A stonemason, a student, a superintendent, a dean, a pre-school director, a faculty member, a not-for-profit executive director, and a data scientist walk into a hotel. They’ve come together to share their ideas about access to education at “Rethinking Access: When Non-Traditional is the New Normal” a conference put on by HEQCO (Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario). Most sessions were set up as panels surrounding a given topic about access – each panel was ripe with ideas and well-articulated challenges. Given the breadth and depth of issues around access, each panel could really only scratch the surface of the research and on-the-ground work being done. Even so, I gained an appreciation for the systemic issues around access to education and some of the creative solutions for improving access from a variety of perspectives.
My big questions
I took the early train from London and arrived at the Delta Chelsea with my shirt on inside out and a lot of big questions: Who is accessing post-secondary education, and who is not? What are the barriers to accessing post-secondary education? What can and is being done about differences in educational access?
For a week in late March, I guest-hosted the rocur (rotation curation) account @iamscicomm. My initial motivation for hosting the account was to disseminate recent research on science communication and graduate training. Hosting this account would allow me to have a greater reach than the reach of my and my colleagues twitter followers. My hope was that by engaging with a community that’s already excited about #scicomm, I could move past sharing our work into engaging in a dialogue. I’m so pleased that our work was discussed with such excitement and that it was shared over 75 times during the week.
Amanda Freise started the week by introducing me to @iamscicomm followers.
My colleagues and I recently argued that scientists-in-training would benefit from developing an individual science communication strategy. We’re not the first to suggest this, and we recommend reading Practical science communication strategies for graduate students (Kuehne & colleagues, 2014) and Considerations for effective science communication (Cooke & colleagues, 2017) to help early-career and in-training scientists start to
create such a strategy. But I’m feeling like it needs to be said again: scientists would benefit from developing an individual science communication strategy.
I’m a little troubled by workshops and resources that teach scientists how to do #scicomm (that is, web 2.0, social media heavy science communication) without any consideration or even a brief mention as to whether this is a fitting strategy. By jumping immediately to how to build a personal brand, choose a hashtag, and decide how often to post on 7 different social media platforms, the assumption is made that developing your own social media brand is the best strategy.
Building a lively and energized following on multiple platforms is an effective strategy for many scientists, and it may also be a valuable strategy for you. But, have you given enough attention to other possible modes of science communication that may be a better fit with your goals, available energy, and personal strengths?