Towards a framework for cross-boundary collaborative open learning for cross-institutional academic development
This phenomenographic study, explores the collaborative open learning experience of academic staff and open learners in cross-institutional academic development settings, and adds to what is known in these settings. It provides new insights for academic developers and course designers about the benefits of crossing boundaries (i.e. open learning) in an academic development context and proposes an alternative model to traditional academic Continuing Professional Development (CPD). It engages academic staff in experiencing novel approaches to learning and teaching and developing as practitioners through engagement in academic CPD that stretches beyond institutional boundaries, characterised by diversity and based on collaboration and openness. Data collection was conducted using a collective case study approach to gain insights into the collective lived collaborative open learning experience in two authentic cross-institutional academic development settings with collaborative learning features designed in. At least one of the institutions involved in each course was based in the United Kingdom. Twenty two individual phenomenographic interviews were conducted and coded. The findings illustrate that collaborative open learning was experienced as two dynamic immersive and selective patterns. Boundary crossing as captured in the categories of description and their qualitatively different variations, shaped that experience and related to modes of participation; time, place and space; culture and language as well as diverse professional contexts. Facilitator support and the elasticity of the design also positively shaped this experience. The community aspect influenced study participants’ experience at individual and course level and illuminated new opportunities for academic development practice based on cross-boundary community-led approaches. The findings synthesised in the phenomenographic outcome space, depicting the logical relationships of the eleven categories of description in this study, organised in structural factors, illustrate how these contributed and shaped the lived experience, together with a critical discussion of these with the literature, aided the creation of the openly licensed cross-boundary collaborative open learning framework for cross-institutional academic development, the final output of this study. A design tool developed from the results is included that aims to inform academic developers and other course designers who may be considering and planning to model and implement such approaches in their own practice.
Keywords: Academic development, collaborative open learning, boundary crossing, cross-institutional professional development, open education, social media, framework for cross-boundary collaborative open learning
Institution: Edinburgh Napier University, Faculty of Health. Life and Social Sciences (moved to School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Care in April 2016)
Director of Studies: Dr Karen Aitchison (until April 2014) then Dr Sandra Cairncross
PhD Supervisor (1): Prof. Keith Smyth
PhD Superviror (2): Tom McEwan, from April 2014 to July 2015
Starting date: 14 January 2013
Thesis submitted: 5th May 2017
Viva: 8 September 2017
External examiner: Prof. Linda Drew
Internal examiner: Prof. Kay Sambell
Outcome: PhD awarded, the Edinburgh Napier University institutional committee approved the thesis on the 4 October 2017
Graduation: 26 October 2017
Dissemination activities can be accessed here.
blog posts linked to my research can be accessed here.