Το παιχνίδι μάς τρέφει/ We grow, through play

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The venue

Did you ever wonder how it would be to have the 2200 participants of CCK08 in one room in the same physical location? I guess, I could say that I experienced something like this in June when 2000 people were brought together in the largest venue in the town of Thessaloniki. While the learners may have been very different from the usual people we find at academic conferences, at least some of them, they all had the desire to connect with others, I suspect, and a common passion for learning through making, or just making through which learning happens.

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it does look huge… and it was huge

robot_logoDr Fachantidis who leads the Robotics Academy at the University of Macedonia invited me to be their guest speaker at the Awards Ceremony that recognised all little makers who had completed the robotics programme during this school year. The event took place in Thessaloniki in the biggest room available in town and it often hosts the PM… apparently…

But let’s start from the beginning. I met Nikos at the LINQ 2015 Conference in Brussels  and as it was a relatively small conference it didn’t take us long to find each other. We have this saying, wherever you go on earth, you will find a Greek. This is probably true.

While we used the conference to find out about each other’s work, afterwards we stayed in touch and started working together informally having identified opportunities to connect our students through the open community #creativeHE and enable them to learn together. From my side the students were academic colleagues from Manchester Metropolitan University and other universities from the UK and elsewhere who teach or support learning, while Nikos connected with us his postgraduate students from the MA in Lifelong Learning and the MA in ICT in Education who were educators outside higher education and primarily in primary, secondary and adult education.

Nikos has been leading innovative work and research in the area of robotics in education for some time now. Just two years ago, in 2016, he set-up the robotics academy to inspire little makers from Thessaloniki and across Greece to experience the potential of robotics for their own development but also the education sector. His work has been recognised nationally and internationally and he makes a difference to many many people.

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all 2000 on a Sunday when they could be on a beach…

It was truly amazing that so many people, parents, grandparents, educators from across the sectors, lecturers, students and little children, who were the stars of the day, were with us on that Sunday to celebrate together. A very diverse audience with the common love and passion for making robots and learn something new through this process while also connecting and collaborating with others as well as developing social and life skills. Nikos is also involved in multiple studies where robots assist specific groups, for language learning, create opportunities for co-learning, personal development and create opportunities for the elderly and individuals with specific learning difficulties.

At this point, I have to note that I had no idea I would be speaking to 2000 people as I had assumed that there would be maybe up to 50, ok maybe 100. Never assume. When I heard that there would be 1,800, this is what Nikos said at some point, I had already agreed to do this and was on the plane to Thessaloniki. I was in shock and became increasingly nervous. While it was an honour that Nikos had selected me for this job, it was also daunting at the same time. Double daunting in fact, as I would be speaking in Greek about my work in creativity and play. And while Greek is my mother tongue, my professional language is English. Therefore, it is easy to see that speaking in Greek about my work was almost Greek to me, if I can borrow this phrase and a big risk.

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Little makers before the award ceremony started

What I did want to achieve through this talk is to trigger wider interest of the importance of creativity through playful learning throughout education and life more generally and illuminate some of the opportunities playful learning through making brings. I also felt that in order to achieve this fully, or even partially, I needed to find a way to connect with this diverse audience and I used play and storytelling. Below I have tried to explain my rationale and how it all worked. It is at this moment in time the only perspective I have but I am inviting individuals who were there to comment on this post, if they wish.

The strategies I used for audience participation… and why…

Say it with a picture
I love taking pictures and using them to communicate messages visually, connect ideas and experiences. I did this in this speech as well. To the pictures I added shorter messages as prompts but also two extracts from recent publications. A little bit of recent research is always useful to strengthen an argument and it doesn’t all sound too one sided. The pictures were used to create mental hooks but also to communicate across borders and tell a visual story through these in combination with written and oral language.

Tell a story
This creates familiarity and develops empathy too. Storytelling helps us draw people in, to connect. If some of the stories are our own this process is speeded up further.
I took of course a risk. I could just read a script but I decided not to. The natural flow of words was more attractive to me as a way to connect with the audience and include them whenever possible. I shared snippets from my life story hoping that these would act as attention hooks and also engage the audience emotionally, beyond the cognitive dimension and the kinaesthetic one, which I also did attempt to include as we did some physical activity. All 2000 people in the room. Hint… chairs… and more details about this follows.

Surprise
We have no idea what others expect, but I know from teaching and facilitating workshops and sessions at university and conferences, that interaction can break the ice and help us feel more relaxed and natural and enable the time to fly. I had set myself a challenge to find a way to engage 2000! And while ideas seem to pop into my head all the time, it took me a little bit longer this time to find a suitable solution and make it happen. In the end I used the sticker and chair approach, which I had used before in other cases but had no idea if the audience would actually participate… never before did I have 2000 in front of me. They did and turned that massive room into a vibrant market place. I was worried that the sticker wouldn’t be found and what I would do then, but the sticker was found. I had placed it before anybody entered the room earlier in the morning. I had prepared a little prize for the individual who would locate the stickers and offered to share my remaining stickers with other children when I had finished. They all disappeared. I just wish I had taken more of them with me. I hope the little boy who found the sticker under his chair will enjoy his day out with his family and think back at this day and our encounter.

Move around
While I started on stage and behind that podium, in this massive room, I soon started moving around among the audience as I felt this was a better way to connect with them. I also did this for practical reasons as I struggled to see the slides due to the way the big screens were positioned and there was no laptop or screen on the actual podium. There definitely was an opportunity to have an additional big screen at the other side of the room to help the presenter and also have a screen on the podium. A hands free microphone would also help and provide even more mobility to the speaker. I am definitely not tall, rather short, and am not sure if people saw me wondering around the room with the microphone and inviting the audience to participate. I don’t regret my decision to do this as it did help me get a little bit closer to the audience and at least further engage with some of them but also get some further participation from all of them. I think the cameras were following me around… if I remember well, but at the time, I didn’t really notice.

Provoke
Talks like these present an excellent opportunity to share fresh ideas. Ideas that are half-baked, rejected the mainstream, novel or new to a specific audience. Ideas that challenge the status quo in a specific context and make us think. Ideas that unsettle us and make us feel a bit uncomfortable. Our curiosity and imagination drive us to make surprising connections. Communicating and sharing these in a way that helps others think and consider are important. It is not about finding new or additional supporters, this in not a football club, but to help people think.

Fifteen minutes is a tiny bit out of our lives. However, fifteen minutes shared with so many has the potential to last longer. I hope some of what I shared with the audience and what we experienced together will accompany them for a little bit longer.

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Thank you for the warm reception, the hospitality,  the privilege and the opportunity to share these special moments with you Nikos and all. My warmest congratulations to all little makers, their families and teachers as well as everybody from the Robotics Academy for inspiring them.

During my stay in Thessaloniki I also had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with some of Nikos students and colleagues at the University of Macedonia. Teaching two  sessions on the MA in ICT in Education was a pure pleasure and I would like to thank all students and my colleague Haleh Moravej who joined us at very very short notice remotely and shared her experience around creative approaches to learning and teaching with us all.

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Friday: After the MA viva and presentation. From left Nikos, Christina, Yannis, Sofia and Marianna. It was interesting to be part of this and gain an insight how the process is conducted at the University of Macedonia. Christina’s study was about co-learning or learning in partnership of parents with their children using robotics.

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1st session on Saturday with the MA, starting with low-tech to get to know each other and then moved to digital technologies…

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2nd session on Saturday: With Haleh, second session with the MA in ICT in Education, students are primarily teachers in primary and secondary education

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I loved the time we spent together Sofia (PhD student in robotics in education), Marianna (working at the University of Macedonia with Nikos, open education/research), Christina (just finishing her MA, dissertation in robotics in education). We had so much fun!

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity Nikos to work with your students and get to know them a little bit. I love and admire their commitment to learning and professional development and doing the course late in the evening and on the weekend. I wish them all the very best for the future.

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Thessaloniki’s landmark, especially for Gerasimos who is from there

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The effective supervisor/personal tutor, an #oer flashcard set

We did it!

A second #creativeHE project that started its life during the making conversations earlier this year with John Rae and Norman Jackson just came to fruition. I have written about the first project here. My colleague Haleh Moravej, Dean Brookes and students from the social enterprise MetMunch and I have been working on an open educational resource we hope will be useful for others. We will, of course, also use it in our own practice and have already identified some related opportunities in the coming academic year.

It is a flashcard set called the effective supervisor. It is an output of an assignment for a module on research degree supervision I completed and really helped me engage with some of the current literature and research about supervision. The flashcard set has been developed in the context of doctoral supervision. However, it also seems to work in different contexts including with undergraduate students and helps to engage them in conversations around project and dissertation supervision as well as personal tutoring.

The visualisation concept started from an approach I initially had destined for another project and particularly an open picture book. The tree sample… which I made on my iPad some time ago…

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the tree by Chrissi, iPad creation

In the end we decided to use another visual approach for the book project and the tree became available to be used for the flashcard project. We worked closely with Dean to bring the idea alive and use the tree as a starting point for a series of illustrations for the flashcard set and are grateful for his creative energy, input and patience.

Two flashcard sets are available in this series. One with and one without written language accompanying the visual prompts. The has been finalised for wider use with further colleagues in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University and specifically Dr Stephen Powell and Dr Alicia Prowse and we will release the full sets soon through the CELT website for anybody to use.

The Effective Supervisor no text and words

The flashcard set is available in English at the moment. Could we translate it into different languages? The set without any written language could also be used to translate on the go and/or come up with other prompts and work with these with students/staff.

Could we make a board game out of the flashcards? The possibilities are endless. Let’s see first what needs are out there and how others can use the existing sets and get some related insights.

With the support of the HEFCE Interventions of Success project we are able to print a few flashcard sets and share these with colleagues.

Thank you Haleh and Dean for embracing this project and working on it collaboratively. I am really looking forward in using it in a range of settings.

Making is at the heart of what we do and who we are… #creativeHE

… we often forget this.

When Norman Jackson suggested a dedicated #creativeHE conversation with John Rae around making and the role it plays in creativity, I was excited and started thinking about stuff I could make. I did think about “making as a project” as defined by Tim Ingold as a concept that was introduced during the online conversations, but I could also see that through this making projects I would hopefully gain a little bit of growth too. There is of course no guarantee for this from the outset but the process of making and reflecting on this helps us identify where we are on this journey and if we are growing, even if it is a tiny bit at the time.

It was almost as if the conversation gave me the permission to make stuff. So I did. More than usual. Colleagues participating online will have seen very little of these activities as they were not all shared through the online community. Due to circumstances and preference, I seem to have adopted what I called in my thesis selective participation… (I had explored this in the context of collaborative open learning) for me, like for my study participants, it was an informed choice and should not be interpreted that I was less engaged or disengaged with the theme under exploration even if it may appear this way to some.

We often expect individuals to fully engage online but actually there is a whole world outside the digital that is exciting and stimulates all our senses and creates opportunities for creative expression, making and sharing. We can also look at my reality from an ecological perspective. The seeds for my making activities and reflections on these were triggered by the online discussions but they didn’t stay online. Norman at some point said.. “what we see online is only the tip of the iceberg” and he is right. If we would live our lives exclusively or predominantly online that would be very sad… Norman also mentioned that we inhibit spaces and we are aware where we are and what we do in these. My presence was much more invisible to others online as I felt that the ecological system of my making creations was primarily offline with some, however extensions and feelers reaching and connecting with the online world.
Pottery making
So what did I do during these last few weeks? I guess, I was pragmatic and spotted little every day opportunities. I seized many of the opportunities and made time for them.

Was this the application of what was discussed online “pragmatic imagination” during the online #creativeHE discussions?

The reality is that I spent some time with clay thinking about my last summers with my sister and somehow I realised that while I have constantly new ideas popping into my head (people who know me know this), I also enjoy small repetitive and easy creative tasks such as making little poppy heads out of clay. Many of them.

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CC-BY Chrissi Nerantzi

Who says routine has no place in being creative? We are all creatures of habit. Can some of these be creative habits? Creative habits that give us the time and space to reflect and grow?

Playing with clay also reminded me of the process of creativity and the frustrations we feel when something just doesn’t work, and we become somehow impatient with ourselves. I can see now that the pottery making activities brought memories back and helped me connect with my dear sister who is for many years now too far away and we spent far too little time together. I was perhaps expressing how much I miss her and found the medium of pottery as a way to connect with her through making. Would David Gauntlett recognise his idea of making is connecting through these activities and thoughts I shared here?

As mentioned near the beginning, I couldn’t stop myself and used these last few weeks to progress some of my ideas that bring me joy and help me connect with others. Pottery but also other stuff. The more I think about it, the more I realise that making for me, is probably more about findings ways to connect with others through making and much less about the product or output. This is an interesting discovery I am making now while writing this and perhaps explains also why I love making pedagogical creations that I have shared with many others. It is the human connection that I seek through these.

Thank you John and Norman for creating these wonderful making explorations for all of us. Reading my reflections I can see the value making has for our emotional wellbeing and the  role it plays in connecting with others. I am looking forward to catching up with the conversations online and make more discoveries.

Chrissi

getting ready for our next #creativeHE making conversation

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CC BY by Chrissi Nerantzi

Our next #creativeHE conversation is approaching… We start on the 6th of March and I have been thinking how to engage in a meaningful way. The conversation will be about making. But it won’t be just a conversation!

Creativity in the Making March 6-20, 2018
Led by John Rae & Norman Jackson
A little bit more info here
To join us, jump into the #creativeHE community!

In the last few years I have enjoyed spending a little bit of time in the summer with my sister making objects out of clay. I miss my sister a lot for many reasons. She is really good at working with clay and does complex structures. BTW, also a fab cook!!! I seem to like simple and flat stuff, two dimensional mostly when I am working with clay.  But I enjoy it enormously and feel relaxed when I am immersed in the creative process and far far away from reality… in a different world where everything is possible.

Illustrating is definitely one of my passions (photography too) but am obviously not a professional illustrator and lack the confidence to tackle a whole picture book project on my own. But Norman encouraged me to go ahead. I think I need to listen this time. I am going to listen!

I decided to focus my making project for our next #creativeHE conversation around illustrating a story I have written. I will go through this process to explore how something like this could be used for learning and teaching. While I have been using story for some years now in academic development and frequently used Storybird for example, this time it will be making everything from scratch.

The story, I would like to use during our #creativeHE making conversation, is for children and adults alike. I would love it to be published properly as an open picture book when it is ready. And raise money for charity. At least raise awareness, is stage 1. This is the plan. For the education of children, refugee children. Perhaps the Children’s University can help. And it would be wonderful if the story could be translated into other languages too.

Colleagues from Bookdash kindly introduced me to the open access picture book creation platform StoryWeaver and I have added the storyline there already. The platform will enable me to make the story into an open book and I can look into translations of this work too. So I think I am in a good place to start. During our #creativeHE conversation, I would like to focus on the illustrations for this booklet.

As I mentioned already, I am not a professional illustrator and I am not a professional writer of children’s stories either. But I used to translate children’s stories in one of my previous lives and one of my own stories was published many years ago.

I was looking for an individual who would like to collaborate with me on this open picture book project. I am interested in minimal illustration and clean lines for this story so that the reader can use their own imagination to complete the picture. To engage with the story in a different way.

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CC BY by Chrissi Nerantzi

Eureka!

And it didn’t take me long to find a fantastic collaborator.  Artist Gail Spencer. I am so so excited she said yes. We agreed that our collaborative illustrations/collage for the open picture book will be made available under a creative commons licence, via Storyweaver initially.

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CC BY by Chrissi Nerantzi

For now, I have created an empty version of the picture book out of ordinary paper using my basic book making skills and tools and copied the storyline into it. This will help me start thinking of illustrations for the 12 scenes. Gail is making hers and we will be meeting soon to share our initial thoughts and ideas and bring them together. I have seen some very first drafts and I love them!

We are getting organised for this #creativeHE project…

… and I will be working on a second making project with Haleh Moravej but more about this later. April update: We are making good progress with this too and have used the above tree image style in that project. So I managed to recycle that idea. Later in April/May we will be able to release the output of the project with Haleh and MetMunch.

Updates

7 March 18: Gail and I have been working on conceptualising ideas for the pictures, materials and style. We met today and only needed 30 mins to agree on a style and construct over 50% of the scenes. We had given ourselves the target of 3 scenes for today but we have 8. A massive achievement. I think we now have a good understanding of each other’s tastes and we experimented with possibilities. This exploration was really useful to find a way forward that would work for both of us. We went for a cut-out style and lots of empty space that could be filled by the reader. And different coloured background. We decided with a “less is more” approach that helps the imagination imagine. As you can see, in the end go we didn’t go with the above idea (but I hope to use this style in  another project).

Gail and I both felt that we need to give ourselves time for our ideas to mature and stabilise and can see that at the moment the ideas might still be very liquid and dynamic and we are definitely prepared to make changes and bring this project to fruition. We said that we would probably have finished draft in four weeks. We said this before we started. After what we achieved already, it is very possible that we will have a first full draft much earlier. A sign of a smooth collaboration? I am very excited!

While we work on this project, I am also thinking how such an activity would be of value for students. How could it work with students from two disciplines? What could the purpose be? I suspect there would be individual and collective benefits and I would love to explore this further when we have finished working with Gail on this.

14 March 18: A relatively short meeting with Gail as we have now agreed on style. We discussed details for some of the pictures and have now a full set ready as ideas in our heads and described on paper. We know where we are going. The path is there in front of us and some pictures are growing and taking shape already. I can see it all in front of my eyes already and our approach is definitely, “less is more”. Instead of adding we take away and it is a liberating feeling.

I suspect that in a few weeks, we will have it all together. In my head I can see it all. I am now thinking about the colourful backgrounds and if these could be added digitally. I will need to seek some advice on how to do this. Adding the backgrounds digitally will give us even more flexibility but also harmonise everything so that it all goes together nicely. For now I am adding here some sample pages, not ready but you will get the idea… there is plenty of room for the imagination to wonder and that is the plan. We would like our readers to engage with the story also through visualising it themselves in the pages of the book. Will it work? We will see.

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by artist Gail Spencer

22 March: We met again today with Gail and the path we are now going is clear. We refined a few last details and agreed how to tackle some of the more challenging pictures. While teddy was going to be bigger and browner, we actually like him now hanging from the page as he is. I feel that Gail had such a good idea of assemplying Teddy on the page. This approach we realised will also help us with some of the other pictures. So can’t wait to see them all together next week. We decided to scan the pictures in on a white background and then add colour to them digitally. This way we will be able to select what we feel works best and harmonise them throughout the story. I can’t wait.

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by artist Gail Spencer

28 March and 11 April: We met and finalised all pictures. It was a very smooth process and we now have all 12 pictures. It feels good. We decided to scan these in on a white background and also take some photographs so that we can then see what we can do digitally. We decided to do this so that we can find backgrounds that really go well with the pictures but also that link nicely to each other so that it feels like a collection of pictures that go together and tell a story. It is truly amazing what we have achieved so far and I am now looking forward to working with Gail digitally on the pictures and putting the book together. Can’t wait to see it as a book!

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all pics… almost all here…

2nd of May: We met again and Gail had already digitised all the pictures. In a short meeting we managed to agree backgrounds, size and locations of the images on each page. It was amazing. While we initially seemed to look at pale backgrounds, we felt that the vibrant backgrounds actually added more emotions and drama, so we decided to use bright colours.

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working with the wonderful Gail Spencer

3rd of May: This is the day when Gail uploaded all the pictures to Storyweaver. It took us a little while to fix some of the images, as we didn’t check the dimensions in advance (but it was a useful lesson for future projects). An amazing feeling filled me when I pushed publish and it was suddenly there. Really really enjoyed the process of working with Gail on this and am looking forward to seeing where this little project will take us.

What will today bring storyweaver

the published open picture book is now available here.

Our first reviews arrived quickly… here are some of them…

“What will today bring?” by Dr Chrissi Nerantzi is a picture book aimed at refugee children in host countries. The theme is current and relevant. Dr Nerantzi travels us to the moving reality of a little girl who following a journey through the seas, finds herself alone in a refugee camp searching for her parents and Hope. Does the girl find her parents? Does she find Hope? Dr Nerantzi’s simple use of language is full of imagery, creating a captivating narrative that triggers profound emotions. The powerful messages are supported by the wonderful illustration by Gail Spencer. I would strongly recommend the book to all professionals working with refugee children.” Dr Gerasimos Chatzidamianos, FHEA, CPsychol, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Manchester Met

“Hi Chrissi, This is absolutely beautiful! The illustrations work so elegantly with the story – well done to Gail! This is such an important story – and handled so poetically. You’ve both created something flexible and resonant for so many young readers – it’s a delight.” Dr Meriel Lland, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Manchester Met

Prof. Norman Jackson invited us to write an article for the Creative Academic Magazine. This is currently in preparation and will be shared when ready and published. The Greek translation of the story is also ready as an open picture book and I would like to thank Dr Gerasimos Chatzidamianos and Dr Eythymia Karaouta for their valuable comments and suggestions.

We are looking for an organisation that would help us print the book, raise awareness and identify ways to help children in need. 

We can all do a little something to help…

Sep 2018 update: Our edited blog post and the process of the creation of this picture book has now been published as an article in the Creative Academic Magazine:

Nerantzi, C. & Spencer, G. (2018) The spirit and wonder of collaborative making, in: Jackson, N. & Willis, J. (eds.) (2018) Creativity in the Making, Creative Academic Magazine, Issue 12a, pp. 46-49, available at http://www.creativeacademic.uk/magazine.html

What drives innovators? #hefcecatalyst event 4th of April 2017 cc @drhelenking #pin

A brief summary linked to the pedagogic innovators workshop as part of the HEFCE Catalyst projects day on the 4th of April 2017 in Birmingham

On the 4th of April, I had the opportunity to join the HEFCE Catalyst projects workshop day in the Cube in Birmingham and be among many innovators from different institutions in England. It was truly fascinating to be among so many passionate individuals and teams committed to pushing the boundaries and making a real difference to the student experience using creative approaches to innovate.

It was refreshing to hear Dr Helen King from HEFCE emphasise on the importance of experimental innovation. Let innovators experiment, let them play! Support them in this process and see them grow and their teams and institutions too! I noted down “experimental innovation” as I feel that it is really important to foster experimentation, risk taking, making mistakes. Innovation means going against the grain, so it is not easy. Often innovations are born out of obstacles.

Helen at some point acknowledged that “We don’t really understand what innovation is”.

The pedagogic innovators project or short #pin, initiated with my colleague Barbara Thomas and supported by Prof. Norman Jackson, aims to contribute new insights into this important area. Furthermore, working with Helen and her team at HEFCE will help us synthesise what we know about pedagogic innovation and innovators. We are investigating…

  • The beliefs, attitudes and values of higher education teachers as pedagogic innovators.
  • Conceptions of pedagogic innovation in the context of their practice, their curricular design and students’ development.
  • Enabling and prohibiting factors of becoming pedagogic innovators for academics and other professionals who teach or support learning in HE.

Helen kindly invited me to join this exciting day where project teams had the opportunity to mingle, network and find out about each other’s projects too. Furthermore, Dr Pauline Hanesworth from the HEA talked about the multifaceted role inclusivity plays as access, engagement and contribution, and Sarah Knight from JISC, discussed the vital role students can play in the process of innovation. As part of the day, I had the opportunity to facilitate a #pin workshop to help individuals and project teams reflect on what pedagogic innovation is. Participants were invited to join the #pin study and I collected valuable visual data which we will start analysing.

During the #pin workshop, colleagues participated in a series of activities that helped us explore their conceptions of innovation, possible enablers and barriers for pedagogic innovators, as well as their needs and strategies that will help them for their projects. All this in 30mins and we used activities that involved drawing, sticky notes and speed-dating. It was an ambitious plan  but I think the fast pace kept individuals alert and active. The bell might have helped a little bit too. There was a buzz in the room and it was hard to stop when discussions where in full flow and ideas were shared and debated. I am sharing below some extracts of contributions that were collected.

Conceptions of innovation

A range of visualisations were collected that capture participants’ conceptions of “innovation”. Some examples have been included to help us all further reflect on innovation and perhaps revisit at a later stage.

Barriers and enablers for pedagogic innovators

After the sticky notes were typed up

  • the pink (barriers),
  • the green (enablers) and
  • the blue (enablers that could also be barriers),

we can see some first patterns emerging… Below are visual representations of the responses with some preliminary observations.

Barriers

Responses from this workshop suggest that the key barriers for innovators as expressed by participants appear to be

  • organisational cultures,
  • metrics,
  • lack of time,
  • working in isolation and
  • being risk-averse probably as a result of the previous items in this list.

Lack of funding only seems to be a limited barrier for innovators.

 Enablers

Responses linked to enablers for innovators highlight the

  • Importance of passion for innovation with a purpose,
  • belonging to wider support networks,
  • collaborating with others but also
  • the need for time and space
  • and funding.

While institutional support does feature among the enablers, the responses around support more generally suggest that support networks that stretch beyond discipline and include students and others beyond institutional boundaries play a significant role in breaking free from potential isolation within their own institution as noted in the barriers.

On the blue sticky notes that referred to enablers that could also be barriers, the following were captured: colleagues, students, resources and funding.

Helen highlighted the fact that generally not all innovations succeed but there is a lot to learn from every idea. Being honest and open about it is really important and will help us move forward. These observations gave me an idea for another workshop that could be offered when the projects are near completion.

Something to think about…

At the beginning of the enablers and barriers activity, I invited colleagues to suggest which colour sticky notes we should use. I asked one person who said pink for enablers but then I sought confirmation from others in the room. Many had another view and their view changed the decision I took. In the end we used pink for barriers and green for enablers. Thinking about this situation and linking it to diverse voices that are less common and often not heard, what could be the potential  implications for innovation?

The #pin project team will put the data collected in our data pot and we will start analysing these in the summer. Our survey will remain open until the end of June. If you would like to complete this, please go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdHLaXOs4xW55hFktGCu225x3LvcR_e-KcHQWaKGTWYIxBwYQ/viewform

140 responses so far! Help us to get more. Thank you.

Thank you Helen for this kind invitation to collaborate and all for this insightful day!

We wish all project teams an exciting journey and can’t wait to find out what you will discover along the way.

Chrissi on behalf of the #pin team

ps. Ethical approval for the #pin study has been granted by MMU (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m5yQYyEEQ4rHlEs3urN-B_MgXNtZCjUB01Bc-ljM8rc/edit

pps. The wordles have been created using http://tagcrowd.com

ppps. Photographs are taken by Chrissi and are available under CC-BY.

Creativity in Higher Education project, open invitation!

What a fascinating year this will be.

3813913Based on our past year’s success with #creativeHE and the various iteration we offered with many colleagues from different institutions in the UK and further afield in collaboration also with the Creative Academic Network, we have decided to put together a whole series of activities under the umbrella project Creativity in Higher Education led by Prof. Norman Jackson.

Many colleagues have joined us and we are grateful for their commitment to the wider community, for sharing their expertise and learning with us so that we can together advance our understanding around creative learning and teaching approaches. Check out the current list of planned community-led activities by clicking here.

It is wonderful that we will be able to continue offering facilitated open and cross-institutional versions of #creativeHE as part of our PgCert and MA in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at Manchester Metropolitan University in collaboration with London Metropolitan University and further collaborators. If you want to join us, all you have to do is check out our community. We also use the hashtag #creativeHE on Twitter. You might want to say hello there too 😉

greenhouse230The #Greenhouse our community for creative practitioners is also part of this year-long initiative and is at the moment contributing the #101creativeideas project. More are in the pipeline so to speak… I invited my colleague Ellie Hannan to lead #101creativeideas and I am pleased she said yes as she is already bringing a lot of creative energy to this project! This is an OER project that is developed collaboratively and shared back with the community so that we can all benefit. It is a fantastic opportunity to share creative ideas we have used in our practice with others and learn from each other to make our teaching more stimulating and exciting. To find out more about this particular project and to submit your idea(s), visit the project site by clicking here. I have decided to submit one idea per week until the deadline which is in January sometime. My ideas will also be added to my blog and we encourage you to do the same.

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If you would like to participate in our Creativity in HE project, please get in touch.

If you have an idea for a mini project, please get in touch.

If you would like to lead a mini creativity project, but need a little bit/lot of help to develop an idea, please get in touch. We are here to help!

Speak again soon!

Chrissi

 

 

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

Chrissi

References

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/