DREaM event 2: review, resources and thanks

Dr Paul Lynch reviews his notes as the delegates eagerly await the first session of #lis_dream2

Dr Paul Lynch reviews his notes as the delegates eagerly await the first session of #lis_dream2

Two weeks ago we held the first of the three DREaM project workshops at the Craighouse campus of Edinburgh Napier University. We set ourselves a tight deadline to get all the workshop materials online within one week of the event, which we achieved. This blog post now provides an opportunity to reflect on the first workshop, drawing on the feedback from the 23 event evaluation forms completed, tweets by delegates (on site and remote) from the day itself and afterwards, and e-mail correspondence received by the organisers after the event. The participant reviews of the workshop posted since 25th October also give a flavour of the day.

Dr Louise Cooke and Professor Charles Oppenheim

Dr Louise Cooke and Professor Charles Oppenheim

The most popular evaluation form rating for elements of the workshop assessed by the delegates was “excellent”. This rating applied to all the speaker-led sessions by: (1) Professor Hazel Hall (introduction); (2) Dr Paul Lynch (ethnography); (3) Dr Louise Cooke (social network analysis); (4) Professor Andy McKinlay (discourse analysis) and (5) Professor Charles Oppenheim (research ethics and legal issues). The speakers were described as “inspiring” and admired for the “very high level of [their] presentations”. Louise Cooke’s session on social network analysis was the most popular, possibly because Louise was able to demonstrate in practice theoretical aspects of her presentation by using data gathered from the audience. The use of case studies in Charles Oppenheim’s session on ethics and legal issues also appealed because the session approach “made it real” in providing an opportunity to share ideas and experience.

Jo Alcock's unconference half hour flip chart sheet

Jo Alcock's unconference half hour flip chart sheet

The majority vote for the delegate-led unconference half hour session was split between “excellent” and “very good”. This is impressive given that it was only on the day itself that the presenters decided whether or not they would step up to the podium, and they were severely restricted in the amount of time available for them to make their main points, with limited access to “technology” in the form of the flip chart as a visual aid. Perhaps the most interesting (and unintended) outcome of this session was how a question from Michael Stead about public librarians’ engagement with research triggered a debate about the strength of links between LIS research and public library practice in each of the UK home nations. These exchanges are recorded in the video of unconference half hour (27 minutes in), along with the other presentations.

The most popular rating for the workshop location’s convenience, comfort and facilities, and refreshments was also “excellent”, as it was for the event administration (both before and on the day). One delegate admired the “beautiful location, comfortable room [and] delicious refreshments” and another commented on the “wonderful facilities”. The organisers were congratulated for an event that was “well-produced”.

Delegates enjoy the refreshments at Edinburgh Napier Craighouse

Delegates enjoy the refreshments at Edinburgh Napier Craighouse

Given the enthusiasm for the other elements on the form, we were not surprised to see that when asked to rate the workshop as a whole, the vast majority (19 out of the 23 returns) gave this the top rating of “excellent” too. Enthusiastic comments referred to both the usefulness and the enjoyment of the day. For example, evaluation form comments included:

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the day and gained a lot of knowledge about the different research methods at our disposal.
  • A valuable, interesting event. Fabulous for networking and sharing knowledge. Have developed in so many areas. Many thanks.
  • A thoroughly enjoyable event – lots to reflect on during the train ride home.
  • Opened my mind to a range of research options that I had not systematically reviewed before.
Jenny Harbour of Healtcare Improvement Scotland shares experiences with Jo Longhurst of Devon School Library Service

Jenny Harbour of Healtcare Improvement Scotland shares experiences with Jo Longhurst of Devon School Library Service

Our classification of the core DREaM “cadre” members shows that the group comprises a range of participants who occupy roles in a number of sectors: six public librarians/people with policy roles closely associated with public libraries; six academic librarians; five full-time PhD students; three LIS academics; three healthcare librarians; two university researchers; one librarian who works in a government library; one librarian who works for a national library; one librarian who works for a professional body; one consultant; and one academic from another discipline. Five of these people hold PhDs and another six are either already registered for a PhD or about to register for doctoral studies. Particularly appreciated at the first workshop was the opportunity to meet and work with this “very stimulating and diverse” mix of delegates. As one remarked: “I really enjoyed the event… and meeting a variety of people from different library and information sectors”. One delegate said afterwards by e-mail that the workshop “had a very creative dynamic, which I am sure will throw up exciting avenues of research that no-one had anticipated”. This could perhaps lead to the “great things” that one of the speakers believes that the DREaM project has already started to achieve since its launch conference in July 2011.

Essentials for tweeting: the programme, power supply and access to the network

Essentials for tweeting: the programme, power supply and access to the network

We were delighted that a number of remote delegates were able to take advantage of our event amplification and follow the workshop on 25th October by referring to the presentation slides posted online in advance, watching the Twitter hashtag #lis_dream2, and keeping an eye on our CoverItLive site. From the CoverItLive archive it can be seen that 18 people beyond the workshop venue used the workshop hashtag, many of whom interacted directly with on-site participants. It is suspected that many more monitored the event over the course of the day. While some of those unable to attend expressed their regret at missing the workshop, making reference to the “lucky folk” in Edinburgh, the amplification did appear to work well off-site. As one person tweeted “Wish I could be there! But actually am getting a lot out of it from following via slides and Twitter”. Even for the on-site delegates the Twitter back-channel added a further dimension to the day. It is worth reading through the CoverItLive archive to witness the exchanges and see how conversations on topics related to the presentations develop in the Twittersphere alongside the main event. In this case, for example, there are the beginnings of an interesting debate on the value of LinkedIn versus Twitter for professional networking (as well as some more light-hearted references to cats!)

#lis_dream2 delegates discuss ethics and legal issues

#lis_dream2 delegates discuss ethics and legal issues

We now turn our attention to the next DREaM project workshop at the British Library on Monday 30th January 2012. Some comments and suggestions from the first workshop will help with its planning. For example, we will be asking the session speakers if they can provide practical illustrations of the theory that they discuss in their talks, for instance by providing examples of worked data. We will also consider how we can squeeze more time for networking into the programme, perhaps by lengthening the time slot for registrations with tea/coffee at the start of the day, and the lunch break (although the core timings for the day will remain as advertised, i.e. 10:30-16:15). Given that there was some appetite amongst the remote delegates on 25th October to participate in the social network analysis exercise led by Louise Cooke, we will investigate whether the exercise/game elements of the second and third workshops might be designed with the possibility of remote participation in mind. All these ideas will be discussed by the project team, the Advisory Board, and the speakers over the coming weeks. We also welcome other suggestions to help achieve the success of the DREaM project so do get in touch even if you are not involved in the DREaM events: this project is for the whole LIS community.

Bust of John Napier at Craighouse campus, Edinburgh Napier University

Bust of John Napier at Craighouse campus, Edinburgh Napier University

In the meantime, we encourage all with an interest in LIS research to review the DREaM project materials from the first workshop (as well as materials from the launch conference), to join the DREaM online community (where, for example, you can “meet” others interested in LIS research, join in forum discussions – there is already the start of a conversation about ethnographic research in academic libraries to investigate the student experience, comment on the event presentations, and browse through the archive of photos from the past two events), to follow the DREaM participants Twitter list, and to follow the project itself from @LIS_DREaM.

Finally, we would just like to thank everyone for their participation in the DREaM project to date. We recognise that the success of the past two events is built on the contributions of all involved.

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