Twitter conference has grads tweeting

University of Otago graduate research services manager Claire Gallop and husband, Otago...
University of Otago graduate research services manager Claire Gallop and husband, Otago information science lecturer, Andrew Long, take part in an innovative Twitter conference from the comfort of their home. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The most valiant of song birds could be forgiven for falling silent in snow-covered Dunedin yesterday, but a great deal of tweeting was actually going on, thanks to an innovative University of Otago conference.

Twenty-five postgraduate students took part in what Otago University officials said was the world's first official university Twitter conference devoted to thesis-based research.

Conference initiator and Otago University graduate research services manager, Claire Gallop, yesterday cheerfully welcomed participants on the internet to "the only conference you can attend in your pyjamas".

And quite a few participants may indeed have opted to take part from their homes in their pyjamas yesterday morning, as heavy snow made it difficult for some Otago thesis students to reach the university campus.

Also because of the snow, Ms Gallop and her husband, Andrew Long, who are both undertaking PhD research, worked from their Macandrew Bay home yesterday. She helped monitor and run the conference. He made a brief presentation about his research.

Brevity, clarity, and community were three key features of the event, which is part of the university's Graduate Research Month, which aims to provide support for and to celebrate postgraduate students.

Participants were required to describe their research and its tentative conclusions in only six tweets, sending the messages via smart phone or laptop computer.

Each tweet is an email-like message no more than about 140 characters long - often amounting to about 20 words.

Lively presentations were made on many topics, including the best ways of assessing the heart-attack risk of airline pilots, and the impact of social media, including Twitter, on international diplomacy.

Mr Long said it was a rewarding challenge to distil the key ideas of a lengthy thesis into such a short space, and to keep it interesting.

Ms Gallop said that working on a research thesis could become a rather isolated experience, and postgraduate students had enjoyed the chance to discuss their work and receive feedback from others.

"I'm thrilled. It turned out a lot better than I had imagined it would be."


Add a Comment