@pgcap #cohort2 trying to find the time

listening: two big ears and just one mouth for a reason

listening: two big ears and just one mouth for a reason

Warning! The below has been written really fast almost in automated writing mode and might not all make sense… the beauty of reflection

It feels really strange…
since the session finished yesterday at 12.30pm I felt the need to capture my thoughts but up to now I didn’t have the time and even now while I start writing this I feel that I will be interrupted and won’t be able to focus and write what I am or was thinking about our session. I somehow feel that I am starting it at the wrong moment in time… the house will soon be full of noise again and my brain will think about supper, washing, cleaning and the weekend. This all highlights to me that we might be reflect in our minds while we do something else and we are perfectly capable of doing this but when it comes to get it out of our system we need to concentrate and be in the right state. But it is not just about us it is also about the environment we are in and what and who surrounds us and all the noise. Maybe I am just saying these things here because I know that I only have a few minutes until I have to stop and start again probably late this evening.

I spent this morning marking portfolios and it is really enrichening to read all the stories and journeys. So much excitement and learning. I am really pleased that the majority of our cohort 1 participants found the core module useful and meaningful. Like I said in class yesterday, it is hard to please everybody but I think sometimes we just focus on pleasing the majority and that is not right. We need to pay more attention to the little indications when something starts going wrong when people start disconnecting or not connecting. It is though difficult if we are not let in their world, if we are blocked out. What do we do then?

Is the PGCAP and any PgCert problematic or too ambitious trying to bring individuals from different disciplines together? I am wondering more and more each day or is there something we are doing wrong and just seem to appeal and connect with certain disciplines more than others. I am not sure but I think I need to have an open conversation with a few of the individuals who didn’t connect to find out and I hope that I will be able to organise something to understand and investigate what we could or should do to change that. BUt now, I started talking about marking and not yesterday’s session. Strange how reflection works, isn’t it. You start somewhere but usually you don’t know where your mind will take you.

Let’s try again. Yesterday’s session. Right! What did we do. We had a closer look at designing sessions and the important part for me was to make everybody think of the importance of planning and which factors influences this process. We all plan our sessions, some more organically than others. Others start with sessions plans, others use sticky notes, others create mindmaps and others build the structure into their presentations. Nothing wrong with any of these and I am sure there are other methods that people use (would love to hear about them!). The important bit is that we plan, the how will depend on the situation, the way we do things and what works for us. Sometimes, we don’t know. Finding out will help us design more effectively and effective sessions. Planning not just what we will deliver but most importantly how we are going to deliver. The activity we did with the English breakfast caused a lot of laughter. I am not sure if everybody found it as useful as I thought it would be. Maybe it was the topic… but for me it wasn’t so much about the topic. The topic could be astronomy, car design or anything else. It was more about the how we plan and I am not sure if that was clear enough. I was thinking how this task could be developed further or alterned and am thinking in the next cohort to forget about the cookery (we had too much food themes yesterday anyway!). Each participant could think about one of their own sessions they plan to deliver in a week or two or one of the observed sessions. I think this way it would be more meaningful and useful. The plans put together (I think this might need to happen in advance) would then be discussed in class with somebody from another discipline and finalised. Then this should be implemented. But this wouldn’t be the end of it. No! Then we could revisit the plan and reflect on it and discuss how it went. I need to think of a way to embed this process more organically in the session or a series of sessions. Actually while I am writing now I am developing this idea further. Just thought that we could start designing the session at the very first session. Just give the template and progressively through the weeks add the ingredients so that at the end of the module everybody should have at least one complete session plan with all the vital features and elements. That would also be very interesting. I am going to think about this a bit more and come up with a more concrete plan that we could try. I would also be very interested to hear from people who attended yesterday’s session what they felt about this specific activity.

I better stop here now because it will be noisy very soon. Have a good weekend everybody and see you next Thursday in Manchester City Centre.

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Good Practice event over

Really great opportunity to think and connect with people
and ideas. Not happy with my first contribution, could/should have
done much better. Content, timing, delivery, engagement -I would
change everything! However, our joined presentation with Neil, Alex
and Vicki triggered a rich discussion. We experimented with an
alternative presentation format to model our conversational
feedback approach. Really pleased we did it this way. Also going to
explore a new avenue for portfolio building for staff and student. I
feel that we might be able to develop a homegrown product into a
portfolio system. Really excited about this potential. More on this
when I have some news. Portfolio marking tomorrow all day ;0)
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@pgcap #cohort2 getting there hopefully


This song is just great. It gets me into a very positive mood. It wakes me up, makes me alert and fills me with energy which I need this evening. Music is definitely a power-medicine!!! Could we use songs for your reflections? Do you connect with music you hear? Does music affect you at all? Something to think about.

I am back with some more thoughts and reflections on today’s session. I should really be finalising the paper I am preparing for the PBL conference but I just feel the need to do something different before I tackle this for the very last time. So, here I am.

It was really nice to see everybody again today. I enjoyed the session. It felt relaxed and I think the amount we did was about right, for me anyway. Any comments on this would be very welcome, if you did attend and participated in this session. At the moment, I feel a bit unsure what people think about the co-delivery.

And there was a moment during the session today when I thought that we confused everybody or at least some. This is something I thought about when travelling home and looking back. It was when we started talking about referencing and how we do it when using audio, video or any other media-rich methods beyond text. We definitely need to reference! The confusion I think was created because our two groups are using two different tools to build their portfolios. For the PebblePad a template is been used which has a separate section for all referencing. With our WordPress portfolios we also have some structure but I have suggested to keep the references together with the actual pieces. So if I write something and I am using specific literature, I would like to see these referenced properly using the Harvard Referencing System in the text and also at the end of the text add a references list with the full information about the book, article etc. Also, if it is an electronic source adding the hyperlink would be super and enable us to access it faster. If you go for audio, I suggest to mention the book, article and the full description in the audio or video file, again using Harvard) so that everything is together. Neil and I both agree that referencing needs to be done. It is the how that changes if working using the different tools. However, I think there is a need and the room for flexibility and personalisation as well which is important too. The more prescriptive we are or become the less creativity we encourage.

Strange really the whole thing with reflection, isn’t it? We prepare, deliver, reflect and we did that openly immediately after the session and turned it into a communal activity, but the session was and still is with me 8pm in the evening while I am writing this and I actually felt the need to write something. Maybe capturing it somehow, externalising it, it helps us also to close that chapter, that session and move on. I don’t know.

I am pleased that we did share our initial thoughts on today’s session with everybody. I think it helped everybody realise how random and messy things are but that to view it as something that is normal. Again, looking back, what we didn’t do is to actually think about how this session could be improved further and yes, what we would/could do differently next time. What would we do differently? No, this is hard, and I definitely can’t speak for Neil, but I would say, that we should consider ‘cutting bits out of that session’. The activity that we missed out in the end, was actually a very useful activity and I hope that people will access the whole presentation and have a look at the resources around reflection and study how different reflective writing actually is let’s say in comparison to writing a report or an essay. This activity was actually vital and looking back now, I am just thinking, maybe we should have cut something else. It is tricky, I have to admit but maybe we could have asked our participants and give them an option. I think that would have worked. We could have presented them with 2 options and whatever the majority goes with, we could do. That is actually not a bad solution I think and creates an opportunity to learners for shared ownership and responsibility. I think we should try that in one of our next sessions and I have actually already an idea linked to week3. Neil doesn’t know about it yet but I hope to discuss it with him in the next few days. Can’t wait now.

Already written quite a lot I just noticed but when I started writing I wanted actually to focus on something completely different which is gone out of my head now. Strange really isn’t it. You have an idea, start writing but you end up writing something completely different and in the end you forget what you wanted to write about originally. Weird how our brain works! We are such a complicated machine.

When I was cooking supper, suddenly, after all that thinking about today and the need to capture my reflections, I switched and started planning next week’s session and got excited about it already. Am I mad? How can you get excited about a session… some would say but I think this is really important and I am probably over-using the word exciting, excitement – not because I am a silly foreigner who doesn’t know any other synonyms (this is a Greek word, by the way), but because I just get excited about teaching and learning and just love to do things that come us a surprise for some/many. No, not to shock, but just to enable people to experience something less common, something that has the potential to be explored further. Like are saying, we provide the space to experiment with ideas and do things differently and do different things altogether. We try! If anybody isn’t taking anything away from any of our sessions, I think it would be a waste of time to attend and I think that applies not just to our sessions but to all sessions. Do you know what your students are taking away from your sessions? Have you asked them. I am very interested to find out and will actually ask you, or am asking you now. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with me.

Further readings and materials on reflection I had put together for a pilot, please access MoRe

I better stop here now because I have to do all that work this evening which I don’t really want to do now, but I have to. Ok, by for now and we will speak again very soon.

@PGCAP #cohort2 induction and decision

open your heart

open your heart


It is now the day after our induction for cohort 2. It was indeed a full day and a very long one. It felt much longer than last time despite the fact that we have actually cut bits out. We need to do less. Yes, less is more and a lot of the stuff that we went through could be done through self-study and online activities. But then again you will have some people participating and others not. How will we be able to engage everybody from the very beginning and how can we create the so vital learning community?

Some people couldn’t make it, others arrived later and others left before we finished. It is a busy time of the year for everybody and I think this influenced yesterday as well. The levels of participation were good and I could sense some thinking and deeper engagement already but I also felt that some were just not there 100%. This is hard. Hard for us but also hard for the participants, or students how I like to call our participants. Some of the activities were not understood fully. Some didn’t see any purpose in these.

Especially the heart activity was almost a disaster. I have used this activity before, a few times, but I never experienced what happened yesterday. This was really interesting and I try to understand what people didn’t understand about the activity. The idea behind it was to introduce reflection as something that we are doing already in our everyday life by asking participants to open their heart and

– share an episode (and everybody was given a red-paper heart to capture their thoughts), something very good or bad that happened to them.

– They were then asked to move away from the actual event and think about the why it happened,

– then how what happened made them feel and

– what they would do differently if they would experience something similar in the future.

Isn’t this what we do on a day-to-day basis? Do I assume that what everybody is doing? Maybe we are not all reflecting. Maybe we don’t really know what it is. Maybe the instructions were not clear enough. But I wanted it to be something more organic and it didn’t really work well at all. I have to rethink my approach.

Teaching and learning and emotions? Some I think were surprised with this combination. Should education be something de-emotionalised? We all have emotions when we care about something, about somebody. Should we not care about our students or do we have a responsibility to care? Something to think about and I intend to come back and look at this a bit closer to explore if emotions and feelings don’t really have a place in education or if they are indeed a vital ingredient of teaching and learning.

We are currently thinking of shortening the induction up to lunch. I would like everybody to leave on a high and not on a low. I was thinking why was it yesterday so different. But whatever the reasons it showed again that each teaching and learning situation is unique and what might work in one won’t necessarily be good in another case. This is the big challenge, isn’t it? We need to be flexible, listen to what our students say. Also, it is very important to read the body language and some of the signs I was getting were that people were tired…

I will stop here for now. I will be back with regular reflections, this is my decision… if you were wondering.

Any comments would be very welcome. Yes, I am encouraging a dialogue about my thoughts and our joined journey on this module. Speak again soon.

3c tree for online learning

This is an attempt to visualise some of the findings of the recent online PBL trial.

Once upon a time there was the 3c tree for online learning

Once upon a time there was the 3c tree for online learning...

through supportive facilitation we will all start communicating...

through supportive facilitation we will all start communicating...

and lay the foundations of a community...

and lay the foundations of a community...

in which we will all be able to collaborate...

in which we will all be able to collaborate...

and learn together to (co-)construct new knowledge.

and learn together to (co-)construct new knowledge.

The above is a very simplistic representation of my thoughts linked to the role the human factors play within online PBL and other online learning activities more generally. I felt the need to create the 3c tree. It helped me understand better how the human factor, and especially online facilitation, influences and to what extend online collaborative learning beyond peer-to-peer support structures. Facilitation is what holds it all together!

Gif version of the 3c tree for online learning

3c tree for online learning

3c tree for online learning

#LAK11 – I decided to participate

LAK11 - who are we all?

LAK11 - who are we all?

A few weeks ago, the online PBL trial I organised finished. This was an experiment to explore if online PBL would/could work and how with PgCert in Academic Practice/Teaching and Learning in Higher Education participants from different institutions. The findings are very interesting and I am currently in the process of writing them up and present them during the next PBL Conference at uclan in spring this year. My intention was to create an open online experiment, nothing massive but the intention was to have it open. Well, in the end this didn’t happen. And this brings me to LAK11 (Learning and Knowledge Analytics 11 starting on the 10 of January – still some days left if you would like to join!!! – I was actually looking to ‘recruit’ some of people I know and am now thinking why this seems to be important for me. Maybe it is because it will be ‘easier’ to connect with people I already know, maybe it is to feel part of a small community from the beginning to be together with others on this journey).

Some initial thoughts: Yes, I decided to participate despite the fact that I will be busy and I already sound like the participants of my little trial but this is a reality. Time! However, I strongly feel that we can make time for things that matter. We don’t always take the right decisions but we learn through our experiences or should… I have started skimming the documention of this MOOC and it sounds challenging. I am going to give it a go and hope to connect with peers who feel passionate about learning and engage in conversations with them in the different platforms. Speaking of platforms, I noticed that a number of them are used. And I guess we need to get used to multitask- and multplatform work and learning to get the maximum out of it. But some don’t see it this way. Technologies can be overwhelming and we tend to ‘stay’ with the ones we are familiar with. Refusing almost to try a new one. This however, is not an unusual human behaviour and if we see it as such we might be able to understand it better. In my little online PBL trial, 2 tools were used and findings suggest that this was really confusing for many of the participants and the facilitators. I am therefore wondering, are we ready for that type of working and learning? How can we prepare ourselves better? Are some more ready to give it a go than others? How can we develop less resistance to use new technologies and the phobia we might have? Does using them more, give us the confidence we need to be more adventurous with them?

Another interesting aspect of the LAK11 and the MOOCs in general is the open and public aspect of learning. This is something that I think makes learning more transparent, does give as a sense of responsibility and ownership too. In theory, what about practice? I guess, I will find out and it will be interesting to find out what everybody else is thinking too.

What I like so far? The daily digest! It is always good to be reminded what is happening and how I can engage. Creating a sense that I am not forgotten and making it somehow personal despite the fact that the same message goes out to all participants.