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Engaging academics in digital discourse – Simon Thomson | Talis Insight Europe 2016

Natalie Naik

On day two of Talis Insight we heard from Simon Thomson, Head of Digital Pedagogy at Leeds Beckett University on “Engaging academics in digital discourse”, which covered how we can connect and engage academics more by overcoming barriers presented by the digital world.

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Simon started his presentation by pointing out how ‘digitally’ connected we all are, with around 42 million smartphone users currently in the UK. He stressed that digital is now, it isn’t the future. However, what we aren’t doing is connecting the digital opportunities within universities with the people that need to use it.

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When discussing how we should encourage people to use the technology available to them, he explained the many obstacles, from fear of the unknown to resistance to change. The point of resistance is the most important time to encourage academics. It is crucial in ensuring that the user (in Simon’s example, the academic) follows through with the technology change. To help the audience understand this, Simon encouraged us to do an exercise with our hands – then forcing the opposite to prove how unnatural and strange something can feel the first time.

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Simon concluded his talk with the statement “it’s not about the technology”. The technology should never be the first thing on the agenda, instead, we should be putting people at the centre. We should consider if the user is comfortable with it, if we are getting the data we need and if it is accessible to all levels of knowledge. We will see success when we find champions, those that will become real advocates of the technology, when we look globally and when we consider the impact on the users and on those implementing it. You can see Simon’s tips for implementation at 21:10.

See Simon’s presentation in full here:


View presentation slides.

See the tweets during Simons’s talk here:

Do you agree?
Simon compared the Kubler-Ross model of the stages of grief to technology integration – do you see similarities here? Is this something you have experienced?

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