I can’t say I enjoyed this… #go_gn

… It was hard. 

I felt that my preparation wasn’t good enough and despite reading loads of questions and articulating possible answers, I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to. I wasn’t happy with how I did.

 It was super hard.

Was it so hard because I knew the mock examiners? Well, we work together closely…

During the mock viva, I didn’t have time to write anything down or search through my notes. The sticky notes on the thesis were also problematic… maybe I had too many…

  • The visualisations of the research design,
  • the outcome space and 
  • the framework 

were useful.

I should have added the page number to the above pages I had printed separately so that I can take the examiners to the exact pages in the thesis quickly. I have done this now. 

I felt that one additional diagram (not in the thesis) I had prepared around the literature review was useful but I will need to add the gaps I had identified to each section for a quick reference.

Also, I felt that having my findings, mainly the categories of description and their variations in front of me (not just the outcome space), would be useful as well as my summary sheet with my responses to the research questions (the table I had created). 

I am grateful to my colleagues who organised this mock viva. They both said it was like a typical viva. I felt dreadful until it was over… They told me that I sounded at times defensive (I even said “I have evidence of this”) kept talking after I had answered the question launching into other areas… also that I wasn’t enthusiastic enough… It was an uncomfortable experience… but an extremely useful one…

Less is more, I was told.. 

I need to get better at this viva thing!

First, I will need a few days to recover. Then I will continue my preparation. I can’t wait to jump in the deep blue sea!!! I need to fill my batteries with fresh energy to get through this…

mock_viva

Almost none of this worked… overengineering is problematic!

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The countdown to the viva has started… 46 days left #go_gn

tape_measure.jpg

navy

Chrissi a computer programmer in the Navy

Yes, I got a proper tape measure (actually 2 from the Poundshop, yes, for £1 both of them and I am not throwing away the 47-150cm bit but will make a lanyard out of it). Last time I bought one I was waiting to finish my service in the Navy. I had 150 days left then. Now I have 46 until the viva. So I cut the tape to 46cm… this is my starting point… and I will cut 1 cm each day… yes, not inches… every day I will cut 1 cm until the big day when there will be no tape left. There is a strange satisfaction in doing this and seeing the time pass in front of your eyes. 

My viva date was confirmed todayIt is the 8th of September 2017 and I am pleased that I didn’t wait to start preparing for it until I knew the date. Pleased I had my own internal deadlines. The main preparation I wanted to do is done.

I have…

  • re-read the thesis carefully and critically.
  • created one page hand written summaries for each chapter.
  • made annotations throughout the thesis, initially I thought I should keep the clean look.
  • added sticky notes to help me locate things quickly… hopefully.
  • I have found a few errors… things that I should have seen… frustrating!

AND, as a result of the above, I did definitely overcome the fear of reading the thesis, which is a good thing.

thesis_all_sticky_notes

In a PowerPoint, I captured the following

  • a presentation of the study
  • questions and answers linked to the whole thesis and individual chapters
  • questions which I have found with the help of colleagues and friends and the web, of course
  • typed up the page summaries for each chapter
  • copy of all visualisations used in the thesis and two more that will help me explain the framework and my theoretical framework, I hope…

My plan is to print this powerpoint presentation and use as a mobile revision tool in the next 45 days… The whole thesis is coming with me to Greece again this year. It wouldn’t be the same without it… but hopefully next summer I will be PhD study free… 

Colleagues have offered to do a mock viva this Friday. I am very nervous.

I will also ask my boys to keep asking me viva questions on the beach. Soon they will stop asking me “Mummy, when will you get that PhD”… if I pass… 

What else do I need to get ready? 

Thank you all.

Where is the next one? #go_gn

I have now overcome the fear to find the next typo or mistake. I am at 25 and am more relaxed reading the thesis. I can now see how distancing self from it for a little while has been positive, as I have started seeing all the things I couldn’t see before. When you are working for so long on such an extensive piece of work,  you are immersed into it and I think also blinded in a way. I definitely was. You somehow stop seeing your own mistakes. I did. It is really strange and unbelievable at times especially when you spot something that is really obvious. 

Anyway,  I am progressing my revision systematically and have now an extensive set of questions and answers. Some might say that I am doing this too forensically, far too detailed. I plan to take the thesis with me to Greece in the summer. Some say, don’t. Somehow I feel better having the physically copy with me… it is not that heavy… well it is but it would go into our hand luggage. I am just hoping that I won’t forget everything and have worked really hard to bring this to completion. Wouldn’t want the viva not to go well… 

Beyond the questions I curated from various sources and thanks to all my colleagues who have also helped with links and files, see previous post, I have now started adding questions that are specific to my work and capture these on a different colour background so that I can see them easily. There are not that many yet.

So far, I have re-read Chapter 1 (Introduction) 8 (Conclusion), 4 (Constructing the collective case study) and 5 (Phenomenographic findings). Yes, in this order. I wanted to refresh my memory what I was planning to do, what I did do in the end and how I got there. Next will be Chapter 6 (Discussion) and 7 (Framework).

thesis_sticky_notes

Will they help during the viva?

Mini sticky notes have started finding their way into the thesis so that I can locate things easier during the viva. I have located the research design figures, the categories of description table, the outcome space and the framework too. These are useful visualisations that bring the whole study together. I plan to also print them out on separate sheets and take them with me for easy reference.

By the end of July, I hope to have re-read all chapters and made 1-page summaries of each and articulated specific questions linked to these. 

Thank you everybody who has supported me so far in this process and offered advice. Very much appreciated. 

My viva preparation continues…

… waiting to hear #go_gn

I submitted my thesis on the 5th of May. It is now mid June. I hope to hear soon from the university about the examiners. Getting more nervous as time passes and I haven’t heard anything yet. However, the silence has not stopped me preparing for the viva day. On the contrary, I continue preparing systematically.

My strategy so far has been to collect all questions colleagues kindly shared with me (by Mary, Lisa and Jenny) so far, others I have found online, into a presentation. I won’t use it during the viva but it does help me to keep everything in one place and create some flashcards too that will be useful when practising with family, friends and colleagues. I still have some work until then.

The presentation has three parts and 83 slides at the moment:

  1. Overview of the study
  2. Viva questions arranged in generic questions, questions linked to the literature, methodology, findings and future facing ones.
  3. Unusual questions

Each question slide has the question at the top and my attempt to respond to this and where needed linked it back to specific pages in the thesis. I suspect this will be useful. I started with the ones that were easier… but then went back into the thesis and also started re-reading specific literature to refresh my memory.

Also, I have started discussing some of my responses with colleagues (Stephen and Kath so far) and have now an extensive set of questions and answers and I go back to the questions and answers and review them. Some of my initial responses were very generic. I need to be specific and link back to the study.

stickies

My next step is to read the thesis again very carefully and identify any additional questions I could be asked and add these to the presentation. This is the time for the first sticky notes to be added and check for further typos and little things I need to change.

BTW my list of edits is now at 13… I am making the corrections in the digital version of the thesis as I find the errors and am keeping all changes in a file which I plan to share at the end of the viva.

Your tips and suggestions are very welcome.

viva preparation day 1 #go_gn

Recently, I admitted that I am scared to open the thesis I submitted exactly a month ago, on the 5th of May. Today I did… and oh dear…

…  yes, it did happen… I found a mistake… one that can easily be fixed… at least but it could have been avoided!!! I guess, only when you distance yourself from such a massive undertaking you can see your own mistakes. Anyway, it has happened now.

I decided to make a list in my blue notebook as I suspect that there will be (a few) more… at least I am sort of overcoming my fear of opening and reading the thesis.

thesis_error

Voila…

Mary, a dear colleague has given me loads of viva resources and I started reading these carefully. Tomorrow is the committee meeting that will or not approve the examiners. So soon, we will be able to arrange the viva day… when will it be? I was hoping before August but this might not be possible.

Yesterday I spoke with my dad and told him that I am worried that I will forget all the work I have done over the last 4.5 years… Anybody else has/had that feeling? I suspect that sharing this fear with my dad helped me realise that I need to get started. I need to get organised. And I started today.

After reading for the first time through the above mentioned viva resources, I decided to create a presentation that captures the overview of the study and then questions and answers and anything else I feel might be useful. A presentation might not be needed for the actual viva but the presentation format will help me prepare for the viva and print it out as flashcards. This is my idea at the moment. I will work through the resources and make sure that I will be able to respond to the sample questions, some of them appear more complex than others.

I need of course to familiarise myself with the viva format at Edinburgh Napier University but my understanding is that I will have the thesis with me, can add post-it notes, use and take notes too.

The presentation is no longer blank. The basics about the study are there already. I will continue working on the study overview and create shorter versions of it too. How about my thesis in a tweet? Then as a 2, 5 and 10 minute overview. Maybe I should record as audio too and share?

When this is done, I am going to filter out some of the key questions from the resources I have, add them to my flashcard set and attempt to respond. Further preparation is needed, I am sure. Everybody talks about a mock viva and it would be useful to organise something like this too and if I could watch or observe a viva that would also be helpful. Adam will be my first examiner. Maybe I can ask the boys too. Maybe all three of them together?

If you are reading this and have any suggestions from your personal experience, please let me know. Thank you so much.

Chrissi

 

Thesis submitted #go_gn

It was a milestone day for me as I posted the thesis to Edinburgh Napier and therefore submitted it officially for examination. There is loads I could say how I feel just now, but for now, I am adding the abstract below and need to get ready for the viva. I am not there yet…

20170505_083249

one set for the internal examiner, one for the external and one for me

Towards a framework for cross-boundary collaborative open learning for cross-institutional academic development

Abstract

Academic development in the United Kingdom (UK) has been criticised in the literature for being behind the times and for not modelling innovative and technology-supported practices. Concurrently there are increased external pressures on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK to engage large numbers of academic staff in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to gain a teaching qualification and/or professional recognition, to enhance their teaching practice, and to raise the quality of teaching in order to achieve teaching excellence. The UK Government view is that teaching excellence can be achieved through competition and financial incentives. However, academic staff collaboration combined with open education, can provide an alternative model. The call for more outwards facing and connected CPD by academic developers point towards real opportunities in this area where cross-institutional academic development and collaborative open learning can play a key role. This thesis reports research that provides some options tackling issues in this area. It is a phenomenographic study, which explores the collaborative open learning experience of academic staff and further open learners in two specific cross-institutional academic development courses. It also includes collaborative open learning characteristics using digital online technologies. The findings demonstrate the impact these courses had on the study,  participants’ experience and the benefits and positive nature of collaborative open learning in cross-institutional academic development. The study adds to what is known about collaborative open learning in cross-institutional academic development, and also provides new insights for academic developers and course designers about the benefits of crossing boundaries (i.e. open learning) in an academic development context. The study concludes with the proposal of an openly licensed framework developed with the aim of informing academic developers who may be considering and planning to model such approaches.

20170505_101927_new

… I received confirmation from DHL that the yellow box is travelling North

Submitted the thesis 10 days ahead of my personal target… which was the 15th of May.

What drives innovators? #hefcecatalyst event 4th of April 2017 cc @drhelenking #pin

A brief summary linked to the pedagogic innovators workshop as part of the HEFCE Catalyst projects day on the 4th of April 2017 in Birmingham

On the 4th of April, I had the opportunity to join the HEFCE Catalyst projects workshop day in the Cube in Birmingham and be among many innovators from different institutions in England. It was truly fascinating to be among so many passionate individuals and teams committed to pushing the boundaries and making a real difference to the student experience using creative approaches to innovate.

It was refreshing to hear Dr Helen King from HEFCE emphasise on the importance of experimental innovation. Let innovators experiment, let them play! Support them in this process and see them grow and their teams and institutions too! I noted down “experimental innovation” as I feel that it is really important to foster experimentation, risk taking, making mistakes. Innovation means going against the grain, so it is not easy. Often innovations are born out of obstacles.

Helen at some point acknowledged that “We don’t really understand what innovation is”.

The pedagogic innovators project or short #pin, initiated with my colleague Barbara Thomas and supported by Prof. Norman Jackson, aims to contribute new insights into this important area. Furthermore, working with Helen and her team at HEFCE will help us synthesise what we know about pedagogic innovation and innovators. We are investigating…

  • The beliefs, attitudes and values of higher education teachers as pedagogic innovators.
  • Conceptions of pedagogic innovation in the context of their practice, their curricular design and students’ development.
  • Enabling and prohibiting factors of becoming pedagogic innovators for academics and other professionals who teach or support learning in HE.

Helen kindly invited me to join this exciting day where project teams had the opportunity to mingle, network and find out about each other’s projects too. Furthermore, Dr Pauline Hanesworth from the HEA talked about the multifaceted role inclusivity plays as access, engagement and contribution, and Sarah Knight from JISC, discussed the vital role students can play in the process of innovation. As part of the day, I had the opportunity to facilitate a #pin workshop to help individuals and project teams reflect on what pedagogic innovation is. Participants were invited to join the #pin study and I collected valuable visual data which we will start analysing.

During the #pin workshop, colleagues participated in a series of activities that helped us explore their conceptions of innovation, possible enablers and barriers for pedagogic innovators, as well as their needs and strategies that will help them for their projects. All this in 30mins and we used activities that involved drawing, sticky notes and speed-dating. It was an ambitious plan  but I think the fast pace kept individuals alert and active. The bell might have helped a little bit too. There was a buzz in the room and it was hard to stop when discussions where in full flow and ideas were shared and debated. I am sharing below some extracts of contributions that were collected.

Conceptions of innovation

A range of visualisations were collected that capture participants’ conceptions of “innovation”. Some examples have been included to help us all further reflect on innovation and perhaps revisit at a later stage.

Barriers and enablers for pedagogic innovators

After the sticky notes were typed up

  • the pink (barriers),
  • the green (enablers) and
  • the blue (enablers that could also be barriers),

we can see some first patterns emerging… Below are visual representations of the responses with some preliminary observations.

Barriers

Responses from this workshop suggest that the key barriers for innovators as expressed by participants appear to be

  • organisational cultures,
  • metrics,
  • lack of time,
  • working in isolation and
  • being risk-averse probably as a result of the previous items in this list.

Lack of funding only seems to be a limited barrier for innovators.

 Enablers

Responses linked to enablers for innovators highlight the

  • Importance of passion for innovation with a purpose,
  • belonging to wider support networks,
  • collaborating with others but also
  • the need for time and space
  • and funding.

While institutional support does feature among the enablers, the responses around support more generally suggest that support networks that stretch beyond discipline and include students and others beyond institutional boundaries play a significant role in breaking free from potential isolation within their own institution as noted in the barriers.

On the blue sticky notes that referred to enablers that could also be barriers, the following were captured: colleagues, students, resources and funding.

Helen highlighted the fact that generally not all innovations succeed but there is a lot to learn from every idea. Being honest and open about it is really important and will help us move forward. These observations gave me an idea for another workshop that could be offered when the projects are near completion.

Something to think about…

At the beginning of the enablers and barriers activity, I invited colleagues to suggest which colour sticky notes we should use. I asked one person who said pink for enablers but then I sought confirmation from others in the room. Many had another view and their view changed the decision I took. In the end we used pink for barriers and green for enablers. Thinking about this situation and linking it to diverse voices that are less common and often not heard, what could be the potential  implications for innovation?

The #pin project team will put the data collected in our data pot and we will start analysing these in the summer. Our survey will remain open until the end of June. If you would like to complete this, please go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdHLaXOs4xW55hFktGCu225x3LvcR_e-KcHQWaKGTWYIxBwYQ/viewform

140 responses so far! Help us to get more. Thank you.

Thank you Helen for this kind invitation to collaborate and all for this insightful day!

We wish all project teams an exciting journey and can’t wait to find out what you will discover along the way.

Chrissi on behalf of the #pin team

ps. Ethical approval for the #pin study has been granted by MMU (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m5yQYyEEQ4rHlEs3urN-B_MgXNtZCjUB01Bc-ljM8rc/edit

pps. The wordles have been created using http://tagcrowd.com

ppps. Photographs are taken by Chrissi and are available under CC-BY.