Gry Stene, an IT specialist and Doctor of Business Administration pre-candidate with Digital Health CRC participant, the University of Notre Dame Australia, is one of more than a hundred budding researchers making vital future connections via the ‘Shut Up & Write Online’ initiative.

DHCRC issued an open invitation to our participant universities to join the growing community of DHCRC students for our Summer writing sessions – and Gry says the experience has been a real boon.

Prior to her academic undertaking, Gry has streamlined software companies for product innovation, taking complexity out of tech for entrepreneurs and business owners and mentoring and coaching people in STEAM roles and organisations.

“I’ve really struggled with lack of access to supervisors and lack of access to the university during COVID,” says Gry. “I’m great with applied research, but academic theory is different, so sharing experiences with others in the same boat was fantastic for me.”

Summer pilot

The sessions ran as a summer pilot since late in 2020, moving to an online format based on a tried-and-true in-person formula of regular writing meetings for research students.

Between 21 Dec 2020 and 19 Jan 2021, over 150 students joined one or more of the nine Shut Up & Write Online sessions held on Monday nights and Tuesday lunchtimes (AEDT), and students came from 15 of the DHCRC’s 17 partner universities.

Dr Cassily Charles, an early leader in online courses such as Shut Up & Write, led the groups through timed periods of uninterrupted focus on writing (or reading, or other goals), with regular short breaks.

Participants shared their goals and achievements to the group through a shared web document, and 15 minutes ‘verandah time’ before and after each session allowed them to share experiences, ask questions and network.

“Writing stretches and breaks are monitored by the host, who also facilitates discussion; cultivates a tenor which is respectful, curious, supportive and inclusive, in order to build community; and provides advice and resources for participants, particularly relating to their writing or other research tasks,” explains Cassily.

Building the next generation of Digital Health Champions

Digital Health CRC aims to support, develop and graduate the next generation of digital health champions, and is building a ‘community of practice’ around its digital health Higher
Degree by Research (HDR) students as part of our Education and Capacity Building Plan.

“Our growing Shut Up & Write community is an evolving hot pot of talent,” says Dr Melanie Haines, who is DHCRC Education Manager. She says the program has attracted bright minds who bring multiple talents and rich skillsets to the group.

The wide community-building of the Shut up and Write sessions helps to build broad networks for DHCRC students, says Dr Haines.

Scholarship students also receive more targeted support through two other study communities.

“Our Research Support and Critical Friends groups, which run monthly, are tight-knit bubbles of digital health goodness where a culture of sharing and caring is the common currency,” says Dr Haines.