still hanging in there, #openresearch week 2

Warning, this is messy…

Well, I think I mentioned that I felt lonely in week 1. But somehow I got used to it now… and am ok with it. Being lonely without feeling loneliness. Maybe lonely is not the right word at all. It is more about being ok with being with myself and focused?

Is this a bad thing? It feels strange saying this now as I totally see the advantages of social learning. However, maybe often we force (don’t like this word but it is a reality!) people to learn with others when it actually can’t work for them, they don’t want to or they don’t see the point? My thinking is a bit messy, I recognise this, and I am not sure what I am trying to say. My thoughts are leading me into little alleys, to explore, to question… Social learning has different faces and it can’t just be visible social learning in digital spaces, it can’t be. Learning doesn’t stop when we switch off the web. As long we are curious, as long as we question, as long as we have the desire to learn and uncover, we will learn regardless… wherever we are.

I think we all need some time to look inwards and make our own decisions and come to our own conclusions. Often this happens as a result of working and learning with others. We do need this external stimulation! To challenge and be challenged. But if we just follow the masses and their thoughts and ideas blindly, without critical engagement, we will loose track of who we are and who we want to become…sometimes(?) this might mean swimming against the stream… and this is not easy. What we need to ask ourselves is “Is it worth it?”

Giving learners choice is vital and can make engagement more flexible and learning more manageable. I was reminded of this during a recent research interview! If we want to  bring people in, if we want others to connect with our ideas and we with theirs, we, as a collective, learners and educators together, need to accept, respect and recognise what people bring and create hooks and connections based on what we share, an interest, an idea etc.that will help us grow and grow together as individuals and as a collective.

I think the Open Research course offers varied opportunities for engagement and the human scaffold is there if needed. There is no pressure to be there all the time and visibly engage. But I am now wondering if openness creates a sense of urgency or need or an expectation to be seen, to be present all the time? A false expectation we have of ourselves and often others too? Interesting behaviours are emerging and I would like to find out what psychologists are saying regarding these… For me it is important to make meaningful connections with the subject and others. Seeing meaning is really important and will give depth and commitment to the relationships we form.

After week 1, the plan was to start engaging in the online discussions but I didn’t. I tried this in another course and it didn’t work. When you just appear and disappear randomly and irregularly, you are not part of the community and it is much harder, I have found, to create these social hooks that will help you make some personal connections and come back for more and feel part of what is happening outside your own little world.

Time has also been running away from me…this is not an excuse but a reality and I am often the one that talks about making time for what matters. And I think in my case here and now, what matters now is to engage with the resources and know that there are ways to ask questions and have access to existing conversations, even if I don’t participate in these. I have accepted this reality. The course scaffold has been useful and enabled me every day, well late evening, to do a little something and help me reflect on my current practice. This is what kept me going!

And while I do feel that I am missing out on valuable conversations and I know that the opportunities are there, I didn’t invest enough time and energy from the outset to be there and participate more visibly. I wouldn’t use the word more actively, because in my mind I am participating actively. Too often in online settings we think that when people are invisible or less visible online (as everybody can be tracked these days…) they are not there, they are not engaging… is this a healthy assumption? For me online learning doesn’t just happen online (even if you do an online or open course, learning happens all the time and everywhere, in the digital and real jungle where we can smell the flowers and the rain and other things too). Not all learning or engagement I should say, is visible to others but we know when it happens, when we make it happen as it will trigger a change in us, which might or will often remain unnoticed by others unless we share this.

Again running away with my thoughts here…

Ok, what have I done this week? I have accessed and engaged with the resources for this week and carried thoughts around with me about ethics… all week long. Especially on my daily train journey, I did think about ethical dilemmas. There were many activities on the course site and I read them all, every evening a little bit, but didn’t complete any of them, I have to admit. I used them more as thinking triggers. Am I a bad learner? Am I a typical learner? And if I am a bad/typical learner what does this mean for teachers who put such learning packages together?

a colourful mess of opportunities, image source:

Ok, what did I actually want to capture here about week 2? Messy thoughts are in my head and I am still not clear enough about open research ethics. I guess I need to do some more reading, discussing and actually applying? There are opportunities for this and I am already thinking about it in the context of BYOD4L for example as we will be offering this again in January. I liked the idea of open data and the transparency this brought to the Open Research course but also felt a bit uncomfortable about it? Only after typing in my registration data for the Open Research course, and accessed the spreadsheet, did I realise that anybody could see what I had written and I also saw other people’s responses. While this creates really valuable new opportunities for all who access this document, I am wondering how we could reduce the risk of using the data inappropriately? In non-open data research we re-assure our research participants that all data will be fully anonymised before use. In this case, everything was there from the moment it was saved to the form… what if I suddenly realised, actually, I shouldn’t have filled out this form or I don’t want other people see my name and discover who I am… I am now wondering about open data when we deal with humans… Is there something else that needs to be done to ‘warn’ people about the openness of data. I am sure there was a statement somewhere on the course site, but when I saw everything in bright day light in front of my eyes, I couldn’t remember seeing a reminder for this. What if my data included sensitive information that would expose me and others?

Who are you? Does it matter? image source:

If we get ethical approval for a project from our institution, we specify how we collect, analyse and disseminate the data and make an ethical commitment to all potential research participants. Not sure how institutions react, would react, if they would see open data in the ethics form, especially if there is not a strong tradition or support for this open research within the institution. Would this influence open research or is open research something that can sit fully outside the institution? But then again, if researchers are attached to a speciific institution, what are the implications for open research? I am also not sure how it would work when the researcher is not part of an institution. I realise that I have now even more questions… which is good as I have found further gaps in my understanding and need to study this further. I think I am now at a stage where I need to discuss the above with others and hope to find ways to make this happen.

Thinking about BYOD4L again, an informal cross-institutional collaboration in the open as we also carry out open research linked to this. Our ethical statement can be found here and we also have a note about social media which we thought would also be useful to share there. Are we doing the right thing? Is there anything missing?

Looking forward to week 3!

catching up or at least trying to… #openresearch week 1

I decided to participate in the open research course organised by the OER Research Hub – perfect I thought and signed up when I first heard about it, probably via Twitter or a newsletter, I can’t remember now. A while ago, Martin Weller organised the Gorilla Research workshops and I really wanted to participate, but the dates never worked for me, unfortunately. So, now I am hoping that I will learn something in this course. Ethics is something that interests me and how to do this properly. Writing this, I just read the OER Research Hub’s ethical statement and it reminded me of what we included on our BYOD4L site. Perhaps somebody can comment? I see some similarities, but I need to have a closer look and see if there is anything else we should have included!

I feel that I need a buddy in this. I am already behind and feeling lonely. Also just noticed that registration for the course is closed. But all materials and the site itself is still visible and open? I like that. What I don’t know is what it means that individuals can no longer register? Perhaps the form we filled out? The registration form? Is this correct? Perhaps somebody from the team could respond? What is the reason behind this? Is it for research purposes? I am guessing here and have various scenarios in my head…

Ok, I am late and I don’t like that at all. It makes you feel that you are behind, that you missed something important and that you are trying to catch up… this is how I feel. Yes, also feeling a bit guilty after saying hello, I disappeared… The truth is that I haven’t had the time to study properly any of the resources yet but most importantly engage in any of the conversations. It is good that the discussion threads are linked to the activity pages (if I can call them like that). It helps keep things together but the comments are not visible instantly… but it is good that I can just access on a mobile device and pop in and out when  I have a minute or two… or a bit longer… ideally. Well, I started looking through some of the resources and discussions since last night. I decided that I am going to focus on the bits that I need most at this stage and hopefully I will be able to come back later. I understand that the course site will stay for a bit longer. If I learn a little something each week that is great. I just need to keep going. What needs to happen so that I commit to this? I know that I need to learn more about open research but is this enough? I could just access the resources anytime… the value of doing it within the facilitated version is the opportunity to connect and share experienced, thoughts, reflections and potential challenges with the facilitators and other learners. So, I think I need to make some time to stick to it. I have done it before, when I did the CMC11 course and I have thought many times why this was so special. It was a personal experience for me and I managed to connect with the facilitator (there was only one, Carol Yeager) and a few of the other learners and we had conversations. But I do remember that I worked hard and actively engaged throughout. Some of the connections I made continued beyond the timeline of the course and some of them have turned into professional friendships and collaborations.

Learning is still personal even in the digital jungle. I think it will always be? Don’t like the word always and am ok with the idea of everything changing all the time. As learners we also change – as learning is change. But as an experience we will always feel learning at a personal level, even if among hundreds and thousands… right?

When I started writing this post, I actually just wanted to respond to 2 questions from this week but as soon as my fingers started hitting the keyboard they connected with my brain and  all the words and thoughts escaped through my fingertips… weird!!!

Anyway, looking at week 1, which is now almost over (writing this on Saturday)… I think it might be useful to respond to the following 2 questions raised and as I am in visual mood and mode at the moment, I will try and answer these using images and the captions you will find under these. Do they make sense to anybody else? Can you relate to my metaphors and what are yours? Perhaps we could ask this question on Twitter or on the p2pu course site?

Number 1, What does openness mean to me?

sharing goodies with others while travelling to uncover, recover and discover! >>> image source:

Number 2. How do I understand open research?

beams of light, a gentle hug for more light >>> image source:

Not sure this new WordPress editor works properly, or I still have difficulties using it. It doesn’t seem to save everything and I now seem to have lost the text that followed the last image… am I blaming the tool? Very possible. ;)

I think, what I had here is a reminder to myself that I will be back to the p2pu site over the weekend and try and read some of the comments there. The plan is every week to do a little something. This week, I started thinking a bit more about my current practice in the area of open learning and research. Hopefully I will get better as the week’s progress.

It would be lovely if you could comment and share your thoughts with me here so that we can engage in a conversation. If this is a monologue there is little value, I think…

Speak again soon,


@byod4l Day 3 and letting go

When you have children it is normal that you look after them. Often you mollycottle them long after they have opened their wings and want to fly away or even have flown away already. My children are still little but the first indications are there already that this is going to happen to me too…

My 12 year old doesn’t let me hold his hand in public anymore, especially when in our little hometown… while at home he is really a softie and still comes to me for a hug. But for how long?

Letting go is hard… the same I think happened with teachers and their relationship with learners. Teachers naturally care and want to be there for them… but always? This creates dependency… while we want our learners to become autonomous thinkers and beings and be successful in life. And we want the same for our children.

Yesterday was a Day of letting go for Byod4L. Sitting back and enjoying what learners had already achieved. Confidence had grown rapidly in the first 2 days and it was so wonderful to actually see and enjoy that growth in then and the connections they had made and were making but also see how that fresh confidence enabled them to make further steps and take greater risks on own and together with other. They also opened up more and were honest too.

For me this really reminded me of the role teachers can play to bring individuals together and lay the foundations of a community to form. Some might challenge the idea that communities are formed or build but I think it is really possible.

BTW I am writing this on the train again. It is a very early start for me. I am on my way to Gloucester where I will be meeting colleagues to discuss MOOCs… my contribution actually sits outside MOOCland as this is the area of my particular interest and research.

Anyway, this trip will keep me away for a bit from BYOD4L but I will be connected and hopefully can participate at least a little bit. Today’s theme is collaborating and I hope that some individuals will reach out and start collaborating with each other. Can’t wait to find out how this will work.

Wishing us all a great day (6.33am).

This post will probably be added in the evening when I am back home. The draft was written in Notes on my tiny phone… I was at Gorton when my thoughts reached this line.

@byod4l Day 2 is in the past

… but memories are still fresh, so to speak. Another vibrant BYOD4L day with loads of ideas and exchanges in free flow. Connections are strengthened and communication is multi-directional. Good to see people coming back for more and staying with us for a bit longer. Another day? ;)

I will capture some of my reflections on Day 2 through images or visual reflections. Not sure they make sense to anybody else and it would be interesting to find out if my messages reach somebody out there and what they mean to them. Images and captions act as thinking and conversation triggers. This is at least my intention. Have you tried this approach? Feel free to comment and respond.

What are we locking in? What difference would it make to be free? image source

We make things and make things happen, image source

Thanks again Sally, Cheryl and Andrew for a fantastic tweetchat last night. Loved it! Unfortunately, I will be missing the tweetchat this evening. W have been invited to Nassi’s school for an award ceremony. I hope you all understand and will have a fab time.

Also on the go on Thursday and will be interesting to see how (much) I can engage. But then BYOD4L is exactly about this, so let’s put it to the test again ;)

Wishing us all a great Day 3 and speak again soon


ps. Wrote this on my Laptop… no train for me today. How about you?

@byod4l Day 1 is now over

Warning! First draft

It is now Tuesday morning. I am waiting for my train to go to work and thought to make a start with capturing some thoughts about BYOD4L and what happened yesterday.

Really impressed with the level of engagement throughout the day and how we all started making connections. Many participants created blogs and started capturing their ideas and thoughts there. Important now to create opportunities for dialogue and conversations otherwise thoughts are falling into black holes…

The video scenarios were used also and that was a nice surprise. Good to know that these triggered interest and made people think and reflect on their practice too and how they could help. We seem to have more teachers than students at the moment or we can hear the teachers more? Very possible too.

Anybody interested in contributing their story for others to use? Would also be interesting to check out the students scenarios and try and see things from their perspective, if you are an educator?

It was interesting how we worked as a facilitators’ team. Activity in our private FB group reduced during the day as we were busy in the different social learning spaces. And it worked really well. If you look into the Google + community but also the FB community, no posts stayed unanswered and exchanges are happening. Individuals are opening up and share their ideas, reservations and thoughts. Pure magic. None of this would happen if we don’t feel welcome and part of a community. Listening carefully and showing interest in what others say is really important. If we just use it as a channel to amplify our own voice, we have missed the real value of social media, facilitators really did a great job in bringing others in and keeping the conversations going.

BTW, the train is moving and I am still writing. I only planned to write a short paragraph but now all that stuff pops into my head and my finger is typing like mad on this tiny screen… ruining my eyes, I think… anyway.

I was really looking forward to the Tweetchat and I think many others did too! Anne, Kay and Peter worked really well together. Would be lovely to find out how they communicated during the chat. There were colleagues among us for whom it was their first time on Twitter and their first Tweetchat. So pleased they gave it a go and were so honest about it too. I think some recognised the value of this space for personal and professional development but we can’t expect others to give without us giving too. It can only work if it is a two-way process and we give something back but also help others out there when we can.

There is excitement in the air and local activities are an added bonus to strengthen connections and help each other learn. Learning happens everywhere and all the time. We just need to grab the opportunities!

My working relationship with Sue has matured and we are definitely on the same wavelength. We understand each other really well but also trust each other. We don’t step on each other’s toes and maximise on our individual strengths to complement each other. We accept and respect each other’s decisions as we both know that we want this project to succeed. Helping each other is part of our partnership and this enables learning and development through everyday practice based on our individual and collective experience.

Byod4l already seems to be of value for all of us, facilitators and participants alike. Let’s find out what further discoveries we can make today!

Really looking forward to Day 2

… still on the train…

now in office posting this ;)


exciting and excited @byod4l Day 1 is here ;)

Let’s turn our creative lights on and see what happens! image source

BYOD4L Day 1 has finally arrived again. We have been working with Sue and many other colleagues behind the scenes for a while now to turn this week into a lively market place where there will be something for all of us. Most importantly we hope that it will create opportunities to connect with like minded people, stretch our minds and use our individual and collective imagination to make new discoveries that will be of value for us all.

We are grateful to all collaborators and the 5 institutions who joined us on this journey. BYOD4L has become an open CPD offer in these institutions which is a fantastic development and local events are planned too! Starting small and building on our existing networks enabled natural growth.

Thanks to David Hopkins who was instrumental in setting up open badges and Ellie Livermore, our artist who designed these, we are using badges to reward informal learning, bite-size learning linked to each of the 5c topics. Facilitators are also able to work towards badges and a special one linked to facilitation. This worked really well in January when we offered BYOD4L for the first time. In addition to badges, there are opportunities to work towards other types of recognition as well as academic credits within the 5 participating institutions,

First thoughts:

  • It does feel very different from last time
  • I am sure that it will be different from last time
  • Fine tuning and refining is a never ending process but we hope the changes will make a positive difference
  • We need to make sure that all facilitators are happy and feel supported. We know that a strong team makes a massive difference.
  • Supporting participants when needed and participate in the conversations and activities will be important. We are co-learners and everybody has something valuable to contribute and learn.
  • As facilitators, being proactive and respond quickly when there is a problem and problem-solve together will be really important. The facilitator buddy system used should help with this as well as our facilitator community in Facebook.
  • We need to trust each other!

I will be capturing my daily reflections. Not sure yet in what format but I will be using my phone or tablet. I am writing this now on my phone using Notes travelling to work ;) on the train, the Internet connection comes and goes but nothing stops me writing here unless my battery runs out… having a backup for this eventuality as well…

Public eco-friendly charger in Paris train station! We could do with some of these in the UK too! image source

As I love expressing my thoughts through images, I must remember to add a few and then post. Done now ;) Have you used Notes? How?

Wishing us all an exciting Day 1! Let’s get to know each other a bit better, be creative and  turn monologues into dialogues!

All about choice #melsigljmu

… getting into songs again it seems. Wrote the above and the song “All about love” popped into my head… but this is not about love or is it? Looking back at yesterday’s MELSIG  Event at Liverpool John Moors University makes my mind focus on the idea of choice and the impact this might have on student engagement and learning.

Choice: Is this what we really mean?

Would this lead students staying within their comfort zone or would they see it as an opportunity to start were they feel comfortable and more confident and then lead them to progressively adopt more adventurous and perhaps less familiar learning strategies that would lead to new discoveries? Boosting students’ confidence is vital. Tutors and peers play an important role in this. Teachers showing real interest and care for students can make a big difference to students, increase their self-belief, self-worth and confidence.  Having a voice and the strength to move on as they will start believing in their abilities helps them see the potential what they can achieve. Providing choice might be seen as a demanding task for tutors, other might completely disagree that this is a good idea! I think it is a fantastic idea to give individuals choices. But how can we make it happen? It is not an easy job and a lot of planning will go into it. A lot of it will look, feel and be very messy. What is wrong with that? Learning is messy anyway! It doesn’t happen in a linear way. Or does it?

Our extra efforts to bring in choices are really worth the trouble as there are potentially huge learning gains. We all know it teaching is not really possible. What we can do is help people think for themselves, inspire them and facilitate their learning. Doing it our way or imposing even our way can be catastrophic… and lead to disengagement. Are we getting carried away sometimes or even often? Are our own learning preferences or habits driving what we set-up for our learners? How we organise learning for them? I am guilty of this myself… How can we avoid this? I think providing a learning menu, will shift the responsibilities and ownership of learning. Learning belongs to the learner. It is something the learner does. Nobody else can do it for them. It is not a passive act! Some will find choice challenging in the context of their own learning practice. Perhaps only initially, though as they expect perhaps to be told what to do, when and how and act perhaps more in a robotic fashion… because this is what they know, this is what they expects, this is what comes natural to them and is considered normal and accepted. It has worked for them in the past… but how has it worked?

Ok, becoming an autonomous learner is not an instant thing. Do don’t wake up one morning and say “I am an autonomous learner now”. It needs time and a scaffold. Yes, we do need scaffolds and we do need helping hands too. But we also need to learn when times comes to let go, as learners and as teachers. Getting to know our students and what makes them tick is really important and will help us create learning communities. Only then will we be able to draw them in and enable them to open up, connect, share and challenge their own beliefs and preconceptions. Trust is a vital ingredient in this process. Learning is change but we can’t force anybody to change in the same way, we can’t force anybody to learn…

if this is true, how can learning not be?

Choice might be the vehicle to lead learners progressively out of their comfort zone to voluntarily experience discomfort… not suggesting that throwing learners in at the deep end, borrowing Phil Race’s words, is something we should avoid. When we have recognised and normalised perhaps discomfort as an important ingredient for learning, when we feel safe as part of a learning community, we can be more relaxed, take a few more risks and be more playful and creative. All this means letting go of control and being out-of control often… Some might think what has all this to do with the recent MELSIG social media event… well, it was never about the social media… more about the people who use these to come together to learn about themselves, others, the world and grow.

Thank you Andrew, Sue, Peter, Mark, Tim, Carol an all for such a rich MELSIG exchange!

BTW I actually think it is all about love, the love of learning, the love of helping others to learn and the love to make this happen for ourselves and others. Feel free to comment if any of the above makes sense, you have questions or if you oppose to any of my musings. My writing captures raw reflections which need to be discussed with others.

It is all about love as love puts you on fire! Love what you do and/or do what you love! Learning doesn’t only happen in the mind.