Enabling digital participation in Higher Education

OK so being as Ana and Jen (part 1 & part 2) blogged about posters, I guess that means it’s what we do now. So here’s my regulation blog post about a poster.

A few summer’s ago Dave Kane, Anita Reardon and I were given a small grant for a pilot project in the uses of technology in teacher training. This paper presents our findings, grounded in education and cultural studies theory, to help understand some of the determinants that affect the uptake of technology in classrooms.

This was my first academic poster, and I enjoyed the process. The premium on space means really cutting the research down to the core, while trying to retain enough to give some sense of the project’s narrative. That’s pretty tough – even the forced brevity of using Twitter doesn’t prepare you for it fully.

We presented the poster at RESCON ’10 (BCU’s internal research conference) as a dry run ahead of our attendance at next month’s Research Informed Teaching Conference in Staffordshire. The poster went down pretty well (we came second in the judging for the poster tour – I’ll take that) so we won’t need to make many changes before we head to Staff’s in July. Looking around the posters, I have to say (discarding all sense of modesty for a second) that ours looked the best. Many of the posters were wordy, and hard to read, and as many members of staff had made them on PowerPoint they suffered from some of the afflictions that can only come with an off the shelf Microsoft template (ill conceived drop shadows, poor contrast, garish colours) as well as from pixelation caused through blowing A4 slides up to A1 and even A0.

Lessons learned?

Brevity works, for sure, and it’s worth speaking to someone who knows a little bit about print production when you undertake this sort of task. In that regard I wonder if there’s a place for academics to team up with design students when they produce their posters? Valuable experience for the student, and some practical training in effective communication for the academic. That’s got to be worth some thought if you’re based in a University that has a design school.

Do something different

One thing before I sign off – it seems to pay to do something different. RESCON gave a special award to a poster that had its own frame made of astro-turf, and I added a little something extra to my poster that got a few nice comments. I won’t tell you what it is, you have to find it. Seven people did at RESCON yesterday, and they hadn’t been given a clue so you have a head start.

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By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org