Monthly Archives: May 2012

Using Twitter to extend the conference conversation: before, during and after


It was about this time last year that SEDA held the Spring 2011 Conference in Edinburgh. I was unable to attend, but delighted to find a handful of people at the event were tweeting, one of whom was David Walker (@drdjwalker). His tweets and others gave me a flavour of some of the highlights and key messages they were getting from the keynotes and workshops. I found this very useful, however as I mentioned there were just a few tweeting. The Twitter ‘backchannel’ as it has become known has been growing at other events and as I reflected upon the  value I have got from using Twitter, it struck me that as an educational developer I should be sharing this with those colleagues who were perhaps unfamiliar or not confident in using Twitter or indeed other social media. The use of social media is an excellent way to extend your personal learning network and opens new ways to communicate and collaborate online. The forthcoming annual SEDA conference in November had recently put a call out for papers and the theme was technology enhanced learning. I contacted David Walker to see if he would like to co-facilitate a workshop that would introduce people to Twitter and the value of social media as tools to develop personal learning networks. He very enthusiastically said yes. It was an ideal opportunity to share what we had learnt and what the benefits could be for others.

Fast forward to November 2011…

The proposal was accepted and our session titled Using Social Media to Develop a Personal Learning Network was very well attended with standing room only. Delegates thanked us afterwards for giving them the encouragement and motivation to jump in and join the conversations taking place on Twitter. People were tweeting messages and including links to related websites, papers and blogs; adding photos taken in sessions to capture hand drawn mind maps, the flurry of activity as well photos of the speakers. Within each tweet they added the pre-agreed conference hashtag #sedacon16. By inserting #sedaconf16 to each tweet, it makes it possible for others to run a search in Twitter for the hashtag and then view all these tweets in one stream.

People following this stream or backchannel picked out tweets and retweeted them, thus cascading messages to those following their tweets. It is this ripple effect that is so powerful. Not only did people who were aware of the conference but not attending join in the dialogue, others who followed these people happened upon the tweets and also engaged in the conversations. Some had never come across SEDA as a community.

Virtual attendee

This brings me to this year’s Spring 2012 Conference, which I followed through Twitter. Whilst there were not as many tweeting, the dialogue was very rich and useful. Tweets using the hashtag  #sedaconf12 commenced before the conference had started. This was a great way to signal who was going to be there, enabling people to make arrangements to meet up on arrival. They alerted followers of @Seda_UK what this year’s conference hashtag was going to be. The tweets and retweets engaged both attendees and those from afar. Post conference the tweets were reflective and it was clear that many of the attendees had left the event with much to think about. Even as a virtual attendee of the conference I was able to pick up useful links people were sharing.

Visualising the conversations

Using Storify I was able to capture a snapshot of the conference tweets . This is a lovely way to visually collate useful links and photos and to add some context of the event in the form of a ‘story’.  I also used Archivist to archive the tweets. This simple to use tool also analyzes the tweets and produces brightly coloured graphs capturing the top tweeters, comparison of tweets and retweets, most frequently used words and urls shared.

archive of tweets

Sue Beckingham FSEDA


Useful links




SEDA’s Twitter handle: @seda_uk_


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The SEDA Special Interest Group on technology-enhanced practice (working title)

SIG Membership of SEDA Committees

  • Sue Beckingham from Sheffield Hallam and Joelle Adams from Bath Spa , both members of the SEDA SIG, have been elected to SEDA Executive. They were elected at the  Annual General Meeting on May 17th at the SEDA Conference in Chester. Congratulation to them both!


These SIG members serve as full members of their committee. They also support the committee in further developing  the technology-enhanced practice dimension of SEDA’s work. This is likely to include both content  and SEDA’s working practices.


Got a question about academic development and technology-enhanced practice? Put it hereAnswer it here.

Join the SIG

Read about SIG members, and sign up.

First SEDA SIG meeting

Five of us – Helen Boulton, Joelle Adams, Peter Hartley, Marios Hadjianastasis and David Baume – had a lively and productive informal meeting at the SEDA Conference on May 17th. We developed some ideas about what the SIG might be for, what it might be like, what it might do and how it might work.

Perhaps the most important idea was that the SIG will do and be whatever its members from time to time want it to do and be, within the broad remit described on the “About the SEDA SIG” tab of the blog.

So: Tell us what you think!

More of our ideas:

  • There was enthusiasm for ‘technology-enhanced practice’ in the SIG name, to emphasize that we are concerned with the use of technology across all of work and life, not limited to education.
  • We want to share questions and answers, practices and technologies. Hence the SEDA SIG Q&A googledoc linked from the blog. With its first question. A googledoc table may or may not be the best way to do this. We’ll see.
  • We’d like the SIG to be a place for play and exploration and demonstration of new and potentially useful technologies. A sandpit. We haven’t worked out how to implement this yet. Suggestions welcome.
  • We want the SIG to be a site for co-operation.
  • We’d like the SIG to research job roles and organisational structures around academic development and learning technology and teaching, to understand how these parts of organisations work together, and maybe see ways to shape and do things better.
  • Maybe every SIG member should offer one example or case study of, or story about, good and / or interesting practice. Maybe that should be the price of admission to the SIG!
  • Maybe SEDA could work with other organisations to support work-based and professional association PhDs.
  • The SIG could be a test bed for new ideas in developing digital literacies.
  • We could co-define and undertake and write up research studies and papers, sometimes for publication in conventional journals and sometimes not.
  • The SIG will work across SEDA. We already have someone on each of the main SEDA Committees – Sue Beckingham on Executive and Papers, Joelle Adams on Executive, Peter Hartley on Services and Enterprise, David Walker on Conferences and Keith Smyth on Professional Development Framework.
  • We want to go forth and work together and do good stuff, aimed at good student learning. This will require work and play.
  • The SIG’s policy and practice will evolve.
  •  As a personal note, I wonder how soon this SIG will fade away, our work done?

David Baume

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Why SEDA publications should go open

In John Naughton’s recent article in the Observer he gave some persuasive arguments why academic journals should become ‘open source’.

The subscriptions to journals is a massive cost to university libraries and in turn the taxpayer, ”the average cost of an annual subscription to a chemistry journal is still $3,792 and many journals cost far more. The result is that unconscionable amounts of public money are extracted from our hapless universities in the form of what are, effectively, monopoly rents for a few publishers”. Surely this money could have alternative uses.

Academics are setting up their alternative freely available journals. There is even advise on the web on ‘How to run an open access journal’;

This in turn is being supported by lecturers promoting their own research articles via Blogs and Twitter. The evidence is beginning to grow that this is a very effective way of getting these articles read by people that matter. See for example, ‘The verdict: is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it?’:

SEDA publishes Innovations in Education and Teaching International (IETI) and Educational Developments plus numerous special publications….which are fantastic!!I think Seda publications should follow ALT’s lead and become ‘open access journals’ This would lead to better access to SEDA publications, substantially reduce publication fees, speed up the publication process and increase the influence and relevance of SEDA ideas in education.

Chris Rowell


  • I agree Chris. Open access would enable the dissemination of research to reach a much wider audience and as you mention the technological affordances of social media encourage such sharing. This sharing culture then opens further potential for future collaborative research. An open online journal could also be linked to the SEDA conference with calls for short and long papers.

    Steve Wheeler’s post ‘The open case’ includes a growing list of open journals as does the Directory of Open Journals


    • I think this is somehting we shoud seriously consider


    • Hard to be against open. Some things to think about.
      1 Publishing costs! The committee, copy editing, marketing, print, distribution. New publication models can change and reduce these. But they won’t all go away .
      2 Open needn’t mean free. Some open journals charge the author. This would be an interesting transition for SEDA.
      3 I am sure SEDA will soon experiment with e-publication, print-on-demand and other new good stuff. Publication partners such as JISC will want us to use Creative Commons.
      4 But this is all producer-led. We need to talk and listen to current and future members and customers. “What do you want?” would be a good first question.
      5 Let’s experiment. We’re small and agile enough.
      6 And whatever we do we have to at least cover our true costs, and make a
      modest surplus to invest in new products and services.
      7 And keep on producing excellent stuff that our customers want, including new topics and formats.
      Thanks for raising this, Chris. I agree it’s important.


      • For me David raises the three key questions:
        4 But this is all producer-led. We need to talk and listen to current and future members and customers. “What do you want?” would be a good first question.
        5 Let’s experiment. We’re small and agile enough.
        6 And whatever we do we have to at least cover our true costs, and make a
        modest surplus to invest in new products and services.

        At the current time and given SEDA’s ethos, I think we should be presuming that OA is the way to go unless point 4 or point 6 above indicate otherwise.

        There are factors to investigate relating to direct and indirect costs, such as:
        a. Can we still use the same (or similar) publishers with a changed access and cost model?
        b. Should we experiment with publishing in-house (using Free / Open Source software tools like OJS – Open Journal Systems – see a webinar I organised on this at
        c. By making IETI and EdDevs OA are we reducing the value of SEDA membership? Do we receive income from paid subscriptions to these journals that we would be losing?

        There are many more considerations to be made, but for me this should not be a barrier to going OA but rather a means to ensuring that we find a way to make it work.

  • I agree with David that publishing costs will need to be considered. Personally, I’m not comfortable with charging authors, as that leads to all sorts of questions about the type of person/organisation that can afford to pay for their research to be published; financial means does not seem to be an appropriate measure for deciding which papers get published.

    The problem with scholars simply publishing their research on their own blogs is quality control. As I am forever telling my students, the difference between a peer-reviewed journal and ‘Joelle’s blog’ is that, in theory, the editorial decision for a peer-reviewed academic journal is made on research quality, while anyone can publish any old rubbish on a blog (see my blog for proof of half-developed ideas and reflections).

    If we can find a way to offset costs, I think that an open-access, peer-reviewed journal with Creative Commons licensing would be a welcome asset to the SEDA community, and beyond.

    So, how to offset costs? Advertising? Charging authors? Charge more for other SEDA events and services? Volunteer editorial committee, reviewers and copy-editors paying their own travel and subsistence?


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