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GeoEd: Social Communications

GeoEd: Social Communications

We all know that social media is an excellent way in which we can communicate our research (and indeed our rants, dreams, and favourite cat pictures) to the general public, but can we also use it to communicate our research in the classroom? From kindergarten to higher education, social media can be a fantastic learning tool, which can help to open up digital windows into the world of geosciences.

Social media is a rather large umbrella; for anyone doubting this, check out the wonderful A-Z of Social Media for Academia by Professor Andy Miah from the University of Salford. In utilising social media for your teaching practices, it is important that you choose the platform with which you feel the most comfortable, and which you feel will be of greatest benefit to both you and your students. For the rest of this article we are going to focus mainly on: Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Periscope, but obviously many more platforms are available.

Creating a Facebook group for a specific class or topic can be an excellent way to promote learning and interactivity outside of the classroom. Wang et al. (2012) found that many of the fundamental functions of a learning management system could be easily implemented into a Facebook group, and that encouraging students to use Facebook as a learning tool presents the teacher with the flexibility to engage with students at times that are convenient for them. This in turn can lead to the students feeling more inclusive, and can help to foster a more collegial atmosphere, both amongst the students and between the students and the teacher (Marovich et al., 2010). If using Facebook in this manner, it is important that the students are aware and comfortable with the security settings that are being used. It is also an idea to give several of them administrative rights, as this promotes ownership, and helps the students to self-moderate, which will further encourage the students to learn together, away from their traditional learning environments.

Twitter is a fast, easy method for making announcements, solving student issues, and performing course-related administrative duties (Rinaldo et al., 2011). Using a Twitter Wall, such as Tweetchat, in combination with a designated hashtag can be a great way to promote discussions in class, and can help to encourage those students that would otherwise be too shy or awkward to ask questions. By using a hashtag, it is also possible for the teacher to return to any questions or issues that they may have missed during the session at a later date, and they can also help to inform the content and delivery to future sessions. Using hashtags also allows you curate the conversation using Storify or Curator for a later date, as outlined in this blog post. Twitter is also an excellent way to help teach students about how to network efficiently (Sacks and Graves, 2012), a vital skill in any future career path, and one that will stand them in good stead for the academic conferences of their futures. For those that are interested, this post by the UK Media-Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) talks further about how social media can be used to promote interaction and inclusivity, and how it is being done across UK HE institutions.

Social media can help bring geosciences into the classroom. Credit: Steveadcuk (distributed via Wikimedia Commons).

Social media can help bring geosciences into the classroom. Credit: Steveadcuk (distributed via Wikimedia Commons).

Skype and Periscope are excellent platforms for bringing geoscience and geoscientists into the classroom. By setting up a Skype chat with a geoscientist in an exotic location, students can get a feel for what it is like to be a geoscientist in the field; they are also presented with the opportunity to chat to real geoscientists about what it is that they do, and why it is that they do it. This is also an extremely cost-effective (in terms of both time and money) method to communicate with geoscientists from across the globe. Periscope brings with it the opportunity for genuine two-way communication in a versatile and flexible manner. If you are a university lecturer then why not set up a live feed when you are out in the field, your students could then watch as you climb a volcano/identify rock types/ take chamber measurements of gases, whilst asking you questions that you can respond to in real time, effectively bringing them with you on your own personal learning experience. You could also encourage your students to do the same, allowing them to share their geoscientific wanderings with the rest of their class.

These are just some suggestions for how a number of social media platforms might be used to enhance the learning experience. The possibilities really are as limitless as your imagination. However, it is important to realise that social media, in all of its many guises is effectively just a set of (admittedly very cool) tools, and that without the required content and competency to complement these, all that is left is a set of ineffectual instruments and a very confused and or uninterested classroom.

By Sam Illingworth,  Lecturer in Science Communication, Manchester Metropolitan University.

References
Marovich, M., Stanaityte, J. & Wankel, C.: Cutting-edge social media approaches to business education: teaching with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, and blogs, IAP, 2010.

Rinaldo, S. B., Tapp, S. & Laveriel, D. A.: Learning by tweeting: Using Twitter as a pedagogical tool. Journal of Marketing Education, 0273475311410852, 2011.

Sacks, M. A. & Graves, N.: How Many “Friends” Do You Need? Teaching Students How to Network Using Social Media. Business Communication Quarterly, 75, 80-88, 2012.

Wang, Q., Woo, H. L., Quek, C. L. et al:. Using the Facebook group as a learning management system: An exploratory study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43, 428-438, 2012

Blogs and social media at the Assembly – tune in to the conference action

Blogs and social media at the Assembly – tune in to the conference action

With hundreds of oral presentations, PICO sessions and poster presentations taking place each day, it can be difficult to keep abreast of everything that is on offer during the General Assembly.

As well as finding highlights of interesting conference papers, lectures and workshops in the daily newsletter at the General Assembly, EGU Today, you can also keep up to date with all the conference activities online.

Blogging

GeoLog will be updated regularly throughout the General Assembly, highlighting some of the meeting’s most interesting sessions, workshops and lectures, as well as featuring interviews with scientists attending the Assembly.

Writers from the EGU Blog Network will also be posting about interesting research and sessions during the Assembly, so you can catch up on any sessions you’ve missed and get a feel for what’s going on in the press room through them!

As in previous years, the EGU will be compiling a list of General Assembly related blogs (the blogroll) and making them available through GeoLog.  You can add your blog to the blogroll here.

Tweeting

Participants can keep updated with General Assembly goings on by following the EGU twitter account (@EuroGeosciences) and the conference hashtag (#EGU15). You can also direct questions to the EGU communications staff and other participants using #EGU15, or by tweeting to @EuroGeosciences directly. If you’ve got the Assembly app, you can share snippets of great sessions straight from there!

This year, each of the programme groups also has its own hashtag. If you’re in a Geomorphology (GM) session, say GM2.1, you can tweet about it using #EGU15GM, or if you’re in one of the Educational and Outreach Symposia (EOS), use #EGU15EOS – just add the acronym of the respective programme group to #EGU15! A full list of conference hashtags is available here, and in the programme book. Conveners are welcome to add their own hashtags into the mix too! Just let everyone know at the start of the session.

 

Social_Media

Facebook

The EGU communications staff will be advertising General Assembly sessions and will post about research being presented at the Assembly on Facebook. Just type European Geosciences Union into the Facebook search bar to find the EGU official page, and like it to receive the updates.

And more!

While these will be the main media streams during the Assembly, you can also search for European Geosciences Union on Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube to keep up with us there!

Science bloggers – join the 2015 General Assembly blogroll!

Science bloggers – join the 2015 General Assembly blogroll!

Will you be blogging at the 2015 General Assembly? If so, sign up here and we’ll add you to our official blogroll. We will be compiling a list of blogs that feature posts about the EGU General Assembly and making it available on GeoLog, the official blog of the European Geosciences Union.

We’d ask you to write posts that relate directly to the Assembly during the conference in Vienna (12 – 17 April). The content of each blog on this list is the responsibility of the authors and is not sanctioned by the EGU, but we will make details of all the blogs on the General Assembly blogroll available online.

If you would like your blog to feature on our list, please submit your blog details to us.

In addition to the wealth of interesting new research that will be presented at the scientific sessions, the Media and Communications team have organised press conferences to highlight some of this research to the press and media participants at the conference. The press conference programme will be available a few weeks before the start of the General Assembly. Should you spot something there that might inspire you to blog, it might be useful to know that there are limited spots available upon request for scientists who are bloggers or science writers who may wish to attend press conferences. Please email EGU Media and Communications Manager Bárbara Ferreira at media@egu.eu before 10 April if you are interested.

With free (and open!) wireless internet and plugin points available throughout the building and great science throughout the week; we’ve got everything you need to get blogging! International plug adapters can even be borrowed from the Austria Center Information Desk!

GeoLog will also be updated regularly during the General Assembly, featuring posts about scientific sessions, conference highlights and interviews with scientists at the meeting. Please contact the Communications Officer, Laura Roberts Artal, for any questions you might have about the blogroll.

 

Launching the new EGU Blogs!

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Screenshot of the new EGU Blogs webpage.

Welcome to the new home of the EGU Blogs! Today we are proudly launching a new webpage which now houses all the EGU blogs in one place. We have redesigned the website to give the blogs a more modern layout and have implemented a fully responsive page design. This means the new blogs website adapts to the visitor’s screen size and looks good on any device (smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops). In addition to the their new look, the Blogs have also been expanded to include news from some of the EGU scientific Divisions. In their new webpage you will continue to find your old favourites, including the Union’s official blog, GeoLog, as well as our established blog network.

As well as sharing information about the latest updates, events, and activities within the scientific Divisions of the EGU, the new Division blogs inform readers about the latest research being undertaken in each field. Currently six Divisions are represented in the EGU Blogs but expect more to join in the future. For now, look forward to reading about climate and cryospheric sciences, in addition to news from the Geodesy and Geomorphology Division. The former blog of the Seismology Division, Seismoblog, has been incorporated in to the Division Blogs. G-Soil, which previously had its home over with the network blogs is now known as Soil System Sciences Blog and now also forms part of the Division Blogs.

The network blogs put complex scientific research into context, sharing findings to a much wider audience. The research fields covered by the network bloggers span almost all aspects of the Earth Sciences from mineralogy, geochemistry, palaeontology, geoscience in global development, environmental geoscience, volcanology as well as atmospheric and Quaternary science.

From GeoLog you can continue to expect frequent information about the Union and its activities, particularly its General Assembly. The regular features include Imaggeo on Mondays, a weekly highlight of a photo from the EGU’s open-access image repository, Imaggeo; the Geosciences Column, which covers recent research in the Earth, planetary and space sciences, GeoTalk, a short Q&A with a geoscientist, and GeoEd, a series dedicated to education in the geosciences.

Despite extensive testing, as with any newly launched website, the new EGU Blogs page is bound to have some bugs and glitches. If you find any problems, please report them to the Science Communication Officer Laura Roberts. We thank  Robert Barsch for implementing the new website.

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