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.

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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.

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Rob, Bea, Fred, Martin and Bea

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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

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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.

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packing… almost on my way to Delft #go_gn

gognoulogoPacking my suitcase for this year’s GOGN seminar in Delft. Penny Bentley who is there already said “pack light gear”. I will follow her advice. We had a long, cold, wet and blustery winter in the UK (it really felt like living in Siberia… or the North Pole… as my dad always says…), so any temperature above 1O degrees is very welcome.

Really looking forward to seeing everybody again from our GOGN family and also meeting new friends, open practitioners and researchers. The past two GOGN seminars in Poland and Cape Town have been invaluable for me and have helped me make more rapid progress than anticipated with my own studies. In the end I completed them in 4.5 years while in full-time work and with family commitments. I felt and feel part of a community of scholars distributed across the world. It is our distributed GO-GN family. It has been fascinating to follow and celebrate everybody’s milestones and achievements. They say internal motivation is a strong driver for learning and development, the most important driver, but perhaps external motivation generated through communities that create a sense of belonging and collectiveness (is there such a word?) are equally powerful and perhaps are key to boost our confidence and help us often to persevere and achieve our goals. In this case to complete a PhD successfully. GOGN is such a community.

This year I will be giving a little bit back to this wonderful community of scholars. Catherine Cronin and I have been invited to co-facilitate a workshop during the GOGN seminar to help colleagues doctoral students get unstuck from potential challenges they experience or may experience on their PhD journey in the future. To boost their confidence and empower them move on, that they will get there when adopting specific strategies that work for them. We plan to do this through a series of activities that will enable colleagues to share personal stories and experiences and learn from them… but more during the workshop. We don’t want to take away the surprise factor.

After completing my doctoral studies, I registered on a research supervision module at Manchester Met. This provided me with a plethora of opportunities to read about the related literature and reflect on my own experience as a PhD student and identify doctoral supervision strategies that could work for when I become a supervisor myself but also for others. Actually at the moment, I am working with Haleh Moravej, founder of our social enterprise MetMunch at Manchester Met, and Dean Brookes to develop an openly licensed flashcard set based on my assignment and research in that module that might be useful in doctoral supervisor training. The plan is to share this with our Graduate School when I see them next month about related LEGO(R) SERIOUS PLAY(R) workshops. Developing a related set for doctoral students with strategies they can consider to feel unstuck, is something I would like to explore with Catherine and the GOGN family. I suspect that our workshop during the GOGN seminar will provide food-for-thought for this. I am looking forward to discussing this idea with them and explore if/how we could take it forward. And I would love to link it to composing a song too. Yesterday, I might have met the colleague and his students who could help us make this happen…

I would like to thank GOGN for this kind and generous invitation to join the activities in Delft this year, including the OE Global conference and also for recognising my contribution to open education research practice. My warmest congratulations to Glenda and Aras and all their collaborators.

See you in Delft in a few days!

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Looking forward to discovering this heart in Delft, image source

Yeah! We agreed a submission date! #phdchat #go_gn

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I thought it would never happen. But now it did. Yesterday. After a constructive meeting with the supervisory team with Sandra ad Keith as well as Norrie who chairs the progress meetings, it was decided to agree a submission date.

Some more work needs to be done, and I am determined to do this but I can’t stop smiling to have reached this important milestone. I need to be extremely focused now until I complete the final thesis on the 15th of May 2017. And viva, hopefully before August. This is the plan.

On the train back from Edinburgh I started doodling… the above is the result of this. It is not 100% accurate, especially as the first part before the 1st full draft did really take much longer… and there is history before Jan 13. I will put it all together when I reach viva stage. Now I need to focus on getting that final version of the thesis as strong as possible.

If you have any suggestions, for the rest of the journey, I would love to hear from you.

Thank you so much to all who have been, and still are, my supportive travel companions.

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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