#101creativeideas No 4 We are all poets and don’t know it

We are all poets and don’t know it

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Words don’t come easy… not always and not to all. Can they come easier through creating a poem with others as a response to a theory, a concept or an event, a situation, that might create a lot of attention, for good or bad? Could poetry help us develop criticality and creativity around a topic and idea etc. while creating community at the same time? Remember, poems don’t need to be written in lines… they can become pictures.

Tech extension: Consider using collaborative writing tools such as Google docs to write poems together synchronously or asynchronously. Try it. We have used this approach during the open course BYOD4L  Visual poetry can also be very expressive. Try the Visual Poetry tool.

Created in Ellie’s #101creativeideas #greenhouse gathering. Image source

This idea was developed during a recent TLC webinar with Dr Sam Illingworth around the use of poetry in teaching.


Submit your idea to #101creativeideas today!!!

Better late than never…

… how time flies…

I am buried in revising my draft thesis and the new academic year has started. There are ongoing open initiatives I support and new projects starting, internally and externally. All exciting stuff!

However, it is about time to write a little something here about what happened early in September. I did make a start on my tablet a while back… I think at least twice, but today I  decided to start fresh and finish the post in one go while sitting at my desk at home. Here we go…


Congratulations to all! Image source

ltawards-2016-individual-runner-upIn September this year, I was awarded runner up ALT Learning Technologist of the Year 2016. I feel humbled and honored to receive this award for my work in open education. Thank you Dr Cristina Costa for encouraging me.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everybody for their individual and team awards and all highly commended colleagues.

It was fascinating to read about their achievements and  successes.

I really enjoyed the one day at the conference at Warwick University (lovely campus!!! the ping pong table was such a great idea!) and meeting so many innovative colleagues. It was especially wonderful to see Daniel Scott (the big individual winner!!!) and Iain Griffin (Highly commended!!!) and have chats with them. We agreed to stay in touch, which we have, and collaborate on a little project to give something back to the ALT community. We are going to make this happen😉. 

As an academic developer, digital and open practitioner, with a passion for experimentation it has been a fascinating journey and a pure pleasure to work with many colleagues in my own institutions, nationally and internationally. I feel that I have learnt a lot and their support has given my imagination wings to come-up with ideas that have become reality and are helping us all to engage in new and exciting professional development activities. From my work you will see that I have shared my ideas openly with many others. I guess for me collaboration is not a strategy, it is more a way of being, a philosophy. I also know that ideas can only grow if we share them. My dear friend and colleague reminded me a few years ago of the following African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go on your own. If you want to go further, go with others”.

Below are some of the key projects I initiated. You might find some of these useful for your development or they might give you ideas to develop something new in your area.

The openly licensed course Flexible, Distance and Online Learning (FDOL), which is a postgraduate module that was opened-up and became a cross-institutional collaboration initially between the University of Salford and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (Lars Uhlin was my partner) and later Manchester Metropolitan University when I changed institutions.  FDOL an idea that originated from my MSc dissertation, was offered three times, with varying length up to 12 weeks. One of the iterations became a case for my PhD as it had collaborative open learning features using a problem-based learning approach.

FDOL provided the foundations for the openly licensed Bring Your Own Devices for Learning (BYOD4L) course. I was keen to experiment with something much shorter and enable different forms of collaborative learning that are community-based. Again it was inquiry-based and scenarios were used, this time in additional video format presenting student and academic staff perspectives  I shared the concept with Sue Beckingham and we became partners. BYOD4L was offered for the first time in 2014 and since 2016 the community itself organises it. I think this is an important move and a necessary one, if we want to sustain OEP and create capacity. The next iteration is in January 2017 and I am looking forward to supporting our three musketeers (Neil Withnell, Sheila MacNeill and Alex Spiers), in the background.

BYOD4L does have a daily tweetchat feature which was the highlight of the day and attracted large numbers of participants. This triggered a new idea in my mind for a weekly tweetchat that would be a regular CPD opportunity for all of us. While the idea was fresh in my mind, I shared the idea for the Learning and Teaching in HE chat (#LTHEchat) with Sue Beckingham, David Walker and Peter Reed and we decided to go ahead with it Since September 2014 the #LTHEchat has grown and the introduction of rotating organising teams as well as the collaboration with the #HEAchat has enabled it to grow further and become a popular weekly gathering of practitioners with rich and varied exchanges and debates around learning and teaching.

I had in mind to do something with FDOL, to take it into a new direction and this was materialised through using it and building the openly licensed course Flexible, Open and Social Learning or short FOS (Do you know that this means in Greek?). Again, I invited Sue Beckingham to work together on FOS. It was an opportunity for me to become more playful with the original formula, introduce a game-approach, create scenarios, with Ellie Hannan’s help, that were visual and engaging. As FDOL stretched over a series of weeks, again, I wanted to experiment with offering something like this over a week. We have offered this once so far.

Creativity for Learning is a postgraduate module I created at Manchester Met and opened-up. We call it #creativeHE and it has become more of a community and an ongoing collaboration among the Creative Academic network and many colleagues from different institutions nationally and internationally. One of the iterations (8 weeks) became my second case study for my PhD as it had collaborative open learning features in groups which were different from FDOL and it was a useful opportunity to explore how participants experienced it. It is a wonderful opportunity to become more playful and creative in our practices and the work we have done so far evidences that this is happening. This year we decided to launch the Creativity in HE project led by Prof. Norman Jackson with many happenings until the summer 2017 via #creativeHE. The  #greenhouse community at Manchester Met has lined up with the Creativity in HE project and I invited Ellie to lead the micro-project #101creativeideas. If you haven’t seen this yet, please have a look and contribute your ideas to this OER project.

Then there are the Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLC) webinars which start again this week. An initiative I brought to life when I was at Salford University, which has now grown into another cross-institutional collaboration with rotating organising teams. I guess the OER series Food for thought dates also back to that time and is something I would like to continue developing as well as find a way forward for my wheels idea.


The journey continues… image source

Yes, an exciting and full academic year is ahead of me. I plan to finish my PhD studies (must work hard on this until then!!!) and work with many colleagues on learning and teaching projects that open our minds to new possibilities and practices.

… and I also decided to reflect on my journey as a digital and open practitioner and submit my CMALT portfolio. It might all have started when my dad sent me to college to become a computer programmer and then working as a programmer in the Hellenic Navy for 5 years… then leaving the army to go to university as a mature student to study…  or when we moved from Germany to Greece… and then the UK… the story continues…

What will you do this year?

ps. A very special thank you to Neil Withnell.

#DAPP162 week 1 > 12 Oct 16

I am one of the tutors on the Developing Academic and Professional Practice unit aas part of our PgCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and this week was our very first session.

When you come back after the summer break of non-teaching… you ask yourself… can I still do  this?

I said that I would reflect with you all this term and this is my first entry. I decided to use Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle but with a twist… with images… they say, 1 image is worth 1000 words. Ok, there will be some words, but not many… Let’s give it a go.


DESCRIPTION: I met my new group and my group  met me. At the heart of what I wanted to acheve was laying the foundations for a learning community to grow out of this session using creative and playful approaches with my colleagues. Image source


FEELINGS: I felt excited, as I really want to take all my colleagues on an adventure to boost their  confidence in trying something that they would never have done before. A lot of preparation went into this session to make it varied and stimulating… Image source


EVALUATION: he best part was when colleagues worked together in groups. They didn’t really need me there and it shows that we just need to trust our students. I loved how colleagues engaged in this task and the other activities. There was a warmth in the room. The bad thing was… that I had over-prepared… but if I haven”t shared this… nobody would know… Why did I share it? I know… but do you? Image source


ANALYSIS: My bag was too full… I think my excitement to model a wide range of approaches in just one session was too ambitious…As it was a larger group, i found it difficult to engage with everybody and while I could see that many participated enthusiastically, others might have been thinking… “what is all that?” However, my strategy to bring colleagues closer together started working and it was wonderful to see how they opened up and many shared very honest accounts and fears… As I was a new person for most of my colleagues and they were new to me… we did test the waters in this session and it gave me a useful insight into the different personalities. The fact remains that I did prepare too much. Image source


CONCLUSION: Despite the challenges, we explored reflection and observations of teaching, which were the most important learning outcomes on my list. Ok, the UK PSF were mentioned briefly. But their significance was highlighted and engaging with these should be an ongoing process anyway… I could have removed or combined better some of the initial introductory activities. This would have saved valuable time. Also I completely forgot to use the name tags and the activity that I had prepared for this purpose… Image source


ACTION PLAN: Less is more! I guess, I need a plaque to remind me,. A badge or a T-short wouldn’t help as I wouldn’t see it! How did you experience this session? The journey continues… We will be back next week… Image source

Would you consider trying this approach?

#101creativeideas No 3 >>> Attenzione! Attenzione!

Attenzione! Attenzione!

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Ok, you are in a class and all your students are engaged in the activity you have set them in their groups. The classroom has been transformed into a busy market place. You can’t stop smiling, but it is about time to see what students have done. 

You are trying to get your students’ attentions. You tried to be silent. Nothing. You left the room. Nothing. But nobody is listening. How can you get everybody’s attention quickly? Ever tried a big cow bell? Now is you your chance. Try it. The bigger the class the better this will work. Use it regularly.

If you are in a dark room and use lights when you are there with your students, turning the lights suddenly off for a few seconds can also work wonders😉

I have my bell regularly in sessions and often in conference workshops. It does work!

Tech extension: If you are using a networked computer and you have sound, use it. There will be sounds and songs you can find on the web you can play. You can find many open music communities here.


Where did my bell go??? Image source here

I can’t remember when I came up with this idea, but it is a strategy I keep using.


Submit your idea to #101creativeideas today!!!

#101creativeideas No 2 >>> Co-create a reading list!

Co-create a reading list

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We give too much and too often. This is not good for our students and creates reliance and laziness? if we want active thinkers and critical readers, why not invite students to co-create a reading list for their modules. Let’s just give 2 key texts and invite students to add their gems through negotiation. What difference could this potentially make to student engagement with the literature? There is only one way to find out! Try it!

I have used this approach in open courses and it works really well.

Tech extension: Use a social bookmarking site like Diigo or Google docs can also work well.


image source here

The idea popped into my head during a recent #LTHEchat with Dr Isobel Gower



Submit your idea to #101creativeideas today!!!

#101creativeideas No 1 >>> Who am I?

Who am I?

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Create a T-shirt, top or a whole outfit that reveals a little bit about who you are, what you stand for and what your name is. Make your first impression memorable and encourage your students/colleagues to do the same. Give it a go and be amazed of the impact this could have on your relationship.

This idea could work especially well when you first meet a new group. Could you ask your students to do the same?

Tech extension: Try to create the T-shirt and use Augmented Reality. What could be “hidden” behind your name? 


own picture, own T-shirt, name also on the back

The idea re-surfaced during an #LTHEchat with Dawn Anderson and Robert Dragan

I have created a T-shirt many years ago for this purpose and have used it. It does help! I think I need to make a new T-Shirt as the above looks a bit boring… Create yours if you find this idea useful and share with us.


Submit your idea to #101creativeideas today!!!

Creativity in Higher Education project, open invitation!

What a fascinating year this will be.

3813913Based on our past year’s success with #creativeHE and the various iteration we offered with many colleagues from different institutions in the UK and further afield in collaboration also with the Creative Academic Network, we have decided to put together a whole series of activities under the umbrella project Creativity in Higher Education led by Prof. Norman Jackson.

Many colleagues have joined us and we are grateful for their commitment to the wider community, for sharing their expertise and learning with us so that we can together advance our understanding around creative learning and teaching approaches. Check out the current list of planned community-led activities by clicking here.

It is wonderful that we will be able to continue offering facilitated open and cross-institutional versions of #creativeHE as part of our PgCert and MA in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at Manchester Metropolitan University in collaboration with London Metropolitan University and further collaborators. If you want to join us, all you have to do is check out our community. We also use the hashtag #creativeHE on Twitter. You might want to say hello there too😉

greenhouse230The #Greenhouse our community for creative practitioners is also part of this year-long initiative and is at the moment contributing the #101creativeideas project. More are in the pipeline so to speak… I invited my colleague Ellie Hannan to lead #101creativeideas and I am pleased she said yes as she is already bringing a lot of creative energy to this project! This is an OER project that is developed collaboratively and shared back with the community so that we can all benefit. It is a fantastic opportunity to share creative ideas we have used in our practice with others and learn from each other to make our teaching more stimulating and exciting. To find out more about this particular project and to submit your idea(s), visit the project site by clicking here. I have decided to submit one idea per week until the deadline which is in January sometime. My ideas will also be added to my blog and we encourage you to do the same.


If you would like to participate in our Creativity in HE project, please get in touch.

If you have an idea for a mini project, please get in touch.

If you would like to lead a mini creativity project, but need a little bit/lot of help to develop an idea, please get in touch. We are here to help!

Speak again soon!