“Openness is the absence of restrictions, so ultimately about freedom” Rob Farrow #OEGlobal #go_gn

The above phrase by Rob @philosopher1978 stayed with me… such simple words that mean so so much! This is why we need philosophers!!!

thesame

Is this what we are after?

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… or do we prefer this and what does this mean in the context of OER and OEP?

It was the first time I experienced the Open Education Global conference and it was truly fascinating to find out about open ed projects that were happening in different parts of the world and most importantly connect with some of the people associated with these.

The conference started with the Open Ed scene in Poland while during the conference I had the pleasure to meet and chat with Dr Tomasz Boinski a lecturer in Computing from Poland. We started talking after our contributions and I could sense that he was keen to make a real difference in his institution through opening-up practices. We started talking about our open source app we are developing at the moment and he offered to help us with finding the right licence for this and forwarded extensive resources around these which will be extremely useful for our project. On the last day, Jaroslaw Lipszyc, a polish poet, emphasised that he sees open as free, and therefore he claimed, that we don’t need the word ‘open’. But open doesn’t come without a cost attached… there is the human cost, time and resources etc. Even if for the learner the “open education product or experience” is free or freely available, the process of making this happen can be costly and rarely calculated in especially when we talk about non-funded projects and funded projects usually have a funding time frame which doesn’t go on for ever… some might.

RESOURCES

I felt that there was still a strong focus on content at the conference and many seem to be working on the production of OER, including film format. We are creating more and more such resources, not just universities but also private providers. Are we reducing learning in the open with watching videos?

While we talk about active learning, many do watch videos for hours and I can see this with my own children. We often reach out to YouTube to learn a new skill or find a new recipe or activity. It is not just children… My youngest started video production and shares his films via YouTube with others. He shares Minecraft stuff. It is an interesting development and I haven’t asked him yet why he is doing it. Looking at it from my perspective it almost feels as if he wants to give something back, as if he wants to connect through his work with others, he loves it when others leave feedback on his clips. So I think it is more than just watching videos, it might be more about connecting with others in a very humane way and non personal at this stage as he is only 12 and he is using a pseudonym. So the social interaction he has are at a somehow removed level.

My eldest, 14, seems to have great fun watching science films and funny stuff on YouTube.He hasn’t got a channel and doesn’t leave digital traces behind. He doesn’t share the stuff he creates, except some clips we added to my YouTube channel a while back now.  I often hear him laughing loudly and there seems to be emotional engagement when he watches the clips, it is really fascinating. Sometimes the boys watch YouTube video on telly… My eldest also started coding and he can do this for hours,he is searching for help to develop what he wants without interacting with anybody online… As far as I can see. We haven’t got any firewall but both seem to have a maturity when navigating through the video jungle. Two very different behaviours which make me think about learners more widely and there is something there that reminds me of the digital residents and digital visitors model by Dave White and Alison LeCornu and other stuff that might indicate that change is happening. Both are autonomous and know where to look when they need help.

… I only have snippets of their digital behaviour and habits  and maybe this is problematic especially as they are still children. Do we trust them too much? Is this freedom good for them or not?

Back to my world… still thinking about resources… While I recognise the need for putting together course resources it would be useful to further explore opportunities using inquiry-based models of learning which would I think free us from racing to produce new content. We have done this in different open initiatives such as FDOL, BYOD4L and FOS as well as #creativeHE. Could we shift the purpose of creating resources for  teaching to capture the process of (co-)constructing learning? After all we learn so much more through experiencing and making stuff. Is this another reason why OER are not used that widely? As we want to create our own resources as educators since we recognise that the process of making helps us engage deeper with our subject that we will help others understand? Is it also about academic ownership? And what about context? De-contextualised resources with global reach… how valuable are these? I am now wondering if the real potential of resources is actually (c0-)creating these as part of the learning process? Could the resources actually be more valuable for the creator and what does this mean about sharing? Are resources more ephemeral than we think? If we talk about authentic learning, could we instead use open data as Dr Javiera Atenas invited us to keep learning and teaching fresh, fully contextualise and create the conditions for an inquiry-rich environment for learning through discovery?

PRACTICES

As an open practitioner with a focus on work that sits outside MOOCland, I was interested to hear at the conference how things have progressed within it. In some cases making available resources equated to course design in a MOOC context. This was very problematic for me… I was looking for a pedagogical rationale but couldn’t see it. Some called this platform pedagogy. Not sure what this is… There were some cases and I had read about them and included in my Literature review were MOOC organisers recognised the need for social learning including learning in groups and collaborated with other institutions or colleagues in other institutions to facilitate these. One of these projects was introduced by Alannah Fitzgerald and it was fascinating to hear their exploration into using facilitators in a MOOC as well as groups and the difficulties they experienced with both but also with the technology, the team tool from EdX. Alannah mentioned “platform education”. Is this similar to teaching from within a VLE or LMS? I shared with her some information about our work in this area outside the MOOC world and the Open Facilitator Project. I would have loved to find out more but in the end we didn’t manage to get together again. At scale the challenges are amplified, of course, require big investments in time and resources, but also a robust pedagogical scaffold, I would say. The support scaffold is vital but often missing.

The conference didn’t help me understand “massive”. I am still confused why we need and often start with massive. Somewhere I read “what we mean by massive, is the potential, the potential is massive”… But  does massive work? Businesses start small and in nature things grow from a seed… Does the education world know better? What is the rationale for massive and global? And what are the real expectations? What are we trying to achieve and what is happening in reality?

The more I think about it the more I see grey zones in open education. Maybe I see them more as red zones, zones that are alarming. We all have different motivations, of course, why we are in it, in open education. If only we could collect authentic and honest responses, I think that might be eye opening… Would there be any surprises? Philosopher Dr Rob Farrow, highlighted that some of us see Open Education as a moral mission. What about everybody else? The OER Hub invited us to think big… how big can we think? And how can we make our thoughts and ideas reality? And what would we change through these if we could make them happen?

My own research reveals that learning with others and being supported by facilitators makes a big difference, feeling part of a community that fosters online and offline interactions shape our engagement in open learning with others who are like us and very different from us. Like-minded people create a sense of belonging and other-minders people stretch us intellectually. Above all, we flourish when there is variety… Variety of people, variety of approaches and freedom to make our own choices.

Learning has always been personal. How can we think that technology would change this? We are still seeking personal connections. Technology actually can strengthen such opportunities and create new ones. I have used this example before… The party. And I have a question for all of us: when we go to a party, do we chat and dance with everybody? Does it depend on the size of the party? How many people are there? How confident we are etc. etc? But I am sure if there are loads and loads of people there, we wouldn’t even attempt to interact with all in a personal way. Or would we? But we would reach out to a few, or one other individual nearby perhaps? But then again, sometimes we go to the party with somebody and stick with this person throughout. Are there parallels? Something to think about…

COMMUNITIES

What really matters are the conversations, the collaborations and feeling and being part of what is happening around us, nearby and sometimes further away. We humans always had a need for belonging as social beings and social media can be useful tools that help us connect with others in the digital jungle. Open practitioners as I mentioned already use a variety of tools and platforms, including social media. Dr Leigh-Anne Perryman and Tony Coughlan shared some findngs from their Facebook project and it was lovely to hear that the emphasis was on community. Educators and learners are appropriating social media for learning, teaching, professional development and research and they have become valuable spaces to be to meet peers and keep up-to-date with what is happening in our area. I had a very interesting conversation during the conference with Tony Coughlan about social media and open practice. Are they compatible, we were asking ourselves with open practices? Dr Ronald Macintyre in his contribution about the “hidden tariffs” also talked about the fact that open educators might be exploited by others economically… I have felt uncomfortable about this for some time now, despite the fact that I am using social media regularly and the open projects I  have initiated are all built using these. There are open practitioners out there who stay away from social media, not because they don’t like to be with others and share but because of the commercial character of social media. The poet Jaroslaw Lipszyc mentioned that we can learn loads from the open source community.Tony Coughlan has written a post about the conference and included some thoughts around this too.

“In distance education the equivalent space is owned by network providers and proprietary platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, whose primary motivation is commercial rather than educational, so their environments are designed for commercial benefit.

The open education movement has some experience of this type of challenge, as open textbooks and journals have been challenging commercial publishers with similar priorities.” (Coughlan, 2016)

I am just wondering what we could do about this as an open community… some ideas are emerging…

Very pleased I went to the OER Hub action lab on the last day where we got some insights into the very first voices that come through the survey that was shared recently. All data will be open data and I am looking forward to reading some of this. With Viviene Vladimirschi, a PhD student buddy from Brazil, we actually would like to do a tiny bit of work on some of the data linked to the action lab we participated and hope this will be possible. One of the key outcomes for me from this action lab was that we need frameworks into open pedagogical practices. I am working on one of them for collaborative learning in open settings. So that was good to hear that my work might be of interest to others. Hopefully others will test it in practice and develop it further.

logo-gogn-blue2-e14393890788191A big thank you to the GO-GN  and the OER HUB team, Prof. Martin Weller, Dr Bea  de los Arcos, Dr Rob Farrow, Dr Beck Pitt, Natalie Eggleston  for supporting this trip and enabling me to share the work we do within the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University with many colleagues from my own and other institutions in the area of open education and related PhD research. A big thank you also to all colleagues PhD students part of GO-GN who were present and others who engaged online as well as Prof. Robert Schuwer and Prof. Fred Mulder for their camaraderie.

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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…

Still here, week 3 #openresearch

This will be a short post… unfortunately…  as I have to confess not being able to do as much as I wanted during the last week. When I looked at the Open Research site for the first time last week… it was Thursday pm already, well almost Friday am actually.

To my surprise I noticed that I might still be able to jump into the discussions as they didn’t resemble spaghetti monologues… but I didn’t… what stopped me? Other deadlines to meet and perhaps the fact that I was on my own in this. I started remembering my research interviews linked to FDOL and how participants emphasised again and again how their motivation grew because of being part of a group. The more I think about it, the more I can relate to this. Then I remember the African proverb: if you want to go fast go on your own, if you want to go further, go with others. My problem is that I  feel that I am not going anywhere… but maybe I am but very very slowly…

I don’t want to make empty promises to myself or anybody else, but I will try to work a bit harder this week – make an effort to connect with others and some of the conversations happening on the course site.

I am still here, probably as the weakest link. Not giving up… week four just started… this is the last one.

Speak again soon
Chrissi
ps: BTW, I will be making recently collected workshop data about the use of LEGO in HE, available as open data. No sensitive information are included. The idea is to grow this data set collectively with other LSP researchers and carry out collaborative open research to explore together the emotional side of LEGO things. I guess, the course is having some impact on practice 😉

still hanging in there, #openresearch week 2

Warning, this is messy…

Well, I think I mentioned that I felt lonely in week 1. But somehow I got used to it now… and am ok with it. Being lonely without feeling loneliness. Maybe lonely is not the right word at all. It is more about being ok with being with myself and focused?

Is this a bad thing? It feels strange saying this now as I totally see the advantages of social learning. However, maybe often we force (don’t like this word but it is a reality!) people to learn with others when it actually can’t work for them, they don’t want to or they don’t see the point? My thinking is a bit messy, I recognise this, and I am not sure what I am trying to say. My thoughts are leading me into little alleys, to explore, to question… Social learning has different faces and it can’t just be visible social learning in digital spaces, it can’t be. Learning doesn’t stop when we switch off the web. As long we are curious, as long as we question, as long as we have the desire to learn and uncover, we will learn regardless… wherever we are.

I think we all need some time to look inwards and make our own decisions and come to our own conclusions. Often this happens as a result of working and learning with others. We do need this external stimulation! To challenge and be challenged. But if we just follow the masses and their thoughts and ideas blindly, without critical engagement, we will loose track of who we are and who we want to become…sometimes(?) this might mean swimming against the stream… and this is not easy. What we need to ask ourselves is “Is it worth it?”

Giving learners choice is vital and can make engagement more flexible and learning more manageable. I was reminded of this during a recent research interview! If we want to  bring people in, if we want others to connect with our ideas and we with theirs, we, as a collective, learners and educators together, need to accept, respect and recognise what people bring and create hooks and connections based on what we share, an interest, an idea etc.that will help us grow and grow together as individuals and as a collective.

I think the Open Research course offers varied opportunities for engagement and the human scaffold is there if needed. There is no pressure to be there all the time and visibly engage. But I am now wondering if openness creates a sense of urgency or need or an expectation to be seen, to be present all the time? A false expectation we have of ourselves and often others too? Interesting behaviours are emerging and I would like to find out what psychologists are saying regarding these… For me it is important to make meaningful connections with the subject and others. Seeing meaning is really important and will give depth and commitment to the relationships we form.

After week 1, the plan was to start engaging in the online discussions but I didn’t. I tried this in another course and it didn’t work. When you just appear and disappear randomly and irregularly, you are not part of the community and it is much harder, I have found, to create these social hooks that will help you make some personal connections and come back for more and feel part of what is happening outside your own little world.

Time has also been running away from me…this is not an excuse but a reality and I am often the one that talks about making time for what matters. And I think in my case here and now, what matters now is to engage with the resources and know that there are ways to ask questions and have access to existing conversations, even if I don’t participate in these. I have accepted this reality. The course scaffold has been useful and enabled me every day, well late evening, to do a little something and help me reflect on my current practice. This is what kept me going!

And while I do feel that I am missing out on valuable conversations and I know that the opportunities are there, I didn’t invest enough time and energy from the outset to be there and participate more visibly. I wouldn’t use the word more actively, because in my mind I am participating actively. Too often in online settings we think that when people are invisible or less visible online (as everybody can be tracked these days…) they are not there, they are not engaging… is this a healthy assumption? For me online learning doesn’t just happen online (even if you do an online or open course, learning happens all the time and everywhere, in the digital and real jungle where we can smell the flowers and the rain and other things too). Not all learning or engagement I should say, is visible to others but we know when it happens, when we make it happen as it will trigger a change in us, which might or will often remain unnoticed by others unless we share this.

Again running away with my thoughts here…

Ok, what have I done this week? I have accessed and engaged with the resources for this week and carried thoughts around with me about ethics… all week long. Especially on my daily train journey, I did think about ethical dilemmas. There were many activities on the course site and I read them all, every evening a little bit, but didn’t complete any of them, I have to admit. I used them more as thinking triggers. Am I a bad learner? Am I a typical learner? And if I am a bad/typical learner what does this mean for teachers who put such learning packages together?

a colourful mess of opportunities, image source: https://chrissinerantzi.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/2455f-ballofwool.jpg

Ok, what did I actually want to capture here about week 2? Messy thoughts are in my head and I am still not clear enough about open research ethics. I guess I need to do some more reading, discussing and actually applying? There are opportunities for this and I am already thinking about it in the context of BYOD4L for example as we will be offering this again in January. I liked the idea of open data and the transparency this brought to the Open Research course but also felt a bit uncomfortable about it? Only after typing in my registration data for the Open Research course, and accessed the spreadsheet, did I realise that anybody could see what I had written and I also saw other people’s responses. While this creates really valuable new opportunities for all who access this document, I am wondering how we could reduce the risk of using the data inappropriately? In non-open data research we re-assure our research participants that all data will be fully anonymised before use. In this case, everything was there from the moment it was saved to the form… what if I suddenly realised, actually, I shouldn’t have filled out this form or I don’t want other people see my name and discover who I am… I am now wondering about open data when we deal with humans… Is there something else that needs to be done to ‘warn’ people about the openness of data. I am sure there was a statement somewhere on the course site, but when I saw everything in bright day light in front of my eyes, I couldn’t remember seeing a reminder for this. What if my data included sensitive information that would expose me and others?

Who are you? Does it matter? image source: https://drawception.com/pub/panels/2012/7-25/h6WnpOYktX-12.png

If we get ethical approval for a project from our institution, we specify how we collect, analyse and disseminate the data and make an ethical commitment to all potential research participants. Not sure how institutions react, would react, if they would see open data in the ethics form, especially if there is not a strong tradition or support for this open research within the institution. Would this influence open research or is open research something that can sit fully outside the institution? But then again, if researchers are attached to a speciific institution, what are the implications for open research? I am also not sure how it would work when the researcher is not part of an institution. I realise that I have now even more questions… which is good as I have found further gaps in my understanding and need to study this further. I think I am now at a stage where I need to discuss the above with others and hope to find ways to make this happen.

Thinking about BYOD4L again, an informal cross-institutional collaboration in the open as we also carry out open research linked to this. Our ethical statement can be found here and we also have a note about social media which we thought would also be useful to share there. Are we doing the right thing? Is there anything missing?

Looking forward to week 3!

catching up or at least trying to… #openresearch week 1

I decided to participate in the open research course organised by the OER Research Hub – perfect I thought and signed up when I first heard about it, probably via Twitter or a newsletter, I can’t remember now. A while ago, Martin Weller organised the Gorilla Research workshops and I really wanted to participate, but the dates never worked for me, unfortunately. So, now I am hoping that I will learn something in this course. Ethics is something that interests me and how to do this properly. Writing this, I just read the OER Research Hub’s ethical statement and it reminded me of what we included on our BYOD4L site. Perhaps somebody can comment? I see some similarities, but I need to have a closer look and see if there is anything else we should have included!

I feel that I need a buddy in this. I am already behind and feeling lonely. Also just noticed that registration for the course is closed. But all materials and the site itself is still visible and open? I like that. What I don’t know is what it means that individuals can no longer register? Perhaps the form we filled out? The registration form? Is this correct? Perhaps somebody from the team could respond? What is the reason behind this? Is it for research purposes? I am guessing here and have various scenarios in my head…

Ok, I am late and I don’t like that at all. It makes you feel that you are behind, that you missed something important and that you are trying to catch up… this is how I feel. Yes, also feeling a bit guilty after saying hello, I disappeared… The truth is that I haven’t had the time to study properly any of the resources yet but most importantly engage in any of the conversations. It is good that the discussion threads are linked to the activity pages (if I can call them like that). It helps keep things together but the comments are not visible instantly… but it is good that I can just access on a mobile device and pop in and out when  I have a minute or two… or a bit longer… ideally. Well, I started looking through some of the resources and discussions since last night. I decided that I am going to focus on the bits that I need most at this stage and hopefully I will be able to come back later. I understand that the course site will stay for a bit longer. If I learn a little something each week that is great. I just need to keep going. What needs to happen so that I commit to this? I know that I need to learn more about open research but is this enough? I could just access the resources anytime… the value of doing it within the facilitated version is the opportunity to connect and share experienced, thoughts, reflections and potential challenges with the facilitators and other learners. So, I think I need to make some time to stick to it. I have done it before, when I did the CMC11 course and I have thought many times why this was so special. It was a personal experience for me and I managed to connect with the facilitator (there was only one, Carol Yeager) and a few of the other learners and we had conversations. But I do remember that I worked hard and actively engaged throughout. Some of the connections I made continued beyond the timeline of the course and some of them have turned into professional friendships and collaborations.

Learning is still personal even in the digital jungle. I think it will always be? Don’t like the word always and am ok with the idea of everything changing all the time. As learners we also change – as learning is change. But as an experience we will always feel learning at a personal level, even if among hundreds and thousands… right?

When I started writing this post, I actually just wanted to respond to 2 questions from this week but as soon as my fingers started hitting the keyboard they connected with my brain and  all the words and thoughts escaped through my fingertips… weird!!!

Anyway, looking at week 1, which is now almost over (writing this on Saturday)… I think it might be useful to respond to the following 2 questions raised and as I am in visual mood and mode at the moment, I will try and answer these using images and the captions you will find under these. Do they make sense to anybody else? Can you relate to my metaphors and what are yours? Perhaps we could ask this question on Twitter or on the p2pu course site?

Number 1, What does openness mean to me?

sharing goodies with others while travelling to uncover, recover and discover! >>> image source: http://www.gq.com/images/food-and-travel/2012/08/ice-cream/ice-cream-628.jpg

Number 2. How do I understand open research?

beams of light, a gentle hug for more light >>> image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Sky_over_Washington_Monument.JPG

Not sure this new WordPress editor works properly, or I still have difficulties using it. It doesn’t seem to save everything and I now seem to have lost the text that followed the last image… am I blaming the tool? Very possible. 😉

I think, what I had here is a reminder to myself that I will be back to the p2pu site over the weekend and try and read some of the comments there. The plan is every week to do a little something. This week, I started thinking a bit more about my current practice in the area of open learning and research. Hopefully I will get better as the week’s progress.

It would be lovely if you could comment and share your thoughts with me here so that we can engage in a conversation. If this is a monologue there is little value, I think…

Speak again soon,

Chrissi