call to be open or reflections on week 1 #lthejan13 @pgcap

LTHEJan13 week 1

I smiled when I read this comment. I asked my new cohort to share with us how they felt at the beginning of the session, at the beginning of the PGCAP. The majority of students seem to be positive and are looking forward to this chapter in their life as a teacher in HE. But there were also some critical voices who are not convinced yet that this course will be useful for them. That is ok. I don’t mind as long as we all have an open mind and use the PGCAP as an opportunity to explore, experiment and discover but also to connect with colleagues from other disciplines. I smiled because of the self-realisation that my teachers are now students again while also being teachers and it also linked nicely with what I was trying to achieve in this session overall but also through the Lego model making activity, to look at themselves as learners. No point talking about teaching if we forget who we are as learners and our learners. It will be fascinating to follow how this dualism is influencing their thinking, reflections and actions but also if it also has transformative powers for who they are as a teacher.

LTHEJan13 week 1

one of our Lego models

My approach is playful and I try to do things differently and do different things, as I have heard some time ago Prof. Ranald Mcdonald saying in one of his workshops. We are all busy already and adding new stuff on top of what we do already just won’t work. We need to be open, work smarter, stop doing things that just don’t work and make time and space for new practices to emerge! We teachers are learners first. If we model learning and share our passion for learning and our subject with our students only then will we be able to connect with and enthuse them.

This session was an introducion into the PGCAP and the LTHE module. Was there a lot transmission of programme and module information going on? I think so! This is why I find it so challenging as I am not really a information transmitter. Information overload? We talk about flipping the classroom and making information available n advance of a session… isn’t this though just transmitting information in a different way, time and place? I really struggle with this approach. We talk a lot about self-directed and self-organised learning and if this means that the learner is in the driving seat, what does this mean for the teacher? The induction session is going to be changed radically for the next cohort. Some ideas I have at the moment:

LTHEJan13 week 1

loved the noisy conversations!

Programme handbook and module guide with resources will be available during orientation (they were now as well). A webinar will be organised to answer questions linked to the course and then during induction we will be able to get to know each other and immerse ourselves into the collaborative pedagogies through experiencing these. I think this could work better… It will be challenging if people don’t engage with the resources and don’t participate in the webinar… what would I do then??? Expectations need to be shared and working practices agreed from the very beginning. We only get out of it what we put into it! This applies to students and teachers!

Anything else I should be thinking about? Perhaps my LTHEJan13 students have some ideas? Feel free to share, ok? Thanks.

#lthesep12 week 1 reflections @pgcap


In the spotlight, the programme, the module, you, us

This week was so so rich. We had our first face-to-face sessions for all modules. I am really pleased how all modules started. A lot of hard work had gone into preparing a powerful and creative start to the semester and I can say that we did achieve this across the programme. It was wonderful to see all our students, I managed to peak into all sessions, and see our students’  and tutors’ passion for learning and teaching. I feel that the programme is getting stronger and tutors work now closer together to make this programme a real success. We already had a number of successes but I know that we and our students are able of even greater things and I am positive about the future. The key is to work together in this with all tutors and students but also the support team to make our big dreams become reality.

What were the highlights?

It has to be the seeing my new LTHESep12 group but also all students I had last semester and some I had before then. I could how eager they all are to get started. I hope all our students wil find the journey exciting and learn loads that they can apply in their practice.

LTHESep12 week 1

breakfast is served

During the session we did perhaps a few controversal things such as knitting, playing with Lego and speed dating too. This was on purpose. I wanted to warn them from the very beginning to expect the unexpected, if that makes sense.  But also show them that we should all experiment with different approaches and that the programme is a safe place to do this. I am of course experimenting with my students and this turns learning into a partnership. I loved their laughters how they started already supporting each other, during the knitting activity but also througout the session.

The most wonderful thing that happened is probably that what we did, or better how, made already some students think about their own practice and by the end of the session I heard a few saying that they are going to try some of the stuff we did in their own sessions, others started writing about it in their portfolios. Yes, I am smiling 😉 What else could I have hoped for?

How did I feel?

I felt the buz, the adrelanine was in the air. I was ready for action. It had been too many months without teaching and I have to admit I missed it. I was of course nervous too and each time you start fresh with a new group, there is always the fear or concern that it won’t work, that people won’t like you or won’t get what you want to achieve. But it did work, I think and I am really looking forward to what is going to happen this semester. The grey clouds are gone…

I have to admit that I did feel a bit sad. Sad seeing my previous cohort in other classrooms, with other tutors… I do find it hard to let go especially since we have worked so well together. But I know they are all in good and capable hands and am happy with the progress they have made. I will see them around anyway and I am working on projects with some of them… just need to remember this 😉

What did I learn?

Spending a bit more time at the beginning with a new class to enable us to get to know each other,  can really make a huge difference. It was lovely to see how chatty students were and there were a lot of smiles and a genuine interest in helping others. I loved this.

LTHESep12 week 1

knitting our network

I have to admit that I have trialled the knitting activity with another cohort and it didn’t work. However, I saw value in this and thought that it was a good idea to try again. And I did and it work so well this time. This shows that we might create a learning opportunity, have an idea which we put into practice, that won’t work, but this should not discourage us from trying it again if we feel that there is value in this for our students. I think I learnt from the previous time I tried it, that it wasn’t probably the right group (?) and the wrong time {?)… I should have reflected a bit more in action to realise this and not even do it then.

What would I do differently?

I am concerned that not everybody has a portfolio yet. We have so far offered 2 portfolio sessions and we have stillover 50% of students with no portfolio. I don’t know how to resolve this. A third session is planned but I don’t know how many will be available to attend.

We do need to work on our application process. It all happens last minute and created loads of difficulties. Including the issue with the portfolio. If we would accept applications a semester ahead for the next semester, we would have plenty of time to plan and help our students to familiarise with the programme. At the moment we are looking at streamlining the processes with the whole team. So this is something that we definitely need to do differently next time around.

What else?

Well, this week was also a milestone for me. I was officially accepted to start a PhD at Edinburgh Napier University around Open Learning. I am really looking forward to this new adventure and am keen now to get started development and research. This research project is linked very closely with the PGCAP and our Flexible, Distane and Online Learning (FDOL) Module which will be developed in collaboration with colleagues in Sweden. This is all very exciting and I am pleased I survived the Skype Interview this week. It was actually much easier than I thought and I relaxed as the conversation progressed.

PhD interview prep and safety net? Didn’t use any of my notes…

In week 2 we are going to look at reflection and observations of teaching. My trolley is almost full and ready to roll to Faraday House on Tuesday. If you would like to observe, feel free to come along to Pankhurst Room, 9.30-12.30pm

No. 1 is over or did it just start? #CMC11 MOOC

Is play just for kids? What happens to the kid when we grow up?

Is play just for kids? What happens to the kid when we grow up?

Why are our minds locked or why do we lock them?

Why are our minds locked or why do we lock them?

What hinders us to taste something different and enjoy it?

What hinders us to taste something different and enjoy it?

Can we see what is behind the walls we build?

Can we see what is behind the walls we build?

Is away too far?

Is away too far? How can we bring it closer and why would we want to?

Do we need to embrace more?

Do we need to embrace more? Why? How?

I think it is just the start

I think it is just the start, it has to be just the start!

Let’s the fun begin! #coresep11

just a few more hours

on the way... just a few more hours

This is it. Our Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice starts tomorrow. We are ready for our next cohort. And it is induction day ;o)

The fun begins in less than a day, well tomorrow morning at 9.30am. Just a few hours of sleep…

For me the fun has began a while ago when I started preparing for the big day. I have gone through the day loads of times already. What will happen, how it will happen, the re-actions etc. etc. What can go wrong? What might not work… But nobody knows so I am very excited.

For days now, I have been thinking and re-thinking and un-thinking activities and props. Oh, yes props. How to use them and most importantly why! Not everybody likes them but I do and I feel that they can make such a difference and transform abstract concepts into something that is actually understandable.

So, yes, if you are wondering, I am going to experiment with some new stuff. We can’t just keep doing the same things. That would be so boring. Taking risks is part of what we do. But why? To hopefully provide stimulating learning experiences for all, and I include myself here and make us all think. I can’t, and I wouldn’t like to, feed anybody information. And knowledge is something that needs to be digested! Remember, learning requires work and I hope you are all here to work and play hard ;o)

Let’s the fun begin.

See you all very soon.

@PGCAP #cohort2 induction and decision

open your heart

open your heart

It is now the day after our induction for cohort 2. It was indeed a full day and a very long one. It felt much longer than last time despite the fact that we have actually cut bits out. We need to do less. Yes, less is more and a lot of the stuff that we went through could be done through self-study and online activities. But then again you will have some people participating and others not. How will we be able to engage everybody from the very beginning and how can we create the so vital learning community?

Some people couldn’t make it, others arrived later and others left before we finished. It is a busy time of the year for everybody and I think this influenced yesterday as well. The levels of participation were good and I could sense some thinking and deeper engagement already but I also felt that some were just not there 100%. This is hard. Hard for us but also hard for the participants, or students how I like to call our participants. Some of the activities were not understood fully. Some didn’t see any purpose in these.

Especially the heart activity was almost a disaster. I have used this activity before, a few times, but I never experienced what happened yesterday. This was really interesting and I try to understand what people didn’t understand about the activity. The idea behind it was to introduce reflection as something that we are doing already in our everyday life by asking participants to open their heart and

– share an episode (and everybody was given a red-paper heart to capture their thoughts), something very good or bad that happened to them.

– They were then asked to move away from the actual event and think about the why it happened,

– then how what happened made them feel and

– what they would do differently if they would experience something similar in the future.

Isn’t this what we do on a day-to-day basis? Do I assume that what everybody is doing? Maybe we are not all reflecting. Maybe we don’t really know what it is. Maybe the instructions were not clear enough. But I wanted it to be something more organic and it didn’t really work well at all. I have to rethink my approach.

Teaching and learning and emotions? Some I think were surprised with this combination. Should education be something de-emotionalised? We all have emotions when we care about something, about somebody. Should we not care about our students or do we have a responsibility to care? Something to think about and I intend to come back and look at this a bit closer to explore if emotions and feelings don’t really have a place in education or if they are indeed a vital ingredient of teaching and learning.

We are currently thinking of shortening the induction up to lunch. I would like everybody to leave on a high and not on a low. I was thinking why was it yesterday so different. But whatever the reasons it showed again that each teaching and learning situation is unique and what might work in one won’t necessarily be good in another case. This is the big challenge, isn’t it? We need to be flexible, listen to what our students say. Also, it is very important to read the body language and some of the signs I was getting were that people were tired…

I will stop here for now. I will be back with regular reflections, this is my decision… if you were wondering.

Any comments would be very welcome. Yes, I am encouraging a dialogue about my thoughts and our joined journey on this module. Speak again soon.