Apologies for the long absence. It has been a hectic few weeks at work with writing several reports, fresh literature searching on some new topic areas and pulling my hair out as I grapple with learning MS Project (the joys of which I will bring to you in a post coming soon).
With all of that done, I find myself with just enough time to catch up on 23 Things before a training session on hazardous chemical handling, sending a dozen relatively important emails and finding two different very knowledgeable technicians to ask their advice about some practical work I’m looking to carry out in the next week or two. Anyway, time to get down to business with Things 12 & 13.
Things 12 & 13 are about making and sharing multimedia online as a method of communicating my research to a wider audience. As with some of the other Things, I run into certain problems with sharing my research due to the industrial partnership that is a part of the EngD. This is mainly due to the confidentiality clause in my contract, which is understandable in such a competitive industry.
Whilst that confidentiality prevents me sharing in-depth information about my research, results and direct applications, I can easily see the use of video & audio recording to create a series covering the fundamentals of composite materials and the mechanics of the material that is a particular focus of my research. These would then be shared on this blog and possibly a nascent YouTube channel.
Screencasts don’t immediately appear to be so useful as my time spent on a computer is either using MS Project, Word to write reports, searching for literature or crunching data in Excel; none of which would make for particularly thrilling viewing. I am however currently searching for some software that is involved in process modelling of my material, and if this avenue is successful I could see the use of a screencast to maybe demonstrate this, particularly internally within my sponsor company as a tutorial on how to use it/why it would have application to the business.
Moving on from screencasts, videos and podcasts; presentations are one of the main methods for communicating my research. I use presentations internally (within the University and my sponsor company) as a presentation followed or accompanied by a discussion is often a far more useful and rapid way of distributing information and receiving useful feedback than reports, although reports have their place, often following on from these presentations. Additionally to internal presentations, public lectures and academic conferences make use of presentations to distribute research and I’ll be participating in both of these before long.
To produce my presentations I always use MS PowerPoint, but for this Thing we have been asked to consider Prezi. The first time I ever saw a Prezi presentation it was incredibly slick and suitably impressive, however as Prezi has been catching on and gaining more and more popularity I find the pan in-pan out and rotation getting more and more gimmicky, similarly to excessive animations in a PowerPoint presentation. Further to this, in my field we generally want to tell a story in a linear manner when presenting, making it clear how everything follows on. PowerPoint is ideal for this. I think there are two other issues with Prezi – it can be problematic for members of the audience who have developmental disorders such as autism, ADHD and dyspraxia as it can be hard to follow, distracting from the content and provide a degree of sensory overload. The second issue is that when operating within the corporate sphere, both within the University and my sponsor company, for example, there are set templates and guidelines for presentations, which are built around MS PowerPoint. These must be used as part of the company’s branding and so make the switch to an alternative presentation software difficult to the point of impossibility.
I think I’ve made it clear that I’m unlikely to use Prezi, but keep an eye out for some videos in the future on the basics of composite materials!