SMiLE: Early Reflections and Next Steps #caasoton

Last week I posted about our plans for the action research project SMiLE at the CAA2012 conference at Southampton. We tracked the use of a number of social media tools by both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ attendees and interviewed people about the value they got from this activity, in order to explore the dynamics of the relationship between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ communities. Now that the event is over it is time for the team to gather thoughts about next steps.

This post is a initial attempt to summarise what went on during the week in terms of social media and how we might best take the work forward. Feedback and offers of help are most welcome!

1. The sun shone *all week*. We had arranged this 🙂

2. Full statistics are still being collated but as a taster there are so far over 13,000 tweets quoting #caasoton,  with more discussions continuing, 435 photos on Flickr and video views from nearly 40 countries:

3. Nearly half of the 450 conference delegates were active on twitter, and there were many new converts, and also old hands describing the significance of this:

4. tweeting during sessions allowed people to make connections and curate the discussions going on in different rooms, in real time:

Some of these discussions could even be considered as defining new online ‘sessions’ or themes:


5. there was an active group of ‘virtual’ contributors (over 70 registered as ‘virtual attendees’, with some 20 more beaming in randomly on the Wednesday morning alone)

Overall it was a bit of a result, really:

So what next?

We have *much more* data than we expected, but this is a nice problem to have! Already people are tweeting ideas about how best to archive and reuse it, as well as curating data from various sources such as Foursquare to provide an extra layer of value. We want to try different ways to integrate and visualise the data, and also the possibilities of network analyses and data mining.

We will be checking out our interview and survey data and writing up the early findings over the next few weeks to present at the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) Conference in July. Using the principles of crowdsourcing we have requested Session Chairs to gather relevant materials, add their own narrative and Storify each session which can be archived as a permanent record of specific discussions and decisions taken.

We have also spoken with Faculty event managers, the digital media team in comms, and the University’s CITE team about sharing the lessons learned for the benefit of people organising future events. A series of posts charting our progress will follow shortly! We will carry on listening and talking via #caasoton 🙂