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My First Week at UCL by Becky Scott

AnneWelsh26 September 2014

UCL 2014 by Susan Greenberg

 

New beginnings are always a little daunting. Arriving at one of the world’s best universities to study at Masters level can make you feel more than a little awed by the task. When you add to that the fact that I haven’t studied in this way for ten years, you can imagine my nervousness as I waited in line to enrol in our department on the first day. But as I look back the end of Induction Week, I feel that anything is possible over the coming year.

My course tutors have both challenged me and supported me. Those first day nerves are gone now. I am already submerged in the language of Library and Information Studies. Reflecting on the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base, I know my strengths as well as the areas which I need to develop. Charlie has asked us simply “to read and to think” and as Librarians these are two things that are second nature to us. We love learning. We love helping others to learn. Reading and thinking are achievable tasks.

Of course I had fears that I wouldn’t fit in. We come from a diverse range of disciplines and, as Anne said, a range of different ‘cultural backgrounds’. But as each day passed, we got to know one and other and I have realised that we are all kind, welcoming and willing to help each other. Certainly, using the exercise to “find someone who…” stopped me being intimidated and helped me start conversations on Librarianship but many other topics too.

My classmates have guided me across campus to lecture theatres, helped me register with Senate House Library and even find the cash machine. They have made this week enjoyable and entertaining. Every day, I discover that I love studying at a London university. There are so many treasures to discover: museums, farmers’ markets and of course, libraries. Visiting the Royal Astronomical Society Library was a wonderful opportunity to explore a special collection but also to learn from the day to day challenges of an experienced practitioner.

In just five days, I have gone from fearing the dissertation to being open to all ideas which may be sparked in my seminars. I felt inspired by Henry and Fiona – two recent Department of Information Studies graduates – who shared their experiences of writing the dissertation and how they shaped their  ideas.

I write this as just one voice in the LIS class of 2014/2015 but we are all on our UCL learning journey. New beginnings may be a little daunting but they are also simulating, thought-provoking and full of potential.

—–

Becky Scott (@the_bookette) is working as a school librarian while studying for her MA LIS.

Image: Dr Susan Greenberg. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Note: the appearance of the byline on this post is auto-generated, indicating that it was posted by Anne Welsh. Becky Scott is the sole author of this piece, with the image provided by Susan Greenberg.

The #tweetyourthesis story: from doodle to viral

Susan LGreenberg14 January 2012

I have spent a lifetime being interested in discovering new things; as a reporter, writer and editor; as a university lecturer; and currently, as a part-time doctoral student at UCL’s Department of Information Studies. For many reasons, I cannot claim to be one of the world’s most prolific twitterers. But from a single tweet on Wednesday January 11, it turns out that I helped launch a rapidly growing meme that has provided a fascinating glimpse into the world of early-career research, and sparked off a debate. Here is my story about the birth of #tweetyourthesis.

I am a member of faculty on a writing degree, where much of the teacher’s work consists of encouraging students to give very detailed attention to language, so that every word counts. It also involves showing the creativity made possible by constraint. Assessment can include not only creative work, but also the synopsis, story outline and single-sentence summary. One class exercise led to a competition for a t-shirt slogan about writing. The reflection sparked by such tasks helps the writer define the story and achieve creative distance and, as mentioned in a Day of DH 2011 post, helps to contextualise digital forms in the classroom.

On Wednesday January 11, I came to a dinner organised by Dr Melissa Terras for students connected to the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (UCLDH). My head was full of that morning’s class. I had asked students to use a storyboard template, to help clarify the structure of their work; to show willing, I also storyboarded my own doctoral thesis.

That evening I showed the result to Professor Claire Warwick, head of the UCL department, who encourages innovation in communicating research work. In the playful discussion that followed, fellow research student and graphic artist Rudolf Ammann dashed off a drawing (left). I said it looked like a tweet, and perhaps we should go one better than storyboarding. Professor Warwick instantly suggested the #tweetyourthesis hashtag and I promised to kick it off when I got home. Within 24 hours there were contributions from around the world, and an interview request from the US Chronicle of Higher Education.

I am still digesting the experience, but can say for certain that it leaves me very appreciative of a rewarding and innovative research culture made possible by a combination of encouragement from above and an active network that – as Dr Ernesto Priego notes – involves both faculty and students.

It also confirms my feeling that the public engagement skills that come with practice-based disciplines are valuable, although probably still undervalued.

Finally, I have been reminded of the fears that social media still evoke, in academe and elsewhere, and the need to continue the dialogue about its impact.

Failure Files on Tour

AnneWelsh20 April 2011

Susan Greenberg (UCL DIS PhD student and University of Roehampton academic) will be speaking at an event in London for The Failure Files (Triarchy Press, 2011), to which she has contributed a chapter.

Event details on Susan’s blog.

 

Image: @gloryoffailure

 

Failure Files

AnneWelsh29 March 2011

PhD student Susan Greenberg has contributed a chapter to The Failure Files(Triarchy Press, 2011). Susan writes:

Among other things, the essay explains the purpose of the critical reflection essay, a key element of most practice-based disciplines in higher education. This form is still not fully accepted in more traditional subjects, but in today’s contested ground of shrinking HE spending, it is more critical than ever to explain and persuade sceptics of its value, and to raise the standard in our own classes. The CRE allows the process behind the practice to be documented, separately from the creative work itself, analysing the choices made and making explicit what would otherwise remain tacit. It is a way of acknowledging the inevitability and value of failure, squaring the professional and educational process which calls for demonstration of ‘research-equivalent’ activity . (‘Knowing what you don’t know’. oddfish, 13 March 2011).

As well as researching acts of editing for her doctorate, Susan teaches on the Creative Writing Programe at Roehampton University, and this latest publication has relevance to all three of the research centres of which she is a member – UCL Centre for Publishing, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and Roehampton’s ReWrite – Centre for Research in Creative and Professional Writing.