[I]t wasn’t much good having anything exciting like floods, if you couldn’t share them with somebody
A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
This week’s ‘Things’ are all about making and sharing media, something that has been on my mind for quite some time, as I have contemplated uploading content relating to my research to YouTube.
Being able to share materials relating to both research and teaching on digital platforms is invaluable as it allows audiences to take their time to digest the information and provides an opportunity for further engagement with the material. As Piglet’s thoughts in the epigraph emphasises, the act of sharing enriches an experience and this is especially true with regards to research.
By exploring the sites and tools listed by the ’23 Things’ blog I hoped to find a fun way to present ideas and was particularly impressed with Screencast-o-matic as it was available for free and was easy to use and navigate. While I have not included an example here, it is certainly something that I hope to use in the future, especially in my teaching.
I also think that uploading presentation of lecture/seminar slides is a really useful component of teaching and enjoyed browsing through Slideshare.
Finally, I have included below a link to my first ever Prezi presentation. I created it for my first conference paper at the MEMSA conference at Durham but sadly had to use a PowerPoint instead due to issues with the internet connection.
I think that Prezis provide a great alternative to PowerPoint slides as they are engaging and visually interesting. I am always pleased when my students choose to utilise this way of presenting and am hoping to use them more frequently myself.
This week’s ‘Things’ include Wikipedia, online images, podcasts, online presentations, and online courses.
While I do not often use Wikipedia in my research (being told in the first year of my BA degree that it was an unreliable source and should NEVER be used definitely spooked me), it is frequently used in my house to end debates between my partner and I – his better memory means he usually wins. I also find myself on Wikipedia when I am trying to increase my knowledge of events or people when I am reading historical fiction or watching something.
Interestingly though, I always access Wikipedia content through a google search so have not noticed that it actually has other features such as news and history. Naturally my first point of call after reading ’23 Things’ blogpost was the anatomically inaccurate dinosaur images thread! – Fascinating stuff.
I am also quite familiar with many of the other ‘Things’ we were asked to explore this week and often procrastinate by finding interesting podcasts or YouTube videos on topics that interest me. Some of my personal favourites include:
English Heritage YouTube Channel – The channel posts lots of interesting videos about their sites and the history behind them (including yummy looking Victorian Christmas recipes).
However, the ‘Thing’ that has had the greatest impact on my research experience, and the subject of the rest of this blogpost, is my discovery of MOOCs or Massive Online Open Course – in particular the Digging Deeper MOOC offered by Stanford University in 2015 and split into Part 1: Making Manuscripts and Part 2: The Form and Function of Manuscripts.
This free course about medieval manuscripts conceived by Professor Elaine Treharne at Stanford University and developed in collaboration with other Stanford University staff and graduate students, staff at Cambridge University, and Stanford Academic Technology Specialists was invaluable to my research. It enabled me to increase my understanding of how medieval manuscripts were produced and allowed me to indulge my love of medieval manuscript images.
While I have always enjoyed looking at medieval manuscripts, before this course I had little experience of working with them. I did a joint-honours BA and took an interdisciplinary approach during my MA which meant that I could not take all the modules I wanted to and unfortunately gained little experience of using manuscripts. The Digging Deeper course therefore enabled me to learn the terminology and develop my palaeographical and codicological skills. The two best features of the course were the high-quality, informative videos (with transcripts) and the accessible images of digitised manuscripts included every week for us to explore.
I expect I will continue to utilise these resources in the future and look forward to discovering more images, podcasts, videos, pages, and MOOCs that can enrich my learning and research.
P.s. Immediately after posting I realised my title references another song from Disney’s Princess and the Frog: Dig a Little Deeper. No idea why the songs from that movie haunt my subconscious.
This post will cover Things 7 (reference management tools) and 8 (Creative Commons and copyright) of the ’23 Things’ course.
When I was writing my MA dissertation, I became aware that many of my peers were using reference management software and while I felt it was too late for me to get to grips with a new system of doing things, I vowed that it would be a big part of my PhD research.
Fast-forward a year (almost) to the start of my PhD, and after reading a mountain of information about how to successfully complete my thesis, I once again decided that I would make use of a reference management tool such as RefWorks… I tried, I really did, but I just could not get along with the system and reverted back to my old ways of manually inputting references and saving files to my memory stick(s). The reason for this may also be that I am still more comfortable using a notebook and pens to make notes and jot down quotations.
What also continues to frustrate me with such tools is that when I try to export a citation, I often have to edit them substantially afterwards, thus taking up just as much time as manually inputting the information.
Clearly I have not yet found the best resource for me! Hopefully one day I will get to grips with reference management tools. To help with this, I have created an account with Mendeley: it is compatible with my iPad and, after reading the ’23 Things’ blogpost, it is the tool that appealed to me the most (incidentally it is also the most popular option amongst the aforementioned MA students). Although it is probably to late for me to make the best use of it for my PhD thesis, I hope that it will be of great help in future projects.
The second ‘thing’ of this task, Creative Commons and copyright, are issues that I have recently had to think about a lot; one of the articles that I am currently writing is on the images of British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x. that accompany the fourteenth-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This has required me to seek permissions to use the manuscript images and I realised how difficult it can be to understand copyright and ensure that you are following copyright laws, particularly online. I have browsed the CC License page and will soon add a CC license to this blog as I intend to use it to discuss and share my research.
Before this task, I had not considered LinkedIn as a good option for expanding my network and promoting my research. With a more open mind, I began exploring LinkedIn and unfortunately reaffirmed my decision that it wasn’t for me. While I can see that the site has some useful features, it is simply not suited to my needs as my search for academics in my field came up short.
I am however, as previously mentioned in this blog, a frequent user of Academia.edu and am able to follow a number of academics whose work speaks to my own. The main thing that I like most about the site is the ability to share and read research. As a PhD student, having a space to promote my ideas and create a presence has been very useful and rewarding. While I am still happy with Academia.edu on the whole, I am aware of the numerous criticisms of the direction that the site was moving in, with a system that would mean paying for visibility – see the #DeleteAcademiaEdu on Twitter and Inside Higher Ed’s summary of the controversy. Since the event, Academia.edu has dismissed the idea and I hope that the site does not go down this route in the future.
As for ResearchGate, if I am being entirely honest, I completely forgot that I had created a profile until this course began! And whereas I monitor my academia.edu page, I have a lot of work to do to update and make the most out my ResearchGate profile and this particular network. It is therefore one of my New Year’s resolutions to update my profile and take advantage of the features ResearchGate provides.
Edit – fixed links.