1) Background and rationale
This proposed workshop, facilitated by Dr. Jaigris Hodson and Dr George Veletsianos (Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology) arises out of a need identified by our recent research project which examined the experiences of female academics who experience online abuse. Our SSRHC funded research project revealed that academics turn to various sources of support when they attempt to cope with online harassment: They will seek help from family, friends, peers, their institutions, communities, lawmakers, and even the online platforms themselves. However, many of these sources, including institutions and platforms, often present barriers that frustrate women’s attempts to cope with harassment, and fail to provide much-needed support. This workshop leverages the knowledge generated by our research and mobilizes it into a workshop aimed at helping stakeholders address online harassment.
2) The purpose, significance and expected benefits of the workshop
Participants will learn strategies for self-care, colleague support, and mobilizing institutional change when they or others are faced with online harassment as a result of their scholarly research and teaching work in digital environments. We feel this workshop will be of particular interest to AoIR attendees because they often are required to spend a lot of time online for work in spaces where they may leave themselves at risk of online bullying or harassment. Beneficiaries of this workshop therefore include immediate attendees of the conference, but due to the negative impacts of harassment on third parties (e.g., significant others, society at large when harassment leads academics to avoid certain kinds of research) this workshop will likely also impact other groups who are tied to our AoIR community.
3) Research objectives, methodology and methods
Our research efforts have thus far examined the experiences of female academics when they are subjected to online harassment in the course of being on social media as a result of teaching or research work. Though we previously used interviews and surveys to answer this question, this particular workshop will mobilize the knowledge gained from their workshop and also deepen it by taking the form of a do-a-thon. A do-a-thon is inspired by the idea of a hackathon, which is similar to an active workshop where participants work together to solve common challenges. In this workshop, we will present what we learned about barriers and challenges related to support and coping with online harassment, and participants will work in teams to develop ideas to address those barriers, while at the same time building on best practices from their own experiences and from our research.
4) Quality and expertise of the facilitators
This project is well aligned with the expertise and current research of the two proposed facilitators. As CRC in innovative learning and technology, Veletsianos studies people’s experiences with innovations in higher education. As such, the consequences of technology for female academics, and mitigating them, is central to his research. Similarly, Hodson’s current research program is centred around social media for public interest communication. It is in the public’s best interest for academics with diverse backgrounds to be able to share their knowledge as widely as possible online. However, online harassment represents a large barrier to doing so. Thus mobilizing knowledge about how this problem can be mitigated and doing so in an innovative way, like a do-a-thon, is central to the way both facilitators approach applied digital research.
5) Expected outcomes
It is expected that each workshop participant will leave the workshop with strategies for responding to harassment. Such strategies may be personally helpful if one experiences this phenomenon, but they will also be fruitful in helping attendees support peers and create positive change in their institutions such that institutions develop structures and processes to support their staff/faculty/students who may experience online bullying. It is also expected that future areas for research and collaboration will arise as a result of the interactive and hands-on nature of the workshop format. Finally, it is expected that the outcomes of the workshop can help support the Association of Internet Researchers in further growing already existing strategies to combat online harassment for its members. The materials to run the workshop will be released under a creative commons license online and will be made available for others to use, such that the effects of this work can be multiplied and not limited to the attendees of the conference.