Shoots by Gemma Garner How often do you try something new? Not sure? Well today a whole bunch of research students at the University of Bath gamely had a go at signing up for Twitter and investigating the power of RSS feeds.

This was the first of a series of events under the banner of “The Connected Researcher @ Bath” (a title shamelessly stolen from Cardiff University’s Susan Smith and Sarah Nicholas; I hope they don’t mind!). The whole thing came about when Geraldine Jones (E-learning Officer for Humanities & Social Sciences) and I got our heads together. We’d both been wondering how to get more research students to try out social media and found that together we were in a position to make it happen.

Tristram Hooley very kindly travelled down from Derby to explain to our students why he feels social media are an important tool for modern academics. He also led the first of our two workshops, getting students to sign up to Twitter and take their first hesitant Twittering steps. Geraldine led the second workshop, introducing the students to RSS and iGoogle, and I finished off that session with a brief introduction

The main thing I learned from today’s event? If you’d like your Twitter followers to join in with a real-world activity by tweeting at a particular time, give them plenty of notice. I’d tried this before without the notice and it was something of a flop, but today Twitterers all over campus were primed and didn’t disappoint! Having chosen a hashtag (#bathcr) and started using it a couple of days ago, there was a real buzz going on by this morning, which really added to the atmosphere when the participants saw it on Twitter for the first time.

So my thanks to Bath’s Twitterers, to the students who took part and to Tristram, Geraldine and everyone else who contributed to making today work.

Initial feedback from today has been great, and we’re going to be running several more (smaller) events over the next few months, starting with a panel discussion and workshop on blogging on 11 May. I’m looking forward to it already!

Image credit: Shoots by Gemmer Garner