Digichamps: an overview of the year so far

Author: Bartosz Paszcza 

Throughout the last few months, the Digichamps have taken part in a wide variety of projects.

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One of the goals of our work is to help incorporate various online tools that help to make online projects more responsive. As an example, Tim and Sylvian built a more “social media friendly” website for the South East Physics Network, an organisation promoting STEM through business and education collaboration. Also, the backend of the new website was simplified to encourage more members of the team to publish.

Since last April, a group of Digichamps have worked on the Students as Creators and Change Agents project to re-design first year undergraduate business modules for the Southampton Business School. The modules incorporated a range of recent innovations in teaching and Digichamps focused on advising, mentoring and facilitating the online structure and content of the modules, including blogs.

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Digital Literacies have always been at heart of the Digichamps. Unsurprisingly, the last year has seen plenty of workshops organised to bring the topic to a wider audience. Sarah, Amanda and Houry gave a workshop on blogging, helping students to understand what makes a blog stand out from the crowd. You can download the presentation slides here.

A series of outreach meetings presenting an overview of the history and current state of the World Wide Web for teenagers was co-organised with the Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Furthermore, Digichamps are involved in the Southampton Citizen Science Project, where they help to advise on tools to facilitate online discussions and organise the debate. Hopefully their investigation on low rate of recycling in the city will help to improve the sustainability!

Back on the University’s premises, a group of Digichamps created a series of interactive seminars for the first year students in the Business School. They incorporated an exercise which asked volunteer participants to download the complete personal datasets that Facebook stored about them, to help bring attention to the amount of data we are giving away. The exercise indeed was an eye-opener for many, it even resulted in a question from the audience asking whether the Police are able to see that data 🙂

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An even larger group of Digichamps were involved as teaching assistants helping run the University’s Digital Marketing MOOC on Futurelearn. They even organised (probably) the first Periscope livestream supporting an online course in the UK as part of their involvement!

Sarah targeted the students in their final year and postgraduates with a blog post on the pros and cons of using a blog as a tool for dissertation writing. Turns out it may really help!

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Finally, the Digichamps have been actively helping the University’s online presence by live social media coverage of multiple events. From the Physics Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt, who helped to discover that our Universe’s expansion is accelerating, through the launch of an interdisciplinary research group Monitoring of Engineered and Natural Systems Using Sensors, to the annual Law Fair and Winchester School of Art alumni meeting, a wide variety of events was covered. Naturally, the Distinguished Lectures organised by the Web Science Institute were also given appropriate attention: beginning with Professor Evelyn Ruppert’s reflections on Big Data and Society, through the history of the Zooniverse citizen science project, the lecture given by the hypertext pioneer Ted Nelson who inspired Bill Gates (among others), to BBC’s Bill Thompson talk on the enemies of Open Web.

Digichamps also took part in the #Datathon15 at University of Southampton, covered the presentation of the Southampton Web Observatory, and went to London to wish happy birthday to the Web Science Institute!

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