Happy 2nd Birthday Dear Open Education Europa Portal! @OpenEduEU


finger doodle made with the free version of Sketches

Open education makes us feel less lonely, more connected with ourselves, others and ideas wherever they are or come from. Open education gives us fresh hope, courage and wings to experiment, create and innovate, with others; to collaborate and develop valuable partnerships that help us move forward. This is how I see things.

The Open Education Europa Portal has become a valuable hub for such activities across Europe. It is a vibrant place to share practices, projects and research, as well as connect with like minded-people. Push the boundaries and make the otherwise impossible possible, to advance knowledge but more importantly to build cultural bridges that connect us more deeply as human beings, bring us closer together and transform our lives.This is the real value of open education for me. 

The Open Education Europa Portal has become a really useful source for me over the last two years to keep up-to-date with Europe-wide initiatives, pioneers and their work and related research. Some of the initiatives I have created with colleagues have been added to the database of open offers and I am grateful for this. I also had the opportunity to participate remotely in the Education in the Digital Era Conference back in 2014 which was a great experience and enabled me to be there and be part of the conference without actually being there. A fantastic CPD  opportunity from my armchair… so to speak. After discovering and starting reading with great interest the plethora of eLearning papers, colleagues and I actually submitted our own work for one of the recent issues around our open facilitator work linked to BYOD4L (Nerantzi, Middleton & Beckhingham, 2014) which consequently led to the creation of the Open Facilitator Project supported by CELT, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Open Knowledge Foundation and Carol Yeager a dear colleague and collaborator from the U.S. You never know where ideas will take you and this is truly fascinating.

There are still opportunities to do more, I feel, on the Open Education Europa Portal to take it to the next level perhaps. As an open practitioner, researcher and PhD student in open academic development,I would really like to see and help develop the following which have the potential to make a difference to all of us, I think. Some of my  ideas follow:

1. A community of open practitioners coming together that will help us find each other and identify opportunities for fruitful collaborations to advance learning, teaching, research, living and working.

2. Emerging open educational practices outside MOOCland often non-funded are often still in the shadow. I would like to see these supported, shared and showcased more so that we can celebrate a wider variety of open practices.We would, for example love to find collaborators from across Europe for our open professional development courses and initiatives for teachers in higher education, such as BYOD4L, FOS, #creativeHE and the #LTHEchat.

3. Find ways to promote cross-institutional collaborations in the area of open education that are sustainable and have a life beyond any funding cycles and create rich opportunities for exchange and learning beyond boundaries.

4. Create a hub for PhD students in open education across Europe (perhaps Prof. Martin Weller and his colleagues at the OER Research Hub could help with this? Just a few days ago, Dr Bea de los Arcos from Martin’s team made me aware of the GO-GN Global OER Graduate Network at http://go-gn.net/ could links be made, initiatives to be joined-up?) that forms a valuable peer support network (it is true that PhD students often feel that they are working in isolation), fosters sharing of exciting emerging research and findings that will be of interest to other researchers but also enables new collaborations to emerge.

5. … and a secret wish I have and had actually added to my original PhD proposal back in 2012 was to develop a cross-institutional Teaching Qualification for Higher Education with partners from HE in the UK. But what stops us working towards such a Europe-wide.initiative? Am I too ambitious or is it worth exploring this idea together? Please get in touch if you think we can make this happen!

Would love to work more closely with colleagues from Open Education Europa and make ideas happen, together, in collaboration.

  • We know that the future is collaborative. It is happening already.
  • Let’s build on what connects us!
  • Be creative, share and innovate with others!
  • Let’s celebrate together who we are and what we can achieve together!

Visit the Open Education Europa Portal today to seize the opportunities! Become part of Open Education Europa and explore the possibilities for a more open, creative and connected Europe.

The 1st Open Education Europa Week is between September 28th – October 2nd, 2015. How will you contribute? We start a brand new open course on the 28th around Creativity for Learning in higher education! Join us here.

It would be wonderful if this could be the beginning of a conversation. Thank you for reading.

Chrissi (Nerantzi)
Creative Commons License
Happy 2nd Birthday Dear Open Education Europa Portal! by Chrissi Nerantzi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I received an invite from Open Education Europa to create this clip and become an Open Education Europa Fellow. Please note,  am NOT a Professor as the term used in the UK and shown on the official clip you will find here.

Do you have a wide open mind? Join us! #creativeHE

While I am in the process of marking portfolios of our very first Creativity for Learning cohort, at the same time, I am getting ready for our second group from MMU starting at the end of September! Both activities fill me with excitement. Seeing colleagues growing as creative practitioners and sharing part of their journey is extremely rewarding, but also seeing what we have achieved together is fascinating.  I am confident that colleagues will continue on this creative path and make new and exciting discoveries along the way. Already a few colleagues from this cohort submitted a research proposal linked to learning and teaching. This secured funding very recently. I can’t stop smiling and am extremely proud of them. Our album from cohort 1 bring my memories alive.

This time round, Dr Nikos Fachantidis, Assistant Professor, from the University of Macedonia will be joining us remotely with a group of postgraduate students studying towards an MA in Lifelong Learning. Prof. Norman Jackson, from Lifewide Education and Creative Academic, as well as Sandra Sinfield from London Metropolitan University with a group of academics from her institution will also be with us on this journey. So there will be students learning with academics and I am really looking forward to this. We have opened-up an existing module and are now better organised than last time. Online participation of this blended course will hopefully be seen as meaningful and valuable for colleagues from MMU and further afield.

We extended the invite to the SEDA, ALT and NTF communities and hopefully I will be able to find at least one group of academics from another institution who would also like to join us and learn with us about how we can become more adventurous in our learning and teaching in higher education. This group could be working towards a qualification or course locally or use CreativeHE as an informal CPD activity that would be developmental and could be used when preparing for Professional Recognition.

FISh (Nerantzi & Uhlin, 2012) image created by Ellie Livermore, Image source here 

The plan for CreativeHE is to create extended and enriched opportunities for academics and students to interact and learn together collaboratively using the course site at p2pu but more importantly through discussions and collaborations within Google community we have set-up using the 5C Framework (Nerantzi & Beckingham, 2014, 2015) and FISh (Nerantzi & Uhlin, 2012). We would like participants to bring their own stories and experiences and share ideas so that we can all support each other and develop as a collective.

This second iteration of creativeHE will become my second case study as part of my PhD research and I am really looking forward to the next few months. Collecting data and gaining an insight into the experience from the learner’s perspective. Hopefully, there will be colleagues interested in my study and willing to participate. As this is a registration-free course for open learners, I have created a mini survey to identify #creativeHE participants who are teaching or supporting students in higher education who would like to find out more about my project and possibly participate. There is of course, no obligation to do so.

Please share this invite with colleagues who might be interested in joining. All are welcome to participate and work towards open badges. Please note, if you want to study towards credits and are not from Manchester Metropolitan University, there will be a cost attached to this. If you have any questions, please let me know, ok?

We start on the 28 September. The online facilitated part of the course will be offered over 8 weeks. Our very last day is the 20 November.

Access https://plus.google.com/communities/110898703741307769041 to join our community and find out more.

Don’t bin your ideas! Share them and see them grow!!! image source https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7365/16582973125_a708f17c86_z.jpg



Nerantzi, C. and Beckingham, S. (2015) BYOD4L: Learning to use own smart devices for learning and teaching through the 5C framework, in Middleton, A. (ed.) (2015): Smart learning: teaching and learning with smartphones and tablets in post-compulsory education, pp. 108-126, Sheffield: MELSIG publication, available here

Nerantzi, C. and Beckingham, S. (2014) BYOD4L – Our Magical Open Box to Enhance Individuals’ Learning Ecologies, in:  Jackson, N. & Willis, J. (eds.) Lifewide Learning and Education in Universities and Colleges E-Book, available athttp://www.learninglives.co.uk/e-book.html. – invited chapter

Nerantzi, C. & Uhlin, L. (2012) FISh, original illustration, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrissinerantzi/9963707266/in/set-72157632690605470 / FISh description available at http://fdol.wordpress.com/fdol131/design/

Putting my roller skates on… #phdchat

My summer has been fruitful in the end and reflecting on the rework of Chapter 2 and capturing the process here has been extremely valuable. So I decided to do the same for Chapter 3.

It feels scary as this chapter is probably the one that fills me with fear, with horror…  but it is not going to stop me. The scissors are out and I have my roller skates on. I will do this. I have to. Again, have written too much. The first draft is just too long, too descriptive with bits that are not needed… The appendices are filling up. A lot of stuff seems to be moved in there… not a bad thing, of course, I am learning. Learning to be more precise and that less is actually more. Easier to say than do, of course.

I will again attempt to capture the re-work of Chapter 3: Methods and Data in a visual way and will be updating this post until I am happy with the next version. My dear colleagues Leslie Robinson and Peter Gossman offered to read sections of it. I am very very grateful for all their help. I will probably reach out again to identify more readers. If this could be you, please let me know, ok?

I will be back soon, with my fist update. This was just a short intro.

Ok,I made a start…  Yesterday. It is definitely not going to be easy… but I think I am starting from the easy part, which is interesting behaviour… I guess I feel more confident in cutting the big bits out… the bits linked to the pilot and the case studies. While cutting, I also decided to start adding about my second case study and I will do this directly into the appendix… It will be useful for me personally, even if not significant for the thesis…

The Methods Chapter… Can this help? – it didn’t, so I started looking elsewhere… I seem to avoid looking at a completed PhD… maybe I fear that I will just copy how somebody else has done it, on the other hand I do need to do it properly…

I understand that this Chapter should not be that extensive (it needs to be short(er), I should say) and that it is best to stick to the standard format… but what is the standard format? What I did find interesting is that in some theoretical PhDs this section is absent… Mmm… how nice would that be? But then again, I don’t think I would ever be able to do a theoretical PhD…

I have been working on the Methods section > this is how I call it at the moment and I am talking in there about the collective case study approach (not the case study methodology) I am using to collect data. While writing this I am wondering if the stuff about case studies and my cases should be in the Data collection section??? HELP!!!

26 September: Today has been a super long day, and I can’t even remember how many hours I have been writing and struggling. It was early morning when I started… I wish I could say that I am happy with what I have achieved… I reached a dead end and need somebody to read what I have written. I have so many questions which do distract me from seeing the connections, the vital connections I need to make in this chapter. I think organising the stuff is my biggest challenge at the moment as I don’t feel confident enough to decide what goes where and go ahead. Obviously the existing organisation doesn’t work but what would? Maybe I am just tired and my brain stopped working.

Despite today’s challenges while also not really looking forward to tomorrow and my plan, I have actually observed a shift in my approach.  Many have told me about tables. Tables here, there and everywhere but they do make sense and while writing and editing, I have found opportunities to turn basic text into something more visual. It makes it easier to read and see the connections.

27 September: This is were I am now…

10 October: I struggled to come back and capture my progress as I felt lost. This is why the massive break and silence… on the blog at least… Through the messiness the following emerged with captures my methodology and data collection strategy but also links the cases which have troubled me a lot to understand how to explain these as I am not using them as method or methodology but as a strategy to collect data. No idea of course what and how many categories will emerge through the data but these will help me shape the outcome space and then my framework. As you can see, I, the researcher sits outside and the researched is all that matters. Will there be four, or five or even less? I understand that there wouldn’t be many… apparently.

!2 October: I spent the last four days reworking Chapter 3. It was painful and this is reflected in the above visualisations but also the longer absense from this post as mention on the 10th. The colours and stylistically different approaches, I had used so far show my confusion and the disconnect, if that makes sense. There was no common thread as I couldn’t see how I would ever be able to re-bundle this stuff. But today, I have to admit, that I feel a mini sense of achievement, finally. I have a basic structure for this chapter and some meat… also still too much fat… yes, my supervisors will probably still recommend radical editing. But that is ok. I have now reached a stage were I need some feedback on all five sections and have found some colleagues who kindly offered to help with reading some of these.

There is some harmony in the above picture and this is how I feel right now. Can’t wait to get some first feedback and continue working on the five sections.

17 October: I have been working on the thesis again today and also created the second version of the visualisation of my research design. This us below. The majority of sections of Chapter 3 have been read by at least one colleague and I have taken their comments on board. I am feeling so much better, I gave to admit. Next week I will be giving the whole chapter to a dear colleague from Salford and I can’t wait to find out what she thinks.

1 November

I have a revisited draft of Chapter 3 ready. Its sections have been read by my colleagues Bernard Lisewski, Dr. Charles Neam, Dr Stephen Powell and Dr Peter Gossman. All helped me refine my work further and be much more precise. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew I would struggle the most with this one but I think my understanding about the methodology, the methods and the analysis is developing and I am seeing the links clearer now. The use of the 2 cases has complicated things in my mind, but I think I am getting there. Dr Leslie Robinson has the whole chapter at the moment and looking at it holistically. I can’t wait for her comments.I think the chapter is probably still too long… and bits will be moved into the appendices…

This morning I noticed the following in my Twitter stream… very useful advice indeed


My next steps are to start looking at a phenomenographic analysis, how the categories of description are formed properly. I am really looking forward to carrying out the remaining interviews, hopefully all before Christmas and getting all my data together. I will definitely print out all the transcript and make a little booklet out of them reading again and again so that I can start seeing themes. Hopefully these will emerge…

I am also looking at Chapter 1 and what I would need for this one. My plan is when I submit Chapter 3 to my supervisors before the end of November to have also made good progress with Chapter 1 and share this with them after I have received feedback from them linked to Chapter 3.

I feel that I am moving. Doing tiny steps, but I am moving.

… I have been quiet here… not recording any of my activities and progress I have made… but I have made progress…

28 November

I have now completed the next version of the draft of this chapter and submitted to my supervisors. Again, I have found it extremely valuable to get feedback on sections and I am grateful for colleagues who helped me with this. It has made a real difference and is stretching me but also the process helps me become more precise. I am now looking forward to speaking with Sandra and Keith in December and finding out what they think about this version of Chapter 3.

Thank you all. I will keep going… as Keith keeps telling me.

ps. This was the scariest chapter so far… 


While winter is starting, I feel that I experience a tiny bit of spring and there is now a bit more hope that I will be able to do this. Is some of the darkness disappearing? image source here