Eternal Exploration 2.0


The changing Coventry skyline

It has been sometime since I have posted on the ‘Eternal Exploration’ blog, around a year in fact. I started this blog as a place to share thoughts and activities related to my teaching and learning in geography, both at the school and university level. Since starting the blog I’ve changed jobs (and cities) a number of times (and my surname too). As a consequence the focus of my activities has changed, and while I very much still consider myself a geographer, the focus of my daily activities of work are now very differenet from when I was a PhD student, geography teacher, qualifications manager, or education writer. I am now a researcher in the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University, which is a dedicated research centre in the Faculty of Business and Law (Geography now belongs to a different Faculty).

Yorks Birmingham Espresso.jpgI set my self the task at the beginning of this year to try and bring together some of my different teaching and research blogs into something more central which I could put to more use. I considered a new website, but in the end decided that what I needed to do was to do a little bit of re-organising on this blog, and once again act as a portal for writing about things that I’m doing, I’m interested in, or that I think would be useful to share, to more accurately reflect what I do now. And so this post is really me noting to myself (and anyone who happens to read this blog) that this is why the blog is now taking a bit of a different shape. I’ve often had idea for blog posts about some of my research and teaching activities which I wouldn’t previously have written about on here. So, in addition to writing about my geography teaching and learning activities that I’m still involved in, the blog will now take a broader focus to consider issues around research in the social sciences, and act as a platform to try and highlight some of the research areas I am working on.

I should perhaps add that blog posts at present may not be that frequent as I am currently on maternity leave, and very much enjoying the time with my 3 month old daughter. If there was a qualification in nursery rhymes, I’m pretty sure I could pass it! Having a child has led me to look at the world through fresh eyes. I travel to places that I’ve been to a hundred times before, and I’m excited that she gets to see these places for the first time, particularly as she’s becoming more aware of her surroundings. It’s also provided me with a bit of time to think, about what I want to do with my research and teaching in the future, and where I want to focus my energy during work time.


Hopefully through this blog you’ll be able to see a bit of how this journey pans out. So, that’s it for now, a bit more of a personal blog post than usual – there’ll be more from my ‘explorations’ soon.

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Thinking about ‘Happy Cities’

Last year at Villiers Park Education Trust as part of the ‘Geographical Imaginations‘ course I delivered a new session which focused on cities. In previous years I had spent the time to explore sustainable cities and what that meant in different areas of the world. This year I decided to start the session ‘Urban Lives’ by exploring the concept of ‘Happy Cities’ after reading an article by Dimitris Ballas, ‘What makes a ‘Happy City?‘ which thinks about quality of life in cities, and the book by Charles Montgomery, ‘Happy City: Transforming our lives through urban design‘. Both made me think about what I would consider to be a happy city.

A TED talk with Charles explores explores what happens when you take an abandoned NYC space and infuse it with social experiments. The results are surprising and inspiring.

Shortly after reading these I came across the book, by Jaime Lerner, Urban Acupuncture, which not only argues that in many cases ‘the city is not the problem, it is the solution’, but suggests that ›“good acupuncture is about understanding places better, understanding that one city is not like the other, understanding what it is that is missing in a neighbourhood before designing”. He explores cases from around the world where interventions have been made to help cities. The TED talk ‘A Song to a City’ provides a good overview of his ideas.

I put some of these on to a worksheet to ask students which they think would work best in their own home town or city.
Urban accupuncture

The rest of the session explored different urban problems, as well as ways cities have been making efforts to become more sustainable. You can view the slides from this session below.

After the session I also came across a piece of research which is continuing to explore the concept of happy cities to create a  Happy City Index, as an alternative way to measure progress and prosperity in the 21st century.

There are lots of ways you can explore ‘Happy Cities’.


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Book reviews: KS3 Geography Teachers’ Toolkits

The Geographical Association has been somewhere I have continued to turn to as a source of teaching resources and support throughout my teaching activities at various educational levels – from the PGCE when the Secondary Geography handbook was an introductory guide to the geography classroom, the fantastic annual conference, to some of the top-spec toolkits to inspire ideas for developing sessions with students who were about to study geography at university.

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

Two publications from the GA that I’ve been looking at recently are part of a series of Teachers’ Toolkits, alongside others on rocks, glaciation, China, Africa, landscape of the UK, flooding, climate change, water supply and demand, Kenya’s flower industry, human and physical geography of the UK, population change, and urban regeneration (and even more if you look at the toolkits produced for KS4, and the top-spec kits for post-16 groups).

These toolkits provide all the resources you need for some packed lessons, with plenty of activities, as well as enough information to make sure you know enough about what you are teaching, a glossary of key terms, plus lots of links to places with further information. A medium term plan is included to show how you might structure a scheme of work, with lots of detail including key questions, objectives, activities, resources and assessment activities. While this is shown for a whole scheme of work on the topic you could easily adapt this to fit around some materials you may already use. Both toolkits I have here come with a link and code for the GA website where you can download a set of resources to accompany the book too (activity sheets, information sheets and powerpoints).

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkitIn ‘Introducing India’, Catherine Owen asks ‘What are the Opportunities and Challenges for the future?’ The book begins with a question I have often heard when talking with teachers on how to teach about a particular country: ‘How can we teach about this complex country without falling into the trap of over-simplification?’ Her answer: be selective. And while that might seem like an obvious answer, what is provided here is an excellent selection of lessons to do exactly that.

A series of 10 lessons include: Incredible India (human and physical characteristics of India); Growing India (population and economic change); Diverse India (different features across India and its challenges); Changing India (urbanisation); Innovative India (TNCs); Industrious India (poverty and fair trade); Thirsty India (water management); Destination India (tourism); Future India (opportunities and challenges for the country), and What have you learnt about India? Each lesson includes a starter, main activity, and plenary as well as helpful teaching tips.

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

I particularly like the lesson on urbanisation which involves the students playing a board game to explore the various processes associated with urbanisation.

In ‘What’s the use?’ Richard Bustin asks ‘How can we meet our resource needs? highlighting how important it is that we teach about resources and sustainability, as an ‘increasing demand for resources has created a complex global geography’ (p.5).

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

A series of 10 lessons include: The stuff  we use (resources and their distribution); Resources forever (sustainability); Power to the people (electricity); Black Gold Russia’s Oil (Russia, oil and the UK); Something fishy going on (tuna and marine ecosystems); A net result (sustainable fishing); Diamonds are forever? (diamond’s as a resource); Sierra Leone’s resource curse (diamonds and Sierra Leone); Made to Last? (resources and the human population); and Costing the Earth? (global resource futures).

I’ve written in the past about natural resources, and when trying to create resources for schemes of work on the topic I’ve found it quite difficult because there are so many resources which could be covered, and so many different issues which could be included. However, in this set, using a consistent theme of sustainability the lessons provide a good overview of some of the key issues related to natural resources with some vivid case studies to illustrate. I particularly like the lessons on tuna and sustainable fishing. I think the ocean as a natural resource has been overlooked in the past (compared to other resources like coal or oil, and diamonds) – although as shown, here this is changing.

KS3 Geographical Association Teachers toolkit

I have not yet had the chance to teach any of the activities from these books but I have already integrated some of the activities into some of my future lessons and lectures. Whatever age group you teach, if you are covering topics related to India or natural resources then I would highly recommend these toolkits, (and likewise the other toolkit volumes in the series) as a great starting point, providing information, ideas and inspiration, and ready-made resources.

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Top 10 Podcasts for Geography Students

I often get asked by students from secondary school to postgraduates about strategies to gain a broader knowledge of geographical issues, and how to ‘read around the subject’ as they are often instructed to do. Many students cite lack of spare time to sit and read in addition to the work they have been set by teachers and lecturers. While continuing to read is important I find listening to podcasts a great way to learn about a wide range of topics from Californian droughts, to robots in the workplace, to the future of energy production. I tend to listen to the podcasts when I’m exercising, walking to work or travelling.

I’ve discussed this with various groups of students and many of them have tried switching from listening to music to a podcast on the way to school, or when they go for a run, and have also found it a useful way to learn about different topics and expand their geographical knowledge. I recognise that it’s important to have ‘down time’ and sometimes you don’t want to learn any more on the way to or from work, but if you’re looking for an easy way to learn about all sorts of different topics then podcasts are a really easy tool to help you (or your students do this. There are lots of relevant podcasts for geographers out there, but those I listen to most frequently include:

1. BBC Business Daily. The website describes this podcast as ‘the daily drama of money and work from the BBC’ and I really don’t think this does it justice. Yes, the podcast does discuss relevant issues to the business world, but the diversity of topics is vast, and they usually focus on topics in the news providing a wealth of up to date case study material, and insights into geographical issues that are happening in the world today. The podcast is around 17 minutes long and recent relevant episodes include: ‘Fast Growing Mozambique’, ‘Paris Climate Pact: Corporate Winners and Losers’ ‘Gold and Oil in Ghana’, ‘California: Fruits, Nuts and Drought’ and ‘The Economics of Migration’.

2. From Our Own Correspondent. This includes analysis from a host of the BBC’s correspondents, journalists and writers about various stories in the headlines. It’s usually presented by Kate Adie and lasts for around 28 minutes. To get a flavour of the type of material in the podcast I would highly recommend the recent ‘Special Boxing Day Edition’ which looks back at some of the various historic ‘From our own correspondent’ despatches, or one of my favourite episodes from 2015: ‘The Night Train in Luxor’ which includes insight from Egypt, the UK, China, South Sudan, Australia and Afghanistan.

3. BBC Documentaries. There are a wide range of documentaries over the year covering all sorts of topics, but again they often have issues of interest to geographers at their heart. For example, recent relevant episodes include, ‘Young, clever and Libyan’ which follows tech graduates in Libya and their hopes for rebuilding their economy, ‘The year of migration’ which discussed the migration patterns witnessed in 2015 from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, ‘Online Shopping Indian style’ exploring the recent growth in internet shopping in India, ‘Changing Climate change: Politics’ examining key issues around climate change in the political sphere.

4. TED Talks. Drawing from the various TED conferences around the world, these podcasts have lots of short talks from ‘the world’s leading thinkers and doers’, lots of inspirational people, or people with big ideas at least. You can also watch the videos on the website as there are often visual presentations to go with the audio. Some recent relevant episodes include: ‘The four fish we’re over eating – and what to eat instead with Paul Greenberg,’ ‘My country will be underwater soon by Anote Tong’, ‘Climate change is happening. Here’s how to adapt from Alice Bows-Larking’ and ‘A year reading a book from every country in the world’ (a talk which inspired my project for the year on one of my other blogs, ‘A Geographer’s Kitchen’).

5. The Inquiry. Another BBC production, this one explores questions from the recent news. The format usually involves a range of experts to answer the question. Recent relevant episodes include: ‘Should we solar panel the Sahara?’, ‘Have we underestimated plants?’, ‘What will happen when robots take our jobs?’ and ‘How will a population boom change Africa?’

6. Discovery. Episodes covering various aspects of the scientific world which often have geographical issues at their core. Recent relevant episodes include: ‘The power of energy’, ‘Humboldt – the inventor of nature’, ‘Unbreathable: The Modern Problem or Air Pollution’ and the ‘The Future of Biodiversity’.

7. BBC Business Matters. These are much longer programmes than the ones on BBC Business Daily and usually go into a lot more depth into some of the key issues in the global business world. For example, recent relevant episodes include ‘Six Routes to a Richer World: China, India’, ‘El Nino weather could be as bad as 1998′, and ‘India blocks Facebook plan’.

8. Foreign Policy: Global Thinkers. There are a number of podcasts from the magazine Foreign Policy but I particularly like the Global Thinkers series to learn about how particular individuals around the world are influencing global trends, issues and events. Recent episodes include: ‘Epidemics on the move’ and ‘Which International Architecture rules the world?

9. BBC Inside Science. Yet another BBC podcast, this time exploring various scientific mysteries and challenges. These vary a little in length but are usually between 30-40 minutes. Some of the relevant recent episodes include: ‘Flooding, scientific modelling, magnetoreception, escalators’, ‘Antarctic ice sheet instability, groundwater, fluorescent coral’ and ‘El Nino, sphagnum moss and peatlands, inside CERN, measuring air pollution with iPhones. As you can see from the title each episode covers a range of issues.

10. BBC The Food Programme. This podcast is usually just under 30 minutes long and covers a host of food related topics, from the development of particular food trends, regional food specialities, to the history of particular food culture. I’ve learnt so much about different food cultures through this programme and I particularly like the section on the Ark of Taste, a global project which is attempting to catalogue traditional ingredients around the world, from local varieties of peppers to rare regional varieties of fruits and vegetables. Recent relevant episodes include ‘China towns’ ‘A milk appreciation’ How did the chicken cross the world?’, ‘Stories from Syria’ and ‘Fast food workers’.

There are actually a lot more podcasts than this that I think would be of interest for geographers, but I thought 10 was enough to start with. If you find yourself looking for even more then the following are also worth a listen: TED Radio Hour, Peter Day’s World of Business, The Bottom Line, Outlook, Analysis, Science in Action, File on Four, and Unreported World.

The links in this blog post take you to the websites where you can find out more about the podcasts, as well as play and download them individually if you wish. Although, most mobile phones will have a podcast app which will let you subscribe and download as many podcasts as you want.

I’ve learnt so much from listening to podcasts listed here, although I should also highlight that I have ended of buying quite a few additional books because often I hear about a book, or an interesting author, or about a topic that I think I would like to know more about. So while the podcasts are free, it has ended up costing me some money – but it’s a good excuse to go and browse around book shops anyway. But overall my reading has been expanded by listening to these podcasts, and I get the chance to learn about all sorted of topics that I wouldn’t necessarily have the time to read about otherwise.

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Key Stage 1-2 Geography Resources from the Royal Geographical Society – United States of America and more…

Earlier this year I posted about a series of resources produced by the Royal Geographical Society for Key Stage 3 Geography as part of the Rediscovering London’s Geography project, including a set on Natural Resource which I produced. In addition, there are also a series of resources for Key Stage 1-2 Geography as well.

There are sets of resources available covering topics which include:

For the set of resources on the United States of America which I produced:

RGS USA resources

“The aim of this unit is to introduce pupils to the key features of the United States of America (USA). It provides a framework for understanding the different environments present within the USA: the key physical features, where populations are distributed, and some of the interactions between the human and physical environments focusing on food, farming and water. The unit provides a number of case studies of different places throughout the USA, and even takes a historical perspective of one city in particular, New York, to examine how a settlement can develop over time.”

The unit contains lessons 6 lessons and an assessment:

United States of America – An exploration: This lesson introduces pupils to the country USA, focusing on key human and physical features. This lesson familiarises pupils with the region and its varied geographies

Canyons and valleys: physical landscape: This lesson now moves on to consider the USA in closer detail.  The aim of this lesson is to build on the pupils’ understanding of the physical. They will begin the lesson by watching a time lapse video to move through different landscapes and then move on to examine how the Grand Canyon formed.

Where are all the people? This lesson focuses on the distribution of human beings in the USA and provides insights into the different types of settlements across the country. This lesson involves pupils comparing the demographic characteristics of different states in the USA.

Challenged by water: This lesson considers key interactions between physical and human landscapes, in particular the impact of water supply distributed across the country and what happens during water related disaster events.

Food and farming: Pupils are introduced to the different foods associated with the USA, and agricultural products grown there. In particular it encourages pupils to think about the different factors that can affect farming in the USA

New York through time: This lesson focuses on exploring the development of New York City through time, with clear cross-curricular links with history

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Key Stages 3 Geography Resources from the Royal Geographical Society – Natural Resources, Russia, Mapping London and more…

If you teach Key Stage 3 Geography – or have an interest in the topics that are being taught at this level you may be interested in a new suite of teaching resources that are being developed by the Royal Geographical Society as part of the Rediscovering London’s Geography project. Royal Geographical Society Key Stage 3 Resources

There are already some great sets of resources available covering topics including:

In addition the unit I produced on Natural Resources was also recently added to the website.

Natural Resources Royal Geographical Society

“This aim of this module is to introduce students to the global distribution of natural resources, and the international relationships that these resources generate, and some fo the key issues related to the use of natural resources. It also provides a framework for understanding the relative importance of different types of natural resources for human activity.”

The unit contains lessons 6 lessons and an assessment:

  • Natural Wonders of the World: this lesson introduces the key natural resources found on the planet, their distribution and value.
  • Unearthing Black Gold: this lesson provides an overview of where oil comes from, where it can be found and how important it is for daily life as well as raising awareness of declining supply.
  • Minerals on the Market: this lesson explores issues related to commodity markets introducing the idea that natural resources are extremely valuable and that there are a complex series of international interrelationships based on these resources.
  • Dragons in Africa:  this lesson  will help you explore where Chinese investments are taking place in Africa and the different sectors they are investing in.
  • A World of Rubbish: this lesson will focus around tracing what happens to different types of rubbish, where rubbish is transported to be sorted and recycled and the ways in which different countries are involved.
  • Digging Up the Earth: this lesson begins by exploring diamonds as a natural resource before moving on to look at rare earths.
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Considering Global Food and Water Security

This week at Villiers Park Education Trust as part of the Geographical Imaginations course I’ve been discussing with students the complex nature of food and water security. Students had completed some reading before the session in order to aid discussion:

One Billion Hungry

UN Water Policy Brief

UN Water Security

To begin the session the class listened to the BBC Business Daily podcast: World Water Crisis with the task of identifying any key issues related to global water security.

”Some experts predict a 55% increase in global water demand by 2050, and yet supply is already stretched as global warming affects rainfall in many countries. We hear from Jan Eliasson, the UN deputy secretary general and Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Environment and Water Minister. We speak to businesses, including beer maker SAB Miller, the global agricultural supplier Syngenta, and Ecolab a water reprocessing company. All of these companies are seeking out systems and solutions to tackle a growing water crisis. And, we go to Delhi and to the South Omo region of southern Ethiopia to hear from people already suffering, as their water becomes ever more scarce.” Source: BBC

The session then continued with a discussion of the pre-course reading and podcast content which highlighted the inter-related and highly complex nature of global water and food security. I’ve completed a recent session on the same topic but with a short lecture at the beginning. The slides and notes for this session can be found here.

If you are looking for more activities related to water security. I devised a policy brief group task which can be downloaded here: UN Policy Brief Challenge.

The session essentially challenged students to think about some of the key global issues that face today’s societies – food and water security.

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Infographics: An Introduction

For the 2014 RGS-IBG Conference held at the Royal Geographical Society I will be presenting in the poster session ‘Visualising Economic Geographies’ with a poster that focuses on the global impact of the temporary staffing industry. I have become interested in various forms of data visualisation, more recently the use of infographics. To go alongside my poster I have produced a short guide to infographics including a brief overview of what they are, how they are used, some tips for producing effective infographics, an introduction to platforms for making infographics as well as a short guide on how to make them using Microsoft Publisher and Inkscape.

If you’d like to find about more about using infographics, or how to use infographics in research do come along to the poster session ‘Visualising Economic Geographies’ at the RGS conference – Thursday 28th August, Session 3 (14:40) in the Drayson room.

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A new podcasting platform for PhD and early career researchers in the social sciences

I have written before about how useful I find podcasts for teaching and for broadening your geographical mind, and more recently I have discovered a new website which hosts podcasts from PhD and early career researchers: Viva Voce Podcasts.

VivevocepodcastsThis website acts as a platform for researchers in the social sciences to present podcasts up to 4 minutes long about their research project. Updated frequently this is an excellent portal to find out about research projects recently completed or being carried out now.

Some podcasts currently on the website include:

There’s even a podcast by yours truly about the temporary staffing industry in Europe.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.43.49The website covers a range of subjects within the social sciences: anthropology, economics, education, geography, history, international development, linguistics, philosophy, politics,  sociology, and urban planning.

  • For secondary school students it’s a useful resource to find out about a whole host of areas of different research across the social sciences.
  • For undergraduate and postgraduate researchers it’s useful to find out about different ways of doing research – topics, methods, approaches and theories.
  • For researchers and anyone with an interest in what’s happening in the world its useful to find out about a plethora of different up to date research projects, and new researchers too.

So to find out more about up-to-date research, check out VivaVocePodcasts.

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Reflections on Academia 2.0: Challenges of impact, communication and relevance

This is the first of a series of posts related to a recent event I attended at the University of Manchester, Academia 2.0 challenges of impact, communication and relevance. The event organised by Dr Gale Raj-Reichert and was supported by the British Academy and the Hallsworth Endowment at the University of Manchester. The event covered issues related to:

  • Communication: how academics can reach different audiences
  • Challenges of impact
  • The relevance of academic research

Academia 2.0 event flyerThe programme had a mix of academics from across the social sciences but also from different career stages and it was extremely useful to hear about their experiences. The event was a great opportunity to meet with other early career researchers and explore these issues which are now so crucial to a successful career in academia. Rather than work through the discussions of each presentation this post identifies some of the key issues and ideas that I drew from across the event.

One if the introductory speakers  highlighted that the British Academy in addition to their post-doctoral fellowships they also have the opportunities to apply for small grants, and that these are a good way to get a bit of funding to extend a research project (for example continue with issues brought up in your PhD research). A successful application for a small research grant would also provide good leverage if you then applied for a larger grant in the future (if you can use the small grant efficiently and show you are worth funding).

You can find out more about the British Academy Small Research Grants (and their other funding opportunities here.

Something that was highlighted, and was reiterated on several occasions was that the landscape for new academics has changed, and that there is a need to think beyond journal publications, or a monograph – but to the wider relevance and impact agenda of research.  While this might seem challenging I actually think it presents a lot of different and interesting opportunities.


It is something that some academics have shied away from but also something that has been embraced wholeheartedly by others. It was mentioned that engagement, while is seen by many as just an outlet for research, can actually be a stimulus for research, it can be used as a two way interactive process. I’m really keen to engage with other audiences. I’m particularly keen in trying to help bridge the gap between secondary and higher education (and I will write about the specific ways I’m trying to do this in a future post). I’m  currently in the process of setting up a website to explore different aspects of economic geography in a more accessible manner – and to highlight that it is interesting! It’s currently under construction but can be found at:

However, there are a couple of good examples from physical geography websites which have sought to bridge the gap between academic research and the public:

Websites, are just one way of engaging with a wider audience, but there are also a whole host of opportunities to engage with other groups in face to face situations. I am diverging a little from the purpose of this post so return to the main focus, the key messages I have taken away from the event:

  • It is important to think about alternative ways of disseminating your research to a wider audience.
  • It’s important to think about alternative formats of presenting research findings.
  • It’s important to think about the impact of your research – who could this research reach beyond the academic sphere.
  • That it’s really important to evidence your activities and which piece of research they relate to.


Academics are often being asked to show their ‘impact’. The underlying reason for this is that researchers are often using public money and therefore need to justify the use of it. However, as was highlighted at the Academia 2.0 event it should be seen as a chance to demonstrate what research does for those not engaged in the research community. While there may be concerns that the effect of increasing pressure to take into account impact from the very beginning will have an impact on funding decisions, it should be remembered that most social science disciplines are founded in the expectation of research that will drive change in society – so identifying potential impact shouldn’t be too difficult.

Some of the other key points raised about impact were:

  • Impact is a long term factor to be considered – it is not a ‘quick fix’.
  • Impact will be greater if you take a consistent approach.
  • It is possible to combine impact with research and use the impact agenda to add diversity to your research.
  • It is important to use the impact agenda creatively – it’s not just another box to tick – it provides an option to expand and reinvigorate the role of academics in public life.
  • It is important to build impact into your CV as an academic – essentially it is about building a corpus of evidence.
  • It is important to consider engagement with different groups and stakeholder communities not as an add on to research but as a potential source of ideas and insights, even if you do not directly use this as a source of data. Present your findings in a non-academic area to interested parties (such as practitioner forums ), and use social and traditional media to try and spread your key ideas. Along with this it is a good idea to monitor your presence in social media.

As a consequence of the discussion at this event I am now in the process of setting up a database template to record my research activities and anything related to them. This means I will be able to search for activities related to different projects as and when necessary. There will be another blog post about the details of this in the near future.

A new publication from sage, explores many of these issues in more depth:
The Impact of the Social Sciences: How academics and their research make a difference.

Communicating Research

Moving on, several of the sessions talked about how to communicate your research (beyond the traditional peer-reviewed journal platform). The importance of effective use of social media was highlighted on many occasions. An online presence is important in today’s academic world. However, there are a whole host of ways you can develop your online presence, and for some this can seem quite daunting. Some of the key ways to start creating your online presence were discussed at the event:

Twitter: I have been a user of twitter (@jennywrenwatts) for a long time (or at least what is a long time in terms of social media), and while initially I started it as just another social media that was more for personal use, I soon began to see the benefits of using it as a tool to develop my own Personal Learning Network and generally interacting with a much wider spectrum of people. I have used twitter in a number of ways:

  • To interact with other educators (and later other academics)
  • To interact with other people at events I attended. The use of the hashtag (#Acad2point0 for the Manchester event, but most conferences will now have one – #aag2014 #gaconf14 for example).
  • To share interesting news with others (it also acts as a way for me to record articles that I may want to go back to later)
  • To share aspects of my work, either links to written articles, to my blogs.

There is a strong academic community on twitter. Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega started a hashtag #ScholarSunday to try and help people identify the interesting and relevant people that are now using twitter. You can find out a bit more about this one of his blog posts here.

Blogging (either via your own blog or guest blogging): When I first started blogging in 2009 I mainly used my blog as a way to write about things that interested me – often related to travel, or geography teaching that I was doing at the time. It was more of a personal writing portal than a tool to raise the profile of what I was doing. However, blogging in academia is now quite common and it is a good way to disseminate what you are doing to a wider audience, and provides good practice in writing for different audiences too. My blog at present still hosts a lot of ‘non-academic’ related posts, but the new ‘exploring economic geography’ blog that will be launched properly soon should hopefully be more research focused. In terms of how to go about producing blog posts, first you might want to think about whether you want to host your own (it’s easy to set one up on wordpress) or if it’s possible to write a post on another blog (often there are departmental or research group blogs). Then there are alternatives such as guest blogging on places like Huffington Post, or writing a post for The Conversation (a kind of news platform that uses academic research).

Research Gate and Academia.Edu: Social networking platforms where you have a profile displaying all your academic credentials, publications etc, and you can connect with other academics, take part in discussion forums. In some ways, they are a bit like facebook for academics.

Google Scholar citations: If you register for this you will be able to monitor your citations over time. It’s another way of boosting your rankings in google too. In terms of monitoring where your publications are being cited, this could be very useful.

Mendeley: A reference manager (much like endnote) but it also allows you to collaborate with others and has the benefit of online accessibility –

There are a couple of really useful publications that are useful to read as a starting point for those wishing to engage with more social media.

These are just some of the interesting ideas that were discussed at the Academia 2.0 event (I have more to write up but this blog post already far longer than I had originally intended – there will be another one soon). I would at this point like to thank the organisers and presenters for such a thought-provoking event which no doubt will have a long lasting impact on my research in the future.

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