This week the Bring Your Own Device for Learning (#BYOD4L) course is running. I missed it last time so it’s great to have a chance to participate this time around. It’s a little unusual in that it only lasts for five days, with a new topic each day, and there is no registration for the course – people turn up as and when to take part in the activities.
The topic for the first day is connecting, and we’re given two scenarios on video. The first is a final year student wanting to get an up-to-date perspective on wellbeing for her final year project, and the second was a lecturer who didn’t see the point of using mobile technology in their teaching and learning. I’ve decided to explore the first scenario, because it links to my recent experience of starting again from scratch when I started a marine conservation blog and twitter account.
The student is not happy that the traditional academic sources such as books and journals are showing her what the reality of the field is. It’s not just that she wants to find out what the cutting edge research is, but also who is doing the research, and how that research in being applied in real initiatives to real people. She has a real opportunity here, not only to make her project thesis fresh and relevant, but also to develop some very useful transferable skills.
First, find a few key people or organisations. Look at who is publishing at the moment. What research groups do they work in? Where do they publish? If there are key papers that are a couple of years old, then look at who cited those papers. She wants an international perspective so she can go beyond academia by looking at national health provision in a few key countries – what are they doing around wellbeing? What about the World Health organisation – what are they doing?
Once this shortlist has been identified then she can start to build her network. Are any of them on twitter? If so, she can follow them and start to connect and collaborate. If they’re prominent in their field, then it can be very helpful to look at who they follow, because you’re seeing who or what they consider influential. Google+ and linkedin are also useful avenues for networking, but linkedin tends to be more restrictive in who you can connect to.
Networking is a key skill in most careers, and will be very valuable once she graduates, but can be difficult or scary in the early stages. She could talk to her university’s career service and see if they could offer any advice or training, but the important thing is to practice (especially for those of us who aren’t natural extroverts). An interesting point I came across recently around networking is that it is often people on the periphery of our ‘network’ that prove the most useful when trying to gather information outside our normal circle, precisely because they have access to people that are outside our circle.
So, in summary, I’d advise her to use the resources she does have access to to identify who she wants to connect with, and then actively network through social media or blogs.