Improving interdisciplinarity via your PLN (#dscholar)

“Wow, another post”, I hear you cry. Well I’m currently in my PJs in bed with a throat infection, dosed up on a variety of pills…and bored, Very bored. So thought I’d dive into another week of the wonderful Digital Scholar OpenLearn course.

This week took you through the ways in which social networks can help you to make connections across different disciplines. It was quite a beefy bit of learning so I won’t write out all of it (I actually hope you’ll actually go and take part in it instead). What I will do is share my thoughts as I went through it.

People matter!

Martin Weller argues that having a diverse online network (as opposed to an echo chamber) increases the opportunities for connections to be made across different disciplines. Whilst watching the video he produced I sketched out a diagram (see my basic but tidy version of it below):

making connections

In a traditional setting, research is usually divided into categories and subjects. Libraries, journals etc house all the information very neatly. In an online setting the data is scattered across the web. When utilising your network there’s a chance that someone can identify a connection between different subject areas (symbolised by a blue star in my diagram). The more varied your network, the more connections there could be.

Other ways in which engaging with a community can help is via crowd sourcing information. People like to contribute and feel part of something, if they can. Plus it may not just be text that can be contributed; images, sketches, videos, animations, audio etc. can convey so many different messages, providing a richer source of information.


Having a large and varied twitter network can help you to increase your geographic reach. Being as I’ve presented to delegates in Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, and have been involved in projects and initiatives in Europe, Australia and America, I seem to have a very ‘western-centric’ following. Thinking further about my network I can clearly see the key groups of people I engage with:

  • People who have a similar job role as I do (in Learning Technologies)
  • Those who I have worked with at Solent and Cranfield Uni
  • Software interests such as Moodle and Mahara
  • Hobbies including dance, archery and boardgaming
  • TV shows – especially #strictly and #lastweektonight 😉

Do I need to start following those with different views and politics in order to increase the chance of interdisciplinarity in my results? Probably not. My net is cast far and wide. But with regards to software interests, there is so much knowledge in the areas of proprietary software that can also be applied in Open Source software, so perhaps I need a bigger net 😉

I’m looking forward to week 4!


Photo by José Martín Ramírez C on Unsplash


Good bye Solent!

Today marks the end of my Solent journey. I have been working here since August 2007 and have worn many hats over the years. I am sad as I have made so many awesome friends here over the years. It is also my ‘home’ as it’s where my family chose to settle after years of moving around with my Dad’s job. It’s the place where I’ve learnt my ‘trade’ as a Learning technologist and have enjoyed the freedom that my managers have given me over the years to explore areas that I felt enthused about, alongside projects that were handed to me.

  • To Steve Lake, thanks for taking a chance on me and giving me my first job at Solent all those years ago!
  • To my Dean of Service, Elizabeth Selby & Line Manager, Steve Hogg who’ve both been on all my LT interview panels, thanks for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to realise my potential.
  • To my lovely Learning Technology chums past and present – Alex, Andrew, Andy, Ann, Christina, Clare, Daran, Helen, Jenny, Julian, Lee, Loo, Nick, Paul, Richard, Roger, Rosemary, Sophia & Timos. You are all like family to me x I will be back every now and then (just remember to invite me!) 🙂
  • To the Graduate Associates Hannah, Sofy, Jack, Domi & Tom – so happy to have played a part in your first steps from being a student to becoming a professional 🙂
  • To all the academics and support staff – thanks for giving me lots of fun things to do!
  • Finally to my dear friend and mentor Lorry – thanks for giving me the kick up the backside I needed. Without you I would have never moved forward to where I am now. I wish you were still with us and I miss you every day xxx

Now, it’s time for Samwise’s next adventure…

Kisses x