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Digital skills for engagement

Image shows a coffee van pulling the sign reading digital skills for engagement

What are digital skills for engagement?

Engagement is about universities working with those outside academia to share research, collaborate on ideas, and make knowledge accessible to all. It is about inviting in more voices, and being a role model for the next generation. Through it both we and our audiences gain valuable interaction and dialogue – working together for a fairer society.

Traditionally people might think of this as giving a public lecture, or going into a school to run a workshop. However you can also engage people through online formats - such as writing blogs, creating videos, engaging via social media, or making a website. As well as creating materials for people to use online, often you can create digital resources that can also be used to enhance your face to face engagement plans - for example building a Virtual Reality Experience that becomes the basis for a classroom workshop.

Some things to be aware of when planning for digital engagement

The key starting point when planning any engagement activity is identifying your audience. This should be the first thing you think about, before you come up with what type of engagement activity you're going to run. When planning for digital engagement it's important to think about the following points:

  • Does your audience have the internet access/ digital skills necessary to engage with what you're developing? In the West Midlands 1 in 5 people don't use the internet (West Midlands Digital Roadmap 2021Link opens in a new window). The Good Things Foundation produces an annual Digital Nation infographicLink opens in a new window that gathers together the facts and stats about digital inclusion and exclusion in the UK - this is a helpful tool to begin to understand which audiences might not have internet access.
  • For other people accessing online events and content is far easier than coming to an in person event. In some cases you might want to explore a hybrid approach to make it as easy as possible for people to take part in your activity - but these come with their own challenges.
  • How are people going to access your activity? Can they engage via a mobile device or only via a laptop/desktop or other specialist device? Are you relying on people to have multiple devices - for example taking part in polls and quizzes on a separate mobile device whilst taking part in an event via Zoom? Is there an alternative option?
  • Is your content accessible to people with different needs? For example can someone engage with your content if they're using a screen reader? Have you alt text to images you're using? Have you added (accurate) subtitles to video content? IT services provide some useful adviceLink opens in a new window on this.
  • Its important to build engagement into your digital plans. Engagement is about connecting with people so it's key to build two way communication into your plans. It's also important to ensure you're working to tell your audiences about the digital activities you're producing - it's not enough to record a video and put it onto YouTube without also doing some work to let your audience know it's there and they can access it.
  • Can you build your evaluation into your digital engagement? What does success look like for you? How can you measure this and is there data you can be automatically gathering from an online tool? Check out our evaluation pages for more advice on this.
  • Have you considered online safeguarding - especially if you're working with children or vulnerable adults?

Resources to help you get started

In this section we've developed a series of resources to help you engage digitally. Please be aware you'll need to be logged in to the Warwick website in order to access them.

How to make a podcast 

Dr Anna Ploszajski

Understand how to produce your own podcast to inspire, entertain and disseminate your work at the University of Warwick. By the end you’ll have all the skills, tools and information you need to get started… and keep going!

Available as a written guide and in audio.

Online engagement 

Dr Jamie Gallagher

In this series of videos Jamie takes you through:

  • Getting the best set up
  • Choosing the best format for an online events
  • Using YouTube for engagement
  • Evaluating your online activity
  • The future of online engagement

Creating research animations 

The Engagement Associates

Animation is a fantastic medium for conveying information and sharing stories about research - the only limit is your imagination. This guide takes you through the key steps common to most animation productions when working with creative professionals.

Social media for engagement 

Sam Langford

In this video Sam talks about the benefits of using social media for engagement with research, what makes good content and how you can get started. He'll also discuss the top four social media platforms (Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook) and what each of their strengths are.

Using Microsoft Teams for events

Watch a recording of our "Enhancing Engagement with Technology" seminar from the 2022 WIE Network Conference.