still hanging in there, #openresearch week 2

Warning, this is messy…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again running away with my thoughts here…

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

a colourful mess of opportunities, image source:

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

Who are you? Does it matter? image source:

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

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

Looking forward to week 3!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number 1, What does openness mean to me?

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

Number 2. How do I understand open research?

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

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

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

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

Speak again soon,