weeks I taught five groups in four different schools in and around London. I took on this larger teaching load as I had already finished my PhD and was otherwise at a bit of a loose end.
I recently took part in a Research Café at Denbigh School in Milton Keynes as part of the Engaging opportunities project. I’d been invited to take part as members of the project team were aware of my public engagement with research work.
The structure of the café was similar to the Café Scientifique events held across the country but instead of engaging members of the general public in scientific debate over a latté in the local coffee shop or bar, this event was held at the school with an audience of Year 12 students, sipping coffee and eating biscuits.