@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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

cropped-open-course-banner-idea-3_hashtags2

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 😉

 

baton.jpg

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 😉

Chrissi

 

References

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

Dear George @gsiemens

For some strange reason the comments feature was switched-off, now back on. 

Dear George,

This talk was brought to my attention on Twitter via Mark McGuire, a dear colleague I first met during CMC11 and who later visited me and other colleagues at Salford Uni. Together we facilitated a session on our PGCAP programme, which was a memorable experience for all of us.

I couldn’t resist watching your talk from start to finish. Despite its length it captured my attention throughout. I felt the need to respond to your open invitation to get in touch with you and am doing it via this open response.

This message has been written during my train journeys over the last five days to work and back. In a way your thoughts kept me in good company in the crammed train and helped me to be transported into a world of exploration.

What follows is a personal account based on my experiences, my readings and related research activities and initiatives I have co-organised and participated in the open.

I have been following your work since I found your articles via the innovate Journal which then suddenly disappeared… and your Knowing Knowledge book in which I have scribbled on every page as I saw this as an opportunity to interact with your words on paper. I remember when CCK08 was offered but in the end I didn’t participate. Then there was suddenly all that noise about MOOCs. They started popping up everywhere. Were the initial ideas to open-up education hijacked as my colleague Dr Stephen Powell said to me recently? It makes me wonder, isn’t this what happens with ideas anyway? As soon as they are shared, they travel, often to destinations we would never dream of taking them. With this comes loss of control and freedom but also responsibility, I think.

I have to admit that I have tried to engage in some of the MOOCs organised by different individuals, groups, institutions or providers and through different platforms not because everybody else was or is, but because I had a special interest in the topics explored in these. I also really wanted to experience first hand what MOOCs are all about and what can be achieved through these. I failed. My own experience shows that neither interest in the topic nor my curiosity to find out how they work were enough to really engage and get something out of them, do I dare to say complete any of them…

Content is everywhere. We are drowning in it. I understand that bundling content can be a way of filtering or curating information and therefore a useful strategy to attract individuals who have an interest in a specific subject. We can of course also learn a lot through selecting resources and perhaps we could take this idea into a new and exciting direction to maximise on some of the opportunities this thought could bring to self-regulated learning, how we put courses and programmes together and what that means for the individual and educational institutions. Are we thinking about these possibilities? Often MOOCs seem to adopt a content-based curriculum with high-production video resources etc. automation and interactivity. In that way, they can be handy for others as focused resources spaces that individuals or groups visit and can complement formal education really well and safe valuable time and resources for others.

But I think people are hungry for different things. People want to learn with others. After all we are social beings. For them, or for us, I should say, it is often more about interaction than interactivity. We saw this when software for learning appeared in the market before 2000. This enabled individualistic learning in the digital world while we were talking about cooperative and collaborative learning in the face-to-face classroom.

A visualisation which synthesises my readings around cooperative and collaborative learning, key features and an important question this generated for me

Many of us have been critical of Virtual Learning Environments… a management solution… Both cases are not dissimilar. The focus is on technology as a controlling power but what about pedagogies, flexibility, freedom and choice? I am aware of the distinction of xMOOCs and cMOOCs (and there are other terms…. the most bizarre one is mini MOOC) and can see that the content-factory is more linked to the first type. Learning with others seems to be the aim of the latter but can it really be realised to its full potential exclusively via peer-to-peer strategies? Do we assume that it can work for all and that it is a financially viable solution? But at what cost? I have been reviewing pedagogic frameworks supported by technology over the last few months. The importance of the facilitator support in these is a common feature to scaffold engagement and learning. What is different in the open that makes us immune to this?

reviewing collaborative learning frameworks supported by technology, key findings… part of my lliterature review

I mentioned that I have attempted and failed “to do a MOOC”… except one… The course had the MOOC label, it was actually a cMOOC. I fully engaged in this one and stayed until the end and even longer. This was the Creativity and Multicultural Communication course in 2011 (CMC11) led by Carol Yeager. I was again very interested in the topics we explored and it was a “we”. However, I could just have googled the resources without joining a course. What this course enabled me to do was to create connections with other learners and the course facilitator and engage in stimulating exchanges about the topics in the context of my practice. I therefore actively engaged in this one, I really felt that others showed interest in my work and I showed in theirs. I didn’t just write stuff which the black hole swallowed… Carol, the facilitator was present, modelled positive engagement in activities throughout and I got to know her really well, others too. The experience was personal and humane, as you said in your talk George. But also collaborative, These characteristics definitely made a difference. BUT CMC11 wasn’t what I would call Massive with a capital M or even with a lower case m. Maybe we all understand different things under “massive”. For me it was a course in the open and openly licensed, a course that linked students within a university course with open learners from across the world and created a sense of learning community everybody could be part of. According to Carol, there were around 300 participants, 15 of them were studying towards credits. During the course 50-60 learners were present,  but the core participants were around 20 or 30 who actively participated.

This message to you might now seem written upside-down. I hope you forgive me George. I should have started this, introducing myself first…

I am an academic developer in the United Kingdom and a doctoral student in the area of open cross-institutional professional development for educators in higher education at Edinburgh Napier University thanks to Prof. Keith Smyth. Beyond my above described MOOC experience and many failures to engage as an open learner, I have reviewed a small number of MOOCs and have been experimenting with open educational practices on a micro-scale compared to MOOCs. My special interest is exploring collaborative learning in cross-institutional provision in the area of academic development. My experiment back in 2010-11 to bring academics and other professionals who teach or support learning and study towards a teaching qualification in their institution, using Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as part of my MSc dissertation opened-up new opportunities for exploration for me, colleagues, my practice and research. I was curious where my thoughts would lead me and actually was encouraged to submit a PhD proposal to Edinburgh Napier University in this area. I am since January 2013 researching open cross-institutional practices within academic development and aim to develop a collaborative learning framework in such settings. I have found it a fascinating journey so far, also a very challenging and exhausting of course… no different I am sure from any other PhD experience. I have initiated a number of cross-institutional open courses with colleagues from other institutions. These are courses that have been developed to open-up, connect provision and create meaningful and stimulating experiences for sharing in distributed communities, networks and groups. They are in the area of professional development for educators in HE but are of course also open to student participation and are developed  using collaborative pedagogies. Examples include the Flexible, Distance and Online Learning (@openfdol) which has been repurposed and evolved into Flexible, Open and Social Learning (@FOS4L), Bring your own Devices for Learning (@BYOD4L), Creativity for Learning in Higher Education (#creativeHE). All of them are underpinned by inquiry-based pedagogies, provide opportunities for collaborative learning in small groups where facilitators are present and engaged. Creating learning communities is at the heart. My findings so far confirm that the collaborative aspects of these courses together with facilitator engagement and support as well as their inquiry-based nature make a real difference to learners.  Carol Yeager and I initiated the Open Facilitator project in collaboration with CELT where I work and the Open Knowledge Foundation to further share experiences of facilitation in the open and learn from each other. If you are interested, have a look at our Open Facilitator Stories collection from 2014.

I don’t think massive is the answer to everything. Is it the answer to anything? I am wondering, We have been over-emphasising in massive, far too much, for far too long, It doesn’t work in face-to-face situation for learners and teachers, how do we expect it to work online and in the open? I prefer an approach where we can scale-up and -down depending on the situation. We have been working on this and came up with the snowballing model (Nerantzi & Beckingham, 2015). Asking ourselves why we are doing it is also important. Broadcasting can work wonders via digital channels and yes, have global reach. Are we however in danger to reduce “education” to marketing? If we really want to reach and engage learners, educators, students and more generally citizens of this world, I am wondering if something else would work better… One size does not fit all, and bigger is better might not be (so) true. Of course face-to-face learning and online learning are not the same. But in both spaces and in between we do seek and value interaction above flashy interactivity. We seek human connections. Things have started changing in MOOCs… and I am following them with great interest.

Often when we read about open education, the terms that come up are Open Educational Resources, MOOCs and open educational practices. The last one seems to grow in the shadow of MOOCs… but it is growing… more and more seem to abandon MOOCland… actually there seems to be a trend for some time now that even MOOC providers call their courses just open courses or free courses, which in itself is an interesting shift. What does this mean?

Visualisation of MOOCs while I was re-drafting my literature review this summer.

However, we also need to learn to work more effectively together. Together is the answer for me, at personal, institutional, cross-institutional level and beyond cultural walls. Do we really want to go down the path of imperialistic educational constructions? I would and am voting for a democratic alternative. We all have something to contribute. Building on our collective wisdom can be so rewarding and make impossibilities happen. Power to the people! Let’s share expertise and resources, co-develop and co-facilitate courses, learning and development opportunities in collaboration with colleagues and groups from our own and other institutions to avoid replication and create collaborative learning opportunities that truly benefit educators and learners and enable collective growth.

It is now Friday and my last train journey of the week. I could continue for a bit longer but I am interested in a dialogue and therefore decided to post this now. It is dark outside but I hope you and others will read this to help me better understand what is going on.

Learning can happen everywhere. We talk a lot about learning that happens in the head… we also have hands and hearts. In a research interview one of my study participants’ said: “we don’t learn to play the piano by just reflecting on the piano”. What does this mean for all of us?

Open education and open learning more generally have a huge potential for all of us. We have come to see education as a money tree… this is very sad and worrying, I think. What can we do about it? What is our individual and collective responsibility to (re)focus on learning and development?

Chrissi
ps. It was lovely to see my colleague’s Dr Stephen Powell work mentioned in your talk.

Towards a typology of open badges

The TLC webinar debate around open badges with Prof. Ale Armellini organised by Dr Rod Cullen and Calum Thomson on the 26th of October 2015, brought  different voices together to debate about open badges in an higher education context.

I am grateful to the above and colleagues who participated in the webinar for creating this thinking and inquiry space and especially Ale for challenging  and stretching me.

All related information about the open badges debate can be found following the links

All posts collectively linked to the open badges debate with resources can be accessed at https://tlcwebinars.wordpress.com/category/open-badges/

Final thoughts…

Multiple uses of open badges
Usually we hear about open badges in the context of skills development. In my view, there is the potential to use them in much more versatile ways, I am sure, we will come up with further ideas for open badges applications as their use spreads further across  informal and formal, lifelong and lifewide, organised and practice-based learning and development.

Open badges are digital stickers with metadata that can be shared easily via the Internet.

Using the Guildford’s Alternative Uses Task (1967) technique developed to measure creativity, I have started synthesising the versatile use of open badges thanks to the TLC debate and propose the below typology of badges. This typology emerged out of practice and is the result of how we have used so far open badges in the context of informal and formal professional development of academics and other professionals who teach or support learning in higher education since 2014 in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University in informal collaboration with colleagues from other institutions and open education initiatives such as BYOD4L, TLC, FOS, LTHEchat, FLEX, Greenhouse etc.

 

Towards a typology of open badges

Momento: Badges can be evidence that we have been at a conference, at an event.

Community: Badges can evidence belonging to a community.

Recognition: Badges can be used to recognise contributions in the context of a course, learning activity, event, community etc. that stand out.

Achievement: Badges can be awarded for meeting specific criteria or standards in a variety of learning situations.

Playfulness: Badges can be awarded during playful learning activities as points and marking milestones.

 

Examples from practice linked to the above, are provided in my presentation from the debate. See below.

Anybody with Internet access, familiar with the idea and concept of badges and the badging ecosystem can award and be awarded badges by individuals, groups, institutions organisations, as well as self-create and issue these.

Badges can be awarded by institutions, organisations, groups, communities and networks, as well as by individuals. Individuals and groups can also award badges to themes elves turning them into useful self-motivators of the above typology.

These thoughts are still at an embryonic phase and your comments and suggestions are very welcome. My thinking will continue develop and change as we collect more evidence of their use and usefulness.

“Because something isn’t valued, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any value”

Thank you Ale, Rod, Calum and all!

Chrissi Nerantzi

 

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

2cakes

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.

it is over, but is it the end? week 4 #openresearch

Monday evening and feeling extremely guilty. Not just any Monday evening. Monday evening after the Open Research course finished. Dark, wet and cold outside. I felt the need to capture my final thoughts and here they come.

guilty… but not pleasures… image source: https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3620/3563571968_b03fcf686d_z.jpg

Internal guilt as I didn’t really engage (as much) as I thought I would. As much in brackets as it could be left out? Trying to link quality and quantity but failed miserable on both… My commitment was at its highest before the course started. There was excitement and fireworks… Then it went down hill… reality hit. I tried to cling on and I did… somehow I made it to the end but what about the journey? It was lonely, even when I was at some point trying to convince myself that it was ok… Looking back now, I think it wasn’t ok. If I had reached out, I would have felt much more connected with the course and most importantly with others. This would have kept me going and probably would have learned much more than I did on my own… But I didn’t… as I felt that I missed the initial train and then it was too late? Is this another excuse? It is never too late!!! I am trying to analyse why I just didn’t make this little bit of extra effort… it is really disappointing. But I did engage with the resources and I did reflect here.

Some people might have read some of the stuff… or at least looked at some of the pictures. I didn’t look at anybody else’s… just not good, not good enough. But is good enough, enough? I don’t know, I don’t think so. We can only get out of something, what we put in. And I didn’t really put much into this. I am not sure it matters that this was open and it was just so so so so easy to just jump in and start learning. But then again it wasn’t… as I experienced. My head is full of excuses and explanations. I don’t think any of them are good enough or real? Or are they? Thinking now, what would have made the difference, I think it is the personal hook, a buddy, we would go through this together. So, yes, I have to admit that I missed a buddy. I think also, that my internal motivation wasn’t probably strong enough to go on this journey on my own? Could this be possible? I think it is very possible. If there was somebody there, we could have gone on this journey together, to support each other, to push each other?

And this other thing, I tried to convince myself in another post about invisible participation… not sure anymore. This really does sound like a cheap excuse now… but there are people out there who prefer to learn like this… I don’t! I like to share, I like to discuss, I like to debate, to challenge and be challenged. I think this is what I missed. You can’t do that by reading or looking at some resources. I guess to some extent you can as you would reflect and then perhaps bring people in that way? But it is not the same to have a proper conversation… and the personal connection make these conversations more meaningful and deeper, I think.

Right, so what did I learn?

  • I learnt that I have a lot to learn about open research.
  • There will always be more to learn. But that is fine.
  • I learnt that I like to learn with a study buddy, maybe more when my motivation is not that high.
  • I learnt a little bit more about open data and
  • I learnt that I have many more questions…

The course helped me develop new ideas and a new project is now taking off the ground that traveled with me for some time now… It is actually going to happen soon and I am excited about it.

Thank you to all organisers. A lot of hard work has gone into this. It would be very interesting to gain an insight into the facilitators thoughts about the course and where it will take their thinking. It definitely helped me make some valuable discoveries about myself and also reflect on my own research.

This is NOT the end… it is another new beginning…

The open bug: a story of collaboration and resurrection

Open Education week 2014 has come to an end but open educators are open and share their work openly all year round. The week was a festival of celebrations around the globe with opportunities to share, connect and learn with others and find out what open education is all about but also stop for a while and reflect on the value of being open and sharing experiences, resources, expertise but also ideas that truly grow and evolve when we come together. There was a buzz in the air, I could feel it in the digital jungle but also in the physical one when I visited places and interacted with others.

Is open education giving away stuff and letting others use our ideas freely without any restrictions or even trample on our ideas and forget their origin, their history? Some might see it that way. I don’t.

For me open education is a great opportunity to share our learning with others, to help others and be helped but also to give something back to society. It is a celebration of human discoveries, stories, achievements, creativity and innovations, of any scale, even the tiniest one that might be of value for others. Open education has the potential to lead to personal and collective growth; to new explorations, new adventures. Together we can achieve loads. Loads more than on our own. I read somewhere that ideas live longer when they are shared. It must be true. But, I think, they don’t just live longer, they also grow in different directions. A seed can grow into an exotic plant, that will then multiply following the cycle of life and evolve into something else. Birth, growth, death, renewal. I really think sharing is the fertiliser of ideas! Respectful sharing! Sharing keeps ideas alive. Sharing is also an ideas generator. Sharing is vital for humanity and has led us where we are today. Sharing makes us who we are, creates our paths for the future, our destinies.

Our minds are magic machines, like no other and our imaginations are limitless. In our minds we flirt with possibilities and impossibilities and often we let ourselves get lost in these. But we are not just dreamers, we create new realities too. We make things happen and we make things. We make the impossible, possible. We have done this many times and will do so again, many more times. And we love to share the things we make. We always did. Humans always found fulfilment and happiness in sharing. We still do! Perhaps in the olden days, I call them BC, as in before computers, and especially before social media, sharing was more localised and it was harder to discover fresh ideas that were just born in a little village on the other side of the planet by somebody nobody outside the little village knew. Today, we all have a voice, we are all global broadcasters, sharers and makers if we want to be but also learners and  teachers, and we can all share our thoughts, ideas, creations not just with the people who are near us geographically but more often we share with people we feel are near us a-geographically if there is such a word. Technologies at our fingertips are bringing out the social animal and the maker in us and empower us to share many aspects of our lives with a much wider audience, find alias at the edge of the world that remind us that we are not alone in our thoughts… Especially creative people, I think, who are driven by their curiosity to discover and connect, to play and explore, have become global adventurers and benefited the most from seeking and creating opportunities to reach out and connect, experiment and collaborate with like minded people wherever they are which creates a sense of belonging within vibrant networks and communities. We perhaps feel also less lonely knowing that there are other people out there who push the boundaries,  take risks, use their imagination and creativity to collaborate and innovate. It gives us strength to keep moving and move on. Could this sense of belonging be the true value of opening-up, connecting and sharing with others?

During Open Education Week, our open FDOL course developed by myself and Lars Uhlin was underway, week 5 out of 6, I was invited by Dr David Walker to share some of my open education projects at an HEA event  at Sussex University.

I engaged in other open events during the week and really enjoyed Cathrine Cronin‘s and Sheila MacNeill‘s webinar around the open educator.

I managed also to watch the recording of another interesting and highly useful webinar for my PhD research especially, by Terese Bird and Prof. Grainne Conole.

On top of all that activity, travelling up and down the country and my normal working life (and my personal and family life as well!!!), I came up with the idea to offer another 5-Day course with a twist during the week. Not that I had time for this on top of everything else I was doing already, but I couldn’t stop myself… and I made the time.

I have asked myself many times what happened to OERs and stand-alone courses available under a Creative Commons licence in repositories and other digital locations and was keen to explore how these could potentially be repurposed. My idea was to use a ready-made, off-the shelf course and bring together a team of volunteer facilitators to enable interaction and support learning plus add a few synchronous happenings to the offer. From my work as an academic developer I have seen far too often that educators focus on content. Their prep often means putting a PowerPoint together and lecture notes. What do we forget? The interaction? Our learners? Content is everywhere!!! And I am not a walking encyclopedia to know everything, not even in my own professional area. Things change too rapidly and mountains of new knowledge are created as we speak. Is it actually possible to know everything and is it actually even needed?

During the OER13 Conference I heard Darco Jansen say:

Content is not education, interaction is!

These words were extremely powerful and stayed with me since.

But also it isn’t really about us and what we do but more about what our learners do and how we can facilitate learning and support them but also learn with them. Often we also feel restricted when given somebody else’s materials to use in our classes. We want to make and use our own and I have been thinking about this before as a possible cause for the reduced re-use and re-purposing of OER? But I might make a massive assumption here and this is not good. So please interpret this more as a question that needs to be explored further. Well I wanted to put this to the test and almost proof, if you like, that we seem to focus on the wrong things! Is learning really about the content? We say it isn’t but what are we doing about it? I had already located a suitable course for this experiment which was waiting patiently in my Diigo collection for some time now to be used… when Paul Booth, made an announcement the week before that he would launch his newly created Northwest OER Network during Open Education Week and put a call out for suggestions of network activities to the steering group, I proposed my open course idea or the hijacking if you like of an existing stand-alone course and breath interaction, facilitation and support into it but also enable facilitators to develop and grow. So learning and development opportunities for all! Could this work? The course I proposed was developed by Dr David Wiley and available within p2pu Intro to Openness in Education. Accessing the course, didn’t even require registration which was an added bonus. The themes and resources in this course presented opportunities for flexible engagement also so that anybody who participated could pick ‘n’ mix and engage as much or as little as they would like or was possible at the time. I was pleased that my idea was well received by the steering group and led to the development and implementation during Open Education Week. This was speed course building in action and required concentrated commitment. What a thrill. Previously with Sue Beckingham, we worked for 3 months to develop BYOD4L now we had only a few days. Could we make it work? As Paul embraced it I decided that we could run it together under the Northwest OER Network. I wanted to help Paul raise awareness of his new and important network for the region and also secured support from CELT. In no time, we managed to get 13 volunteer facilitators in total from 3 different continents through our networks and together, we created a facilitated version of the existing course and offered it during Open Education Week. We didn’t have to worry about content and my take on it was that participants would anyway share their own resources, much nicer that providing everything ready on the plate, so to speak.  Anne Hole also shared her collaborative flipboard and invited others to contribute useful resources and links. We used a buddy system for facilitators who worked in pairs during the week, most of them. We had done this before with Sue and it worked really well. We also created a private community for facilitators to come together to support each other and shared a Google doc folder with related information to co-ordinate activities. We focused on creating daily opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous interactions in different social spaces and our main question was how we could bring learners together. There were discussions, open air hangouts, an external webinar led by Prof. Martin Weller (blog post, presentation and recording available here) and tweetchats.

I think, the tweetchats created most of the buzz. We used the tweetchat format developed by Sue Beckingham for our BYOD4L course and it worked really well. The tweetchats brought facilitators and some individuals from the wider community together on 3 days of the week. The exchange was rich and I could see that the chats generated more questions than answers, which I think, us a good thing. I really would love to investigate why tweetchats seem to work so well. What makes them work? The week was intense, a roller coaster, a fantastic and exciting experience. Peter Reed created daily visualisations of our tweet tags based on Martin Hawskey‘s tags explorer and many of us used Stori.fy to bring the tweetchats together. There is no way, any of this would have been possible without Paul Booth, my partner in crime, Carol Yeager, Anne Hole, Helen Webster, Betty Hurley-Dasgupta, Sue Beckingham, Kathrine Jensen, Peter Reed, Lenandlar Singh, Simon Thomson, Alex Spiers, Neil Currie and all who joined us during the week. We are grateful for the commitment and passion they showed to this last-minute project and their engagement and exchange. Thank you all!

My next open experiment leads me to an even more playful adventure and an open curriculum… I won’t be doing this on my own, so much richer when we share the journey with others 😉

If you are new to all this open stuff,  don’t be quick to dismiss it, give it a go! Identify a mini-opportunity to open-up and connect one of your classes with the outside world and help your students connect with people out there to enrich their learning experience further and make it authentic. It will also be fab for you as you will make new connections with educators around the world and feel part of a wider community.

Remember sharing is good for all of us. But do it properly!

Remember not just to take but also to give back and if you build your ideas on somebody else’s, add proper  attribution! Give a little something back today and consider sharing your open creation via JORUM with others and see your ideas growing.

Did you catch the open bug? Share your story with me.

Note: A newer version of this post has been published in the June 2014 edition of the Lifewide Magazine. See http://www.lifewidemagazine.co.uk/ I am adding the references below.

Thank you for stopping by and reading 😉

Chrissi

References (of Lifewide Magazine version of this post)

Conole, G. (2013) Designing for learning in an Open World, London: Springer.
European Commission (2013) High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education. Report to the European Commission on Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions, European Union, available at http://ec.europa.eu/education/higher-education/doc/modernisation_en.pdf [accessed 21 November 2013]
Jackson, N. J. (2013) Learning Ecology Narratives in N Jackson and G B Cooper (Eds) Lifewide Learning, Education and Personal Development E-Book. Chapter C4 available at: http://www.lifewideebook.co.uk/ [accessed 30 March 2014]
Jackson, N. J. (2014a) Lifewide Learning and Education in Universities & Colleges: Concepts and Conceptual Aids, in N.J.Jackson and J. Willis (Eds) Lifewide Learning and Education in Universities and Colleges. Chapter A1, available at:http://www.learninglives.co.uk/e-book.html [accessed 30 March 2014]

Jackson, N. J. (2014b) Towards a lifewide curriculum, in: Willis, J. (ed.) Lifewide Magazine, Issue 9, March 2014, available at http://www.lifewidemagazine.co.uk/ [accessed 30 March 2014]
Nerantzi, C. & 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, avaialable at http://www.learninglives.co.uk/e-book.html [accessed 30 March 2014]
Redecker, C. & Punie, Y. (2014) The Future of Learning 2025: Developing a vision for change, in: Future Learning, Volume 2, Number 1, Baltzer Science Publishers, pp. 3-17,available at http://essential.metapress.com/content/q446811434mp6x01/ [accessed 30 March 2014]
Weller, M. (1011) The Digital Scholar. How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice, London: Bloomsbury Academic
Wiley, D. & Hilton, J. (2009) Openness, Dynamic Specialization, and the Disaggregated Future of Higher Education, in: International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Volume 10, Number 5, 2009, pp. 1-16., available at http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/768 [accessed 30 March 2014]