… we went for the double session this week. It wasn’t planned and we had actually given up in a way to do the educational visit again because of the very limited but very strong negative feedback we had received previously. How silly that was! When we believe that something is right, despite the fact we get an opposition, we shouldn’t really give up. I was the one saying ‘Only dead fish swim with the stream’ and then I became one of them… I think that is sad. But I have woken up now. Last week it suddenly clicked during the voting stage when we actually asked the whole cohort if they wanted to go to Manchester or stay on campus for a session there. Since we are two delivering we don’t really need to be in the same location all the time. This gives us actually greater flexibility to do different things and I just realised that. We haven’t really explored this before but I think what we did this week was a step in that direction. I am so glad we did it! A whole new world is now opening up in front of us and Neil will already think… oh my God what is she going to do next… anyway.
I actually wanted to write about yesterday last night but then other things happened and now it feels already a bit too late to reflect. I had it all planned in my head what I would write and now it is gone but I will try to capture my current thinking since I feel that it is impossible to capture what I was thinking yesterday.
The Manchester session worked. I was so pleased that everybody embraced the challenge with positivity. This time around, the scenario provided a clearer context and made it relevant to individuals delivering large-group session as well as small group sessions despite the fact that the scenario was actually for large-group delivery. So many creative ideas.
The discussions afterwards were really interesting and the answers to the question how the pairs worked together and the process they followed was fascinating. It showed again that we can’t really push the magic button and expect ideas to fall from the sky. It doesn’t happen that way. It can be hard work, frustrating and it is a whole journey in itself. We need time and space to reflect, to link, to make sense of things until we are sort of happy with our idea and thought and start believing in it that it can work and not just work, that it can work well and better than anything else we have tried before. The thing with creativity is that is really should be something of value, not just new and novel. We don’t know if it will work when we come up with the idea, turn it into a concept and start experimenting with it when bringing it to life. But at some point we need to reach the stage where we believe that it could and will work! Otherwise what is the point?
It was also interesting to experience how creative our academics really are and willing to learn with and from each other. And this is really key in the whole process and will enable us all to do great things together and move forward. I liked the fact that they took the challenge to spend as little as possible and some didn’t spend a penny and still come up with innovative ideas! It shows that we don’t really need expensive resources and that you can make big changes with little, inexpensive or free things. The how you use something is much more important to what you use. Beyond props ‘using’ colleagues and their expertise is another creative and resourcful strategy.
Too many times we focus on our need to use the latest technologies, the latest gadgets, expenisve models etc. when we have resources lying around that we could use with our students to bring our sessions to live and that applies to small- and large group teaching? However, do we really nee props all the time??? Some will thing and say, some have already in the past, that this is totally inappropriate for higher education. Are they right and we wrong? I think it is not about being right or wrong. It is about exploring alternative approaches that might work better than what is commonly used and add suspence, encourage creative and critical thinking and engage our students actively. If this happens with toys or everyday objects or photographs, that is great. Are toys and games just for children? Why do we keep thinking that these are just for kids and their use in higher education is inappropriate?
I also liked the fact that tutors have started thinking of using their own devices to create their own resources. It was really interesting to see that many yesterday had used their phones to capture photographs – which didn’t cost them anything extra. In the past we have seen many tutors having such devices but not realising the potential they have for their practice. I think this is changing now and I am really pleased about that. Some also suggested that students could use their own devices as well during sessions to provide additional opportunities to interact with each other. Especially in these difficult time using our own devices for teaching and learning will become more and more important.
Great ideas and I hope that our tutors will start experimenting actively with these to spice up their sessions.
What a super special day! Well done everybody!
Warning! The below has been written really fast almost in automated writing mode and might not all make sense… the beauty of reflection
It feels really strange…
since the session finished yesterday at 12.30pm I felt the need to capture my thoughts but up to now I didn’t have the time and even now while I start writing this I feel that I will be interrupted and won’t be able to focus and write what I am or was thinking about our session. I somehow feel that I am starting it at the wrong moment in time… the house will soon be full of noise again and my brain will think about supper, washing, cleaning and the weekend. This all highlights to me that we might be reflect in our minds while we do something else and we are perfectly capable of doing this but when it comes to get it out of our system we need to concentrate and be in the right state. But it is not just about us it is also about the environment we are in and what and who surrounds us and all the noise. Maybe I am just saying these things here because I know that I only have a few minutes until I have to stop and start again probably late this evening.
I spent this morning marking portfolios and it is really enrichening to read all the stories and journeys. So much excitement and learning. I am really pleased that the majority of our cohort 1 participants found the core module useful and meaningful. Like I said in class yesterday, it is hard to please everybody but I think sometimes we just focus on pleasing the majority and that is not right. We need to pay more attention to the little indications when something starts going wrong when people start disconnecting or not connecting. It is though difficult if we are not let in their world, if we are blocked out. What do we do then?
Is the PGCAP and any PgCert problematic or too ambitious trying to bring individuals from different disciplines together? I am wondering more and more each day or is there something we are doing wrong and just seem to appeal and connect with certain disciplines more than others. I am not sure but I think I need to have an open conversation with a few of the individuals who didn’t connect to find out and I hope that I will be able to organise something to understand and investigate what we could or should do to change that. BUt now, I started talking about marking and not yesterday’s session. Strange how reflection works, isn’t it. You start somewhere but usually you don’t know where your mind will take you.
Let’s try again. Yesterday’s session. Right! What did we do. We had a closer look at designing sessions and the important part for me was to make everybody think of the importance of planning and which factors influences this process. We all plan our sessions, some more organically than others. Others start with sessions plans, others use sticky notes, others create mindmaps and others build the structure into their presentations. Nothing wrong with any of these and I am sure there are other methods that people use (would love to hear about them!). The important bit is that we plan, the how will depend on the situation, the way we do things and what works for us. Sometimes, we don’t know. Finding out will help us design more effectively and effective sessions. Planning not just what we will deliver but most importantly how we are going to deliver. The activity we did with the English breakfast caused a lot of laughter. I am not sure if everybody found it as useful as I thought it would be. Maybe it was the topic… but for me it wasn’t so much about the topic. The topic could be astronomy, car design or anything else. It was more about the how we plan and I am not sure if that was clear enough. I was thinking how this task could be developed further or alterned and am thinking in the next cohort to forget about the cookery (we had too much food themes yesterday anyway!). Each participant could think about one of their own sessions they plan to deliver in a week or two or one of the observed sessions. I think this way it would be more meaningful and useful. The plans put together (I think this might need to happen in advance) would then be discussed in class with somebody from another discipline and finalised. Then this should be implemented. But this wouldn’t be the end of it. No! Then we could revisit the plan and reflect on it and discuss how it went. I need to think of a way to embed this process more organically in the session or a series of sessions. Actually while I am writing now I am developing this idea further. Just thought that we could start designing the session at the very first session. Just give the template and progressively through the weeks add the ingredients so that at the end of the module everybody should have at least one complete session plan with all the vital features and elements. That would also be very interesting. I am going to think about this a bit more and come up with a more concrete plan that we could try. I would also be very interested to hear from people who attended yesterday’s session what they felt about this specific activity.
I better stop here now because it will be noisy very soon. Have a good weekend everybody and see you next Thursday in Manchester City Centre.
This song is just great. It gets me into a very positive mood. It wakes me up, makes me alert and fills me with energy which I need this evening. Music is definitely a power-medicine!!! Could we use songs for your reflections? Do you connect with music you hear? Does music affect you at all? Something to think about.
I am back with some more thoughts and reflections on today’s session. I should really be finalising the paper I am preparing for the PBL conference but I just feel the need to do something different before I tackle this for the very last time. So, here I am.
It was really nice to see everybody again today. I enjoyed the session. It felt relaxed and I think the amount we did was about right, for me anyway. Any comments on this would be very welcome, if you did attend and participated in this session. At the moment, I feel a bit unsure what people think about the co-delivery.
And there was a moment during the session today when I thought that we confused everybody or at least some. This is something I thought about when travelling home and looking back. It was when we started talking about referencing and how we do it when using audio, video or any other media-rich methods beyond text. We definitely need to reference! The confusion I think was created because our two groups are using two different tools to build their portfolios. For the PebblePad a template is been used which has a separate section for all referencing. With our WordPress portfolios we also have some structure but I have suggested to keep the references together with the actual pieces. So if I write something and I am using specific literature, I would like to see these referenced properly using the Harvard Referencing System in the text and also at the end of the text add a references list with the full information about the book, article etc. Also, if it is an electronic source adding the hyperlink would be super and enable us to access it faster. If you go for audio, I suggest to mention the book, article and the full description in the audio or video file, again using Harvard) so that everything is together. Neil and I both agree that referencing needs to be done. It is the how that changes if working using the different tools. However, I think there is a need and the room for flexibility and personalisation as well which is important too. The more prescriptive we are or become the less creativity we encourage.
Strange really the whole thing with reflection, isn’t it? We prepare, deliver, reflect and we did that openly immediately after the session and turned it into a communal activity, but the session was and still is with me 8pm in the evening while I am writing this and I actually felt the need to write something. Maybe capturing it somehow, externalising it, it helps us also to close that chapter, that session and move on. I don’t know.
I am pleased that we did share our initial thoughts on today’s session with everybody. I think it helped everybody realise how random and messy things are but that to view it as something that is normal. Again, looking back, what we didn’t do is to actually think about how this session could be improved further and yes, what we would/could do differently next time. What would we do differently? No, this is hard, and I definitely can’t speak for Neil, but I would say, that we should consider ‘cutting bits out of that session’. The activity that we missed out in the end, was actually a very useful activity and I hope that people will access the whole presentation and have a look at the resources around reflection and study how different reflective writing actually is let’s say in comparison to writing a report or an essay. This activity was actually vital and looking back now, I am just thinking, maybe we should have cut something else. It is tricky, I have to admit but maybe we could have asked our participants and give them an option. I think that would have worked. We could have presented them with 2 options and whatever the majority goes with, we could do. That is actually not a bad solution I think and creates an opportunity to learners for shared ownership and responsibility. I think we should try that in one of our next sessions and I have actually already an idea linked to week3. Neil doesn’t know about it yet but I hope to discuss it with him in the next few days. Can’t wait now.
Already written quite a lot I just noticed but when I started writing I wanted actually to focus on something completely different which is gone out of my head now. Strange really isn’t it. You have an idea, start writing but you end up writing something completely different and in the end you forget what you wanted to write about originally. Weird how our brain works! We are such a complicated machine.
When I was cooking supper, suddenly, after all that thinking about today and the need to capture my reflections, I switched and started planning next week’s session and got excited about it already. Am I mad? How can you get excited about a session… some would say but I think this is really important and I am probably over-using the word exciting, excitement – not because I am a silly foreigner who doesn’t know any other synonyms (this is a Greek word, by the way), but because I just get excited about teaching and learning and just love to do things that come us a surprise for some/many. No, not to shock, but just to enable people to experience something less common, something that has the potential to be explored further. Like are saying, we provide the space to experiment with ideas and do things differently and do different things altogether. We try! If anybody isn’t taking anything away from any of our sessions, I think it would be a waste of time to attend and I think that applies not just to our sessions but to all sessions. Do you know what your students are taking away from your sessions? Have you asked them. I am very interested to find out and will actually ask you, or am asking you now. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with me.
Further readings and materials on reflection I had put together for a pilot, please access MoRe
I better stop here now because I have to do all that work this evening which I don’t really want to do now, but I have to. Ok, by for now and we will speak again very soon.