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.


4 thoughts on “Many faces of open research”

  1. Hi Catherine, such an insightful post about your journey and some of your milestones. A fascinating read and what an adventure it must have been. Truly inspirational! Looking forward to reading your thesis. And if you need anything and you think I could help, let me know.

    Big big hug, you are so so close now,

    1. Many thanks, Chrissi! Sorry I didn’t see this comment until today — I really appreciate your support throughout this process. And, *of course*, huge congratulations to you on your graduation yesterday. You truly inspire us all 🙂

  2. An incredible journey!! I believe having that PLN does make a difference. It is not without its effort building the PLN, I consider it to be one of the most complex tasks. Students find it one of the major challenges in their digital academic practice and not having that robust network makes them afraid of stepping into the open, sharing their not published thoughts anxious about getting it wrong and being ashamed. It is a point we, educators need to take into account, not sure how. Maybe allowing them to try first in a more bounded space and slowly defining their digital identity and doing more bold steps into more open spaces (?).
    I have been thinking about the Web as a social structure that due to its open and unbounded nature constraints students to explore for new open tools. I believe that an explorative mind-set would be good to encourage through our teaching practice.

    I do admire your work, tenacity, humbleness and collegiate spirit. Sharing part of this journey with you has been a pleasure and an incredible opportunity for intellectual growth.
    Sending you the best vibes for the last push!! Go, go, go #GO-GNer!!! You’re almost there 🙂
    P.S: I also enjoyed the EDUCAUSE article but comments on that later, I have to go back and finish marking some resits for tomorrow 🙂

    1. Ah, thanks so much, Caroline! Yes, I see how your work resonates with these considerations about voice, digital identity, and support. I agree that the combination of bounded and open work is the best approach to use (and to teach and encourage) in working with students. It is what we do in our own practice 🙂 It is certainly the approach I use in my own teaching — so I look forward very much to your research in this area. So many of us will benefit from your work, and hopefully will use it to help to shift practice and policy in our institutions. Onward!

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