By Harriet Adong, Communications Officer, Mak-RIF
Makerere University College of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Languages Literature and Communication, Department of Journalism and Communication (DJC), in partnership with Ultimate Multimedia Consult (UMC), has completed the first phase of training the beneficiaries of the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) in multimedia production skills.
The Principal Investigator of the “Multimedia Production Hub” (MPH) project, Dr. William Tayeebwa, said the main objective of the project was to harness the potential of digital media to increase uptake and visibility of Makerere University’s research and innovations.
In his opening remarks at the inaugural workshop on Monday, February 1st, 2021, Dr. Tayeebwa noted that Makerere University was producing vast research and innovation outputs that are often “kept on the shelves or in laboratories”. He said the MPH project was geared at ensuring that every researcher in the Government of the Republic of Uganda-funded Mak-RIF program acquires skills to transform complex scientific research into easily accessible formats for ordinary users. In so doing, we shall be realizing last-mile communication. He thanked the Government of the Republic of Uganda for funding this training amongst other over 500 cross-disciplinary research and innovation projects.
Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, who represented the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC), applauded Dr. Tayeebwa and his team members for conceiving a project offering to assist researchers and innovators to transform the often complex science into easy-to-disseminate formats for easy uptake by the communities to achieve the best societal impact. She urged workshop participants to look beyond the conventional research dissemination avenues amongst peers in conferences, academic journals, and books.
“We as the GMC pledge our support to the project and urge all the Principal Investigators (PIs) and their teams to take advantage of the training and mentorship sessions that the MPH project team will be offering in the coming weeks”, she said.
During the first workshop on Monday 1st February 2021, Prof. William Bazeyo, the Chairperson of the Mak-RIF GMC commented via Zoom noting that: “Research findings not appropriately shared or disseminated to appropriate audience remains not contributory to any developmental benefit. As Makerere, we should take our research to the right audience using appropriate methods! Then we will be a contribution.”
The first two days of the six-day workshop were dedicated to harnessing the potential of social media for research. Dr. Alina Marion, a lecturer in the DJC noted that while it is fashionable to have multiple media accounts, the key is to understand the features of each and to whom they appeal. Dr. Sara Namusoga, also a lecturer in the DJC urged project PIs to hire social media handlers who would be in the best position to regularly update content, but also to link up with people who are heavy social media users with a big following (social media influencers) to amplify individual posts through re-posting. You can follow the lectures of Day One here.
On the second day, the facilitators led by Mr. Gerald Businge from UMC helped participants appreciate social media aggregating software such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and others. They further handled how to create hashtags as well as generating optimization analytics for various social media platforms such as hashtagify me, keyhole, and others. Dr. Alina, with assistance from Mr. Arthur Opio of the Makerere Directorate of ICT Support (DICTS), emphasized the skills to create appealing multimedia content for social media. On his part, Mr. Businge ended the two-days on how to create personal webpages using WordPress. You can follow the lectures of Day Two here.
Day three of the workshop on Wednesday 3rd February was on audio production and publishing. After taking participants through the principles of multimedia communication, Dr. Fred Kakooza, a lecturer in the DJC highlighted some of the audio recording software such as Audacity and WavePad. With colleagues from UMC, Dr. Kakooza took participants through some of the software for uploading and publishing audio files (podcasting) such as Audiomack.com, soundcloud.com, and others. You can follow all the lectures of the day here.
On Thursday 4th February, Dr. Kakooza discussed the power of images in story-telling. Together with a team from UMC, he took participants through software programs such as Microsoft Word, Paint, PixLR, Flickr and Kinemaster used in editing photographs for best impact. Mr. Edward Tumwine from UMC worked with participants on graphic design and animation through several software such as Gimp, Canva, Adobe Sparkpost, Postermywall and Piktochart.com among others. Participants were able to try out some of the software to produce infographics. Please follow the lectures of the day here.
Day Five on Friday 5th February was dedicated to writing for the print media. Dr. Tayeebwa, a print journalism lecturer in the DJC discussed in the first session principles and philosophies that inform journalism. He argued that when researchers understand how the media functions, then they would be able to frame their research in a manner that is appealing to respective media agendas. Dr. Charlotte Ntulume, also a lecturer in the DJC and a former editor at Daily Monitor Publications and the Observer newspapers took participants through techniques of writing an appealing newspaper article. In session three, Ms. Ritah Namisango, Principal,
Public Relations Officer at Makerere University discussed the elements of an effective press release. She appealed to researchers at Makerere University to create time for journalists whenever called upon. The day ended with Ms. Barbara Kaija, the Editor-in-Chief of Vision Group providing tips to the participants on how to make sustainable partnerships in the media and how to understand the routines of media houses. She urged researchers to ask themselves the key question: “Why should an editor give me space? Why should anyone care about my research? Am I presenting voices of real people speaking about real issues?” She called upon researchers with important research to disseminate to send details about these researches directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can listen to all sessions of the day here.
The final day of the workshop was on Monday, February 8th, and focused on writing effective policy briefs. In the first session, Dr. Aisha Nakiwala Sembatya, a lecturer in the DJC discussed the principles, types, and characteristics of policy briefs. She emphasized the significance of thinking carefully about the target audience in writing an effective policy brief. Dr. Charles Wendo, the Training Coordinator at the Science for Development Network (SciDev.Net) took participants through the dos and don’ts of communicating natural sciences research to the public and policymakers. Participants had ample time to appraise different types of policy briefs, some by University researchers, to appreciate good practices in policy brief writing. The sessions of the training are accessible here.
The six-day workshop was officially closed by Dr. Hellen Nambalirwa Nkabala, a Council Member at Makerere University and also a Member of the Mak-RIF GMC who thanked the Government of the Republic of Uganda for the funding, all the trainers, and 70-plus participants for creating the time for the workshops. She said the GMC and the RIF Secretariat are always available to provide assistance to any project to ensure optimal dissemination of outputs.
The MPH project PI, Dr. Tayeebwa told participants that in the coming weeks, the team members will be working with respective schools and colleges to organize the mentorship sessions during which hands-on skills will be imparted and honed. He called upon all researchers to prepare their research outputs in readiness for the teams to have materials to work with.
“We shall not have the time to do a general training like the one we have done during this week. This was to give researchers a feel of what is possible. We shall be going forward expect to work on real research and innovation outputs with the Mak-RIF research and innovation project team members”, he said.
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