Auto-play video is changing everything

If you’d have told me a few years ago that the future of social media was text-heavy 90 second videos, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But ‘auto-play’ video on Facebook and Twitter is changing the game, when it comes to digital content creation.

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10 top tips for researchers who want to change the world

Let’s face it, a lot of research just gathers dust on a shelf. An analysis of World Bank publications once showed that a third had never been downloaded, by anyone – ever! Most researchers I meet want to change the world, it’s just that very few of them know how. They sweat blood doing the heavy lifting of analysing massive datasets and wait for what feels like forever for the results of longitudinal panel surveys. The last thing they want is for their research to go unnoticed.

So here are 10 top tips for researchers who want to change the world:

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The Little Big Thing

Everybody’s talking about ‘the little big thing’. We’re all working on big things: ending poverty, reducing maternal mortality, gender equality, financial inclusion, universal education, action on climate change… But sometimes we forget about the little thing, that makes the big thing happen.

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Policy briefs in a swimming pool

There’s a time and a place for everything. But the best time for policy briefs is not six o’clock in the evening at the end of an all day conference. And the best place for policy briefs is not at a cocktail party, and certainly not floating on the surface of a hotel swimming pool.

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Hands up: who’s in the room?

I’ve just been at a conference attended by 450 people from all across the world. In the opening session, the facilitator asked for a ‘show of hands’: “Hands up: who has come from another country in Africa?” “Hands up: who has never been to this country before?” “Hands up: who is sitting next to someone they’ve never met before?”

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PowerPoint karaoke: unless there’s music, it’s just not infotainment

How your heart sinks when a presenter clicks to their next slide, only to reveal a wall of text, which they then proceed to read out: word, for word. We call it ‘PowerPoint karaoke’ and it grinds your audience down. It also provokes either complete disengagement or a stream of hostile attacks in your Q&A.

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Uwezo – making itself heard across the region

Uwezo’s annual learning assessments have in only five years become the gold standard for finding out whether our children are learning. Each year they assess children in their homes and put out reports detailing their findings for Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and the region. The cyclical nature of Uwezo’s work and the fact that there have been few changes in the data over the period meant that they had to do something else if they wanted policy makers to concentrate on quality. If Uwezo was to approach its goal of increasing literacy and numeracy by ten percentage points they realised they would have to raise their voices.

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APHRC – patience and planning rewarded

The African Population and Health Research Center is a world-renowned pan-African research institution that conducts high quality policy-relevant research on population, health, education, urbanization and related development issues across Africa. APHRC actively engages policymakers and other key stakeholders to achieve measurable policy impacts and ensure decision making across the continent is informed by rigorous evidence-based research.

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Mango Tree – Coordinated communications reaping rewards

When Mango Tree started to see astounding results in the reading and writing skills of primary school learners from their Lira literacy project in Lira, Northern Uganda, they wanted influential people in the Ministry of Education to know about it. This would help them in their relations with the ministry and administration.

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