Recording research seminars and conference presentations is an effective and inexpensive way of capturing and sharing knowledge. Since 2006 IRISS has been disseminating these recordings as podcasts, either direct from the IRISS website or from the iTunes Store. This is cost-effective for IRISS and, importantly, for our contributors, whose time commitment to the process is relatively small compared to other ways of sharing knowledge.
In June 2012 we re-launched the podcast series as IRISS.fm, internet radio for Scotland’s social services, the intention being to extend the scope of the podcast beyond the traditional lecture or conference presentation to include discussions and debate. This move also aims to encourage and stimulate all stakeholders – practitioners, carers and people who use services – to contribute, both assisting the development of the evidence base and embedding the use of the evidence. IRISS.fm is also available as a podcast on iTunes.
While IRISS.fm is designed to a high standard we also encourage stakeholders to embrace the use of other kinds of audio sharing services such as Audioboom and Soundcloud , both of which may be used free of charge but which also offer inexpensive enhanced services.
Video can also be an effective way of disseminating evidence of all types and we have created a wide range of material in this medium. Video streaming services such as Vimeo have dramatically reduced the cost of distributing video by offering affordable rates and managing all technical aspects of video formatting. Given that social services have an oral rather than knowledge-based culture (Barratt 2003) which often results in staff valuing direct practical experience rather than other forms of learning, the production of audio and video recordings can be seen as a cost-effective response to this culture.
In addition to producing audio and visual recordings, IRISS worked in collaboration with the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival to create MindReel, a selection of films submitted to the Festival since its inception in 2006. While some of the films are available commercially, many were made by independent film-makers and were not readily available to wider audience. IRISS negotiated licensing terms that allow the films to be freely used for educational purposes, creating a valuable and valued educational resource from videos that were, for the most part, unavailable. These films can play a vital part in improving our understanding of, and reducing the sigma attached to, mental ill-health.
An important component of MindReel is its use of Vimeo to host and distribute the films. Before the advent of streaming video services, it would have been necessary to invest in a server (say £5000) and the associated technical support. In contrast, at the time of writing, our Vimeo subscription is about £160 per year, allowing us to provide access to just over 100 films. Vimeo takes care of all technical format issues – including the enormous task of testing playback on the increasing variety of mobile devices – to ensure that the videos will almost certainly play on any device or browser. This kind of service makes MindReel economically viable and cost-effective.