Week 1 freedom and playfulness

I am, and always have been a mature student. This doesn’t mean I was always that old, of course… When I started my undergraduate studies, I was almost 24. Today, I was again one of the very few mature students in my new class. This time, the age gap was much larger, my peers could be my own children.

Being among young(er) people is always a privilege, to find out about their hopes and dreams, what moves them, what scares them. I think that is one reason why I love working at university… and because I love learning and helping others learn, of course. I think politicians should spent time with our young people, regularly. So that they can discover what really matter and how they can help create a future for the next generation.  

While I did feel like an outsider and a bit lonely in that class, I knew why I was there and that I would have the opportunity to connect with at least some of my peers as the weeks will progress. It was lovely seeing everybody and talk to the two girl who were sitting next to me for a tiny bit at the end. At some point I looked around and was surprised that I seemed to be the only person taking notes… A book was introduced that will be used it seems a lot in the creative writing workshops. Have you heard of The Writing Experiment? That is the one.

I loved that experimentation was mentioned throughout and that we will be encouraged to actively experiment with our own writing. Who knows what I will create! We seem all to have very different writing interests and when we were asked to introduce ourselves by stating our name and a word that comes to mind when we think about creative writing, the first one that popped into my head was freedom, but then also playfulness. So I mentioned both. I think they are interlinked and definitely connect me at least to my writing intention, the writing process. If this is also reflected in the actual writing product, the output itself, I don’t know.

Maybe when I arrive home, my two books, the ones I ordered the other day have arrived (they were there indeed and I will start reading them on the way to work tomorrow). I am curious to dive into the theory now, can’t believe it myself, and experiment with some of the texts that I have written but also write new stuff. I think the re-assurance the lecturer gave made a difference. I liked the idea of seeing the theories as a “guided tour” and that we could self-select where we would stop for a little bit longer.

Speaking about new stuff…The other day, I had a new idea… while being in a tiny space we have in our house. A tiny space that helps me escape into other worlds when I am in there. I feel it’s expansive dimension now. Suddenly. Could this space become the next creative trigger of a new series of stories?

I am looking forward later in the course to uncreative writing, the essay clinic next week, I think. I loved the invitation to unpick tensions, ambiguity, contradictions and be critical and creative of course, which are two options of the same coin, I think. Makes no sense to me to separate them, like the left and right brain theory… doesn’t work.

Freedom and playfulness, that is what I seek.

Let’s see where my children’s stories will take me/us.

ps. I found the Writing Experiment online and started reading it… the following I found interesting…

There are no rules and regulations for creative writing, and no blueprints for a good piece of writing. Anyone who is looking for a formula for exciting work will not find it, and writers who rely on formulae usually produce dull results” (Smith, 2005, ix).

“… language creates the world rather than the other way round.” (Smith, 2005, 3)

Language-based strategies sharpen your sensitivity to language and help you to be discriminating,imaginative and unconventional in the way  you use it.” (Smith, 2005, 4)


Smith, H. (2005) The writing experiment. Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin. Available from http://www.academia.edu/9485157/THE_WRITING_EXPERIMENT_Strategies_for_innovative_creative_writing


a new learning path into creative writing… #creativewriting

My course starts this week. Really feel like a proper student again. I have been accepted on the MA in Creative Writing Innovation and experiment at the University of Salford after submitting a portfolio of work with children’s stories and an interview with the programme leader. I managed to register and even look into the VLE on the weekend. New login details, different online spaces, another email account to look after.

I am very excited about joining this programme as I will be able to connect back to my time as a translator of literary works and also further develop as an academic developer, my day job for now, and particularly through the use of story.

some of the books I translated with their originals, many are children’s literature

As a good student 😉 I downloaded the programme handbook to get a better flavour of the course but also to see how the assessment will work. Very interesting that I ended up thinking quite a lot about the assessment and how I can get organised.. already…

I was pleased that the modules were all 30 credits with a larger project module at the end. It really helps, a simple structure like this. You might work hard for 30 credits but you are actually getting something significant for it. In this case a 30 credit module is 50% of my PgCert. I have to say that I was a bit surprised when I saw the length of the assignments… and that some of the assignments were essays. … with all that debate around essays it will be interesting to see how this goes and what kind of essay this will be and how I will feel writing it or them… Have a look at Prof. Phil Race’s recent article about essays…

So about 7000 words (is this or equivalent?) for each 30 credit module but split in all modules in two parts. The course has in its title experiment and innovation. I hope to be able to do this also in the assessment and experiment with the form and mold the essay perhaps into something that would work for me? Will I be able to experiment or do I have to play it safe to pass? As my work and the area I want to develop further links the written language very much with the visual language, I hope to collaborate with colleagues and students in Art and Design but also further develop my own visual skills and capabilities.

I could not find the handbook for the first module yet to see further details but after a quick Google search I found some interesting resources to complement my studies from Yale. My first module is about literary theory. And while I have done bits about literature before during my undergraduate studies (in Greek, German and English) and later when I embarked on that doctoral research in translation with a focus on children’s literature, I feel that I have a lot to learn.

What I found is a series of lectures made available freely and openly. I didn’t have to create an account or do anything else, I can jump straight into watching the lectures. And they are lectures, by the charismatic and extremely knowledgeable Professor Paul H. Fry.

So far I watched one whole lecture and a bit. What I noticed is that I looked first at the overall length. It felt long, far too long to keep my attention. However, the lecture I watched was extremely valuable but I did struggle to watch for such a long time. I suspect I would have enjoyed reading about it as I would be able to make notes easier. The lecture didn’t reveal any interaction between the lecturer and the students. I felt being one of them. The only difference is that the students there had been given materials to read in advance. They would have been useful to me as well. I had loads of questions. I wanted more explanations, more examples that I would understand. I was also missing the interaction with peers. Did I start watching the clip as a developer and forgot that I was a student? I think I was both simultaneously.

Literary theory is a new area for me, literary criticism too. Really start feeling like our colleagues who we ask to engage with Learning Theories when they do their PgCert with us… Our first module on the MA in Creative Writing seems to be about theory. We often start courses from that angle but I am wondering if this is also a reason why students often feel lost. How about starting from our experiences and building theory. I hope this module will link the two and help me digest the theory and discover how it all links to my writing practice.

I want and need to do some reading around the theories, Marx, Nietzsche and Foucault (I think) as well as Darwin who were mentioned in that first Yale lecture I watched. What I do remember is that literary theory is the study of writing, focuses on the process of writing, the aesthetics of it from different angles perhaps, while literary criticism is the evaluation of literary work. Did I get this right? Not sure now about literary theory and will check this again, but there seems to be a clear distinction between writing (literary theory relates to this) and critiquing writing (literary criticism). I have ordered a few books, which I hope will arrive in the next few days.

I want to understand and identify how these theories relate to my work and how I can use them to grow as a writer. Can somebody write well without knowing anything about literary theory? This made me think about my work as well as an academic developer… Can somebody teach effectively without knowing anything about learning theories? This is often a dilemma we have and an expectation that colleagues academics do need to engage with learning theories to make informed changes to their practice. But what if they don’t? Does it mean they are not effective in what they do? How about the writer who does not know a lot or anything about literary theory? What is the role of experiential learning in both situations? These questions just popped into my head right now.

There is the author and the writer. I have a feeling that authors prefer to call themselves writers? Why is that? The second clip from Yale talks about the author so I am looking forward to watching it but in bits as I really struggle to follow for so long…

In the VLE I also looked for my peers. Couldn’t find anybody there yet.

Really looking forward to seeing everybody this Thursday and learning together.

Very excited! I am ready to start.

ps. I have also started adding useful links to my Diigo collection under ‘creative writing’
pps. Is there a course hashtag we can use on Twitter? I guess we will find out soon 😉

Opening-up and learning together, an UNESCO supported project coming to an end

Over the past 6 months, from January to June 2018, I have been working with Naomi Wahls (@nwahls) mentoring together an UNESCO supported project, one of 17 globally, part of the programme Open Education for a Better World.

This project was led by Dr Alisher Abidjanov and had a focus on identifying opportunities to transform the current re-accreditation programme of foreign language teachers in higher education in Uzbekistan. UNESCO supported the project by providing two volunteer mentors. These were Naomi, lead mentor, and I. The UNESCO project page can be accessed here, where you will find more detailed information.

It has been a fascinating journey of collaboration and discovery with two individuals from two different countries and continents whom I didn’t know in advance of the project. Naomi is a doctoral student in open education and a member of GOGN, while Alisher is the Deputy Director of the National Center for Development of Innovative Teaching Methods at the Uzbek State University of World Language.

The early synchronous meetings we organised were really important to get to know each other a little bit and start scoping a plan based on the needs and requirements of our colleague and his university in Uzbekistan and seize some of the opportunities presented by open pedagogical approaches.


12 January 2018, our very first skype meeting

Naomi, Alisher and I have been working closely together and the result is a proposal we have put forward to colleagues in Uzbekistan. I have to say that I was impressed from very early on with Naomi’s project management and leadership skills. Her openness and collegiality made a real difference to how we worked together and what we achieved as a team. The proposal has pedagogical, curriculum and technological dimensions and brings our ideas forward based on a critical review of existing provision especially linked to English foreign language teaching supported by technology, related literature and emerging research and practices. We felt that it would be useful that the proposal would be reviewed by two experts before sharing with Alisher and we are grateful for the feedback provided by Dr  Christian Stracke, ICDE Chair and Associate Professor at the Open Universiteit, Netherlands and Dr Brent Wilson, Professor of Professional Development with Technology at the University of Colorado Denver, United States of America. Their feedbck helped us fine tune some of its features.

We have not only put the proposal together but also used this time to share our plans, progress and results with the wider academic community through local, national and international conferences in different countries. These activities helped us to stay focused and make further progress while also seeing them as valuable opportunities for open peer review. We worked most of the time remotely but I did have the opportunity to meet Naomi in person at one of the conferences in the Netherlands where we presented our work together.


My mini remote contribution for the above conference is below

The project has now come to an end but I can see already that our collaboration will continue. Through this project, new ideas are emerging that will further deepen our understanding around the complexity of the professional development of foreign language teachers in Uzbekistan and how we can help to resolve some of the issues and create rich and motivating development opportunities for academics teaching foreign languages at university in Uzbekistan. There are opportunities for wider collaboration that are emerging that could involve our own institutions and colleagues.

My doctoral research and its outputs have been invaluable over the last six month as it has given us food-for-thought on if and how collaborative open learning and specifically the framework, I developed, could be adapted in the context of foreign language professional development and specifically in the context of the existing re-accreditation programme in Uzbekistan. We are exploring and proposing this possibility through our mentor proposal with Naomi and a co-authored paper we submitted recently and jointly with Alisher to a peer reviewed journal.

A really positive and fruitful collaboration. I learnt a lot and we achieved a lot in just six month. Thank you Naomi and Alisher.

Το παιχνίδι μάς τρέφει/ We grow, through play


The venue

Did you ever wonder how it would be to have the 2200 participants of CCK08 in one room in the same physical location? I guess, I could say that I experienced something like this in June when 2000 people were brought together in the largest venue in the town of Thessaloniki. While the learners may have been very different from the usual people we find at academic conferences, at least some of them, they all had the desire to connect with others, I suspect, and a common passion for learning through making, or just making through which learning happens.


it does look huge… and it was huge

robot_logoDr Fachantidis who leads the Robotics Academy at the University of Macedonia invited me to be their guest speaker at the Awards Ceremony that recognised all little makers who had completed the robotics programme during this school year. The event took place in Thessaloniki in the biggest room available in town and it often hosts the PM… apparently…

But let’s start from the beginning. I met Nikos at the LINQ 2015 Conference in Brussels  and as it was a relatively small conference it didn’t take us long to find each other. We have this saying, wherever you go on earth, you will find a Greek. This is probably true.

While we used the conference to find out about each other’s work, afterwards we stayed in touch and started working together informally having identified opportunities to connect our students through the open community #creativeHE and enable them to learn together. From my side the students were academic colleagues from Manchester Metropolitan University and other universities from the UK and elsewhere who teach or support learning, while Nikos connected with us his postgraduate students from the MA in Lifelong Learning and the MA in ICT in Education who were educators outside higher education and primarily in primary, secondary and adult education.

Nikos has been leading innovative work and research in the area of robotics in education for some time now. Just two years ago, in 2016, he set-up the robotics academy to inspire little makers from Thessaloniki and across Greece to experience the potential of robotics for their own development but also the education sector. His work has been recognised nationally and internationally and he makes a difference to many many people.


all 2000 on a Sunday when they could be on a beach…

It was truly amazing that so many people, parents, grandparents, educators from across the sectors, lecturers, students and little children, who were the stars of the day, were with us on that Sunday to celebrate together. A very diverse audience with the common love and passion for making robots and learn something new through this process while also connecting and collaborating with others as well as developing social and life skills. Nikos is also involved in multiple studies where robots assist specific groups, for language learning, create opportunities for co-learning, personal development and create opportunities for the elderly and individuals with specific learning difficulties.

At this point, I have to note that I had no idea I would be speaking to 2000 people as I had assumed that there would be maybe up to 50, ok maybe 100. Never assume. When I heard that there would be 1,800, this is what Nikos said at some point, I had already agreed to do this and was on the plane to Thessaloniki. I was in shock and became increasingly nervous. While it was an honour that Nikos had selected me for this job, it was also daunting at the same time. Double daunting in fact, as I would be speaking in Greek about my work in creativity and play. And while Greek is my mother tongue, my professional language is English. Therefore, it is easy to see that speaking in Greek about my work was almost Greek to me, if I can borrow this phrase and a big risk.


Little makers before the award ceremony started

What I did want to achieve through this talk is to trigger wider interest of the importance of creativity through playful learning throughout education and life more generally and illuminate some of the opportunities playful learning through making brings. I also felt that in order to achieve this fully, or even partially, I needed to find a way to connect with this diverse audience and I used play and storytelling. Below I have tried to explain my rationale and how it all worked. It is at this moment in time the only perspective I have but I am inviting individuals who were there to comment on this post, if they wish.

The strategies I used for audience participation… and why…

Say it with a picture
I love taking pictures and using them to communicate messages visually, connect ideas and experiences. I did this in this speech as well. To the pictures I added shorter messages as prompts but also two extracts from recent publications. A little bit of recent research is always useful to strengthen an argument and it doesn’t all sound too one sided. The pictures were used to create mental hooks but also to communicate across borders and tell a visual story through these in combination with written and oral language.

Tell a story
This creates familiarity and develops empathy too. Storytelling helps us draw people in, to connect. If some of the stories are our own this process is speeded up further.
I took of course a risk. I could just read a script but I decided not to. The natural flow of words was more attractive to me as a way to connect with the audience and include them whenever possible. I shared snippets from my life story hoping that these would act as attention hooks and also engage the audience emotionally, beyond the cognitive dimension and the kinaesthetic one, which I also did attempt to include as we did some physical activity. All 2000 people in the room. Hint… chairs… and more details about this follows.

We have no idea what others expect, but I know from teaching and facilitating workshops and sessions at university and conferences, that interaction can break the ice and help us feel more relaxed and natural and enable the time to fly. I had set myself a challenge to find a way to engage 2000! And while ideas seem to pop into my head all the time, it took me a little bit longer this time to find a suitable solution and make it happen. In the end I used the sticker and chair approach, which I had used before in other cases but had no idea if the audience would actually participate… never before did I have 2000 in front of me. They did and turned that massive room into a vibrant market place. I was worried that the sticker wouldn’t be found and what I would do then, but the sticker was found. I had placed it before anybody entered the room earlier in the morning. I had prepared a little prize for the individual who would locate the stickers and offered to share my remaining stickers with other children when I had finished. They all disappeared. I just wish I had taken more of them with me. I hope the little boy who found the sticker under his chair will enjoy his day out with his family and think back at this day and our encounter.

Move around
While I started on stage and behind that podium, in this massive room, I soon started moving around among the audience as I felt this was a better way to connect with them. I also did this for practical reasons as I struggled to see the slides due to the way the big screens were positioned and there was no laptop or screen on the actual podium. There definitely was an opportunity to have an additional big screen at the other side of the room to help the presenter and also have a screen on the podium. A hands free microphone would also help and provide even more mobility to the speaker. I am definitely not tall, rather short, and am not sure if people saw me wondering around the room with the microphone and inviting the audience to participate. I don’t regret my decision to do this as it did help me get a little bit closer to the audience and at least further engage with some of them but also get some further participation from all of them. I think the cameras were following me around… if I remember well, but at the time, I didn’t really notice.

Talks like these present an excellent opportunity to share fresh ideas. Ideas that are half-baked, rejected the mainstream, novel or new to a specific audience. Ideas that challenge the status quo in a specific context and make us think. Ideas that unsettle us and make us feel a bit uncomfortable. Our curiosity and imagination drive us to make surprising connections. Communicating and sharing these in a way that helps others think and consider are important. It is not about finding new or additional supporters, this in not a football club, but to help people think.

Fifteen minutes is a tiny bit out of our lives. However, fifteen minutes shared with so many has the potential to last longer. I hope some of what I shared with the audience and what we experienced together will accompany them for a little bit longer.

Thank you for the warm reception, the hospitality,  the privilege and the opportunity to share these special moments with you Nikos and all. My warmest congratulations to all little makers, their families and teachers as well as everybody from the Robotics Academy for inspiring them.

During my stay in Thessaloniki I also had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with some of Nikos students and colleagues at the University of Macedonia. Teaching two  sessions on the MA in ICT in Education was a pure pleasure and I would like to thank all students and my colleague Haleh Moravej who joined us at very very short notice remotely and shared her experience around creative approaches to learning and teaching with us all.


Friday: After the MA viva and presentation. From left Nikos, Christina, Yannis, Sofia and Marianna. It was interesting to be part of this and gain an insight how the process is conducted at the University of Macedonia. Christina’s study was about co-learning or learning in partnership of parents with their children using robotics.


1st session on Saturday with the MA, starting with low-tech to get to know each other and then moved to digital technologies…


2nd session on Saturday: With Haleh, second session with the MA in ICT in Education, students are primarily teachers in primary and secondary education


I loved the time we spent together Sofia (PhD student in robotics in education), Marianna (working at the University of Macedonia with Nikos, open education/research), Christina (just finishing her MA, dissertation in robotics in education). We had so much fun!

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity Nikos to work with your students and get to know them a little bit. I love and admire their commitment to learning and professional development and doing the course late in the evening and on the weekend. I wish them all the very best for the future.


Thessaloniki’s landmark, especially for Gerasimos who is from there

The effective supervisor/personal tutor, 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…


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 flashcard 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. The has been finalised for wider use with further colleagues in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University and specifically Dr Stephen Powell and Dr Alicia Prowse and we will release the full sets soon through the CELT website for anybody to use.

The Effective Supervisor no text and words

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.

With the support of the HEFCE Interventions of Success project we are able to print a few flashcard sets and share these with colleagues.

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.

(I) found (a) poem #flmakeapoem

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?
Pictures. Pictures. Pictures.
What am I looking for?
A 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. “
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


Building bridges #go_gn

Tuko Pamoja GO_GN-01I am now on my way back to the UK after an exciting week in Delft for the GO-GN seminar and #OEGLOBAL18. It has been a fascinating week in so many different ways. I feel so lucky to be part of GO-GN, this caring, warm and welcoming family.

The seminar was such a useful opportunity to find out more about emerging findings of current doctoral research in open education by researchers from around the world. Nothing has changed for me since completing my studies and becoming an alumni. I still feel very much part of this community and I have now an even greater opportunity to give back. To nurture colleagues and to help them grow.

The workshop Catherine and I were invited to offer really helped share a range of challenges we all experience as doctoral students but also collectively identify possibly solutions that will help to get unstuck and progress. We have a record of the information and I am wondering if it would be useful to create a resource that could be used by others in workshops as discussion triggers but also for self-reflection. This is something I would like to discuss with Catherine and Bea when we have a little bit of time.


pic from the workshop Catherine and I co-facilitated

30,000 feet in the air at the moment and we just heard that it is not very pleasant and that it is raining… in the pilot’s words. This week was full of sunshines and ideas, and will keep me good company in the north. My eyes are closing, so will continue this when back home.

I just rediscovered this unfinished post (weeks later…. many weeks later… I have to admit) on my iPad… I do need to finish it. Oh dear…

When I first joined the GOGN family in 2015, I was not really sure I would be able to make progress with my doctoral studies and complete them successfully. Looking back now at the last two days in Delft, I can see my past self among colleagues who are at various stages on their journey and the important role this community played for me in believing in myself that I can do this but also knowing that I was not on my own as well as get a confirmation that there is value in what I was doing.

I have no idea what would have happened without me joining GOGN during my doctoral studies. I don’t think I would have progressed so quickly. It is always fascinating to be among pioneering open education researchers who push the boundaries and through their work will bring new insights that are vital to widen and deepen the knowledge base of open education and research and practice forward. I think open research is about open practice and communities as the collective power lies in individuals and their desire to come together for the wider good. Adrian in his contribution for example, made the connection between open education and participatory democracy and social justice; Helen talked about the individual as an open educational resource and the power of collaboration. I remember Sheila MacNeill referring to the individual as an open educational resource a few years back in a keynote. Marjon, highlighted the strong support for open education in higher education and more widely in the Netherlands and a call to innovate and share resources. Something similar was just recently announced in Brazil and I am sure Viv’s recent study in schools will provide valuable insights to make this work through specific professional development interventions. I hope she will be able to contribute further to this important work. Penny on the other side of the world, in Australia, also brings new insight in open education in schools and discoveries opportunities and challenges particularly in the area of professional development or open professional learning, how she calls it. Sharing these openly and connecting studies, but also building new research on completed studies would I think create some continuity and interesting extension activities to work done by GOGNers. It was indeed fascinating to listen carefully to all the current studies that were represented in the two-day seminar and hear about some of the emerging findings, some of which are echoed across studies, across sectors, across continents. Marion, Verena, Helene, Adrian, Helen, Penny, Leo, Jenni, Judith, Natasha, Virginia, Dilrukshi, Eyak and Viv who is now almost done, all did a great job sharing their work.

I don’t know if it would be useful to conduct a meta-study that brings key outputs from all completed GOGN studies together? What could we learn from this? What are the trends? Where are the gaps? What are the needs and priorities perhaps?

Prof. Fred Mulder, Open University in the Netherlands, and Prof. Rory McGreal from Athabasca University in Canada created something special in 2013, in the year I actually started my doctoral studies officially. GOGN has kept growing since then and its current guardians within the Open University and the OER Hub, are making a real difference to doctoral researchers in open education across the world. GOGN has become a vibrant and supportive community, and open family, that welcomes doctoral researchers in open education from around the world with warmth and care.


Rob, Bea, Fred, Martin and Bea


Gigantic congratulations to GOGN for this super award and recognition for all the important work you do!

Prof. Tim van dear Hagen, rector of Delft University of Technology, said during his address at the OEGlobal conference which followed the GOGN seminar: “Without bridges we wouldn’t be here today.”

It was indeed wonderful to hear many others talking about and sharing cross-institution


we found the big blue heart… with the girls… 😉

al collaborations. For example Prof. Robert Schuwer and colleagues shared two current initiatives in the Netherlands. I felt that there is so much potential to connect, build more and stronger bridges and am looking forward to contributing to such developments.

A big thank to GOGN, Bea, Beck, Nats, Rob and Martin for taking me to Delft this year and the judging panel for awarding me the GOGN Best Open Research Practice Award. I will treasure it for ever. Congratulations also to Glenda and Aras as well.