Struggling on… a summer story with a good ending? #phdchat

Since January 2013 I have been a part-time PhD student at Edinburgh Napier University. A lot have happened since then and my previously started and incomplete PhD in translation many years ago and 80,000 words later that didn’t lead to anything are not helpful to put me in a positive mindset. Can I do this? Will I do this?

I am currently reworking part of the literature review linked to open education responding to feedback I received.  “Radical editing” are the words I remember… The truth is that I have been struggling to make progress and actually often feel stuck but also guilty… guilty for not spending enough time with my family… guilty for not spending enough time on my PhD… and guilty of working on too many projects… as I was reminded by Keith in September. Often I feel like being pregnant again but without knowing when and how I will be able to give birth without producing a monster… and the pain is growing…

I am now in Greece and the plan is to rework the above section. I made a start on the plane on a very bumpy ride down south from rainy England. I decided to keep a short visual diary while I work on this and hopefully this will help me out some of my thoughts in some kind of order. Maybe somebody will access it and provide some help and advice.

My visual diary is below.

  


Tomorrow are MOOCs on the menu. Need to shorten from 18 pages to 2. Definitely radical editing needed!!!

It hasn’t been an easy day. I haven’t managed to cut that much, I am down to 12-13 pages, and will continue working on this tomorrow. I understand that I need to be more focused but so much seems relevant!  Thank you to David Hopkins who volunteered to read through the collaborative learning section and Frances Bell for her suggestion to create a visual representation of all the important concepts. I will see how I do tomorrow.


Some sense of achievement today, a tiny one. MOOC pages are now under half the original length of what I had and there is some sort of order there now. I have now shared this with Carol Yeager who kindly offered to read through this and comment. I hope this makes sense to her. Over the weekend, I plan to continue working on the open ed section, the non-MOOC stuff.


Ok, I have done some further work linked to the open learning section and it somehow feels a bit better. Still not happy with it and I have loads of questions but feel that I would benefit from some feedback before doing more on this.


Tomorrow, I will start working in the last section which refers to collaborative frameworks supported by technologies. This is the blue part.


I am still in the frameworks section…

Tomorrow, I will continue working on this again…. I need a small break to get fresh energy to continue. It all feels very messy at the moment. I have created a framework table, thank you for suggesting this Keith. This indeed does help me see similarities… There are so many! But very interesting things do emerge which seems to provide a strong evidence-base for my work, I think. I hope to have a clearer picture of this section in my head and on file early next week.

Late last night, I felt the need to visualise what I have leant through looking at the different frameworks and what I discovered. Here it comes… thank you Frances Bell for this suggestion. I will also add the frameworks I looked at.

 

 
When Ody saw what I was doing he had the idea to call the doors at the top and the bottom of the hill, the door of success, and somehow it does make sense so this is a little but important addition made by Ody (11).

What follows is my MOOC summary…

 

 

Carol Yeager kindly read my open learning section. It was the first time somebody outside the supervisory team read any of my work for this thesis. In the past I was never sure if this is something I should be doing…  I have to say, that I found this really useful and hope that further colleagues will be willing to read smaller sections and comment. Thank you so much Carol and also for making yourself available to read the technology section as well.

I have now (16 August) prepared a visualisation linked to the cooperative, collaborative learning section and am adding this below. Any comments on all three visualisations are very welcome.

The following shows were  I am at the moment, I have to admit that it does seem that I have made some progress over the last few weeks looking back at were I started. More is of course needed, Carol Yeager is reading the frameworks section. I know I need some more specific details linked to this, such as when the SOL framework was developed/used for the first time. If you are reading this and have any idea and can point me towards a related paper, please leave a comment below.


What I wrote when I started this most: more to follow… I really hope I can make some progress while here in between jumping in the deep blue sea, eating souvlaki and visiting magical places with my family.

Now, beginning of September, we are back in the UK and I do feel a tiny sense of achievement. It was worth spending that time on this section and reworking it while away. I would like to thank especially dear colleagues who read the drafts, Carol Yeager, Charles Neame and David Hopkins as well as others who have commented on this post while it was developing. Their comments have been valuable for further changes.


I know that I do need to do a lot more work on this but this tiny step over the summer has helped me a lot to look into the future with a bit more positivity… I do, however need to find a way to keep going. It has really helped me sharing my journey with others and for a while the loneliness disappeared… I will be in Edinburgh later this month to see Keith and Sandra, my supervisory team and just hope that the changes I made are an improvement.

Note: Dr Bea de los Arcos from the OU contacted me on the 10th of September and was interested in including this post as a resource in an open course around Open Research which I have done in 2014 and found really useful (see my reflections linked to this here). If you are reading this and are involved in this course, feel free to leave a note here. It would be great to hear from other open practitioners.

Supervisory meeting and what followed

I went to Edinburgh on the 18th of September to see Sandra and Keith. I feel very positive about our meeting and am pleased that they both think that I am making progress and that I can do this. Just need to believe in myself and work hard to get there.

In the train back, I started writing and I have now almost completed the latest changes to the three sections sections. Frances Bell kindly offered to read the latest open learning section and I am really looking forward to her thoughts.

When this is done, I will be focusing on Chapter 3: Methods and Data… at the moment this is 17,000 words long… yes, far too long and too much detail I have been told. So the big scissors will be out soon and a new post about this will follow. I know that I will find this hard as it is probably the most theoretical part and I am a very practical person… How will I get over this? By immersing myself into it, loosing and finding myself… hopefully… more linked to this as soon as work on Chapter 3 begins. I estimate that this will be in a week, the latest. Just feel that I need to finish the edits on Chapter 2 before starting anything new.

Thank you everybody who has kept me company over the summer and more recently but also my supervisors for their valuable help and guidance and for believing that I will get there… one day.

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#blimage response and new visual trigger(s) > Rules, what rules? ;)

#blimage what is that now? Was my first reaction.

Yes, “image” was the vital ingredient that made me click on the link… as I love working with images, pictures, I love taking pictures, I love making pictures, I love expressing through pictures and I love using pictures in my teaching, learning and development but also research.

So I started reading David Hopkin’s post. I have to admit that I was confused. I guess I read it too quickly and it just didn’t make sense. What was I asked to do and why? I think I now understand that I have been asked to connect my thinking to the image David tweeted and then perhaps invite somebody else to respond to my visual trigger(s). Yes, you guessed right… there will be more than one. I am already thinking of this instead of capturing my thoughts around David’s picture. Is my brain future facing?

Is this a chain exercise? Is it about exploring the concept of reciprocity? Is it about speaking through images in a literal and metaphorical way? Is it more about the process than what we create and share? Or both or even more than that? Or following blindly what we are asked to do? But then again I could say no… Why didn’t I? Why didn’t everybody else? Did we also pick people we knew would respond? Did anybody sent the request to a complete stranger? Who broke the chain and most importantly why?

At the moment of writing this, I am in the train and on my way to London with no internet access. It is very very early. I feel that there are information missing… I don’t understand what I have been asked to do and how it relates to anything else and what the purpose of this activity actually is. What are we trying to achieve? What is the purpose of this activity? I feel like a student… a student who is lost and disorientated. What wants to know more… But also a students who is reactive to what what they have been asked to do… But there is also something about this task that fuels my curiosity and anticipation for exploration and discovery.

David’s picture echoes emptiness somehow. I have to admit that I don’t think that I would pick this to use on my blog… I didn’t connect with it immediately and I am not sure if I am fabricating what follows…

Yes, I am picky with images. I wouldn’t just use any randomly to decorate my blog as they have special meaning for me. If the picture doesn’t talk to me it will never make it here… Often I spend a lot of time, picking the right ones…. anyway, this one is here now… but not because I picked it…

In my imagination I can see people sitting there, avoiding looking at each other when I think of an airport while they would be talking in a learning situation. In my classroom they would and they would be making stuff as well and moving around. Learning doesn’t really happen properly when you are sitting down all the time! The fact that these seats are static is a disadvantage but we can turn this into an opportunity. We can use the floor, walk around, leave this space and go elsewhere. Why is this not happening enough when we think about fixed classrooms, for example. Why do we feel prisoners and often victims of a system? What is our responsibility?

The picture also reminds me that I will be flying to the sunshine very soon and therefore it also fills me with anticipation and joy. It might be me and my boys sitting on these seats. How will we behave? Will we feel in transit and be in our own little pink bubble of shared past and present, looking forward together to the future? We have each other. Why do we need anybody else? This question is indeed problematic, think about it for a minute.

While travelling on the tube to go to #legoHE15, I was in this space which did remind me of David’s watercolour painting and my challenge? Was I living it suddenly?

I also noticed just now that this is actually a watercolour painting? I guess when I first looked at it on my tiny phone screen, I couldn’t see the difference… my eyes are getting bad…? Is this painting a re-creation of what we see with our eyes, or what we see through our eyes? Copying reality? I am not good at this but does this mean this is not useful? I like paintings with depth, paintings that make me think. But then this  did but in a very smooth way. I guess this is ok too. What I am trying to say is that imaginative pictures speak to me more. Pictures that are interesting, unusual, not a direct copy of reality…

Not sure I did what I was asked to do but I feel I have done a little something to contribute to #blimage. I hope this means something to somebody.

Feeling dizzy writing all this. Should really stop… Still on train travelling…

The above was written in the morning on my way to #legoHE15 which was organised by Alison James in London. I am now at station waiting for my train home. Thinking again of the original image while sitting on a similar seat as David’s challenge pic. Everybody around me is using their phone… me too… are remote conversations easier? Is it a way to escape what surrounds us? Can we be here and everywhere at the same time? Is this a good thing? Always?

I have an idea for a new picture challenge and will add them (yes, there will be 3 + 1 in total so that the person has some choice. Will add these when home (ok they are here now). I hope the people who get my #blimage challenge can relate to one of the photos in a creative way and make a meaningful connection to learning and teaching… I have no idea where this exploration is leading us individually and collectively… It is however, fascinating and I can’t wait to find out…

Thank you David for involving me. Would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts.

Did my thinking travel in the wrong direction?

Here come the 3 plus 1 images I would like to hand over to Debbie Baff and Stephen Powell. I am in holiday mood so they had to be bright. What do your eyes and/or  mind see? How do you connect with one of these pictures? What learning and teaching metaphors do you see in them? Pick just one and create a blog post that helps us see the connections you made. Share your stories back with me and colleagues via #blimage. Thank you in advance for taking on this visual challenge.

Thank you for the challenge David and Steve. I hope you don’t mind me adding the “pick-your-own” feature 😉

Chrissi

Visualising FOS as a pizza (globe)? #fos4l

FOS in 5 days, a pizza, a globe in 5 sections. What I noticed happening each day using symbols: question marks, hearts, stars. Frequency and size of these also matters. What do you notice?


Adding colour: from dark to light. Is this what FOS really means? I think some of you now know. Think of photo-synthesis, photo-graphy and you will get the real meaning of FOS 😉 In Greek it is φως


Darkness everything around FOS?


The 5 sections, which day is which? My interpretation. How do you see it?


IMG_1576

Not the end, not over. What do the spirals represent? Basically this image shows the FOS in 5 days and beyond. Would be good to have an interactive model… with colour movements as well. I can see it now in front of my eyes but would need some help to make this happen digitally.

 
Late addition (17 Aug): An important omission was observed by Ian Tindal which is now included in the below. Thank you Ian for making me reflect on this aspect of FOS.

  
Confession… I feel guilty as I just now (Sunday evening) managed to do what I said I would do in my last post about FOS and my experience. But perhaps this small time delay was useful to really filter out my interpretation of what happened last week.

Can’t wait to hear if others connect with my finger drawings (made on iPad using sketches, the free version, see here)  and what they mean to them.

Post also written on iPad and uploaded directly. Sleep well everybody 😉
Chrissi

FOS > let’s learn and play, challenge and be challenged #fos4l

It has been a while now since I added a blog post here. The last few months seemed to have zoomed by and I wish I had captured some of my thoughts here but I feel that it is too late… We are already in the middle of summer already and I am looking forward to jumping into the deep blue sea in a few weeks. But before I do this, we decided to offer a new professional development opportunity with my dear friend and colleague Sue Beckingham. We have been working for some years now very smoothly together remotely (I think it is because we give each other space, trust each other and have a common vision > we have found that we are on the same wavelength without even exchanging words) and we hope that many more collaborations will follow.

light-bulb-231412_640

A clue… it will definitely be electric!!! image source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2013/12/20/19/16/light-bulb-231412_640.jpg

This new initiative has been baptised FOS. If you are Greek or speak Greek you will immediately make the connection, if you are not and are now curious, you might want to find out what FOS as a word actually means beyond the acronym. There is always a Greek nearby… just reach out.

What I can say here is that FOS stands for flexible, open and social and we added the learning as it is all about learning but also living and working. A lot of blending is happening that requires a lot of flexibility and elasticity to maximise on opportunities for learning and teaching in higher education. This is the area we focus on as it is the area we focus on. FOS is an openly licensed course build on existing OER courses (FDOL and BYOD4L) that have their roots in an MSc dissertation around the use of PBL in an open professional development initiative (BOE programme at Edinburgh Napier) when I started experimenting with pedagogical ideas and explored open and connected professional development of teachers in higher education.

Sue and I have taken bits from both courses but also what we have learnt from the #LTHEchat initiative and created FOS that for me personally represents the next step of experimentation, a more playful approach to enquiry-based learning, using FISh (Nerantzi & Uhlin), the 5C Framework (Nerantzi & Beckingham) combined with new elements that I suspect will lead us to new discoveries. We have of course no idea how it will go… perhaps we have been too ambitious or over-engineered it… so to speak. I guess, we will find out soon!

The plan is to reflect on this experience over the coming week in a visual way, using drawing, photos and a mix of things as I currently seem to be better as expressing myself visually. I will share my thoughts here hoping that they will make sense to others and will become triggers for further exploration and conversation. Who knows…

A massive thank you to my serial partner in crime Sue Beckingham, our supportive facilitators: Neil Withnell,  Stephen Powell, Mike Nicholson, Stathis Konstantinidis, Deb Baff and Candace Nolan-Grant; Ellie Livermore who created the beautiful stop motion films and voice overs together with Sam Illingworth but also Whitney Kilgore for reviewing FOS and her constructive feedback which helped us make some final changes and corrections. A big thank you also goes to all previous collaborators.There have been many.

I am excited about this coming week and am looking forward to sharing it with those who decide to join us on this journey.

Chrissi

ps. FOS starts on Monday the 13th of July… 😉 Join the community space at https://plus.google.com/communities/105168012355632331504 and let the fun begin. Who says learning shouldn’t be fun??? Lets learn and play, challenge and be challenged