The effective supervisor, an #oer flashcard set

We did it!

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

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

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

linedrawing

the tree by Chrissi, iPad creation

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

Two flashcard sets are available in this series. One with and one without written language accompanying the visual prompts. We are currently finalising the set for wider use with further colleagues in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University and will release the full sets soon for anybody to use.

The Effective Supervisor No Text With Logos

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

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

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

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(I) found (a) poem #flmakeapoem

futurelearncompleted
I recently immersed myself into the open course Making poetry, offered by the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University via Futurelearn. And as the above picture shows, I completed it too. In under three weeks but I keep going back now to read some of the newer contributions and comments.
In the past, I had started other Futurelearn courses but did not complete any of them. But is completion important? My own research shows this all depends on what we want to get out of any course and that our priorities may change as a course progresses. This is perhaps amplified especially when we do a course for free. Learning relationships can be a valuable motivator to stay on and persist but also make the learning experience more interesting, supported and supportive.
Other courses that were sort of MOOCs I completed in the past were offered under the MOOC label (Futurelearn seems to have dropped this characterisation for a while now), are the Creativity and Multicultural Communication course (CMC11) over several weeks designed and offered by Carol Yeager and the MOOCMOOC over a single week. Where I got the most interactions and deep conversations among peers and the facilitator over a longer period of time that led to professional relationships was CMC11. I also remember well the MOOCMOOC and the facilitators engaging during that one week of intensive activities and fun. There was definitely a buzz and I could stop myself from being part of the happenings. I remember a clip I created with my boys, well actually two, for one of the tasks. One of them is super silly…
(… oh dear… that is now 6 years ago… how tiny my boys looked back then)
That was great fun and helped me to experience learning that was drawing you in naturally. I remember that week well and am looking forward later this month to see Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel.
So if I didn’t complete any other Futurelearn course before, what was different with this particular one? I don’t think it has anything to do with Futurelearn. I think the difference was that I was genuinely really really interested and committed and that it was important for me to fully engage with every aspect of the course.i was and am interested in learning more about creative writing. I have always enjoyed being playful with language and this course was an opportunity too good to miss. I was an immersive learner and really used the time as an opportunity to learn something that would be useful for my own development and my creative writing activities and little projects. I suspect that it will be informing my academic writing as well.
Everything was useful, even the more challenging bits, especially the more challenging bits, as through these I identified specific gaps in my understanding. The course also helped me to make use of a wider range of tools for creative writing more generally, in my stories, as well as discover and uncover some of the techniques I could be using or refine in my own little writing projects, not necessarily or exclusively in poetry. The found poems, the free verse poems and the acceptance of experimenting with shape and form. I also love the idea of visual poetry and collaborative and open poetry which I started thinking more about based on my own interests and explorations. I enjoyed the focus on the process and the output of making, in this case the poem itself, and how this can help to discuss, critique and improve it, instead of focusing on the creator or maker. It did remind me a lot of LEGO(R) SERIOUS PLAY(R), where the individual creates a model and through this and based on this the story is communicated and shared. So the focus there again is on the creation not the creator and I have seen that this helps to question, discuss, debate and deepen our individual and collective understanding linked to a particular idea, concept, process or product.
My motivation came from within and was coupled with my desire to engage again more with creative writing and my intention to submit an application for the MA in Creative Writing. I have been, in one of my previous lives, a translator of mainly literary works. Many of my translations are out there as published books. At that time I also started writing my own stories and was teaching translation of children’s literature when I was at a German university during a research stay. I would like to deepen my understanding in the area of creative writing through further guidance, practice and inquiry within a writers community. My application for the MA course is ready to be submitted and I will do this in the next few days. Fingers crossed!
Thank you to all colleagues in the Manchester Writing School for putting this very useful course together and especially Dr Helen Mort and Prof. Michael Symmons Roberts and Dr Martin Kratz who commented on some of my contributions and all my peers.
On demand?
Focus. Focus. Focus.
On what?
No idea.
Words. Words. Words.
What do they mean?
Nothing.
Pictures. Pictures. Pictures.
What am I looking for?
A hook.
fish-hook
Open peer feedback I received on the above (here fully anonymised):
“I enjoyed the poem as it is light, cheery and simple. It conveys simplicity and to me, that’s a good recipe to express one’s thoughts.”
“It is very concise, clever and compact, and stands out the crowd with its simple, repeated language, almost like a nursery rhyme. I don’t think, however, that it communicates anything very profound. “
Chrissi
Ps. If anybody from the course team, would like my feedback on the open course itself and particularly the pedagogical design, very happy to do this. I have to admit that it was hard for me to stop thinking about the course design because of my work as an academic developer

 

A black day…

Arriving in Glossop by train is usually uneventful.

That day, Monday the 14th of May 2018, I will remember for ever. For all the wrong reasons.

It was a black day for humanity.

A little boy was beaten to the ground with such hatred and aggression in front of many many eyes. Eyes that looked the other way, eyes that walked away, eyes that didn’t intervene to help a little boy that could be any of our own children, could be any of us.

Beaten to the ground by three bigger boys. By three complete strangers who vented their anger and aggression towards a little boy. Without reason. Just because they could.

They were ruthless. Wild. They kicked, punched and pushed the little boy with such hatred. I had never seen anything like this before.

Every hit, hit me too, in my heart.

Nobody should be treated like this. NOBODY.

This was such a violent demonstration of power and abuse.

I was ashamed to be a human being.

I was ashamed that nobody stopped to help.

I tried. I was in between the gang while also searching with my eyes for help. Hope was dying. Hope for the vulnerable little boy was dying.

The little boy was on the ground. He didn’t move.

Then another lady rushed over and another one came too.

The attackers run away.

They were gone in seconds.

A black day…

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

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!

allpics

all pics… almost all here…

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

gail_book

working with the wonderful Gail Spencer

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

What will today bring storyweaver

the published open picture book is now available here.

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

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

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

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

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

We can all do a little something to help…

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