Reflecting on #BCCE2018: Our RSC/BCC Joint Symposium “Communicating Chemistry via Social Media”

I find myself reminiscing on what an awesome experience #BCCE2018 was, even though I could not attend the conference due to health issues.

My reflection on my BCCE 2018 experience begins with a dream that was fulfilled during the conference. I co-organized (with the incredible Glenn Hurst) a symposium jointly hosted by the Higher Education Group Committee of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Biennial Conference Committee of the American Chemical Society. The symposium’s title? “Communicating Chemistry via Social Media” (a topic I may know something about >;).

Why was this a dream of mine? I had long wanted to enable both in-person and virtual presenters and audience to interact in a new format of a symposium. And this symposium gave me a golden opportunity to recruit folks I appreciated greatly to participate as speakers, even if they could not physically attend BCCE 2018 due to childcare, travel expense, health, or other issues.

To advertise the symposium, I created a #tweetstorm almost two months in advance detailing the talks (and those who were giving them) in the order they would be given. I was so excited for this symposium…I could hardly contain myself:

Other folks also advertised the sessions and Jennifer Maclachlan (@pidgirl) made an AWESOME graphic (as she does for most of her talks).

Advertising on social media was critical because we were trying to encourage an international audience of both ACS and RSC members.

Glenn and I used @pidgirl‘s graphic in our advertising as well. It became an easy go-to graphic to focus attention quickly on our session. Glenn initially posted the signup info in eventbrite.

I reiterated it here on the day of the session…

But Jennifer was really the expert advertiser for the session (this is only one example of the many awesome posts she made advertising the talk and the session):

In terms of burying the Zoom link to the live session in Eventbrite – as organizers, Glenn, Dan, and I felt it was important to have a sign-up page so that we knew how many folks were attending virtually. But if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would have tweeted/facebooked/posted on social media the Zoom link about an hour before the symposium started as well.

A couple of changes happened at the last minute, of course, as they oft do in these kinds of situations. Stephani (@ThePurplePage) could not make it to Notre Dame to present her talk due to a family emergency. So Glenn (@GlennAdamHurst) stepped in with a fantastic talk on his use of Snapchat in his teaching and research lives. And I couldn’t preside at the symposium due to my health issues (which prevented me from flying) so the ever-talented Dan Sykes, the chair of ACS BCC, stepped in as both a presider and as the Zoom meeting manager extraordinaire.

The time came for the session to begin. Because I wasn’t there, I begged my #ChemTwitter community to share what was happening in the sessions. And boy, did they EVER step up. (Thanks y’all – I STILL APPRECIATE IT GREATLY!)

My chemistry tweeps kept me up to date on what was happening as it was happening.

So, here’s the run down of their (and my) tweets for each talk given during the symposium.

Andy Brunning’s (@ndbrning) talk was on “Using infographics and images to communicate chemistry on social media”. He uses his amazing abilities to design infographics for many different groups and for many different occasions. His infographics can be found in his book and on his website Compound Interest.

Simon Lancaster‘s (@S_J_Lancaster) talk on “Collation and curation of social media content: capturing the synergy of the crowd” was particularly interesting, not only because it reiterated his book chapter, but it also needed to be recorded in advance as Simon was on a plane during the entire symposium.

Jennifer Maclachlan’s (@pidgirl) talk on “Facebook and Linked-In as tools for personal branding and career advancement in the chemical sciences” also reiterated her book chapter , her blog, her time as CPRC chair, and her career.

As I said earlier, Glenn Hurst (@GlennAdamHurst) filled in for Stephani Page’s (@ThePurplePage) original talk on “Giving a scientific seminar using social media” with a very awesome and entertaining talk on Snapchat.

Maria Gallardo-Williams (@TeachForALiving) and Bram Frohock (@BHFrohock) gave a talk on “An integrated approach to the engagement of students in a science lecture/lab course via social media”. A great article on Maria’s work on flipping the classroom, open education resources and using SMART videos in the classroom can be found here.

Smitha Pillai‘s talk on “Podia as a social media tool for collaboration and communication in general organic chemistry classes” was informative and interesting.

Chemjobber‘s (@ChemJobber) talk on “Talking to students about careers on social media” continues his work begun (and still going!) on his blog and continued in his regular column “Bench and Cubicle” for C&En News. ChemJobber is best known for his regular (and AWESOME) communication of job trends in chemistry. He also wrote the foreword for the ACS Symposium Series book I edited (thanks CJ!).

The talks were amazing! And the symposium was standing room only. DOUBLE WIN!

I had to convey my sadness in missing the symposium, but it came with continued support and encouragement to share what had been presented and what we had learned.

While many thanks were conveyed for hosting this symposium, I think @pidgirl won the prize for the thankful tweet of the day because she highlighted the phenomenal work carried out by Dan (at the last minute, no less).

And that was a wrap. What an awesome symposium!

As a result of this symposium, I decided almost immediately that I never wanted to organize a symposium that did not have the ability to accommodate both in-person and virtual presenters and audience. But that’s still a work in progress.

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