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.

pottery_poppies

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

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Are you a doctoral supervisor using LSP?

This study is now underway. I am no longer looking for study participants.

Dear colleagues,

I am conducting a research project around the use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® in doctoral supervision. The project has been granted ethical approval from the Education Faculty at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.

This invitation to participate in this study is open to doctoral supervisors who use LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® within the supervision process and/or for doctoral researchers’ development activities.

As a study participant, you will be invited to complete a short survey and participate in a remote interview. The interview will be between you and me. I expect that the interview will last no longer than half an hour and will be conducted remotely using Skype.

If you would consider participating in this study and would like to receive the information sheet and the consent form, please let me know by emailing c.nerantzi @ mmu.ac.uk (without the spaces).

Please share this invitation with others who might be interested.

Thank you in advance,

Best wishes,

Chrissi (Nerantzi)

getting ready for our next #creativeHE making conversation

making

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.

linedrawing.png

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.

bookmaking

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.

picturebook14March18

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.

bookpictures2

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!

Almost there now… new #open booklet in preparation #legoseriousplay #LSPHE #opened #creativecommons

The first full draft is ready (22,000 words). I have decided to share co-authorship with Alison James (@alisonrjames). Together we have done interesting work in the area of playful learning and LEGO. Bringing Alison in will enrich the booklet further as we will be able to incorporate her voice and perspective.

What it is? A booklet about using LEGO(R) SERIOUS PLAY(R) (LSP) in Higher Education (HE).

I have been using LEGO(R) since 2010 before discovering LSP when writing up some related research. Using LEGO(R) came natural to me as I have always been playful and experimental and tried new things as a learner, in my practice as a teacher, translator and academic developer but also in my life more generally. I still do. My curiosity and the novel opportunities problems present seem to be my driving force. In 2013 I completed my LSP facilitator training with Robert Rasmussen. The journey has been fascinating so far. LSP opened my eyes and mind to new ideas and possibilities that have extended my repertoire and toolkit as a facilitator aiming to create stimulating and meaningful learning experiences that help us understand ourselves, others and the world around us better and make valuable discoveries through playful making and shared reflection. I have created a range of LSP workshops and courses and am often invited to work with colleagues and their students to develop tailor-made LSP provision and courses for staff development. LSP  is such a versatile method and the potential to use in diverse HE settings is there and waiting to be explored further.

LSPbook_coverSo, what is in the booklet? After an introduction into the LSP method and its potential uses in higher education, a series of short LSP stories follows. These stories showcase how specific practitioners from a range of disciplines and professional areas currently use LSP in an higher education context. I would like to thank the following colleagues for making the time to contribute their LSP story to the collection:  Dr Stephen Powell, Neil Withnell, Sue Watling, Prof. Alison James, Graham Barton, Lesley Raven, Prof. Dr Tobias Seibl, Dr Thanassis Spyriadis, Dr Sean McCusker, Lisa Higgings, Haleh Moravej, Prof. Rebecca Lawthom and Dr Catherine Hayes. Also a big thank you to Alison Laithwaite, Dr Gayle Impey, Dr Maren Deepwell and Tom Palmer for commenting on specific LSP activity sets.

The basic structure of the LSP in HE booklet is the following:

  • Part 1 Method
  • Part 2 Stories
  • Part 3 Activity sets
  • Part 4 Variations
  • Part 5 Final remarks

Within part 3, a selection of practical activities, quite a lot of them, have been designed and added, arranged as you can see as activity sets. These are intended to support LSP workshop design and planning activities in a wide range of HE contexts:

  • LSP warm-up activity set
  • LSP activity set for learning and teaching
  • LSP activity set for recognition of teaching (HEA)
  • LSP activity set for academic development (SEDA)
  • LSP activity set for use of learning technologies (ALT)
  • LSP activity set for coaching and mentoring
  • LSP activity set for research

These LSP activities included in this booklet can be used and adapted by practitioners in their everyday practice. The booklet concludes with the introduction of LSP variations. These have been tested and used in HE settings and provide food for thought for other practitioners to consider tailoring the standard LSP method to their needs were needed and/or mixing with other pedagogical methods, frameworks or models.

January 2018 update: Prof. Alison James has joined as a co-author. We will be working on finalising the draft of the booklet soon. 

Oh and by the way, the LSP in HE booklet will be openly available online under a Creative Commons license so that we can all use it and further develop it, together as practice diversifies and related research grows.

Chrissi @chrissinerantzi


If you are new to LSP in HE, the below might be a useful starting point:

  1. In this clip colleagues share their LSP experience through an LSP course I led at Manchester Met.

2. An example of how we have used LSP with a colleague in an undergraduate module at Manchester Met is the following. This has been written with the colleague and one of her students: Nerantzi, C., Moravej, H. & Johnson, F. (2015) Play brings openness or using a creative approach to evaluate an undergraduate unit and move forward together, JPAAP, Vol 3, No. 2, pp. 82-91, available at http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/141

… what I would have said… #altc

My warmest congratulations to Josie Fraser for her Lifetime ALT award and all finalists and winners, individuals and teams. I hope there will be opportunities in the future to connect our efforts.

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My warmest congratulations to all.

I feel honoured and humbled to receive this recognition for my contribution to digital and open professional development and would like to thank ALT, especially Dr Maren Deepwell and the judging panel, Fiona Harvey, Josie Fraser, Lynne Downey, Darren Moon, Lorna Campbell and Daniel Scott… also the sponsors of this award Bloom CoSector (University of London) for seeing value in my work. This recognition really means a lot to me.

Picasso said “Everything you can imagine is real”.

Over the years, I have enjoyed imagining and experimenting with creative pedagogical ideas and shared these with many others to learn, develop and stretch our minds and practices across boundaries and break free from silos (Bonnie).

I would like to thank many many individuals for their support and collaboration. Today especially…

Neil Withnell and Prof. Norman Jackson for their trust and commitment.

Alex Spiers for always making co-facilitation such a fun experience, for his openness and directness.

Prof. Sally Brown as well Dr Stephen Powell, Dr Peter Gossman for their support.

My GO-GN research family for their support during my doctoral journey.

Dr Cristina Costa, for her friendship and inspiration as well as

Ody, Nassi and Adam my three boys ;).

Something I have learnt and would like to share with you.

We can only change ourselves and the world around us when we have a wide open mind, embrace diversity, care for each other and never stop learning.

My PhD viva is this Friday… I hope I will survive it…

Thank you all.

Chrissi
ps. On my way to Edinburgh early this morning.
pps. Thank you Matt Cornock for sharing the storify which gave me a rich flavour of the whole conference.
ppps. A post published by ALT on the 15 September. Congratulations to all finalists and winners.
pppps. A related post published on the 22 September in ManMetlife.

 

timeline of ac dev & learning tech in the UK #phdchat #go_gn

I have been thinking about the timelines I created for my PhD thesis and while this study is in academic development, I can not ignore the developments in Learning Technology in the UK and have therefore created a third timeline that synthesises the developments in Academic Development and Learning Technology in the UK.

Microsoft Word - cn_timelines - REVIEWED_new2.docx

Timeline of academic development and learning technology in the UK (Nerantzi, 2017)

I would like to thank colleagues from the SEDA and ALT communities for their help. As always, very much appreciated.

Chrissi

a new hashtag is born #LTHEevent

Recently, I was asked to identify Learning and Teaching conferences that are happening, which might be useful for colleagues to attend and present and we could share regularly with our colleagues at MMU.

There is so so much happening and it is hard to decide which ones to include in the small selection we have added to our website and through our monthly newsletter. We added a section to the website which links to regular events that are happening throughout the year as well as a link to a really useful website which is linked to a database on conferences worldwide not exclusively linked to learning and teaching. To access this page, please click here.

Then the idea popped into my head that in order to keep the order fresh and versatile, it would be great if we could find a way to curate such events more widely so that it doesn’t become a task that one or a few people do but the wider community.

lightbulb

image source here

Eureka!

We can use a hashtag and invite colleagues to share their events and conferences with all of us. I tweeted this yesterday and hope that people will find this useful so that we can share exciting events that are happening throughout the year.

The proposed hashtag is #LTHEevent

Please use this if you think, this is a good idea, to collaboratively curate LTHE events that will be useful for others. Thank you 😉