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.

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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. The German translation is also ready. I just need to upload this to Storyweaver.

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…

Sep 2018 update: Our edited blog post and the process of the creation of this picture book has now been published as an article in the Creative Academic Magazine:

Nerantzi, C. & Spencer, G. (2018) The spirit and wonder of collaborative making, in: Jackson, N. & Willis, J. (eds.) (2018) Creativity in the Making, Creative Academic Magazine, Issue 12a, pp. 46-49, available at http://www.creativeacademic.uk/magazine.html

 

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

The first full draft is ready (over 28,000 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 for some years now.

What it is? A booklet about using LEGO(R) for University learning.

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_cover_leaflet_newSo, 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, Sue Beckingham 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 prompts
  • 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 prompts

  • LSP activity prompts for learning and teaching
  • LSP activity prompts for recognition of teaching (HEA)
  • LSP activity prompts for academic development (SEDA)
  • LSP activity prompts for use of learning technologies (ALT)
  • LSP activity prompts for coaching and mentoring
  • LSP activity prompts 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. 

September 2018: Final edits. The booklet will be shared with 2 colleagues to read and add a prologue and an epilogue.

January 2019: An epilogue has been added. We are adding the finishing touches, the prologue needs to be added and the designer has been informed to turn it into a proper booklet.

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.

Update: The digital version of the booklet was published on the 30th of May 2019 as an open access publication on zenodo.org. You will find it directly by clicking here. A big thank you to Dr Javiera Atenas for her advice on where to publish the booklet and all who contributed.

Chrissi @chrissinerantzi and Alison @alisonrjames

 


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 😉

 

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.

bat-pa-havet-136161298671232mse

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.