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.

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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.

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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 😉

 

Better late than never…

… how time flies…

I am buried in revising my draft thesis and the new academic year has started. There are ongoing open initiatives I support and new projects starting, internally and externally. All exciting stuff!

However, it is about time to write a little something here about what happened early in September. I did make a start on my tablet a while back… I think at least twice, but today I  decided to start fresh and finish the post in one go while sitting at my desk at home. Here we go…

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Congratulations to all! Image source

ltawards-2016-individual-runner-upIn September this year, I was awarded runner up ALT Learning Technologist of the Year 2016. I feel humbled and honored to receive this award for my work in open education. Thank you Dr Cristina Costa for encouraging me.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everybody for their individual and team awards and all highly commended colleagues.

It was fascinating to read about their achievements and  successes.

I really enjoyed the one day at the conference at Warwick University (lovely campus!!! the ping pong table was such a great idea!) and meeting so many innovative colleagues. It was especially wonderful to see Daniel Scott (the big individual winner!!!) and Iain Griffin (Highly commended!!!) and have chats with them. We agreed to stay in touch, which we have, and collaborate on a little project to give something back to the ALT community. We are going to make this happen ;). 

As an academic developer, digital and open practitioner, with a passion for experimentation it has been a fascinating journey and a pure pleasure to work with many colleagues in my own institutions, nationally and internationally. I feel that I have learnt a lot and their support has given my imagination wings to come-up with ideas that have become reality and are helping us all to engage in new and exciting professional development activities. From my work you will see that I have shared my ideas openly with many others. I guess for me collaboration is not a strategy, it is more a way of being, a philosophy. I also know that ideas can only grow if we share them. My dear friend and colleague reminded me a few years ago of the following African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go on your own. If you want to go further, go with others”.

Below are some of the key projects I initiated. You might find some of these useful for your development or they might give you ideas to develop something new in your area.

The openly licensed course Flexible, Distance and Online Learning (FDOL), which is a postgraduate module that was opened-up and became a cross-institutional collaboration initially between the University of Salford and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (Lars Uhlin was my partner) and later Manchester Metropolitan University when I changed institutions.  FDOL an idea that originated from my MSc dissertation, was offered three times, with varying length up to 12 weeks. One of the iterations became a case for my PhD as it had collaborative open learning features using a problem-based learning approach.

FDOL provided the foundations for the openly licensed Bring Your Own Devices for Learning (BYOD4L) course. I was keen to experiment with something much shorter and enable different forms of collaborative learning that are community-based. Again it was inquiry-based and scenarios were used, this time in additional video format presenting student and academic staff perspectives  I shared the concept with Sue Beckingham and we became partners. BYOD4L was offered for the first time in 2014 and since 2016 the community itself organises it. I think this is an important move and a necessary one, if we want to sustain OEP and create capacity. The next iteration is in January 2017 and I am looking forward to supporting our three musketeers (Neil Withnell, Sheila MacNeill and Alex Spiers), in the background.

BYOD4L does have a daily tweetchat feature which was the highlight of the day and attracted large numbers of participants. This triggered a new idea in my mind for a weekly tweetchat that would be a regular CPD opportunity for all of us. While the idea was fresh in my mind, I shared the idea for the Learning and Teaching in HE chat (#LTHEchat) with Sue Beckingham, David Walker and Peter Reed and we decided to go ahead with it Since September 2014 the #LTHEchat has grown and the introduction of rotating organising teams as well as the collaboration with the #HEAchat has enabled it to grow further and become a popular weekly gathering of practitioners with rich and varied exchanges and debates around learning and teaching.

I had in mind to do something with FDOL, to take it into a new direction and this was materialised through using it and building the openly licensed course Flexible, Open and Social Learning or short FOS (Do you know that this means in Greek?). Again, I invited Sue Beckingham to work together on FOS. It was an opportunity for me to become more playful with the original formula, introduce a game-approach, create scenarios, with Ellie Hannan’s help, that were visual and engaging. As FDOL stretched over a series of weeks, again, I wanted to experiment with offering something like this over a week. We have offered this once so far.

Creativity for Learning is a postgraduate module I created at Manchester Met and opened-up. We call it #creativeHE and it has become more of a community and an ongoing collaboration among the Creative Academic network and many colleagues from different institutions nationally and internationally. One of the iterations (8 weeks) became my second case study for my PhD as it had collaborative open learning features in groups which were different from FDOL and it was a useful opportunity to explore how participants experienced it. It is a wonderful opportunity to become more playful and creative in our practices and the work we have done so far evidences that this is happening. This year we decided to launch the Creativity in HE project led by Prof. Norman Jackson with many happenings until the summer 2017 via #creativeHE. The  #greenhouse community at Manchester Met has lined up with the Creativity in HE project and I invited Ellie to lead the micro-project #101creativeideas. If you haven’t seen this yet, please have a look and contribute your ideas to this OER project.

Then there are the Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLC) webinars which start again this week. An initiative I brought to life when I was at Salford University, which has now grown into another cross-institutional collaboration with rotating organising teams. I guess the OER series Food for thought dates also back to that time and is something I would like to continue developing as well as find a way forward for my wheels idea.

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The journey continues… image source

Yes, an exciting and full academic year is ahead of me. I plan to finish my PhD studies (must work hard on this until then!!!) and work with many colleagues on learning and teaching projects that open our minds to new possibilities and practices.

… and I also decided to reflect on my journey as a digital and open practitioner and submit my CMALT portfolio. It might all have started when my dad sent me to college to become a computer programmer and then working as a programmer in the Hellenic Navy for 5 years… then leaving the army to go to university as a mature student to study…  or when we moved from Germany to Greece… and then the UK… the story continues…

What will you do this year?

Chrissi
ps. A very special thank you to Neil Withnell.

My little story… what is yours?

The night of the EU referendum my 14-old came to my bed to say goodnight to mummy. I could see in his big chocolate eyes that he worried. I gave him a hug and told him everything will be alright and hold him for a little bit longer in my arms that night.

The next morning at 6am he ran to me and said: “Mummy we are leaving the EU”. A teenager doesn’t normally wake up that early! He was in shock and shaking. I was in shock too. And just the night before, I had promised him… 

My parents were political migrants in East Germany. They had to flee their villages in Northern Greece when they were little children, in the Civil War… We had a good life in the DDR and my parents were grateful for the chance for life they were given.  We were allowed back to our homeland many years later when I was 12. And we went. Later, my heart brought me to the UK where I live and work happily for the last 17 years with my own little family. I am an EU citizen.

I am also a citizen of this world, just like everybody else.

image source here

I have been given a label now, EU migrant… 

It has become painful to follow the news, to hear about a very exclusive and isolating vision for the future that reminds me of a past I never experienced. My parents did. 

I have enjoyed living in the UK, in a multicultural society. It enables us all to grow and enrich our lives. For me and my family it is home. 

Being open, living, learning and working with others especially with other-minded individuals and individuals from different cultures, professions, industries, backgrounds other walks of life is something that makes a real difference to who we are and who we are becoming, as individuals and as a society. My own journey through life and my PhD research confirm this. 

What has changed? 

I am adding here Becci’s blog post that touched me deeply.

@GOGN_OER Days in Krakow, Poland 10-11 April 2016

logo-gogn-blue2-e14393890788191Day 1 of our GO-GN event arrived! It all started with a lively icebreaker. It really was a lovely way to help us start talking with others and spot connections and specific interest hot spots, personal and research ones. I had the opportunity to chat with Beck Pitt who I knew through her open courses and Twitter and we discovered that we both love photography. I wish I could say that I am a keen runner like Beck is… It is always strange, but in a nice way, when we finally meet somebody we have been “talking to” in the digital jungle. It is not always possible. So I feel fortunate to have met her, finally 😉 And Natalie too, who has been fantastic in supporting us and making sure that we would get here in one piece and Bea, of course too and all the rest of the GO-GN team too.

From the introductions I could see we are a multi-cultural mix of people doing research in the area of open education around the world. Prof. Martin Weller mentioned some numbers too. See image below.

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Prof. Martin Weller in action showing us the GO-GN map so to speak

Bea invited us to reflect on being an open researcher and why open research is actually good for us, for others and society. For me personally it is about the opportunity or opportunities, I should say, to connect with others and share. Share ideas and dilemmas and find ways to initiate and continue conversations but also debate. To extent our own little world and feel less lonely and get a sense of belonging. However, it is not just about, or it shouldn’t be just about seeking like-minded people. Of course, we all love to have people around us who sort of agree with us and we can just be ourselves with all the craziness and silliness this comes… at least sometimes.

While we often seem to emphasise that through open and social practices, we can connect with like minded people elsewhere and this is indeed a huge benefit for all of us, I feel that it is equally important to “expose” ourselves and our ideas to other-minded people. And social and open practices enable this too. This is where we are really challenged, stretched intellectually and start thinking much deeper about what moves us, what upsets us and gain deeper insights into what we stand for and why. Criticism and critique are valuable, even if it can be painful at times as emotions are part of this process. We are not machines.

When we keep an idea for ourselves it dies very quickly. Therefore there is no value in ideas that remain in the dark, locked away in the cupboard. They turn to dust! Ideas need oxygen and feeding to grow and evolve and people to look after them. People not just one person. One person is not enough. There is an African proverb that is very powerful “On our own we can go fast, with other we can go further”. This doesn’t just apply to our individual journeys but also our ideas and their travels.” So share freely, I would say, as giving will not just make you feel good but also give something back, as I am sure others have helped you too.

None of it can happen if there is no sharing and/or closed-mindedness. Can we be half-open or half-closed?  Is there such a thing as wide-open or open unlimited? I think we all sit somewhere on that open-o-meter and see it more as a dynamic continuum depending on the situation, circumstances and context. There is personal and professional judgement that we make each time and we decide what is appropriate and what isn’t. And sometimes, of course, we get it wrong…

I think we could say that it is a fact that the world of open wouldn’t be there, wouldn’t exist without sharing, full stop. So the people are the driving force, the force that makes things happen and change things. Glenda Cox @glencox talked on Monday about her PhD work and I got really interested in social realism (Archer). It didn’t take me long to realise what type I am… and how this translates into what I do and how I operate. We will of course have to be careful, I think, how we use that information as I wouldn’t like us to fall into another learning styles trap… I will do some more reading into social realism to better understand what this is all about and what this could mean for people, practices and innovation too, this is what interests me most.

Throughout the two days, it has been fascinating to meet other PhD students in open education from around the world and find out about their research. We were all at different stages in our journey and this was extremely valuable as we

  1. could see that we have similar challenges and dilemmas
  2. depending on where we are on our journey, we could position ourselves in relation to others and create a map looking back and ahead at the same time in what is still to come.

And this can be extremely motivational! There was no sense of competition. In the contrary, the atmosphere was very open and inclusive with a focus on individual and collective growth. After presenting our work, we were invited to respond to critical comments as well as comment on the work of our peers. It wasn’t easy at times, but then this was the point. Thinking deeper and into new directions and thinking the unthinkable is what we need to make surprising links that might lead us to new discoveries. Learning is also being in a state of discomfort… and being challenged. This is how it felt.

There were so many great learning opportunities for all of us, through each other’s work!

Jamison from the US is on a PhD programme that reminded me of a Professional Doctorate that we have in the UK. After completing his study modules he is now ready to put a proposal for his research together and start working on the thesis. My understanding is that this will be based on three papers. He shared some of his initial ideas and thoughts with us and I am really looking forward to how these will evolve and where they will take him. Jamison showed an interest in using a learning and teaching lense and his strength are the theories. Paco from Spain, is looking at MOOCs and accessibility within these, while Viviene from Brazil is going to carry out research into teacher’s professional development linked to OER and one of her outputs will be a CPD course for them. I was wondering if she could re-use an existing course that is already out there and contextualise maybe? Bernard, from Rwanda, is almost at the finishing line. He carried out research into how OER could supplement learning at HE within Rwanda where access to electricity and therefore the internet is extremely low. What stood out for me from his research is the emphasis study participants paid to policy and I kept wondering if this had to do with local and national socio-political culture(s).

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Bernard Nkuyubwatsi’s work and reminder of the challenges in some African countries

Glenda from South Africa who is now waiting for the decision by three external examiners (there is no viva in South Africa, the final thesis is submitted to the external examiners), did research in the area of quality and OER from the perspective of academics. A very interesting piece of work that also made me think about the digital residence and digital visitors model (White & LeCornu) while Sujata from India is looking at OER use within an Open University in India from a student and staff perspective; Nicolai from the Netherlands and his work has a focus on medical education and exploring OERs through the lense of eco-systems and complexity theory for sustainable implementation and Jin from China discussed the 5-minute micro-lessons which is a  government initiative which invites teachers to create short films as learning resources that are shared with learners and other teachers via the web. It wasn’t clear to me if these would be made available under a creative commons licence and I didn’t ask.

The two days were extremely fruitful. It was really lovely to see that the GO-GN organisers, Bea, Beck, Rob, Martin, Nats as well as the two fathers of GO-GN, Fred and Robert,  showed a genuine interest in our work and felt that our plans were worthwhile pursuing. For me, this event, really helped me feel part of a community and I am looking forward to staying connected and growing what we started in Krakow during the last two days. It requires feeding… in other words commitment but if we feel that it would be worthwhile for all and benefit us all, the only way to go, is together, right?

A massive thank you to the whole GO-GN team for creating this fruitful opportunity for all of us and all PhD students who were there with me for their openness and collegiality.

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Monday evening GO-GN meal: Great company and mushroom soup in bread!

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… as you can see, I wasn’t the only one taking bread soup pictures 😉

 

The storify from our tweets during our time in Krakow can be accessed here a visualisation can be seen below.

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About wheels and poems

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image source here

I am very excited as we have just started the development of the wheels app thanks to our CELT intern Stuart Bennett and Laurie Cooper from Digital Labs at MMU. Our first meeting was fruitful and started revealing the complexities of developing an app and the analytical skills needed but also the ability to seeing connections quickly as they emerge and making the links before they disappear again from our minds.

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Laurie and Stuart and our Alice on paper 😉

We used A3 sheets of paper and an online platform to capture our discussion (guess, what, we lost what we entered there… as the connection wasn’t working properly). I wish I had taken some coloured pencils with me… next time. Laurie suggested to develop the app in our heads and on paper, based on an end user. This was Alice. Stuart and Laurie had baptised her before I arrived.

During the meeting we made good progress linked to how Alice would create wheel templates that she can use to add data or just store on her device for different uses, including printing these out. Next week we are going to continue with the process of entering data and this is where all the complexity will be. I suspect… as we have to imagine the whole process and there is nothing there to compare it with in real life.

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Sam and Ellie, image source here

After leaving our meeting, we had our Greenhouse happening with Dr Sam Illingworth who immersed us into poetry. I re-discovered my love for list poems (see the one I wrote during the Greenhouse below) and can see how they can be powerful reflective tools. I just wish I had this idea when I started my PhD as it would tell a fascinating story, I think… anyway. As I am four years into this, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to start this now. Then again I thought I could have captured the data analysis that way, but again, I am in the middle of this already… what a shame.

This was my list poem contribution.

Will I?

messy

darkness

confused

struggle

HELP

moving

backwards?

HELP

hope

moving

moving

stop

go

slowly

very slowly

moving

building

building

Foundations?

HELP

I must get there

I will get there…

will I?

Then I started thinking about our app project and I would really like to trial the use of list poems to capture a reflective journey or process. As the app is a collaborative process, I feel that it would be fascinating to capture our individual and collective journey over the next six months. Will this work? Will this be of value? There is only one way to find out. I hope Stuart and Laurie will say yes to this little experiment. I think they will 😉

Calling all playful HE practitioners to join exciting book project

Dear colleagues

We would like to invite you to take part in our project to bring together global, scholarly examples of play in Higher Education.

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Is play exclusively for children? image source

Play in Higher Education is currently largely unsung, but now creeping to the fore of the attention of the tertiary sector. We have done already some work with Prof. Norman Jackson and the Creative Academic online magazine which illustrates this well. In addition  we noticed that a number of conferences on Play in HE are being held this year – surely a sign of the zeitgeist?

So do please join us in building understanding of the contribution play makes to all disciplines in the tertiary sector and circulate to your colleagues worldwide so we can make this collection truly global.

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… of all ages, image source

If you have any questions about the project do please get in touch with us and consider joining the Play in HE community at  https://plus.google.com/communities/103994615424006154336 .

For further info about this exciting project, please click here

 

All best

Dr Alison James & Chrissi Nerantzi