100,999 words of transcripts…

The draft prologue, abstract, Chapter 1: Introduction, Chapter 2: Literature Review, Chapter 3: Methods and Data, Chapter 4: Survey Findings as well as related appendices are now in “ok draft shape” and have been reviewed by my supervisors and colleagues who kindly read earlier drafts, sections and subsections. I am also updating my growing acknowledgement section and am continuing checking new research that is released so that it can inform my literature review if relevant.

I have found the ongoing dialogue around my research extremely valuable and it has also helped me to identify gaps or holes I should say in my own understanding and my personals struggle with theory… the methods chapter was particularly painful and I am sure it is not over yet. As I have all my data now from both cases, I am now focusing on the analysis of the main data collected through the phenomenographic interviews. All 22 of them and there are 100,999 words in total. I need to code all of it, every single phrase. You see, in phenomenography you code everything and while this seems to be a very inclusive qualitative research process, as all variations of experiences are getting voiced, it is also a very messy process I have found so far. I have currently doubts that what I am doing is leading me anywhere… However, yesterday, while finishing a presentation for a forthcoming talk (thank you Sue for looking at this) and looking back at earlier drafts and  preparatory work within the presentation, on the ipad, on phone and in a Word document, I can now see how the final presentation has emerged through synthesising all these thoughts I had. That presentation is now much more stable and I feel so much happier about it… still very nervous though…

Hopefully I will make good progress with the data analysis and reach a stage where I can just look at the data and how I organised it and it makes sense to me and others. I have a long way to go until then…


trying to… (source)

My challenge is that I am not just familiarising myself with the methodology and applying it but also with the data analysis tool. This is NVivo and while I am making some progress and can do the very basics, I still struggle. Not giving up. I will keep going and hopefully discover some useful shortcuts along the way and make progress with the analysis too.


image source here

Looking at the first attempts to analyse the data, I notice a change in my approach. Maybe this is a result of a short conversation I had yesterday with a colleague. While until yesterday, I had themes and categories. I decided this morning to delete all themes and go with categories at this stage which I can later group together into themes. I hope I am doing the right thing… There are around 30 categories (not categories of description yet!!!) at the moment… far too many, I think. The plan is to get all the transcripts coded by the end of the weekend. Yes, I have work to do ;). Reading the transcripts all together and doing the coding, however, really helps me get into the data. I just wish I could do this until I am done. Doing a bit and then nothing for days, is hard. I have found that I need a lot of time getting back into it after a break… and working in the evening when my brain is dead doesn’t seem to be productive either. Anyway.

Some observations from today so far based on the transcripts: One of participants’ key motivation to participate seems to be to use new technologies and get ideas how to enhance their practices. They could of course do this on their own without joining an (open) course. However, what they also say is that they are keen to connect with others and especially from other countries and cultures. This seemed to be more important that just connecting with colleagues in other disciplines or institutions. They recognise that they have limited time and that the motivation of those working for credits might be increased, but are keen to be involved and get loads out of the interactions with others, especially when learning in small groups. Learning within a group was their choice. They also valued the support by facilitators. Coming together as group members was speeded up by organising synchronous get-togethers via Google hangout where they could see each other. This really helped them get to know each other and seems to increase commitment to the group. But not all could make. It is interesting what some say that they established much closer relationship when working in these small groups (but not surprising) and others who didn’t join a group note that they recognise that they would have that opportunity if they had joined a group. However, not everybody wanted to join a group and some found the resources really useful and the related activities and the community based conversations. The literature was useful for many but not all engaged with it. Some suggested to use them more in the groups. While for some creating a product as a result of the collaborative learning process was seen as valuable, others said that this didn’t really work and would prefer to support each other in a different way. The short activity-based videos and other activities are mentioned a lot also by a participant who had learning difficulties. This is something to think about when designing activities and making resources available in alternative formats. Feedback also featured in the transcripts I read through and while there were positive comments regarding these, some mentioned that they felt a bit superficial at times.

While the courses were developed and/or offered with universities from other countries, the course language was English. Participants whose native language was English seem to be aware of and sensitive to the challenges this might cause non-English native speaking participants. The interviews do confirm that some of the international participants had real confidence issues with using English in the courses and this in some cases hindered some aspects of their participation. It was fascinating to find out what participants said about other participants. Empathy features in their descriptions of their experiences as well as that they were annoyed by specific behaviour.

Back to some more coding now…



#pin project now live

This Friday the 5th of February 16 we are organising our very first #pin focus group at Manchester Metropolitan University during which study participants will share their thoughts around pedagogic innovators through a wet felt making process.

I can’t wait to see Gail Spencer and Mike Lowe from Crewe, who will introduce us to wet felt making as well as Barbara Thomas, HE consultant, who is supporting the #pin project. If you are working at MMU you are very welcome to join us. See further details here. We are meeting in the All Saints Building, First Floor, Room 105 at 12pm ;)


This could be you on the 5 Feb 2016

It is wonderful that the following colleagues from other institutions in the UK have joined #pin as co-researchers. I am really looking forward to what data will be gathered in their institutions and what insights we will gain within and beyond institutions around the people behind pedagogic innovations.

A big thank you to

Dr Alison James, London College of Fashion
Neil Withnell, University of Salford
Chris Rowell, Regent’s University London
Barbara Thomas, HE consultant
Prof. Norman Jackson, Creative Academic

who have joined the #pin project. We have also connected to the programme of work being coordinated by Creative Academic for World Creativity and Innovation Week.

I am really looking forward to working together. If further colleagues and their institutions are interested to join the #pin team, please get in touch with me.

We willpin_NEW be gathering data in different ways. Some of these will be visual data. We have also created on line survey. This is now live and you are  very welcome to complete this if you would like to contribute your thoughts around pedagogic innovators in higher education wherever you are in the world.

Please remember to read the research information sheet and the consent form. These can be found through direct links from the survey which is here.


If you have any questions, please get in touch.

See you soon,


ps. If you can’t make it to our felt making workshop, feel free to watch the following. We will share the key question we used as a trigger to create the visual response after the workshop so that you can use this also to create your visual response. The final product will be a collage, some bits will be made of felt. Further techniques and materials will be used to finalise it. The plan is to share the visual data during the Learning and Teaching Festival which will take place at MMU in June.

Link to the survey is here, if you would like to participate in the #pin project

The real power of digital in learning and teaching #digifest16 #www16

I have been given a wonderful opportunity to share thoughts around the power of digital in the context of learning and teaching at the Digifest organised by Jisc. Really looking forward to this great event. The programme looks amazing and I am excited in meeting colleagues and finding out more about their work and what makes them tick.

If you know me and how I work, you might suspect that I will try and do this my way… ;) For me this will be a massive 10 minute workshop-type session, I think, so participation will be required. Risky?  Yes! Would this stop me? No.

As I would love to take you all with me for these 10 minutes, I decided to reach out for help. The title has now been announced. So, there is no way back. After thinking about what digital means to me as a lifelong and lifewide learner and practitioner, I decided to go for…

www or wondering while wandering

How does this sound to you? Can you relate to this? If it is a yes and says something to you, I am wondering if you would like to visualise your thoughts and ideas around this and share with me.  How does this sound?

The plan is to co-create a tapestry of all your contributions to frame the 10 minutes. Ody,11, my little boy,has made a great start. See below.

I really hope you will embrace this opportunity and be with me on on the day through your contributions.

Create and share your creations linked to the the www title via Twitter using the hashtag #digifest16 and #www16 and I will pick them up from there. You are very welcome to directly add your visualisation to this post as a comment too, if this works better for you. Remember to

  • add your name and/or Twitter id
  • a creative commons licence (if ok with you)
  • were you are in the world at the moment

to your contribution.

Please feel free to share this invitation with others who might also be interested in contributing.

In the next few days, I might reach out again as I think we have a unique opportunity to put our ideas forward collectively.

Can’t wait to see your creations. Thank you so much in advance.



@BYOD4L ing this week from the other side

Monday note…

“Inspired by a tweet by Emma Gillaspie @egillaspy on day 1 about a photo competition around the 5Cs (check this out at on Twitter using the hashtag #UoSBYOD4L) I plan to capture this BYOD4L week using images but also think about the 5Cs in a different light… ”

Saturday morning

yes… this was the plan at the start of the week but it didn’t come to fruition… unfortunately…

However, the competition made me think about the 5Cs (Nerantzi & Beckingham) in a new light and I started thinking about antonyms of the 5Cs and the 5Cs as a continuum. I am just adding my notes below at this stage and am exploring currently in what way a 5C continuum would be useful as a diagnostic tool perhaps for individuals and learning communities using social media but not exclusively. At work, we will be developing a mobile app which will be valuable for educators, students and many others as a self-development tool and I think one of the applications that I would like to try in the summer, when we hopefully have the first version of the app, is the 5C continuum. More about this at a later stage. Together with the 5C continuum I would also find a better way to represent the 5C at a specific moment in time and through time, if this makes sense. 

This week I experienced the BYOD4L course from the other side. As a little helper to our very first community-led January 2016 iteration with Neil Withnell, Sheila MacNeill and Alex Spiers. Sue Beckingham and I have been leading all three previous iterations with many passionate colleagues from the UK and further afield and while we did enjoy them enormously and helped us really get to know each other and find effective ways to collaborate, we also felt that a change was needed and a shift at the same time to empower the BYOD4L community, refresh the offer with new faces and ideas as well as help others develop new capacities and also share the load a bit as this is an initiative by the community for the community and now with the community. I feel it is not enough to talk and write about learning and working in partnership. Making it happen is the real value for all.

For me this week was fascinating, because it showed that we can re-use OER courses and we can work with other peoples course materials and we can make it a success. I guess it also depends on the materials, how flexible they are. Our approach has been inquiry-based and the course course can be fully personalised and contextualised. I think this might be an important enabling factor. Letting go and loosing control can be scary but also very liberating and I have experienced how empowering this can be when working with others who are committed practitioners. Committed to the course but also the team and the community. It definitely needs to be a team effort. Otherwise it won’t work. Together, we can grow ideas and take initiatives into new and exciting directions. I am very keen to continue exploring this way of working  with others in the open and am excited about what might happen in the future, or what we might create in the future.

Friday evening, our last BYOD4Lchat was an experience in itself and something we didn’t anticipate of happening. Twitter to crash? Alex said it is our fault… I know he is kidding but I am sure it is partly our fault as we were using it too… Experiencing something like this in the middle of a live event were you are not in the same room with others leaves you feeling hopeless. First, you think it is your connection, as I did and blaming my boys who were both on computers…, then you try different things to re-connect and nothing works… you feel stuck. You want to reach out and let everybody know but you can’t, at least you can’t through the same channel. Just imagine the whole internet would suddenly disappear under our feet…

I think we need a plan B for these things and plan C and this should perhaps be communicated at the outset of each event. So what could we have done? My first thoughts would be the following

Plan B: Move the conversation to another social media channel, in our case this could be the BYOD4L community in Google plus. If this fails?

Plan C: Re-arrange after connection has been re-established to minimise frustration. 

Really would love to hear your ideas about the above.

The organisers decided to use the DM feature in Twitter to co-ordinate activities during the BYOD4L week and I think this really made a difference to speed-up communication, troubleshoot in no time, support each other, often instantly, but also acknowledge each others’ contributions and really proof that this is a team effort where the collective comes before the individual. I saw all these things happening this week and it was wonderful and made me smile many times.

I hope everybody enjoyed BYOD4L this time as much as I did and found it useful too. It definitely helped me reflect, plan and act. The week and what happened during this week   seeded new ideas for me, so thank you all! Sheila has written an excellent summary of the week. Please access here.

BYOD4L will be back in the summer as a 24h experience.  The BYOD4L community is open all year round so just jump in to connect, communicate, curate, collaborate and create. The community is  here. For the BYOD4L day, all we need is people who would like to organise it with others. Get it touch if this could be you. We are looking for colleagues from different parts of the world.





handing over the baton to the community @BYOD4L @LTHEchat

We have heard, read and probably experienced that OERs are often under-used… does it have to be this way? And what about OER courses?

Orr et al. (2015) in a recent study recognise among others that OERs can bring educators together and trigger opportunities for collaboration especially in the area of professional development of educators.

I have been exploring various approaches and strategies to achieve this with many passionate colleagues and closely with Sue Beckingham over the last few years and (co-)created openly licensed courses and initiatives in the area of informal open cross-institutional collaboration in academic development since I did my MSc in Blended and Online Education with Prof. Keith Smyth which helped me discover opportunities in this area and I am since January 2013 a PhD student exploring open cross-institutional professional development.

Scalability is often mentioned as something we haven’t worked out yet… an answer could be cross-institutional offers perhaps? I have been interested in this with a focus on creating conditions for versatile and collaborative learning experiences within supportive communities.

Sustainability is perhaps something that needs more our attention as well? How often have we heard projects that have received seed funding disappearing after this dried out? And what about non-funded grass-roots open initiatives that solely rely on good will and sustained commitment? Do they have the potential to live longer? But how?

To sustain open courses and initiatives that are of value for others, make them truly democratic, inclusive and collaborative, I think one way of doing it could be through community engagement – community driven leadership that empowers and creates shared ownership. It requires the community to play an active role in shaping and reshaping the course or initiative and taking it into new and exciting directions. It might also be a way for open practitioners to give something back to the wider community while developing new capabilities?

Projects which grew out of seeds I planted, and are out there in the open are changing… What I just described has actually started happening and I am including specific examples here:

The Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLC) webinars: Since September 2015 we introduced a rotating organising team. I am extremely impressed with how well it has worked so far. Dr Rod Cullen, Prof. Ale Armellini and Calum Thomson are definitely taking the TLCs to the next level where one person couldn’t.

The Learning and Teaching in Higher Education tweetchat (#LTHEchat) had a mixed team last term but from this term we have 2 colleagues from the LTHEchat community, Dr Stephen Powell and Ian Tindall leading together with a colleague from the HEA, Kandy Woodfield, as the #HEAchat and the #LTHEchat have come together, which will be beneficial for the wider academic community. I am really looking forward to this new collaboration and the forthcoming #LTHEchats.

The open course Bring Your Own Devices for Learning (BYOD4L) is going to be offered for the 4th time next week (11-15 January 16). Colleagues who have participated and facilitated in previous iterations of the course, have kindly volunteered to become organisers. I am  extremely grateful to Neil Withnell, Sheila MacNeill and Alex Spiers for taking on this exciting opportunity forward. I would suggest to join BYOD4L from Monday for a week of development where students and educators are coming together to learn about how they can utilise their smart devices for learning and teaching. It has been a very popular course so far, creates a real buzz every time it is offered, has lead to rich learning and changes to practice and generated many opportunities for collaboration that stretched beyond the course. Jump into the BYOD4L community directy! No registration is required!!! Read Sheila MacNeill’s related post here.


The title of this post says… handing over the baton… it doesn’t mean that I will disappear. Relay only works with great team work and that means sustained commitment! In my new role, I will be there to support the teams as long as needed, more silently in the background ;)



Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event, source here

I am looking forward to finding out where this new direction in my thinking and practice will lead us. Might this be a valuable path for more democratic, distributed and participatory leadership of open practices and help us sustain and grow practices further?

To an exciting year ahead!

Your comments and ideas are, as always, very welcome ;)




Orr, D., M. Rimini and D. van Damme (2015), Open Educational Resources: A Catalyst for Innovation, Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing, Paris.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264247543-en

Keep going… moving to Chapter 1 and remaining data collection

Keep going… Keith reminds me of this regularly and  he is right. I need to keep going!!!

Almost three years now since I started this part-time PhD in January 2013 and it has been a very bumpy ride so far (… I don’t think I am a unique case though…). I think I am going through a smoother stretch at the moment (don’t think it will last…) and feel that I am actually making some progress. This fuels my batteries with fresh energy and the desire to keep working on this.

After recently submitting Chapter 3, the scariest of them all so far, to my supervisors, I started putting the puzzle pieces for Chapter 1 together. I know it looks more like Easter eggs, in the sketch below…

Sandra commented on one of my earlier doodles linked to Chapter 2 that was black with sharp edges that it did capture my frustration. She was of course right. I think this chapter progressed much smoother (so far…) despite its challenges and maybe therefore the sketch is much smoother…  but I didn’t think about this when I created it. Again, I decided to share the very first drafts with critical readers and I would like to thank Peter, Charles and Stephen for their critical questions.

I understand that Chapter 1 which is my introduction is something that should perhaps be done much later, but I think there is still value to create the backbone of this. It helps me make these broader links across the thesis and I have found it useful for this reason.

In parallel, over the last eight weeks, the open course #creativeHE was running and I am collecting data at the moment as I am using this as case 2 for my PhD research. Just a few more interviews to do and I will finally have all my data. All secondary survey data from both cases has been collected already and I will start looking at these and adding some related information to the relevant cases as well. I am thinking to include case specific data in the related appendices but bring all data together from both cases, similar as I will be doing for the interview data. Is this correct? I will ask my supervisors this question when I speak with them in December.
I will need to code the whole lot of transcribed text from all interviews! I estimate that I will have around or over 80,000 words of data from the interviews… same length as the thesis will be in the end. In order to get a feel of this data Everest, I plan to print all checked transcripts and read these as a manuscript, a story, a story in stories.

I will be back for further updates here about Chapter 1 and will add my reflections about the interviews together with survey data to a separate post and link back to Chapter 3.


I have questions around a Glossary of terms and where I should position this but also a more personal bit, my story and the connection to this research. Will these go into appendices?

If you are reading this and have any useful tips regarding Chapter 1, what to do and what to avoid, I would love to hear from you.