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: http://www.gq.com/images/food-and-travel/2012/08/ice-cream/ice-cream-628.jpg

Number 2. How do I understand open research?

beams of light, a gentle hug for more light >>> image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Sky_over_Washington_Monument.JPG

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,

Chrissi

@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 https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5475/13992410180_afe610ec8d_z.jpg

We make things and make things happen, image source https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7353/14176670812_9cf0ce9f2c_z.jpg

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

Chrissi

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 https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2938/14179790135_4d2629a3d9_z.jpg

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 https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5198/13993590710_78f4ffd876_z.jpg

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.

messy thoughts or #ilta141 session 1

Just started reading Alison’s and Stephen’s new book Engaging Imagination (check out the website too, where you will find loads of additional resources!) when I landed on page 22 where the authors mention briefly reflection as a power relationship between tutor and student, when reflection is used for assessment purposes. A valuable reminder and very timely too. Are our students just capturing stuff to please their tutors, to be strategic as it is happening with other assessment methods or are there ways that enable genuine and authentic engagement in reflection as a learning and development tool, process and establish reflective habits that are important for self-regulation and ongoing development and growth? I guess it is perhaps about what we assess, content or process… and what our criteria are. But also other parameters such as the environment, spaces, communities and ecologies, play a vital role, and most of all the people, I think. The people who come together to learn. But I am also wondering how assessing reflection is  different from any other types of assessment and why reflection is so important in so many professions, actually for all of us?

The purpose of this post was just to share some reflections linked to our first ILTA session… Am I getting carried away? Maybe not… I think this is all very relevant and the above made me think deeper about what we ask our students to do and why. Ok, ILTA stands for Introduction to Learning, Teaching and Assessment and is one of our core PGCAP units (CELT, MMU). I met my group for the first time last Wednesday at 4pm. Before then, I tried to get them talking online but it didn’t happen, unfortunately. I suspect that some might felt disorientated in this new Moodle space, which would surprise me, others might have been unsure responding there as we didn’t know each other? Some perhaps didn’t think that this was needed or were too busy? Also a possibility.  But I am making massive assumptions here and it would actually be very useful to find out what the real reasons of non-visible engagement were…

The purpose of this post is to reflect on the first session and I just noticed something else. Writing has become our default way to reflect. Often we are expected to reflect by capturing our thoughts on paper or on a blog using a writing system. What would Socrates say if he could see us? Dear old Socrates was against the technology of writing and felt that it would pollute the brain and make us lazy… It is not uncommon reception for new ideas…

But do we become lazy in expressing ourselves more creatively and perhaps even more fluently? What works for one, might not work for another? Did we forget, or do we forget that there are other tools beyond writing that can help us learn reflect and learn more generally? 

Alison and Stephen, the authors of the book I mentioned at the start, reminded me that we really need to consider other ways for reflection. Ways that will rattle our imagination and enable us to express meaning, emotions, experiences, successes, challenges and aspirations in a richer and more meaningful way to us personally through which we can create bridges between the known and the unknown, ourselves and others. Not going to get into this further but perhaps we can all think about what would help us develop reflective habits, where can we start and were can it potentially take us to discover gems. Is the model I shared on Day 1, Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle, valuable when we are just making our first baby steps or does the structure actually get in the way and a more organic and fluid approach would work better? Again it would be lovely to find out what you think. Perhaps you can capture this in your portfolios and share so that we can discuss. BTW, I loved that you embraces the idea of an academic portfolio and am really looking forward to linking conversations up there.

I have used with others audio and images in the past but also drawings, digital stories, comic strips and LEGO and encouraged others to be a bit more curious, experimental and playful. Then there is video as well (I struggle with this!!! and audio!!!, perhaps because I am more conscious of the language I use and the mistakes I make as a non native speaker of English? I have to confess that it usually takes me a looooooooooooong time to create a mini audio or video file (you don’t really want to know how long it takes me!). But perhaps I should just relax into it and say so what? Isn’t the primary point to communicate and share? Anyway, the opportunities are endless, so have a go using different media for reflection and discover what works for you. 

Often we just start writing without thinking if we should write. We just do it! Often our fingertips go straight onto a keyboard and we keep even notes digitally. It seems to come more naturally, but does it? Has it just become a habit and we satisfy expectations of others? Is this the easy way? The best way? The way that enables us to communicate our thoughts faster? But what are the implications? Often we also use models to construct and reflect on experiences, perhaps too mechanistically? What about the random, messy, non-linear and chaotic connections we make and experience when reflecting? Can or should we really box everything neatly?

After the above messy thoughts, which were mainly triggered by reading Alison’s and Stephen’s book (the power of reading and the influence on thinking and actions!), I have now decided to share with you key reflective points or questions from our first session in a more visual way.

Fireworks of experiences and ideas = sharing in the open thinking classroom? image source: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1156/5155164244_0f4591720e_z.jpg

What is out there behind the walls we build? Let’s find out together! image source: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4142/4941725337_83f9447298_z.jpg

Thank you Haleh, my co-facilitator, and all my lovely ILTA students for having an open mind, sharing experiences and experimenting together. Can’t wait to see you all next Wednesday but also connecting via Moodle and your portfolios, to share stories, reflections and engage in learning conversations!

See you all next Wednesday at 4pm! image source https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2934/13889784819_ffb5b3335d_z.jpg

Chrissi
ps: Thank you also for all your value jar contributions. Teaching is only valuable if there is value for learning! Your responses so far can be accessed here.