Happy 2nd Birthday Dear Open Education Europa Portal! @OpenEduEU

2cakes

finger doodle made with the free version of Sketches

Open education makes us feel less lonely, more connected with ourselves, others and ideas wherever they are or come from. Open education gives us fresh hope, courage and wings to experiment, create and innovate, with others; to collaborate and develop valuable partnerships that help us move forward. This is how I see things.

The Open Education Europa Portal has become a valuable hub for such activities across Europe. It is a vibrant place to share practices, projects and research, as well as connect with like minded-people. Push the boundaries and make the otherwise impossible possible, to advance knowledge but more importantly to build cultural bridges that connect us more deeply as human beings, bring us closer together and transform our lives.This is the real value of open education for me. 

The Open Education Europa Portal has become a really useful source for me over the last two years to keep up-to-date with Europe-wide initiatives, pioneers and their work and related research. Some of the initiatives I have created with colleagues have been added to the database of open offers and I am grateful for this. I also had the opportunity to participate remotely in the Education in the Digital Era Conference back in 2014 which was a great experience and enabled me to be there and be part of the conference without actually being there. A fantastic CPD  opportunity from my armchair… so to speak. After discovering and starting reading with great interest the plethora of eLearning papers, colleagues and I actually submitted our own work for one of the recent issues around our open facilitator work linked to BYOD4L (Nerantzi, Middleton & Beckhingham, 2014) which consequently led to the creation of the Open Facilitator Project supported by CELT, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Open Knowledge Foundation and Carol Yeager a dear colleague and collaborator from the U.S. You never know where ideas will take you and this is truly fascinating.

There are still opportunities to do more, I feel, on the Open Education Europa Portal to take it to the next level perhaps. As an open practitioner, researcher and PhD student in open academic development,I would really like to see and help develop the following which have the potential to make a difference to all of us, I think. Some of my  ideas follow:

1. A community of open practitioners coming together that will help us find each other and identify opportunities for fruitful collaborations to advance learning, teaching, research, living and working.

2. Emerging open educational practices outside MOOCland often non-funded are often still in the shadow. I would like to see these supported, shared and showcased more so that we can celebrate a wider variety of open practices.We would, for example love to find collaborators from across Europe for our open professional development courses and initiatives for teachers in higher education, such as BYOD4L, FOS, #creativeHE and the #LTHEchat.

3. Find ways to promote cross-institutional collaborations in the area of open education that are sustainable and have a life beyond any funding cycles and create rich opportunities for exchange and learning beyond boundaries.

4. Create a hub for PhD students in open education across Europe (perhaps Prof. Martin Weller and his colleagues at the OER Research Hub could help with this? Just a few days ago, Dr Bea de los Arcos from Martin’s team made me aware of the GO-GN Global OER Graduate Network at http://go-gn.net/ could links be made, initiatives to be joined-up?) that forms a valuable peer support network (it is true that PhD students often feel that they are working in isolation), fosters sharing of exciting emerging research and findings that will be of interest to other researchers but also enables new collaborations to emerge.

5. … and a secret wish I have and had actually added to my original PhD proposal back in 2012 was to develop a cross-institutional Teaching Qualification for Higher Education with partners from HE in the UK. But what stops us working towards such a Europe-wide.initiative? Am I too ambitious or is it worth exploring this idea together? Please get in touch if you think we can make this happen!

Would love to work more closely with colleagues from Open Education Europa and make ideas happen, together, in collaboration.

  • We know that the future is collaborative. It is happening already.
  • Let’s build on what connects us!
  • Be creative, share and innovate with others!
  • Let’s celebrate together who we are and what we can achieve together!

Visit the Open Education Europa Portal today to seize the opportunities! Become part of Open Education Europa and explore the possibilities for a more open, creative and connected Europe.

The 1st Open Education Europa Week is between September 28th – October 2nd, 2015. How will you contribute? We start a brand new open course on the 28th around Creativity for Learning in higher education! Join us here.

It would be wonderful if this could be the beginning of a conversation. Thank you for reading.

Chrissi (Nerantzi)
Creative Commons License
Happy 2nd Birthday Dear Open Education Europa Portal! by Chrissi Nerantzi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I received an invite from Open Education Europa to create this clip and become an Open Education Europa Fellow. Please note,  am NOT a Professor as the term used in the UK and shown on the official clip you will find here.

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Let’s open-up! Thoughts after a recent HEA seminar

It is already Sunday. I can’t believe this. Where did the week go? I started writing the below when travelling on the train to London this week and was planning to have the draft ready then but I felt so dizzy in the train that I had to abandon my plan… unfortunately. So this remained unfinished for some days… I will try now and stitch my thoughts together. Hopefully it will work. Ok, let’s make a start.

This week I went to the HEA and participated in a seminar around open educational practices. As I am currently engaged in research linked to this area as a PhD student at Edinburgh Napier University and am developing open CPD initiatives in the context of Academic Development, I felt that this was an important event to be part of. I was right.

Prof. Grainne Connole made me think about the importance of the learning design (reminder for self: need to read Grainne’s 7c learning design in more detail!!!), something I feel is vital to make it work, and the determining effect and impact this has on the practice itself but also the facilitator and learner experience and learning. If we want Learners to be engaged in meaningful ways, we need to be creative and focus on the learner. This applies for face-to-face settings, blended or fully online, closed or open provision. While I am writing this, my mind wanders again to the thought that no learning is fully online. But let’s go back to my question. How can we engage all learners in a meaningful way when we bring the masses or even the world together in one enormous chaotic classroom? Can learning happen in vast networks and decentralised and distributed communities?  I have used the term ‘communities’ here without even thinking about it. Suddenly the term ‘classroom’ was gone from my vocabulary. I think learning can happen out there, learning happens everywhere and all the time. However, as we are all different, different things work for different people. I have heard and read often that open education will engage the unengaged. Does it at the moment? Evidence seems to say that it is not the case. We might have seen new sections of the global population starting to participate in open educational offers and for many it will be the only offer there is, but it is not an accessible way of learning for many who are perhaps less experienced, confident and competent in such learning ecologies. After the MOOC hype,it becomes clear that we are now recognising the role human support and human interaction play for participation and learning. How could we have forgotten? How could we had assumed that machines would be able to replace vital ingredients of human interaction? Did we get carried away with making educators superstars in the global classroom? Turning the classroom into a world stage? We’re we blinded by the numbers? Is learning and teaching a popularity contest? Why are we teaching? I thought at the heart of learning is the learner…

It is encouraging that even the NMC Horizon Report for Higher Education 2014, actually focuses more on pedagogies instead of the tools. Grainne pointed this out and I should read the report in more detail. This is definitely a shift and signalises the need to focus more on identifying innovative ways for learning instead of replicating boring, bad and bold pedagogies. Grainne reminded us that the web is just coming out of its teenage years and social media is only turning 10. What does that mean for us? Rebellious years ahead? I think the only certain thing is that things will change and they change faster and faster. This makes it harder to keep up and makes lifelong and lifewide learning essential not just to survive but also to thrive and innovate.

All speakers talked about MOOCs and generally other open creations and open educational resources. Are MOOCs just OERs? And we know that these are under-used anyway? The world of resources is exploding. We are drowning in resources and content. Why do we keep producing more? Is this linked to our human desire of creating stuff? I am wondering. We do love making stuff and David Gauntlett has written extensive about this and I am grateful to Frances Bell who introduced me to his work during a train journey a few years ago. We do learn through making as he said. But if this is the case who is really learning more when we teachers make the stuff for our students? What needs to happen so that we focus our desire to make stuff on creating activities and spaces that foster interaction, exchange and learning? Should students make stuff instead? What about making stuff with our students?

Various acronyms came up and others were coined in the room. Not sure if it is important how we call something… shouldn’t we focus more on what it is and what we are trying to achieve? Why do we do the things we do in the way we do them? Could it be that many are on the MOOC avenue, as they want to be left behind but perhaps don’t know where they are leading or what they want to achieve? The conversation about open educational practices still seems to be an add-on. I am more interested in how we can open-up existing provision to connect learners and teachers worldwide and enrich their experience and help them grow into more open-minded individuals. Are there opportunities to join up courses? The EU calls for greater openness in the Modernisation of Higher Education to connect students, teachers and programmes more widely to enrich their learning experience and broaden their perspectives about the world but also make them reflect on the nature of collaboration and the potentials it brings within a connected world.

Prof. Alejandro Armellini was provocative and made us think about the physical campus and how this will be changing. He said

“We keep building impressive buildings but the campus of the future will be smaller!”

This is a good opportunity for all of us to reflect and capture how we feel about the above. Feel free to add your comments to this post so that we can have a conversation about this.

Alejandro, or short Ale 😉 also talked about Northampton’s baby steps in the area of open educational practices but also the need to open up more and connect with others – to collaborate! Prof. Neil Morris also emphasised on collaboration and actually suggested that all funded HEA bits for example should be collaborative ones. I really liked that idea as it would really bring institutions closer together and identify jointly opportunities for collaboration and   innovation instead of competition!!! Ale, noted that it will be hard to convince academics to be more open and consider open practices, he said, but evidence of its value, will be the driving force for change. “Academics want to see evidence” he said, but also that “we need talk to people and start from where they are“. As we all experiment with open, we should really evaluate and investigate our initiatives, even if they are mini. We need to learn more about the open learner and their experience but also open organisers and facilitators. My interest lies within collaborative open learning and how we can enable this in cross-institutional contexts. When we talk about open educational practice, it is usually a brand new flashy course (we heard numbers in the region of £30,000 to produce one of these), something that is de-touched form the normal institutional offer while I feel the potential is there to open-up all courses and connect our learners to other learners, professionals and global communities. I think if the open offer becomes part of what we do as institutions, there will be room to explore additional business models. Universities are in the business to advance knowledge and to innovate. Isn’t opening up our courses to enrich the experience of our students a good enough business model? I don’t like the phase I used here ‘good enough’ but struggle to express what I mean. Perhaps valid, valuable? Do you understand what I mean?

Too often staff are unsure if they are aloud to do things! I really liked Neil’s idea of giving academics the freedom to explore and experiment. Constructing and imposing no-no policies won’t work and definitely stifle creativity and innovation. Let them play, let them experiment and build a vision together. If there is buy in at all levels and we all work together great things can happen and they did happen at Leeds, according to Neil. There was a shared vision and this helped to put all puzzle pieces together and start creating a more open future together.

I could continue writing here as this event triggered a lot of thinking into so many different directions but I will make a pause here hoping that some will respond and we can turn this into a conversation. Just would like to add the following quote shared by Ale which makes a lot of sense to me…

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

… what happened to the idea of free education for all?

Too Many Opportunities

making the impossible possible?

I thought the idea was to engage the unengaged in education? To provide opportunities for those that need it most? I thought it was about bringing people together and create new and exciting opportunities for exchange, learning, development, collaboration and experimentation?

Help is only a friend away.

finding each other

What happened to altruism? What happened to academic freedom? Are businesses taking over academia? Are we sold anachronistic ideas in new packages and are for some strange reason mesmerised by these?

I thought we agreed that transmission of information is kaputt. Doesn’t work! Dead! I thought we said it is not about content! We are drowning in stuff!

Social Media Information Overload

information overload?

What is blinding us and why? What are we afraid of?

Massive Container Freighter Ship MSC TOMOKO PANAMA in the Santa Barbara Channel  8400 TEU

all contained!

Is there too much noise about MOOCs? Are all MOOCs MOOCs? And why MOOCs? Is the MOOC acronym loosing its original meaning? Has it lost it already? I am wondering and am looking a bit closer at the individual concepts and letters this acronym stands for… and share some thoughts and questions here to enable perhaps a wider dialoge and debate.

Massive – yes, some of them have been as far as registrations is concerned. But even not so massive ones were quickly labeled as such. MOOCs became trendy! The ‘M’ I guess is quite handy… could also mean, mini, micro,  medium etc. But do we need the ‘M’ in MOOCs? From MOOC to OOC

Open – yes, some of them have been truly open, probably the first ones, the now called cMOOCs. These days we find MOOCs that are called open but are really half-open, or not that open at all. Open as in free to join? Open as in free to pay? And what about free to use, re-use and re-purpose? We seem to be moving away from open as in open educational practice. Small print and restrictions, provide providers, big money dreams? What do we really mean by the ‘O’ in MOOCs? Do we need this ‘O’? From OOC to OC

Online – yes, the offer is online but is learning happening only online? We still go to libraries, we still meet people, we still learn in the workplace and in practice. We learn in the physical world. Learning is a mix of individual and collective experiences in different places, spaces and times. So are we talking about blended? Do online courses present blended learning opportunities? And if this is the case, what about the second ‘O’ in MOOCs? Could this be scrapped also? From OC to C

Course – there seems to be a debate about this as well, in the context of MOOCs. Some claim that completion rates are irrelevant in the context of MOOCs because individuals pick certain aspects of a MOOC and their engagement is more targeted or focused at specific events and/or resources. I thought we were talking about courses? A course has certain characteristics. We start a course, we engage or not, in a course and we complete a course, or not. This is at least my understanding. … if we no longer talking about courses in the context of MOOCs and feel that completion rates are indeed irrelevant, why do we keep calling them courses? And if these creations are something else, do we need the ‘C’ in MOOCs? Does this need to be replaced too? From C to ?

So what is left? Not much from the orginal MOOC. Are we leading or experience already the signs of massive commercialisation of education? Massive business dreams?

What happened to open educational practices? What happened to bringing people together, learn together? Collaborate? Discover together? What happened to the idea of free education for all? I hope you will help me discuss this further and gain a deeper understanding of what we all experience.