Main image : Broadley, C. (2013). Reflective Drawing from Doctorial Fieldwork. Visualising human centred design relationships: a toolkit for participation. PhD thesis, The Glasgow School of Art.

Spring School provides our postgraduate research students at the Innovation School, studying at both Masters and PhD level, with training in theory, methodologies, methods and research ethics. Spring School is usually delivered as a week-long series of lectures, workshops, discussions and group activities. However, in light of the unique circumstances arising from Covid-19, this year the team had to quickly adapt and re-design the training to be delivered remotely online. Rising to the challenge, we curated a diverse programme of speakers and modes of delivery using the online platform Zoom.

Due to the participatory, person-centred and community-based nature of our research at the Innovation School, we were well aware of the complex challenges our research students are now going to be facing in their fieldwork – in some cases having to adapt their approaches, and in other cases having to adjust the entire focus of their projects. In response to this, our overriding aspiration for this year’s Spring School was to make sure the students felt connected, supported and empowered to turn these challenges into positive opportunities for innovation.

Spring School kicked off with an ice-breaker session led by the programme leader Professor Lynn-Sayers McHattie, which provided the students with a forum to discuss and address their immediate practical concerns. Following this, Dr Michael Pierre Johnson delivered a lecture on research methods and data collection before we were joined by Dr Brian Dixon from the University of Ulster. Brian took the students through a series of discussion-based activities to unpack their underpinning worldviews and to understand how these inform their research and practice. Dr Cara Broadly and Dr Marianne McAra delivered introductory sessions on research methodologies and analytical frameworks before the final day where the students gave short presentations over Zoom to the wider supervisory teams. For this, we tasked the them to reflect on the week’s training and to outline what their methodology is, to consider how they might pragmatically adapt their methods, and to identify what their next steps will be in terms of setting short-term and long-term goals.

Ross, A. (2020). Spring School Student Presentation

The team learned a great deal from the experience of designing and delivering remote training using the Zoom application. Reflecting on this, we found offering variety in how the sessions were delivered to be crucial. For example, there were scheduled talks using the screen-sharing function on Zoom for slides, chaired group discussions, and a range of on-line and off-line tasks completed by the students. Varying the delivery and keeping the pace dynamic was important for sustaining virtual engagement, which kept the momentum and morale going for the week.

We want to thank our research students again for their brilliant participation in Spring School and commend them on how they are positively responding to this unique situation and supporting each other as a cohort.

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