text copied and pasted from openai chatGPT link here (not sure this will work) a copy of the conversation follows just in case (Nerantzi, C. and chatGPT, 2023, online).
text copied and pasted from openai chatGPT link here (not sure this will work) a copy of the conversation follows just in case (Nerantzi, C. and chatGPT, 2023, online).
Today, we presented our project via a poster presentation at the Student Education Conference 2023 to the wider community within the University of Leeds and beyond. This is a project that started as an idea shortly after arriving at the institution in September 2022. It grew quickly into something that could be taken forward when discussed with another colleague (this is you John!) I was very lucky to be introduced to. Ideas only grow when they are shared and this is so so true. Further colleagues joined the team (a big thank you to everybody who embraced this wakey idea) and we have been testing the idea with students (we were truly amazed with how it worked!!! Much much better than we could imagine and engagement was so deep, really showed the power of using the familiar and metaphors and how we do this naturally) and with everybody’s input we are now in a position to actually make it happen, thanks to the generous support of the institution to recruit students for which we are grateful. Students and educators will be working together in partnership to co-create this game and we are all very very excited. To find out more, please read below.
A few words about the project
The aim of this project is to develop an openly licensed education-pizza game to support and facilitate critical and creative conversations around curriculum (re-)design for module and programmes teams with educators and students across disciplines and professional areas. The game has the potential to become a useful tool for Curriculum Redefined activities to deepen conversations through playful co-creation around learning, teaching and assessment and illuminating ideas and perspectives to create a module or programme or even a whole university experience that is not just yummy but also nutritious for learning. It could therefore be used as a curriculum and learning design tool. Beyond the potential the game has for conversations, it could also be used to initiate curriculum changes at module, programme and School level for example also to evaluate courses and engage academics and their students in these processes together. Who doesn’t like a pizza?
Our ambition is to make the e-pizza game available under an open license to the whole institution and the sector more widely in support of ours and the university’s commitment towards education for all (SDG 4). Co-creating this open educational resource with educators and students would also be valuable for the Knowledge Equity Network and model how we can all be partners, collaborate and create a tool for our own teams and others that can be further developed and has the potential to evolve.
The team, educators and students, will co-create a digital version of the game first. It is envisaged that the pizza base will represent a module or programme of study, while each topping will represent a particular feature of the module or programme. What toppings and in what quantity these will be used on a particular pizza will therefore vary and depend on the conversation of the players. Further ideas include a pizza to represent a specific aspect of learning and teaching, such as assessment for example or academic personal tutoring and players are then invited to a play the game with a specific focus in mind.
In order to establish what “pizza toppings” or “curriculum features” to include, data will be collected from across the institution anf further afield, from educators and students via our mini online form. The responses will form the basis for the “pizza toppings” of the game. It is the team’s intention to also include “wildcard toppings”.
What would you put on your yummy pizza? We would love to find out! Access our survey and feel free to share more widely.
There is also a padlet which we used during the conference where you will find our poster and you can add any comments there too. We have seen that the project already generated some interest…
The e-pizza team
Dr Chrissi Nerantzi, School of Education and postgrad/doctoral students TBC
Dr John Hammersley, Department of Art and Design
Dr Eirini Boukla, Department of Design and undergrad students TBC
Dan Trowsdale, School of Mechanical Engineering and undergrad students TBC
Damian McDonald, FSS Senior Learning Technologist
Sarah Briggs, FSS and AHC Faculty Digital Education Manager
Nerantzi, C. & James, A (2022) LEGO® for university learning: Online, offline and elsewhere (Version 1). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7421754
In 2019 we published the open book LEGO® for university learning: inspiring academic practice in higher education which can be accessed via Zenodo. In this first edition we focused on the use of LEGO® and LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® for academic development as well as teaching in campus-based provision.
Since then, a lot has changed globally in higher education not least due to COVID-19. This has given us the boost to bring this publication up-to-date. We are currently updating the original publication and plan to publish a new edition later in 2022 which will include fresh thinking, ideas and practices that emerged during the pandemic.
We are therefore particularly interested in brand new case studies using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® and/or any other use of LEGO® in university curricula. Given the last two years we are especially interested the use of LEGO® in online and remote settings as well as face-to-face.
We welcome contributions from higher education practitioners and students from all around the world as well as from a wide range of disciplines and professional areas. These can include higher education contexts and programmes of study ranging from undergraduate, postgraduate to doctoral course as well as workshops, sessions and stand-alone Continuing Professional Development courses.
If you would like your case study to be considered, please submit a draft by the 1 July 2022 the latest using this form.
Dr Chrissi Nerantzi and Prof. Alison James
Our GO-GN picture book project is coming to an end (at least officially). After six month of close and fruitful collaboration we have achieved not just what we planned to but so much more, I feel.
Helene, Penny, Paola, Gino, Verena, Bryan, Ody and Nassi (who joined us in the last few weeks) none of this would have been possible without you.
We have captured our individual and collective journeys in great detail from the very beginning via a series of GO-GN blog posts:
Pulker, H., Bentley, P., Fransman, G., Roberts, V., Nerantzi, C., Corti, P., Frank, O. and Mathers, B. (2021) A collaboration like no other, reflections by the team as the GOGN picture book project is coming to an end #GOGNpb, 7 April 2021, GO-GN blog, http://go-gn.net/research/a-collaboration-like-no-other/
Corti, P., Pulker, H., Nerantzi, C., Bentley, P., Fransman, G. and Roberts, V. (2021) Our story and our connection to it… #gognbp, GO-GN blog, 12 February 2021. GO-GN blog, http://go-gn.net/research/our-story-and-our/
Nerantzi, C. & Mathers, B. (2021) To illustrate or not to illustrate?
Bryan mentoring Chrissi for the open picture book, a GOGN Fellowship project #gognpb, 21 January 2021. GO-GN blog, http://go-gn.net/research/to-illustrate-or-not-to/
Nerantzi, C. (2020) GOGN Fellowship project: Co-creating an open picture book about open education, 22 October. GO-GN blog, http://go-gn.net/research/fellowship-open-picture-book/
Roberts, V. Nerantzi, C., Corti, P., Pulker, H., Bentley, P. and Fransman, G. (2020) The seeds in our data basket, reporting findings, no penguins found…, 10 December 2020, GO-GN blog, http://go-gn.net/research/the-seeds-in-our-data-basket/
We also shared our project at a series of events:
Nerantzi, C., Pulker, H., Corti, P., Roberts, V., Bentley, P., Fransman, G., Mathers, B. & Frank, O. (2021) The joys of open collaboration, stories from the GOGN picture book team, OER21 Conference, 22 April 2021, presentation
Corti, P., Fransman, G., Roberts, V., Nerantzi, C., Pulker, H. & Bentley, P. (2021) Collaborative creative writing in the open can foster community, 26 February, #creativeHE meetup: Fostering community in imaginative ways
Nerantzi, C. (2020) An open collaborative picture book project about open education, a GOGN Fellowship 2020 project, GOGN seminar, 14 Oct 2020, online
Nerantzi, C., Fransman, G., Pulker, H., Roberts, V., Bentley and P. Corti, P. (2020) Interested in picture books? Then keep reading and find out more and help us shape one about open education, Open Education Global Connect, 16-20 Nov 2020, https://connect.oeglobal.org/c/oeg-2020/convo-collab/18
Our picture book Together has been published in English on the Zenodo platform
Nerantzi, C., Pulker, H., Bentley, P., Corti, P., Roberts, V., Fransman, G., Frank, O. and Mathers, B. (2021) Together (Versions 1, 2). Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4703978
Further work and outputs
Many translations are ready. Over 20, thanks to members of the team, their colleagues and friends and the wider community. We are grateful to everybody who helped us achieve this. Twenty three are now available as Google slideshares.
We have been invited to record a podcast for OEGlobal. Here comes the recording completed in August 2022 together with curated resources about our project.
I submitted the GO-GN Fellowship report.
Helene Pulker and I have submitted a chapter about our collaborative working practive for a book on Collaboration. This has been accepted and will be printed shortly (edited Aug 2022).
Paula Corti and I have written another chapter with a focus on using the open picture book format for learning, teaching and assessment for a book on Open Education. This will also be published shortly (edited Aug 2022).
Nassi has released Doodlefan for Together, a companion for the book which will enable further creative expression and engagement with the story. It is available here.
Shunak Patil has kindly created a Doodlefan demonstration. See below
We are looking forward to working with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in spreading Together further.
The work on the translations will continue (over 20 GD slideshares of the book have been prepared.
Audio recordings in different languages will be a useful addition.
For now members of the team, Gino Fransman, Verena Roberst and Molya Vundamina, a further open educator have created an exciting and very lively reading of the story based on the original for #OEGlobal21 Enjoy!
The above reading has won the 2021 Best Storybook Reading for Children and Adults, at the Open Education Global Conference 2021. Our warmest congratulations Gino, Verena and Molja!
This is what the Awards Committee said: “This award is selected by the OE Awards Committee to recognize truly exceptional work in Open Education. We applaud your dedication to openness, access, high quality, and innovation, shown by your work and vision.”
We are delighted and humbled by this global recognition.
I would like to thank one more time, everybody who embraced the idea, GO-GN for the Fellowship, all those who contributed and supported us generously, dared to do something different to spread the values of open education beyond higher education and help us grow individuals that value diversity and see value in collaboration that brings growth and happiness.
The original storyboard is here if you would like to see it 😉
A few days ago I found out that my GOGN fellowship project was accepted. I am over the moon. Hard work is ahead. But also a lot of creativity and resourcefulness will be needed. I have no idea what we will co-create but that is the exciting part of it.
So, what is the plan? To co-author an open picture book about open education. Yes, a picture book, to raise awareness about the value of open education and what can be achieved through it using a story. A story that is cross-generational and can be told, red to non-readers, Young as well as experienced readers. When we talk about open education often we relate it to higher education but, isn’t this a bit late? Is there a need to start earlier? Isn’t there a need to see things more holistically?
Thank you to the GOGN team for seeing value in this unusual idea and supporting it. The project will be a collaborative one. I cherry picked the dream team from my GOGN family members from around the world. I met all of them, thanks to GOGN when I still was a PhD student or shortly after. GOGN was and still is a valuable peer support network and community for me!
Back to the fellowship project. I started getting organised really quickly. If you have worked with me before, you will know that I don’t like last minute things. I prefer to start working early on a project. Therefore planning and managing time available is really important. We are all busy. I would like us to make a strong start launch it on the 14th of October during the GOGN seminar and the project plan is ready and will be discussed and finalised soon with the core team.
An open communication channel has already been established via a group DM on Twitter for the core writing team. The Google doc folder is also ready and has been shared with the team. The idea I had to select story seeds from the wider global community is now ready. I decided to do this via a survey. These seeds will then be considered during the collaborative writing process.
It will be a picture book with animal characters, as animals in picture books can be more inclusive. But what animals will be in the story? And in how many languages will we be able to translate it?
The MA in Creative Writing I just finished, the picture book course I am doing this year at the Golden Egg Academy, but also my experience of the first two open collaborative picture books I created What will today bring and The Invisible King, and my experience of 10 years translating novels and pictures books, will help me with this new project as my approach has been informed by these experiences, courses and related activities.
Evie Hurst, one of the illustrators I worked with before on The Invisible King picture book, has said yes so she will do all the illustrations for this book. Evie is currently a first year undergraduate Student in Illustration and Animation. This time, I will stay away from providing directions or notes linked to possible scenes. Not something that will be easy for me, I have to admit, as when I write, I also visualise the images. But my last experience with Evie showed me that my approach wasn’t the most effective one and that the illustrator needs that creative freedom to interpret the story. I can see it clearer now and my readings also confirm that this is the most effective approach when the writer is not the illustrator. Ody Frank, a Six-Form College student in Animtion and Game Design and my youngest son, will design the book.
The story will be a collaborative writing output. While co-authoring is common in academic writing, creative writing in the context of picture books is usually a solo experience. Except perhaps when we look at how Bookdash in South Africa works. On the last picture book, I worked with multiple illustrators, but I have never co-authored a picture book story. It will be exciting to see how this will work and what story will emerge through this collaborative creative writing process. The whole dream team is shown below in the picture.
We have already started working together and thanks to everybody’s critical comments (exactly what was needed!!!), we have our survey ready to launch the picture book project and collect story seeds from the wider community. Please feel free to share as widely as possible. The survey will remain open only until the 31st of October 20.
I am really excited to see how this project will develop and where it will lead us. Thank you GOGN and all collaborators for embracing this project.
During the lockdown that began at the end of March I continued engaging in creative activities, not just relating to work. One of them is writing stories. Really short ones. I also wrote a really long one over 20,000 words for my final MA project, well part of it. The other part of the storydress and both of them are connected.
One of the really short stories written in lockdown, is The Invisible King (only 88 words). An open ended story.
As I wanted to turn his story into an open ended collaborative picture book and share widely to raise funds for a good cause, I turned to colleagues from the Illustration pathway and some of their students to find out if they would like to work together to bring the story alive as a picture book. Their current show can be accessed at https://inprogress.mmu.ac.uk/foundation-graphic-design-illustration-pathway/
We have worked over a number of weeks to make this happen and the final book can be seen below. I was impressed by the dedication and creative energy. The Invisible King is open and free to be downloaded and can be used respecting the open license we used. We used the following: CC BY-NC-SA: “This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.” Find out more about it.
We have created an open inclusive book that invites the reader not just to read, but to create, using their own imagination and with others, the end of the story but also draw on the pages and add their imaginary world to it. Therefore each Invisible King story will be different. What is this story about? Read it and find out. Do you recognise this king?
I would like to thank everybody who contributed to bring this project to life especially my colleagues Louise Batchelor and Ben Greenhalgh and their students Evie Hurst, Lucas McCoy, Lucy Waterworth, Ellie Kilshaw, Lisa Silva, Will Fairbrother-Clarke, Marianne Storer, Georgina Moore, Ted Bain Smith,
Luisa Ventisei & Phaedra Maria Chatzidamianou, a 5-year old little girl.
I would also like to thank Tessa Strickland and Professor Malcolm Press for their valuable suggestions during the making process as well as my very supportive tutors Dr Judy Kendall and Dr Scott Thurston from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Salford I am currently studying towards for reading and providing the following testimonials:
“This project will help to unlock imagination and creativity in young minds and at the same time engage future generations in the importance of working collectively across boundaries to create a more sustainable and socially just world.” Prof. Malcolm Press, Vice Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University
“This collaborative picture-book tracks the reign of King Covid with humour and vibrancy: a flight to outer space, an elephant mask and a wonderful toilet roll wall. To commended for its positivity, a book for our times.” Judy Kendall, Reader in English and Creative Writing, Programme Leader MA in Creative Writing: Innovation & Experimentation, University of Salford
“This vibrant and original book beautifully utilises creative collaboration to reimagine one of the greatest challenges to face humanity in living memory. Thought-provoking and necessary work.” Scott Thurston, Reader in English and Creative Writing, Director of Research for English, University of Salford
Would you like to read The Invisible King? You can access it at https://zenodo.org/record/3924437#.Xvzb1ihKg2x
Through the book we would like to raise money for the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity at https://www.justgiving.com/mayorofgreatermanchesterscharity to support the most vulnerable during this pandemic. Be generous if you can. Thank you.
In the ManMet news > Choose your own adventure, picture book to raise funds for COVID-19 support charity
Nerantzi, C. (2020) The power of collective imagination, with contributions from Greenhalgh B and Batchelor, L., in: The work of imagination. Exploring the nature, role and value of imagination in learning, education, work and other aspects of life, Lifewide Education, No. 23, August 2020, pp. 118-122, available at https://www.lifewideeducation.uk/uploads/1/3/5/4/13542890/lwm_23.pdf
Stay safe and thank you all!
Nassi is starting university in September and will be leaving home. When universities moved online overnight during this pandemic, I had a glimpse of hope that Nassi would be staying with us next year and study from home. As a mum, especially a Greek mama, who feels a very strong bond with her children and finds it extremely hard to believe that her little boy is no little boy anymore (I actually had baby typed here originally…) and let go, this was a sweet thought, like μέλι (honey). One more year together. I could protect him from the big wild world and the hungry wolfs, from tiny deadly viruses too, I was hoping. Really? I soon started feeling guilty.
Of course, I also feel sad, very sad, that Nassi like so many thousand students like him will not be able to enjoy university life in the same way many thousands before him did. I hope that his university years will be special for him. Somehow. When he finally goes, I will constantly be thinking of him. I will be worrying. I don’t even know how I will be able to sleep at night. Yes, it is that bad. I remember when I took him to the nursery for the very first time and left him there, all these years ago. The memories are still fresh in my mind. I felt that I had abandoned him even if it was for a few hours. That was a frightening feeling, for a Greek mama especially.
I have to admit that I didn’t just like the idea of Nassi studying from home so that he can be with us, but I also felt that he would have an advantage. No, I didn’t make this up to find excuses. He would learn quickly what learning at university really means. I have been an online and remote learner and student myself for the majority of my education and have been supporting and facilitating online learning in a range of settings. My dad must have been one of the very early non-traditional students who did his undergraduate degree remotely in the DDR when he was working full-time and had a young family. I know from my own experiences that learning requires commitment, determination and discipline, routine and work, hard work. Learning online is not the easy option. So my thinking was, if Nassi can adjust to learning online with help and support, of course, and develop effective study habits, he will be able to learn anywhere, anytime, anyhow. He will become a responsible and confident student. Isn’t this what we want all our students to be? We talk about students’ autonomy but how do we help them get there? Taking responsibility for his own learning from the outset, will not only help him get through his university years and get the maximum out of these, but also prepare him for life. Actually, schools also need to rethink, radically I would say and stop being exam prep factories.
Then, I started thinking why, yes, why on earth are we not (more) systematic in our approach to learning and teaching and approach education as a part of lifelong learning that is seamlessly integrated into our lives. Systematic might be the wrong word. What I mean is integrating learning and education into the fabric of life. The whole education system as one, in harmony. Like a live organism. And moving away from our obsession for exams. I had to add this here. Also, this business with paying fees (there are more inclusive models to fund higher education!) and valuing some degrees more than others? Where does this come from? Why? Nobody is an island. We are social animals. Aristotle said, and he is right. We need each other and we all need to contribute in our unique ways to come together, to move forward together. Treviranus (2016, 7) says this beautifully “It is our variability that gives us collective strength.”
Why have we not adjusted our approaches to learning and teaching and often see technology as an add-on? There are a series of conceptual and empirical frameworks and models that have been developed years ago to scaffold and support learning using digital technologies. We still talk about lectures, and seminars and tutorials and struggle to move away from “delivery” and “content” or even worse “content delivery”. Don’t get me started. A lot has been written about the future of higher education and ambitious models and possible directions have been shared (recently Orr et al., 2020; Ehlers, 2020). It will be really interesting to see what is going to happen. Costa (2020), for me it is Cristina, voices a much needed perspective and stands up for online learning and the opportunities that are opening up for all of us, if we are willing to un- and re-think and re-align our practices and expectations, as she says. Online education is not a deficit model. It isn’t, for me either.
Will anything change or are we going to go straight back to “lectures” full stop. I hope not. Old habits die hard. We will see.
There is now an opportunity to be bold and I can sense an appetite for change. Jessop (2020) recognises the opportunities to re-imagine more effective pedagogical approaches. Now. Approaches that have been around for a while. Active learning in various shapes and forms supported and enabled by technologies that have the power to create seamless and connected learning experiences ( Scott, 2020). There is excitement in the air. I can feel it too. Finally, I think, we also seem to recognize (more) the value of creativity in learning and teaching. Maybe we just talk about it more… Maybe I am seeing things that are not there. Wishful thinking? Creative approaches are often pushed to the corner… under the carpet. Innovators are ignored, excluded and ridiculed. And their innovations as well. Nelson (2018, 4) wrote “There is a strong pedagogical impulse to eliminate haphazard approaches to learning and sadly imagination and creativity are a casualty.” These are his words. Anybody who has pushed the boundaries knows if this is true or not. They will have felt it, experienced it. Are we moving from creativity as casualty as Nelson (2018), said, to creativity to the rescue? Crawford (2020, online) recognises that “… the creative vaccine can work its magic on all our minds at this dreadful time…”. He talks about art, but creativity is not just art. Resourcefulness is what many of my colleagues have shown during the pandemic. Many have become experimenters and explorers. Hungry for new ideas. There is a fresh air of excitement about teaching all around us, that I haven’t felt for a long time. Can anybody else feel this too? We do seem to be more open to ideas (than ever before?), to different ways of teaching tactics, to use Hammond’s (2017) words and supporting our students’ learning. Plato said that “necessity is the mother of invention”. Could it be adversity? I think change was needed for a long time but it just wasn’t happening. Were we sleepwalking? Chatzidamianos (for me Gerasimos) and Nerantzi (that is me) (2020) have come together and knitted the PPE for learning and teaching in higher education during the pandemic based on their observations from recent experiences: Positivity, People and Emotions.
When I started writing this piece, I didn’t plan to just share the fact that Nassi will be going to university and my feelings about it. I am of course excited about him starting university, which I haven’t mentioned yet, I think. But there was something else that has been occupying my mind for a little while.
So, here is my idea. Finally.
Couldn’t the first year of an undergraduate degree, of all undergraduate degrees, yes you read this correctly, be offered online by default? By all universities? Is anybody else seeing the advantages this would bring for our students, their university experience and their lives? But also communities and society as a whole? Wouldn’t such a re-structure of our programmes, help our students master learning how to learn? How to develop effective study habits, how to inquire? To take responsibility for their own learning? What difference would it make to the wider academic community? To inclusion, retention, progression and success at university and in life? Some would say this should happen before anybody starts university. Also true. Why isn’t it? We will of course, have to sort out access to networked technologies for all citizens first so that it doesn’t become another intervention for the privileged, for the few.
I know, universities are big ships and difficult to maneuver. It is however, not impossible to change direction.
From a Greek mama with love
Chatzidamianos, G. & Nerantzi, C. (2020) “Stripping the layers of the onion” in learning and teaching in HE: positive lessons learned from working during a pandemic, AdvanceHE, 3 June 2020, available at https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/stripping-layers-onion-learning-and-teaching-he
Costa, C. (2020) The limits of online education are assumed, not a given, 4 June 2020, Social Theory applied, available at https://socialtheoryapplied.com/2020/06/04/the-limits-of-online-education-are-assumed-not-a-given/?fbclid=IwAR063w7Xob6SzpyXTMQRkM5D_tnvwL0hdR26T33a5fLe8q41-y7_i2veHYM
Crawford, P. (2020) Coronavirus – an outbreak of creativity, Arts and Minds Blog, Arts and Humanities Research Council, 22 May 2020, available at https://ahrc-blog.com/2020/05/22/coronavirus-an-outbreak-of-creativity/?fbclid=IwAR0agQVM1X3MxHuQyoFzcm8X8htsNjGTglieoY_YP4-1PITVOwOxHA-5fQY
Ehlers, U-D. (2020) Future Skills. The future of learning and higher education, translated by Ulf-Daniel Ehlers, Patricia Bonaudo, Laura Eigbrecht Karlsruhe, available at https://nextskills.org/library/future-skills/
Hammond, C. (2017) Introduction: Critical pedagogies – horizons of possibility, In: Hammond, C. (ed) (2017) Hope, Utopia and Creativity in Higher Education. Pedagogical tactics for alternative futures, 1-19
Jessop, T. (2020) Let’s lose the deficit language about online education, 2 June 2020, WonkHE, available at https://wonkhe.com/blogs/lets-lose-the-deficit-language-about-online-education/
Nelson, R. (2018) Creativity Crisis. Towards a post-constructivist educational future. Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Publishing
Orr, D. Luebcke, M., Schmidt, J. P., Ebner, M. Wannemacher, K., Ebner, M. & Dohmen, D. (2020) Higher Education landscape 2030. A trend analysis based on the AHEAD International Horizon Scanning, available at https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-030-44897-4
Scott, G. (2020) Can we plan for a socially distanced campus?, WonkHE, 6 May 2020, available athttps://wonkhe.com/blogs/can-we-plan-for-a-socially-distanced-campus/
Hundreds of people in the UK and thousands globally are still dying from this horrible virus. We have become impatient to go back to “normal” life. Apparently pigeon shooting and horse racing is starting again. Really? I guess we have different priorities. Human life seems not too matter. I despair. I worry. I am staying in lockdown.
At a time when everything feels like a race, a race against each other, the photo below gives me hope. A glimpse of hope for humanity. Watching the rocket launch and especially the warm welcome when the astronauts finally arrived at the International Space Station was heartwarming. It really showed what we can achieve together and make the impossible possible.
We can work together and sustain such collaborations if there is commitment to each other, commitment to work together for the wider good. Ephemeral common interest motivated by personal gains as a driver for a collaboration is never a good sign and will not last. We see this again and again.
At the end of this week, we will be offering the open course FOS with colleagues from 10 institutions in the NW of England. We are grateful for their contributions and being part of this adventure. We hope that it will attract interest from the wider academic community and staff and students will join us to learn together. Especially now, during the pandemic where everything is changing rapidly, despite the stillness we may see, our minds and practices actually travel faster than ever before, change faster than ever before. Are we ready for September? This course will hopefully help us experience something different, something that will help us reflect on our own practice, a course that will help us experiment and learn with others. Something that will provide new ideas, something that will trigger changes in our thinking, actions, interactions and practices. The experimental nature of the course means that not everything will work. This is a given. We are not aiming to model perfection or excellence. Is any of this actually possible or desirable? Experiencing eureka moments, experiencing things going wrong, being there for each other, troubleshooting and recovering but also discovering new ways of solving old problems, we hope will make FOS attractive to all those who join us for 10 days in June. Often colleagues give up when they try using a technology and it doesn’t work. I have done it too. But every such experience is a learning opportunity that helps us re-think our own approach and the tactics we use. Tactics is a useful way of putting it, I feel, and Craig Hammonds thoughts relating to this has been an inspiration.
“To recognise and accommodate the expressive and meandering connections emergent from within the scripted worlds of liberated learners, practitioners must start to creatively and tactically manoeuvre pedagogical alterations within the stultifying rules of the academic monolith. Democratic practices and tactics should be experimented with, to ensure that serendipitous and subjective voices are afforded space to birth and grow towards meaningful explication.” (Hammond, 2017, 15)
The plan is to model real practices. Not perfection. Not everything will work. Things will go wrong. We know they will. But we will use these experiences to learn. To troubleshoot together. To move forward. We probably learn more from negative experiences if we allow it to happen. If we don’t ignore our own mistakes and shortcomings and do something about it. So easy, too easy to blame the technology or somebody else…
FOS has its roots in the final project of the MSc in Blended and Online Education I completed at Edinburgh Napier University. Like so many other ideas and concepts I developed later on. Looking back at this journey and what grew out of this experience, I can say that this course has been transformative for my practice as an academic developer. This project led to the postgraduate module FDOL at the University of Salford I developed and the open FDOL course with Lars Uhlin from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. After offering FDOL three times using PBL as a cross-institutional collaboration between our two institutions, two child courses were created that indicated two different directions of travel (ONL and FOS). My doctoral research and the discoveries I made as FDOL was one of the cases I investigated, took me to new places. FOS was born out of FDOL and some features are influenced by BYOD4L.
What else? I have continued crafting. Made two special masks this weekend. Just need to post them. I also love looking after our plants in the house and in the garden. Maybe we will even have some strawberries. Maybe.
I have been writing like mad on my final MA project. I have over 15,000 words already and still have a way to go. I know where the story is going. Just missing some of the details. I am really looking forward to my early mornings to make a little bit of progress every day. I know when I have ran out of creative steam and I stop. Thirty minutes is my max. I feel a sense of achievement every day. By the end of June, the very first draft will be complete. Maybe even sooner. I am getting there. Can’t wait to see it all coming together, also with the storydress, that is ready and waiting.
Stay safe and look after each other!
Hammond, G. A. (2017) Roland Barthes, Guy Debord and the Pedagogical Value of Creative Liberation. Prism: Casting New Light on Learning, Theory and Practice http://prism-journal.blackburn.ac.uk/ ISSN 2514-5347 Vol. 1 (2): pp. 8-24, Available at http://prism-journal.blackburn.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2.1-Hammond-PR2-1.pdf
This week I have really enjoyed making progress with my story. It is over 12,000 words at the moment and I still have a way to go, probably a month. Not sure yet about the final length. I like that I know where I am going as this story develops from a picture book story, under 500 words. I have the story skeleton. While initially, I felt paralysed by the task, progressively I learnt to love the writing process linked to this story. Now, I feel a bit naughty mixing reality with imagination, a lot of it. Something I like doing anyway. But I wasn’t sure if it was right to do this, in this particular story. As it is based on real stories. I have let go. I feel the freedom now. The freedom to invent, to be playful with language and experiences, to trigger emotional reactions in my characters, hopefully also in my readers. There is so much I don’t know still and will never find out about my parents’ past. Maybe it is better that way, maybe. The gaps have been useful for me. They test me, they challenge me and create opportunities for invention. How would it be for them to read this story, one day? Would they recognise themselves in it? Would anybody get a sense what really happened and what is made up? My wish is that the story flows as a whole and would enable the reader to immerse themselves into it from the start to the end and live different realities. Realities they never experienced. Or maybe they did and the story brings it back to life for them. The other day I spoke to my mum and she was telling me that she was reading a book… as soon as she said that I knew what was coming. She was enjoying reading it and then looked at who the translator was. It was me, her daughter. She sounded really proud. She asked me how I did it. Well, with a lot of patience and commitment to quality and respect to the original and the author, of course. It is hard work and a craft at the same time. A labour of love. I did it for over ten years, mainly translating literature. Now I was trying to write my own pieces.
I am really looking forward to my early mornings. My 30 mins writing blocks, every day, even on weekends. I seem to be really disciplined and get an energy booster for the whole day when I know that I have made a little bit more progress. Little by little the story is coming together. I feel that I am not just creative in my approach but also critical. I go back and forward, polish, change and connect, connect tighter. Simplify. Always little by little. My daily target is manageable and achievable. I did the same when I was translating books. Maybe I am transferring that practice to a new context. Maybe this way of working helps me believe that I can actually write longer stories and not just for children? Am I growing as a writer? A tiny bit? Writing regularly definitely helps. My very first reader, except my supervisor who has seen it a few times already, read what I had written about 2 weeks ago. The feedback was really encouraging. Can’t wait to share with them the full story. I have also been thinking about how to link the storydress with the longer story (no title yet) and have found a way, I think, that could work and connect the two outputs naturally. We will see.
Ody went for a walk with me. It was the first time for him in 9 weeks. He was ok. We had a good time together while Nassi met his girlfriend from a distance. Dating in the time of physical distancing. My plants in the garden and in the house are doing well. Our rocket is yummy, we have flowers on our strawberry plants, the tomatoes seem to do really well and I am potting and repotting mint and flowers. Also drying some mint.
I continued my crafts. The silver clay was a disaster. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Some things are better learnt with somebody showing you. Making the moulds was the easy part… The firing, needs more work so that I don’t ruin the designs. Will go back to YouTube as the written instructions didn’t help.
I finally decided to give the cabochon pendants a try. Even managed to do this following limited instructions. I am pleased that the pressed forget-me-nots worked really well. Need to press a few more before they are all gone.
My parents’ portrait is on the wall and our black and white outline family picture is also hanging.
Thinking about one more painting for the living room. Santorini came to mind, again as an outline, white on black. Will check our photos when we went last time. I wish I was there now. I wish we had that little house on the top of the hill. I wish we could swim in the deep blue sea. I have no idea how travelling will look like in the future. On a plane, a train, a ferry. All seems scary at the moment.
We are still in lockdown, sort of, at least some of us. Many seem to ignore the guidelines, even the ones writing them. So many have lost loved ones. So much pain. I wish this virus would disappear and never come back. I am praying for all those in pain. Stay safe!