Do you have a wide open mind? Join us! #creativeHE

While I am in the process of marking portfolios of our very first Creativity for Learning cohort, at the same time, I am getting ready for our second group from MMU starting at the end of September! Both activities fill me with excitement. Seeing colleagues growing as creative practitioners and sharing part of their journey is extremely rewarding, but also seeing what we have achieved together is fascinating.  I am confident that colleagues will continue on this creative path and make new and exciting discoveries along the way. Already a few colleagues from this cohort submitted a research proposal linked to learning and teaching. This secured funding very recently. I can’t stop smiling and am extremely proud of them. Our album from cohort 1 bring my memories alive.

This time round, Dr Nikos Fachantidis, Assistant Professor, from the University of Macedonia will be joining us remotely with a group of postgraduate students studying towards an MA in Lifelong Learning. Prof. Norman Jackson, from Lifewide Education and Creative Academic, as well as Sandra Sinfield from London Metropolitan University with a group of academics from her institution will also be with us on this journey. So there will be students learning with academics and I am really looking forward to this. We have opened-up an existing module and are now better organised than last time. Online participation of this blended course will hopefully be seen as meaningful and valuable for colleagues from MMU and further afield.

We extended the invite to the SEDA, ALT and NTF communities and hopefully I will be able to find at least one group of academics from another institution who would also like to join us and learn with us about how we can become more adventurous in our learning and teaching in higher education. This group could be working towards a qualification or course locally or use CreativeHE as an informal CPD activity that would be developmental and could be used when preparing for Professional Recognition.

FISh (Nerantzi & Uhlin, 2012) image created by Ellie Livermore, Image source here 

The plan for CreativeHE is to create extended and enriched opportunities for academics and students to interact and learn together collaboratively using the course site at p2pu but more importantly through discussions and collaborations within Google community we have set-up using the 5C Framework (Nerantzi & Beckingham, 2014, 2015) and FISh (Nerantzi & Uhlin, 2012). We would like participants to bring their own stories and experiences and share ideas so that we can all support each other and develop as a collective.

This second iteration of creativeHE will become my second case study as part of my PhD research and I am really looking forward to the next few months. Collecting data and gaining an insight into the experience from the learner’s perspective. Hopefully, there will be colleagues interested in my study and willing to participate. As this is a registration-free course for open learners, I have created a mini survey to identify #creativeHE participants who are teaching or supporting students in higher education who would like to find out more about my project and possibly participate. There is of course, no obligation to do so.

Please share this invite with colleagues who might be interested in joining. All are welcome to participate and work towards open badges. Please note, if you want to study towards credits and are not from Manchester Metropolitan University, there will be a cost attached to this. If you have any questions, please let me know, ok?

We start on the 28 September. The online facilitated part of the course will be offered over 8 weeks. Our very last day is the 20 November.

Access https://plus.google.com/communities/110898703741307769041 to join our community and find out more.

Don’t bin your ideas! Share them and see them grow!!! image source https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7365/16582973125_a708f17c86_z.jpg

Chrissi

References

Nerantzi, C. and Beckingham, S. (2015) BYOD4L: Learning to use own smart devices for learning and teaching through the 5C framework, in Middleton, A. (ed.) (2015): Smart learning: teaching and learning with smartphones and tablets in post-compulsory education, pp. 108-126, Sheffield: MELSIG publication, available here

Nerantzi, C. and Beckingham, S. (2014) BYOD4L – Our Magical Open Box to Enhance Individuals’ Learning Ecologies, in:  Jackson, N. & Willis, J. (eds.) Lifewide Learning and Education in Universities and Colleges E-Book, available athttp://www.learninglives.co.uk/e-book.html. – invited chapter

Nerantzi, C. & Uhlin, L. (2012) FISh, original illustration, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrissinerantzi/9963707266/in/set-72157632690605470 / FISh description available at http://fdol.wordpress.com/fdol131/design/

Advertisements

Messy and sticky learning or workshop 5 #creativehe

All workshops linked to the Creativity for Learning unit are now over… well officially they are. But we did manage to add two more. I didn’t, my students did, which was wonderful. These extra sessions will be peer led. There will be a workshop around academic posters and one around action research. Plus monthly tutorials with me and online support. How will our action research groups work? They have been naturally formed through self-selection and it will be very interesting to see how this will work for us all. Is the new online community space going to work? Not everybody has signed up yet… this has been a major issue for me… put perhaps less fir my students? I heard one of them saying that they enjoy the face-to-face sessions so much that they don’t think the online can add anything? I need some further information regarding this as I will be offering the unit again in September. I have been thinking of specific changes already but discussing these with my current cohort will be really valuable.

Ok, let’s go back to workshop 5…
I was extremely excited about this one, but then I am always excited when I put my sessions together as I just love the suspense and surprise factor. I do think that when we enjoy what we do as teachers, the potential that our students will also enjoy it. Now, of course enjoyment doesn’t necessarily mean learning. It us important to remember this but also the fact that negative emotions and discomfort can also lead to learning. I am focusing on the suspense-factor that triggers enjoyment and discomfort as it is about experiencing the unexpected. This keeps us alert, excited. It also stimulates our thinking and action and increases our playfulness, I think.
This workshop took place in a studio were we could be messy and make learning stick, literally and metaphorically. The idea was to use unwanted resources – a sustainable solution? – to create visual masterpieces of our learning linked to specif theories and approaches that could be considered in the context of our innovation projects.

our stuff: recycling, upcycling in action, image source https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8650/16726861801_0802c263d3_z.jpg

For me, personally, this was very unorthodox, if you like, as I prefer building theory though practice, but it is not about how I like to do things, or at least what I dislike should not stop me from exploring these approaches with my students and help me reflect in these practices and approaches and use them as opportunities to develop my practice further. I could see a value in doing it that way but still felt that it was very abstract and detouched from personal and professional realities. I tried to bring in context but am not sure if I achieved this. I think the conversations that the action research groups had, somehow evidenced that there was some of this happening, which was good. Thinking now back at my instructions, I think a specific scenario could have helped further? I need to think about it a bit more…
It was wonderful to observe the sets. I just loved the way they worked together and how the masterpieces emerged through rotated collaboration. I was really impressed with the level of engagement and the commitment to the task. Using elements of the Word Cafe approach worked and while we didn’t have a lot of time, progressively the groups did speed up and were more focused, which meant that activities took less time. Were the groups also in flow?

collaborative installations, theory in 3D image source https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8666/16107973283_bcf712a6b6_z.jpg

The Value Jar is now full. Below are the responses from this workshop. A quick Wordle has been included in the slideshare further down. What follows are the responses from the 5th workshop.
The theories we were studying and representing within the session were demonstrated in practice by the way the tasks were constructed: it allowed for planning, action, discussion and reflection. Everyone’s different skills and strengths were brought together to create a strong visual. You (Chrissi) stepped in with specific assistance when we needed to focus on certain things more.
It allowed to discover a number of different theories in active way which involved research, discussion and creation. Visualisating ideas helped me to understand the concept. Visualisations helped to facilitate discussion in a group.
The session linked academic theory to the practical. Each group’s understanding of the theory drove ideas in different directions. Diversity is great!!
The best one! Making is learning and learning is knowing you are able to make sense of things in pictures, ideas, balloons, people smile 😉
“Vizualise” thoughts and ideas make them easier to understand.
An innovative way to explore theory, sharing the inportance of using visual and creative elements as well as text. Also an enriching opportunity to ? How to do critical reflection/analogies with students. Much food for thought in practice.
I am going to try something like this next week – a modified vresion! I am aware of my own “issues” with visual representations!
Working together to discuss theories and using the discussion to make an image really helped me to explore ideas and check my understanding. It was fun too!
Being able to bounce off other peoples energy when mine was low. Diagrams made theory much more digestable for me.
Working as a group/collaboratively to farm a shared understanding of complex theories. Loved how visual it was and how the installations grew.
I am also adding a slideshare I have put together to capture our first term together. This is the first draft at the moment (7 March 15) which needs to be updated with a few more things and I will do this over the next few weeks.
A bit sad that our workshops came to an end. However, I know that this is just the beginning and am really looking forward to what is still to come, our collaborative working, your innovations and a ther projects which are emerging already. On our list are so far
  • contributions from the whole group for the next Creative Academic Magazine around play
  • a collaborative paper using the above as open research data
  • evaluating the workshops based on the content of the Value Jar, I would like to do this with the group as well.
More ideas will emerge, I am sure, they always do when we enjoy what we do, enjoy working with each other and see value in the professional relationships that develop out of these.

Patiently waiting with closed eyes! Thank you all. I hope you will be using your brand new shiny badges, image source https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8651/16105612164_78486a6908_z.jpg

Thank you David and Haleh in preparation for this workshop, especially with the boards and painting these!!!, Ellie for designing our badges and all for participating so actively in this workshop and the previous ones. Your help and openness made a huge difference to how we experienced these weeks together.
See you again soon.
Chrissi
ps. Draft No. 2
pps. Gentle reminder at https://tellagami.com/gami/8U8Y2E/

Game over? No, it isn’t… or week 2 thoughts #creativeHE

On Thursday was our second #creativeHE session… well not really a session. This word takes me to a very restrictive definition of learning… if learning happens exclusively in sessions which we design for learning…. or teaching perhaps, I should say, does learning often happen outside of these sessions? An interesting study found that walking increases creativity. Walking is probably not the only activity that fosters creative juices to flow… The reality is that learning is an uninterrupted and liquid process and happens in multiple physical and virtual spaces, with and without others, with external and/or internal stimulations and often while doing other things. From multitasking to multilearning? What does this mean when we we design activities for learning to happen?

I love to surprise learners and help them make their own discoveries! I hope that colleagues saw the potential of breaking out of walls, out of stuffy rooms, out of dark and boring spaces and seek light, oxygen and inspiration in the outside world. Learning happens everywhere and all the time. Unzipping our minds from time, geographical constraints and lack of resources will help us spot opportunities for learning and teaching, in a very different and refreshing way. I think participating colleagues realised the potential and were able to experience the fruits of joined-up thinking and collaboration. We are not alone! Sharing opens up so many new and exciting opportunities. Active listening is vital. Too often we talk to hear our own voice, our own ideas but actually when we listen, when our own voice moves into the background we connect with others, discover and grow and are more able to discover common interests with others. We don’t know it all, actually we know very little, and often thinking that we know best blinds us and doesn’t enable us to spot the gems in front of our eyes.

I have been playing the Sell you bargains game for a number of years now and the first iteration when I was still living in the North-East and was a teacher trainer for adult and community learning. We transformed Newcastle City centre into a playground… for the last five years it has been Manchester… The game has changed and evolved over time. It was far too complicated to start with. Now I am thinking of changing it again. What triggered this is the measuring or scaling creativity. The game is deliberately collaborative and to neutralise competition but then there is the bit where the group collectively, and I stay out of this, votes for their favourite team based on criteria they defined. Should we get rid of this part? One of my colleagues questioned the usefulness of this. The process of establishing a way to do the voting for the best ideas, did distract a bit from the activity itself and the sharing of ideas. So could or should the voting be scrapped? Would it be better to celebrate more all ideas equally? Would this create a more inclusive atmosphere? And I am thinking now, doing this with some cake would I am sure be much much better! While I am writing this I am making the decision to try this next time but what I do need to find is a suitable place off-campus. Bringing in students would also be useful and actually I could buddy up students and lecturers… New ideas are emerging, new and old are coming together while I am typing all this with one finger on my iPad in notes. I am excited and can’t wait to see where these changes will take us next.

My thoughts appear to be random but I can see the connections and some of the opportunities for the future. I need to reflect more on Thursday, what happened, what didn’t, why and what I would like participants to achieve through this game. I know that I am critical of myself, but in this case it is for a purpose, I am really keen to make it even better. Colleagues told me that they found it refreshing to be out and about, share practices, problem-solve collaboratively and come up with creative ideas that could and hopefully will be implemented (also see their Value Jar responses below).

Normalised use? How will you use this pic David? image source https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8603/15829018954_50b9d2e390_z.jpg

At the end of our game and while we were leaving, the online dimension of the unit was brought up by some, together with the fact that some of my messages are far too long and tasks are text-heavy!!! The situation is not ideal. Not all are at p2pU yet, not all have a portfolio yet. How many feel lost and disorientated online? Did I expect too much? Familiarisation with the spaces and practices we would use during the course should have happened before we started. The opportunities were there but not used by all. How can I highlight their importance more for future cohorts? The portfolio session for example only attracted a tiny number of participants…. it was promoted as pre-course… I think this might have been the problem. I will have to rethink!!!

 

  • Loads of pics from the day and the unit can be found here.
  • Mini films in which colleagues share their ideas are here.

The Contributions to the Value Jar from this week, below. Couldn’t read all handwriting… And need to check the post-its again. But here comes what I could read and hopefully this makes sense.

Talking was really useful – sharing ideas. Enjoyed being out and about! Being creative and having time to talk to others and enjoy being creative.
Don’t concentrate on the leaves, concentrate on the roots.
How amazing to get out of room with walls and walk!
I found problem solving two ideas at once great because when you ran out of ideas for one problem, you could switch to the other one, unblocking the mental block.
Emphasis on process understanding how to structure tasks (practice) which emphasise process. Walking… I am inspired by this as a methodological approach.
It was useful to walk and talk. It’s always a good way to get ideas flowing! Great to be in a new environment with my peers too. Not keen on voting though!
Collaboration works! Especially in a different environment, with people with similar passion and different view points.
Not at all … what to expect. Very creative session. Got lots of ideas for teaching and some positive reassurance for tackling some of my present challenges. It became very clear in the discussions, that challenges we face are infoliated and need collaboration s a solution. Creativity is everywhere. You go looking was another form I
I enjoyed it engaging in conversation in dynamic environment/settings. Sharing our problems with others and finding resolution. Surroundings definitely enhanced our ideas and brought interesting topics to our conversations.

Before I forget, I would also like to add that a complete stranger approached us and wanted to know what we are doing. When we asked him what would you advise lecturers, he said the following:

Stop thinking that you know everything!

On Sunday morning I had a Eureka moment for a new activity, which I think would be of value. It was triggered by something that happened when we shared ideas at the final stage of the game and it confirmed to me that we need to listen more to what other say as this will help us make re-adjustments to our own thinking and practice. I am working on this activity now and it does involve flower pots. I think I will need the help of a designer to come upMore soon. I will make it available under a creative commons licence so others can use and adapt 😉

I or we? We or I? I and we? Glues for my flower pot activity… image source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/30000/nahled/old-flower-pots.jpg

… I would like to share here also that we had our very first badge awarded via pspu which went to our Ellie, Very well done!

Speak again soon,

Chrissi

p.s Draft version 2.