Tag Archives: #GO_GN

23Oct/17

Many faces of open research

CC0 by Oliver Cole at Unsplash

I’m in the final few weeks of my PhD — the thesis-writing part of the process, anyway. My research topic is open educational practices (OEP), specifically how educators and students make sense of and make use of OEP in higher education. So, yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. But I’ve been reflecting also on my practice as an open researcher, particularly how this has taken many different forms over four years of doctoral research.

I’ve blogged (at decidedly irregular intervals) throughout the process. I blogged about my initial ideas, tentatively. As my research developed, I blogged about the emerging results, particularly when I struggled to make sense of particular findings. Discussions that resulted from sharing ideas — at conferences/workshops (e.g. ALTC14/15, OER15/16/17, Networked Learning 14/16, dLRN15, NextGenDL16, OEGlobal17) and in related posts here in the blog — were instrumental in helping me to develop my thinking and analysis.

And then, as all open practitioners know, due to my open research practice, I’ve connected with many others. As a result, I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to share, discuss, and deepen my work, most recently with staff in the e/merge Africa network and the Open Education Tuesdays network and in many global conversations about openness in this Year of Open. One keynote (OER16) made its way into an EDUCAUSE Review article, just published today — Open Education, Open Questions. And I’ve had the joy of collaborating with some amazingly smart and wonderful people including Laura Czerniewicz, Caroline Kuhn, Vivien Rolfe, Frances Bell, Laura Gogia, Maha Bali, Alan Levine, and many more. Thank you all.

When I embarked on this research I had a large and lively PLN. That network is so much richer now. I joined GO-GN (Global OER Network), a network of postgraduate researchers in the area of open education (all open education researchers: do join!). The support I’ve found in that network has been invaluable — from formal GO-GN activities organised by the OER Hub (e.g. webinars, annual workshop) to the informal collaborations and friendships springing from the network.

All of which brings me to the writing-up-the-thesis stage. Beginning last summer, I turned my focus inward somewhat, spending less time on social media and more time immersed in my findings and writing/rewriting — thesis chapters as well as proposals, abstracts, and papers. Sometimes, I couldn’t find words to blog. All of that open research and networking took another form, however. That lively and generous network of open researchers and practitioners checked in, sent encouragement, provided feedback, and generally showed up in all kinds of ways to say Keep Going. Those were sometimes expressions in open spaces…

…but more often they were DMs, emails, cards — too many creative expressions of encouragement to count. The gift of openness returns in myriad ways, so many of which I am just learning about now.

To all who’ve reached out, in any way at all, I extend my thanks. I have a few more weeks of intense writing and editing ahead of me, but I hope to emerge ready to move forward to yet another stage of open research. Chrissi Nerrantzi has been a role model in terms of openly sharing the steps of completion, thesis submission, and preparing for the viva. Beyond that, however, I plan to continue, as the title of my blog suggests: learning, reflecting and sharing as an open educator and open researcher.

OK now, back to #writing that thesis…

Image: CC0 Oliver Cole from Unsplash.

 

31Mar/17

Grateful for openness

Post-#OEGlobal and pre-#OER17, my mind is on fire. At the end of Open Education Week and Brexit week; working on another draft chapter for my PhD, yet pulled in the direction of events in Ireland, the US, Mosul, Venezuela and more, my mind is on fire. I have many posts to write but I shall write one, in gratitude.

To my GO-GN colleagues, including the OER Hub team who pull it all together so beautifully, I thank you for an unforgettable week of scholarship and friendship in Cape Town earlier this month. Together we shared meals, our work, our worries, our stories, photos of our families, our dreams for the future. We worked for hours together, we walked in Cape Town together, and some of us visited Robben Island together. I thank each of you for giving and receiving so openly. I look forward to learning from and with you all in the future.

To all who shared your work, your ideas, and your feedback at OE Global, thank you. I’ve blogged already about my initial reflections; your work is still resonating with me.

To Lisa Marie Blaschke, thank you for inviting Lorna Campbell, Chrissi Nerantzi, Fabio Nascimbeni and me to participate in EDEN‘s #OpenEducationWk webinar this week to explore “being open” with educators and researchers — so enjoyable to share stories and resources.

To the #101openstories team, thank you for starting something beautiful this week. I loved the#101openstories I read by Frances Bell and Sheila MacNeill, and hope to read more. Thank you all.

To Jim Groom, thank you for accepting our invitation to come to Ireland! You’re in Cork today, heading for Galway on Monday. A warm welcome awaits you here, from 40 people bursting with curiosity and ready to explore Student as Partner, Producer and Assessor: Exploring Domain of One’s Own. Can’t wait 🙂

To Josie Fraser, Alek Tarkowski, and the ALT team, thank you for organising and meticulously planning OER17. The conference is already facilitating some incredible conversations and collaborations around the politics of open. Next week’s conference, with so many ways to participate (looking at you Virtually Connecting at OER17), promises to be something special. Muireann O’Keeffe, Laura Czerniewicz and I are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the plenary panel Mapping the Politics of Open – we’ve been enjoying our conversations as we prepare for that.

Also, thanks Laura Czerniewicz for jumping into the unknown with me as we combine our thinking for our OER17 session: Critical pragmatism and critical advocacy: Addressing the challenges of openness. And Caroline Kuhn, thank you for modelling open and generous scholarship so deeply at  GO-GN and OE Global, and for our extended conversations about what we have learned in our respective PhD research studies, which we’ll share in our OER17 workshop: Towards open praxis: Storytelling and narrative inquiry in open education research.

And finally, thanks to my PLN, i.e. all the smart, generous, courageous human beings who inspire me every day to do and stay true to this work.

I am grateful for openness.

Image: Revolución a la Educación es Aquí CC0 by @cogdog

…and with that image credit (yes, I know it’s CC0, but still nice to acknowledge the creator 🙂 ) a final word of thanks to Alan Levine for embodying the spirit of openness and open learning so completely (and with joy). Thanks @cogdog.

 

22Mar/17

OEP and open pedagogy: #OEGlobal reflections

I recently returned from 10 days in Cape Town, participating in the Open Education Global Conference and GO-GN seminar and working with fellow open education researchers at the Centre for Innovation in Learning & Teaching at UCT. All were deeply enriching experiences, both personally and professionally, in a place I’ve come to love after two visits in the past year.

For those who may not know, GO-GN is a global network of PhD students working in open education. The annual 2.5-day GO-GN seminar immediately precedes the OE Global conference, but this event is just part of a broader programme and network of mutual support. Chrissi Nerantzi and Martin Weller have written wonderful blog posts about the GO-GN Cape Town experience already; mine will follow. This post is a summary of some my reflections following the 3-day OE Global conference, particularly with respect to OEP and open pedagogy.

OE Global Conference, Cape Town

This was my first time attending #OEGlobal (after several years following online) and it was deeply worthwhile for the scholarship, friendship, and inspiration. The OE Global programme (with links to most presentations) is well worth exploring, as are the #OEGlobal tweets. Educators and researchers from 47 countries across 6 continents participated in the conference. The range and quality of work was stunning. A standout was the ROER4D project comprising 18 evidence-based OER research studies across the Global South with the aim of improving educational policy, practice, and research in developing countries. There were conference presentations by many of the 18 ROER4D studies as well as a report on the project meta-synthesis by Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams: Adoption and impact of OEP and OER in the Global South.

ROER4D researchers at OE Global

Another standout for me was the discussion of work being done by many in the US community college sector to boost college access and completion for underserved and at-risk students through the creation of OER-based or Z-degrees. These efforts and the OER Degree Initiative were discussed in the OER Degrees panel.

A foundational theme of much of the work shared at OE Global was social justice. Many presentations foregrounded social justice as a core value of our work in open education. This began with the opening keynote by Narend Baijnath, continued with the Day Two keynote by Patricia Arinto, and was highlighted in numerous presentations (e.g. by OEPScotland, Preston Davis, Jamison Miller and myselflinks are to relevant slides/presentations). Engaging in these conversations in South Africa, following the recent #FeesMustFall protests, provided a powerful opportunity for each of us to consider our work in the context of calls for free and decolonised education. At the conference, Laura Czerniewicz summarised three aspects of decolonising higher education: recognising how power relations are enacted and instantiated in curricula and policies; foregrounding African/Global South content and contexts; and promoting and engaging in dialogue between different epistemic traditions (Global South & Global North). See also Sukaina Walji’s recent post: A role for open education in the #feesmustfall movement in South African higher education.

As always after such a rich feast of ideas, there are far too many strands to explore fully. However, one is closely related to my PhD research in open educational practices. There was much discussion at the conference about both OEP and open pedagogy. How do these concepts relate to one another? They overlap, but how exactly? There is a great deal of work going on in both #OEP and #openped at the moment, so how might we productively join some of these conversations?

OEP and open pedagogy

For some time now I’ve been paying attention not just to the nature of the work being done by many in the global open education community, but also to differences in emphasis across different sectors and regions. For example, much foundational work in open textbooks is rooted in and continues in North America (e.g. BCcampus Open Textbook project and Z-Degree programmes). More recently, a flourishing movement has emerged around open pedagogy (check out #openped) led by innovative educators such as Robin deRosaKaren CangialosiScott RobisonRajiv JhangianiDavid Wiley, and others.

In the UK, and to a certain extent here in Ireland, there is much work/discussion re: OER, less emphasis (though increasing) on open textbooks, and a deep and growing engagement with OEP and critical approaches to openness. These emphases will feature prominently in the upcoming OER Conference #OER17 ‘The Politics of Open’ (April 5-6), as they already do in projects and networks such as the Open Education Research Hub (who also support GO-GN), ALT’s Open Education SIGOpen ScotlandOEPScotland, and UK OER (the UKOER project officially ended in 2012 but the community continues via #ukoer and @ukoer – thanks to @dkernohan).

With its truly global scope, OE Global provided an opportunity to learn from and about a diverse range of research and researchers. I attended as many OEP and open pedagogy sessions as was possible and spoke with many, many wonderful open scholars. Following the conference, as part of my own research, I searched the conference programme and #OEGlobal tweets for terms related to OEP and open pedagogy. Despite these efforts, it’s likely I have omitted something important. Apologies in advance – and please do add a comment to this post if you wish to add some missing work or a different interpretation. Our work can only improve with multiple perspectives.

OEP and open pedagogy presentations at OE Global

The global scope of OEP work was very clear at the conference. Research explicitly mentioning OEP was shared by researchers from 11 different projects/studies based in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Tasmania, Brazil, Canada, Scotland, and Ireland. A further 3 presentations focused specifically on open pedagogy, from projects based in South Africa, the US, and the Netherlands.

Many of the OEP studies referenced earlier foundational work in open educational practices. These key papers can be considered in three main groups:

i) work emerging from CILT (Centre for Innovation in Learning & Teaching), University of Cape Town — focusing on 5 dimensions of openness: technical, legal, cultural, pedagogical, financial.

ii) work arising from the Open Education Quality (OPAL) Initiative (2010-11) — espousing a definition of OEP linked closely to open pedagogy: “collaborative practice in which resources are shared by making them openly available, and pedagogical practices are employed which rely on social interaction, knowledge creation, peer-learning, and shared learning practices.”

iii) work arising from the UK OER Programme (2009-2012) — using an expansive definition of OEP including the creation, use and reuse of OER as well as open pedagogies, open learning, open access publishing, and use of open technologies.

In addition, 2 of the 3 open pedagogy presentations (and some OEP presentations, e.g. Gachago, et al.) referenced the 8 attributes of open pedagogy model:

Summary

The above gives an indication of the scope and nature of research shared at the OE Global conference in the areas of OEP and open pedagogy. While it might seem from the summary here that open pedagogy was a minor strand of the conference, the discussion of open pedagogy was not limited to the 3 sessions listed. Open pedagogy is, of course, a key element of OEP. Together, OEP and open pedagogy comprised a main strand of discussion at the conference: in the sessions, in the panel discussions, and in many informal conversations.

For those of us working in open education, myself included, the work shared at OE Global provides a strong basis for discussion, comparison, and potential collaboration. Some important areas which I would like to explore further, in my own research and in collaboration with others, are these:

  • Decentering northern epistemology. With global research funding, production, and dissemination skewed so heavily toward the Global North, it may be easy for many in the North to fail “to see” global inequalities in knowledge production. But see we must. Researchers in the Global North have a collective responsibility to deepen our awareness of epistemic traditions beyond our own, to challenge deeply held assumptions about knowledge and power, to promote and engage in South-North dialogue and collaboration, and much more. As noted by the ROER4D project during the conference, this is particularly important in open education.
  • The relationship between OER and OEP/open pedagogy. A growing number of research studies, across different contexts, reveal an increasingly complex relationship between OER and OEP/open pedagogy. In addition to OER opening the door to OEP/open pedagogy, the reverse may also be the case. This has emerged in my research (in Irish higher education) and in research studies by Czerniewicz, et al. (in South African higher education) and Penny Bentley (in Australian secondary education). I believe these findings are important and may be part of an inflection point in open education. What is emerging in other contexts?
  • Defining OEP and open pedagogy. One of the many benefits of attending OE Global was the opportunity to discuss these challenging questions with many of the people whose work informs and inspires my own. I know, for example, that David Wiley defines open pedagogy very precisely as “the set of teaching and learning practices that are only possible or practical in the context of the free access and 5R permissions characteristic of open educational resources”. My research focuses on how open educational practices emerge in contexts where open education/OER policies do not exist. David and I approach our work from different standpoints, but seek to address similar questions. At the conference, David and I discussed this. We both agreed that open pedagogy is a constituent of OEP. But the door is open for further discussion and work. What else is useful and important in building definitions and frameworks of open pedagogy and OEP?

This work continues.

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As a postscript, here are links to the work that I shared at the OE Global conference: “Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of OEP in higher education” paper, presentation, and links to all papers referenced in my presentation.

My sincere thanks to the wonderful OE Global conference chair Glenda Cox, the programme committee and conference organisers, all of the conference presenters and participants, and to my inspiring GO-GN colleagues. Thanks to you all for an amazing week in Cape Town — the scholarship, friendship, music, drumming and dancing. Unforgettable.

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GO-GN Cape Town (almost everyone)

GO-GN at work!

Images: all images CC BY-SA catherinecronin on Flickr

03Mar/17

Open conversations at #OEGlobal & #GO_GN

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Day 1, Cape Town – Flickr CC-BY catherinecronin

I’m currently in the final year of my PhD research study/journey/adventure, planning to submit my dissertation at the end of 2017. Over the next two months, however, I’ll be mixing up my writing time with a few much-needed opportunities to engage with other open education practitioners and researchers – in places slightly more convivial than my usual writing spaces. 🙂

#OEGlobal and #GO_GN

Firstly, I’ve just arrived in Cape Town for the annual Open Education Global Conference and GO_GN workshop. A long-time follower of #OEGlobal, I’m delighted to be able to attend the 3-day conference here on March 8-10. That sponsorship is thanks to the GO-GN network, organized by the OER Hub at the Open University. I’ll join 14 other doctoral researchers in the area of open education for a 3-day #GO_GN workshop immediately preceding the OEGlobal conference. I look forward to meeting and exchanging ideas and feedback with a global group of open researchers – some of whom I already know and others whom I look forward to meeting. Martin, Bea, Rob and Beck promise a busy few days. We are ready!

In preparation for discussions over the next several days, I’ve shared a post-print of a paper based on the first phase of my PhD research study: Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education. The paper will be published this year in The International Journal of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. I welcome any feedback and/or suggestions.

#OER17

I’ll also participate in OER17 in London next month, April 5-6th. The theme of the conference, “The Politics of Open”, resonates with many of our collective concerns right now, both within and beyond higher education. The programme contains a wonderful mix of sessions, focusing on issues including access, equity, balancing advocacy and criticality, working within and beyond HE structures, addressing politics at multiple levels, and moving forward in open education. I particularly look forward to the keynotes by Maha Bali, Diana Arce, and Lucy Crompton-Reid. I’ll be participating in a few different sessions. I’ll join Laura Czerniewicz for ‘Critical pragmatism and critical advocacy: Addressing the challenges of openness’, and Caroline Kuhn for a workshop on ‘Using the power of narrative research to illuminate open educational practice’. I’ll also partner with Muireann O’Keeffe and Laura Czerniewicz in a final plenary panel at the end of the conference.

Learning, Assessment, and Reclaim Your Domain

Last but not least, many of us in Galway are looking forward to welcoming Jim Groom on his first visit to Ireland. Jim will facilitate a one-day workshop at NUI Galway on Monday, April 3rd: Student as partner, producer and assessor: Exploring Domain of One’s Own. The workshop is part of a year-long seminar series sponsored by Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education. Jim has already blogged about his visit – and I will post again closer to the time. For now though, please check out the workshop description and Eventbrite link and consider making the trip to Galway, or following on Twitter on the day.

And now, first full day in Cape Town, I am off to meet Cheryl Brown, Laura Czerniewicz and many more of the wonderful team at CILT at University of Cape Town. Can’t wait…

Image: Day 1, Cape Town CC-BY catherinecronin