Reflections on #OEglobal in Cape Town, March 2017

An open pathway to learning for all:

learning through making (OER) and by experiencing (OEP)

CC BY Chrissi Nerantzi & Viviane Vladimirschi

OEGlobal (#oeglobal) took place in Cape Town this year, 10 years after the Cape Town Declaration of Open Education was signed there. With the Table Mountain backdrop, where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean blend into each other and with a turbulent recent history, open educators met to discuss, debate, share ideas and design a better future for the human race through learning with all for all. 

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We, OE researchers, Viviane (@vvladi) and Chrissi (@chrissinerantzi), met for the first time at the OE Global Conference in Krakow in 2016 and then again at the OE Global Conference  in Cape Town this year… not so long ago. We are both PhD students and members of the GO-GN and hope to contribute with new knowledge to the area of open education that will be of value for others to make our planet a more equitable place to live in  through the provision of accessible and free effective learning experiences and resources for all that bring us closer together. The conference was a fantastic opportunity to find out what is happening across the world in the area of open education, connect with ideas and people.

The first part of our stay in Cape Town was with our GO-GN colleagues. It was a great opportunity to share our projects, the progress we have made and  to continue providing ongoing support for each other and to get to know each other a bit better as well. A full set of presentations can be found at https://www.slideshare.net/GO-GN/presentations and a storify has been made available at http://go-gn.net/go-gn/two-and-a-half-days-in-cape-town/ with our Twitter interactions on these days.

Then the OE Global Conference started. There was definitely a buzz and so many interesting people there, with such diverse ideas but also a shared passion for open education based on democratic values that foster diversity and inclusion. Some we had met before, many who were new to us and some we had met online and saw for the very first time in the flesh so to speak. Among the presenters there were many of our GO-GN colleagues and their innovative research projects.

Learning through making (OER)

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What have you got? What can you make? What can you learn through it?

What we both noticed is that there was now more discussion about open educational practices, than last year. Is this a shift? Some years ago at the OER conference in the UK, I (Chrissi heard Darco Jansen (@darcojansen) saying “Content is not education. Interaction is.” This stayed with me and it does make a lot of sense. This doesn’t of course mean that we don’t need resources, materials for learning. On the contrary, what we do need, we think, is to engage more actively with materials and resources. This for us can means to seize opportunities for learning through making resources through use of teaching theories such as constructionism, resource-based learning and project-based learning for example. Authentic and contextualised learning is really important. As there is currently a revival of the maker movement and individuals rediscover the power of making in the physical world, the technology now also enables us to make stuff, including resources in the digital world as well and share via social media and other technologies. Is the time now ripe for OER 2.0? As educators we spend a lot of time preparing resources, far too much! In order for students to learn, we need to engage them more in learning through making approaches that will help them digest, discover and make sense of the world around them and learn so much more than when we create the resources for them. What are we waiting for? David Wiley talked about the concept of open pedagogy.  Open pedagogy as defined by David Wiley capitalizes on learning by doing using the 5Rs. He sees these as an opportunity to re-think how we engage with OER and maximise on the potential they have for student learning through active, critical and creative engagement with these. (http://conference.oeconsortium.org/2017/presentation/an-empirical-examination-of-the-efficacy-of-open-math-curriculum-for-elementary-school-students/).

Learning through experiencing (OEP)  

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Sitting still?

Greater emphasis was played at the conference this year on open educational practices (OEP). Many related interesting and diverse projects from around the world were shared and discussed in a range of contributions. Examples from the Global North are the OER Hub and the cross-institutional collaboration Open Educational Practices in Scotland and from the Global South ROER4D. I (Chrissi) had the opportunity to meet some colleagues from  ROER4D and especially valued the conversation with Tony Carr. A lot of interesting work is being done in Africa to support teachers to develop their understanding of open education and develop practitioner and researcher capacity in this area as they will be the seeds and spread open education further. We said that we would stay in touch and explore possibilities to collaborate in the future and bring individuals from the Global North and the Global South together. I am really looking forward to this.

Cable Green shared an ambitious vision and perhaps an opportunity for a new type of university [link to abstract: http://conference.oeconsortium.org/2017/presentation/sdg4-oer-working-together-to-mainstream-open-education/] which at the heart has authentic learning to solve the big problems we are faced with. We could say that Cable proposes an action or even activities orientated approach to higher education. There is definitely potential there to make a real difference and create a better and more sustainable world through developing a new type of university, especially as it is often hard to change the existing higher education from within. Change might indeed come from outside and have a ripple effect on existing institutions. What needs to happen to make it happen?  

Learning through experiencing in the open rethinking and redesigning learning and teaching approaches so that we create inclusive and diverse learning opportunities and experiences. David Wiley talked about the need for open pedagogies. Opening-up existing modules and courses has so much potential to transform how we learn and teach today with so many advantages for students and educators. But how prepared and willing are educators, students and institutions to embrace such approaches? Can academic development help? My own work (Chrissi, see https://chrissinerantzi.wordpress.com/phd-research/) has shown that it can make a difference and that academics as students experiencing OEP has the potential to transform practices.

Take away: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” African proverb.

Narend Baijnath said in his keynote “We need crazy visions for the future!” We totally agree! The time is right to put forward crazy visions that break free from conventions and present fresh pedagogical ideas that have the power to transform individual lives and the lives of all of us on this planet.

Imaginative and collaborative solutions are needed that will bring the Global North and the Global South closer together. Findings from the ROER4D studies in institutions in East Africa and in developing countries show that there is still a big divide as innovation is confined to a few converts and the use of OER/OEP is highly fragmented.

We can bridge this divide but it requires action from all of us. Cross-boundary collaborations will, we believe, lay the foundations for learning for all that enriches, unites and transforms institutions and nations across the globe.   

We found the conference valuable for our professional development as open researchers and open practitioners. We met old and new friends. I (Chrissi) particularly enjoyed the conversations with Christian, Jörg, Anna, Carina and Rory. Thank you Jutta for your interest in my work and sharing your recent paper with me. I can see that we are on the same wavelength. I am looking forward to connecting with Paola and our GO-GN buddies.

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Jörg and Christian

I (Viviane) particularly enjoyed my conversations and rich exchanges with Carina Bossu and José Dutra who have been following the progress of my work since last year and who always provide me with good solid advice as they know well the Brazilian educational context and reality. I look forward to connecting with them again and there are certainly plenty of opportunities for us to join forces and collaborate, which I am looking forward to.

Glenda and all the team organised a successful conference and congratulations to all OE Global Award winners.

We include below a few links to useful conference related resources

Insightful blogposts about the conference has been written by Catherine Cronin at https://catherinecronin.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/oeglobal-reflections/ (you will also find loads of useful links and resources there) and by Robert Schuwer available at http://robertschuwer.nl/blog/?p=1478 . All presentations can be found at http://conference.oeconsortium.org/2017/presentations/.

There is also a storify available at and Martin Hawksey has created a visualisation of actions and interactions on Twitter using the #OEGlobal and his wonderful TAGSexplorer. See http://hawksey.info/tagsexplorer/?key=1sgDFfpfbnTl_bRwqFrGFEDMaVDeFTstzy79in89abXo&gid=400689247&mentions=true

See also specific tools or frameworks that have been created to support openness and that received awards: http://www.oeconsortium.org/projects/open-education-awards-for-excellence/2017-oe-award-winners-oer-categories/

The next OE Global conference will be held in the Netherlands next year (see blog written by Willem van Valkenburg at http://www.e-learn.nl/2017/03/10/oeglobal-2018-in-delft

See you there!

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If you are a penguin consider also hanging around non-penguins! Could your life and perspectives on life become more diverse?

The seeds are spreading, we are growing… post 1/2 #GO_GN #OEglobal

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Big heavy bird…

I am now sitting in the plane in Cape Town, well, in the airport. In a few minutes the doors will close and this massive bird will fly us back to London. I hope so… As I am not a good flyer, distracting myself from the fact that I will be in the air for all these hours and flying around 1000 km per hour… well the (auto)pilot, I thought that it would be good to distract myself. I usually fall asleep watching movies, which I guess would be a perfect solution… if only I could get comfortable in this seat. So instead, I decided to make a start reflecting on the week we spent in Cape Town and draft this blogpost while the last few days are still fresh and alive in my mind… I also hope to get some sleep, as the flight will otherwise stretch even further. 

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GO-GN in action

Where do I start? Well, looking back, first of all, my colleagues GO-GN peers come to mind. Some of the relationships that started forming last year have become stronger and turned into professional friendships through which we support each other in our research. Before Kraków, I had no exchanges whatsoever with other PhD students and my journey has been very much a solo adventure, at times a nightmare. Everything changed since Kraków. It was, for example wonderful to get to know Viv from Brazil in Kraków and continue the conversations we started there about our work and support each other remotely. In between GO-GN meetings I had found Penny from GO-GN,  via social media who is also a phenomenographer, just like me. I got to know Penny a little bit when I reached out for help on Twitter when I felt stuck with the methodology and just wanted to run away. I was so happy that we not only both researched specific areas within open education but also looked at the experience with a phenomenographic lense. Penny has been wonderful and set-up a social media support network for phenomenographers. Soon, others joined us in this network, including Margy and Åke who both have been of great help to me. I now know that I can reach out on Twitter or directly in the FB phenomenographers community when I have challenging questions related to this and also help others. And there have been such opportunities. While I haven’t seen Penny in real life,our paths crossed in VConnecting during the Go-GN event in Cape Town. That was such a wonderful surprise to see here and also connect with other open practitioners and  researchers from other parts of the world. Thank you Maha for organising this.

Through a double webinar that was shared with GO-GN, I discovered Anne and her work around cross-boundary objects. I potentially could have found a boundary crossing buddy. When I found out that Anne would also be in Cape Town, I was excited. There, we started discussing opportunities to collaborate through creating joined-up academic development opportunities for staff in our institutions as well as research. These are really potentially exciting developments and I am really looking forward to collaborating with Anne and her colleagues.

After some sleep, still in the big bird, I woke up. I am still in the plane and we are currently flying over France… soon on the ground again. I will continue when I am in the train to Manchester. Hopefully, my eyes will stay open…. (later added… they were mainly closed).

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creating shared memories

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crossing boundaries live

The GO-GN event was a really valuable opportunity to find out what some of my peers in the network were researching and identify how we could support each other and collaborate. Jenni‘s work particularly seems to be the closest to my research in the area of collaborative open learning through inquiry-based learning approaches and I am looking forward to finding out how her thinking will develop and evolve and if the framework I developed as part of my study is at all useful for her. Lisa‘s research plans in Ghana around teacher education was also of particular interest to me and as she is at the very early stages of her research, I would love to help her if this is something Lisa wants too. ROER4D will also be a valuable contact point for her, I think. Tabisa‘s work also made me think again about the north south divide, as well as Judith‘s project and the importance of cross-boundary collaboration in the context of OER and OEP and the need, I think, to establish diverse communities that will bring the global north and south together and help us all grow. Sarah‘s works is also in the area of social inclusion. Catherine‘s research also triggered some new thinking especially around the spaces we occupy as well as Caroline‘s work and I could see linked to open learning ecologies. Michael’s ideas around exploring constructive alignment in the context of open sounded intriguing and I am looking forward to finding out how his ideas develop. Janesh‘s work around studying the experience of Indian MOOC  learners and particularly their use of English was of particular interest to me. Jamison is exploring the transformative potential of open and I can see how his initial ideas from last year are shaping. Unfortunately I did miss Gino‘s contribution due to VConnecting but am looking forward to accessing his presentation on slideshare when this is available.

 The two days provided a valuable opportunity to discuss a wide range of interesting projects and open research The two days also gave me fresh energy to continue and bring this project to completion. I am adding here my response to one of Rob’s activities in which he asked us to summarise our study in 7 bullet points. This really helped me focus on what would be important to communicate my research to others.

Seven points linked to my study

1 Teaching excellence framework in the UK to raise quality of teaching is based on a competitive model with financial incentives for universities linked to increase in student fees

2 I propose instead collaboration and openness to engage academics in CPD, change practices and innovate

3 I explored the collaborative open learning experience in two openly licensed cross-institutional academic development courses (collective case study approach to collect data) using phenomenography, how collaborative open learning is experienced and identify what design features influence this experience

4 I interviewed 22 study participants from the collective case study (FDOL + #creativeHE)

5 I found out how participants experienced collaborative open learning (as immersive and selective collaborators) and the design features that influenced that experience (design, facilitation, community)

6 boundary crossing was a significant factor of the experience

7 I constructed  an openly licensed cross-boundary collaborative open learning framework (leaner patterns, learner needs, design characteristics) for other academic developers to adapt based on the phenomenographic findings and the discussion around this.

See below my presentation from the GO-GN event and explore there my colleagues’ research projects too! 

As I love drawing, my plan is to create a visual story of the abstract and add it to the to the title page of the thesis, if this can be done and is allowed… 

The advice and suggestions from my peers and the GO-GN team are helping me get there. Hopefully before the summer. 

Thank you Bea, Beck, Nats, Rob and Martin for looking after all of us so well. 

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GO-GN has 8 alumni and 50 PhD students studying open education in 14 countries.  If you are a PhD student in open education anywhere in the world, join his fantastic global support community! 

Post 2 about OE Global will follow.

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growing

#GO_GN goes to Cape Town, see you there ;)

go-gn_memberI feel very fortunate to be a member of the Global OER Graduate Network since September 2015. Thanks to GO-GN I have connected with many fellow PhD students in open education from across the world as well as  experienced and successful GO-GN scholars.

Until this happened, being a PhD student was an extremely lonely experience and while many will say that the internal motivation is a strong  motivator to go on… external stimulation and feeling part of a community play a vital role in helping us feel stronger, and help us believe that we can do this.

In a few weeks time, I will be travelling to Cape Town. Not really looking forward to the flight… but I won’t be on my own and it will be mainly during the night, so hopefully, I will be able to close my eyes and just imagine I am somewhere else.

Can’t wait to see everybody in Cape Town for the next GO-GN event (just did my homework and the draft presentation linked to my studies is also ready). Planning to sprinkle local pictures over it when I am there. Will be exciting to find out about my peers research and the progress they are making. Last year, it has been such a valuable experience in Krakow. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived there. The GO-GN event was particularly successful as there were peers at different stages of their studies and that helped me position myself, realise that I had made some progress, but also see where you were hoping to go. They say it is not healthy to compare yourself with others, and I agree, but in this case, it just worked and motivated me to do more and better to get there. The selection of peers was therefore spot on, I feel. The Open Education Global 2016 that took place afterwards was also an enlightening experience.

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flickr photo by wenzday01 https://flickr.com/photos/wenzday01/17820776192 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

This year, I will have the opportunity to present some of the findings linked to my research at the Open Education Global 2017 conference which will take after our GO-GN event. I have just submitted the second full draft of my thesis to supervisors and am waiting for their feedback. The abstract I submitted for the conference is the following:

Opening-up the HE box through cross-boundary collaborative open learning in cross-institutional academic development

Chrissi Nerantzi

This contribution reports on the development of an openly licenced cross-boundary collaborative open learning framework for cross-institutional academic development, one of the key outputs of a doctoral phenomenographic study.

While competition and financial incentives seems to be the drivers for teaching excellence in the United Kingdom, this study proposes collaboration and openness instead. This includes practitioner led collaboration among Higher Education Institutions, as well as collaborative open learning among diverse academic staff, students and the public.

Two opened-up cross-institutional academic development courses developed and offered using social media were used to explore the lived learner experience in collaborative open learning in these settings through a series of semi-structured interviews which formed the basis of the phenomenographic analysis. The findings illustrate learner engagement patterns of the ‘selective’ and ‘immersive’ collaborator, their behaviours and needs. These were used to inform the framework. The findings provide evidence about the fluidity of open learning online and offline, and the impact cross-boundary learning experiences and community have for engagement in learning.

This study has shown that cross-boundary collaborative learning can act as a powerful motivator for engagement in professional and personal development. Can we afford to ignore collaboration and openness as drivers for teaching excellence and innovation?

Thank you to all colleagues from GO-GN and my peers whom I have met online and offline for bringing light into my PhD journey. The conversations we had especially with Viv and Penny about our studies have been invaluable! I am sure that many of the connections will last far beyond these studies and I will be forever grateful to Bea, Beck, Nats, Rob and Martin, the GO-GN team, for creating so many valuable opportunities and supporting me in such a fruitful way.

I hope to see you on the 8th of March at 10.30am 😉


If you are a PhD student in open education, check out GO-GN and join this valuable community!!!