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H817 - study habits Week 4

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Last day of week 4: an intensely busy week at work and I also pulled a back muscle. Even so I managed to engage in my studies most days, although not usually first thing in the morning as originally planned. Still, I am on here now!

I recently changed my weekly schedule and moved cleaning the kitchen to Sunday afternoon/evening instead of Monday morning. This was partly because I had a new kitchen installed a few months ago, and found I was spending two hours lovingly polishing my dual fuel Belling oven instead of half an hour quickly flicking a cloth at a surface then diving into my emails. (One cupboard was particularly easy to clean in the old kitchen as the door had fallen off so you didn't need to do it at all.) This made me pressured and anxious on Mondays, whereas doing cleaning on Sunday, I can take my time and wake up on Monday to a sparkling clean kitchen; this feels like a fresh start to my week. (In the past I have kept cleaning to weekdays because I wanted to mark out the weekend as family/leisure time.)

This means I have a clearer timetable for study time so I hope moving forward to be able to do my morning stints.

The other thing which has kept me engaged so far is the group work on H817. I disengaged from group work on earlier modules partly because I fell behind, and this made it difficult to have conversations in the chat threads or weekly forums; also because there was incidental racism in some of the materials and therefore comments by other students. I wanted to study online education, not battle with racism but obviously with my expertise in the field, I became interested in tackling this problem. Rather than do this by arguing with my fellow students, or having long discussions with sympathetic white allies among my fellow students, I withdrew from student group work and raised the matter within the university, with some success (in the end).

As part of H817 is a groupwork project, I knew I would have to engage with fellow students. From early on I suggested we set up a WhatsApp group. There are some other people from the Open University in my group, and I have always been keen to develop better networks across the MAODE programme with fellow OU staff. The WhatsApp group does help, as the messages pop up on it with fellow students saying they have been on and done something to our groupwork exercise, and then I am tempted to nip in, have a look and do a bit more work myself. This reinforces the impression I had from moderating WhatsApp groups for my own students: it isn't a space where intellectual debate takes place (although there was one early interesting discussion on the WhatsApp chat). It does encourage students to go into the official forums, wikis and other resources in the OU module website and engage. (Four out of the six people in my group are on the WhatsApp.)

I'm struck by how much can be achieved in a step by step, little by little way. Several people popping in and spending 10/15 minutes each contributing to a written exercise builds the piece up well. Sometimes it's been hard to hold back and leave gaps for the others to fill, but I hope I've been good about that mixed.

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H817 study habits

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In H817, the latest (and last) module I study for my Masters in Online and Distance Education, the blog is again suggested as a means of reflective writing. Having somehow dragged myself through my Masters studies by my fingernails, and knowing that 'time management' is a major issue for most of my own students, I thought I would reflect on ways of ensuring I set aside time for study.
As I remarked once, to do 'time management', you actually have to have some time to manage. For many of us doing part time studies, we are squeezing our study time in between often long hours of work, parenting, caring for elderly relatives, supporting our friends and relatives ... We have to be highly disciplined about ensuring we do manage to look at the study materials.
Another case in point is my student Emily, who has been furloughed for the moment. Initially she thought with lots of time at her disposal, getting ahead in her studies would be simple. However she found to her surprise that she lost motivation. We talked her situation over and thought perhaps it would help her too to be quite disciplined about study time.
A bonus of not having much time to study, is that you are always keen to get back to it. Sometimes I've had to leave an exercise half finished, and I have found that this means I am more likely to get back to it the next time I have a moment, than if I neatly finish off each page and leave it before starting a new one.
For H817, my intention is to put half an hour or an hour into study every morning, before starting any work.
First week's experience - I put in half an hour on the student forums in the middle of one day, reading others' introductions, responding and writing my own. This took longer than I thought it would, and cut into time I'd meant to spend with my daughter, which I would rather not do. I want to try not to fit in study around times which are meant for her, as I know this will just make me feel the strain of being torn between two things.
I also tend to take longer than half an hour/an hour because I do get into my studies and want to finish off each page. I'm going to try out keeping to a time limit, rather than a limit of pages I read in the material, so that I don't have that anxious feeling that I neglected something else in selfishly pursuing this highly appropriate professional development activity!
One thing I do which helps, is glance over the week ahead. I orientate myself, getting a sense of what pages are going to be more timeconsuming, and which I can work through quickly.
Another tip comes from my colleague and friend Melanie Rimmer's YouTube video on the Swiss Cheese method of study. If I don't finish the work in a week, I will move on to the next week regardless, rather than fall behind because I'm trying to read everything.
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H880 new beginnings

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First reflective activity in H880.

(It's reflexive really wink)

‘How has my understanding of technology-enhanced learning changed during Week 1?’

Hmmm thoughtful, I think I prob had a fairly advanced understanding already.

Begin by making ‘What happened’ notes, using the following questions to help you.

What did you do this week that had a bearing on your understanding of TEL? Include any salient feelings, thoughts, events or features.

  • Watched the Nelson video. He was both optimistic and wanting to rein in over-enthusiasm about the potential of technology.

Did your understanding of TEL change or deepen, or did your week’s study reinforce your previous ideas?

  • Reinforce

Now make ‘So what?’ notes, using these questions to help you.

  •     Which were the important moments that changed, deepened or reinforced your understanding?
    • Chatting with fellow students
  •     Why did they have this effect?
    • Made me think through my ideas and theirs. Their ideas helped inform and writing mine out helped clarify my thinking.
  •     What made them so important?
    • Well, they weren't that important big grin

Finally, make ‘What next?’ notes, using this question to help you.

    How will your understanding of TEL influence your practice or your studies?

I shall write up my account of teaching referencing approve

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Activity 3.3 Altmetrics and the Networked Practitioner

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Monday, 16 Oct 2017, 16:07

Once you have read some of the background research on creating an impact with social and open tools and you have looked at alternative metrics, consider these questions:

  1. What are the possible issues with using an altmetrics approach to measure impact?
  2. If you wanted to increase the impact of an online resource you had created, how could you do this?
Elsewhere, I wrote about the assumption I felt was operating with altmetrics (https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=198723), which seem solely concerned with getting research publications better cited and more widely read.

Luckily I am a single mum, and work part-time, so I no longer feel I have to spend large amounts of time establishing a prestigious international career through continuing to write up my PhD chapters as widely circulated articles. (Although I was excited to find that some of the papers I wrote a long time ago have actually been cited smile And I suppose I ought to work on those chapters and get them published one day - when I have finished the ironing.)

Kitten sitting on saucepans

(At least I have help with the cooking.)

I would like to get acknowledgement for the teaching material I share and the work I do to promote this. In order to achieve this, I will have to do some writing about it, maybe on one of the social media that I am on, or more probably in our Associate Lecturer newsletter.

Meanwhile, I share my ideas about teaching by writing about them on specific module Tutor Forums (if they have been developed for that module), on this blog and on Yammer. I sometimes share blogposts on Yammer if they are of more interest to a university specific audience, and via Twitter if I think they have got value beyond the university. I also lobbied for Associate Lecturers to have the chance to present from our work to AL Staff Development Events. When we were given the opportunity I applied to run workshops about my teaching interests. (Those will serve a double purpose, not just spreading my own work among this small specific audience, also collecting further data about it from them.)

I am finding this a successful, if modest (perhaps because modest), strategy. At this point in time, I am aiming for a small select audience, and I am reaching some of them already.

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Social media management

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Monday, 16 Oct 2017, 09:06

When I first joined Facebook, I was at a loss how to operate on it. Two great drivers towards complete openness on there were:

  1. The philosophy behind Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg designed the platform to connect people up who might not normally meet, by getting them to share all their information so algorithms could hook them up to similar people.
  2. The period of time I spent living in London in lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer (lgbtq) communities. We spent hours debating 'coming out' - the political need to do so in order to show we even existed, the risks of doing so - particularly for those of us in the black and minority ethnic communities.

By the time Facebook came along I was the mother of a young child. I was wary of sharing pictures of my young daughter with the whole world - including potential paedophiles mixed. I wasn't surely I wanted the entire world to know about the whole of my life.

Screenshot of Facebook profile page

Facebook was not a flat playground on which we could connect without consideration for normal social issues.

  • I have relatives who have not spoken with each other for some years; I had to think about the consequences if I was a 'friend' of both when my posts about the other one might pop up on their timelines.
  • Sometimes students would ask to be 'friends' on Facebook, but I felt this could be an inappropriate blurring of boundaries. I like to let myself go on FB and chat freely in a way I would not do in a tutorial wink
  • I was doing some (fiction) writing, which I wanted to publicise widely. Doing this on my personal Facebook account felt like I was pushing it at people, using my friendships.
  • We live in a neo-liberal capitalist economy, and the States - where Facebook is based, is even more neo-liberal than the UK. I found adverts popping up in my sidebar which had clearly been designed for me based on my postings. On one occasion I posted a picture of two old ladies on a demonstration holding a sign saying 'F*ck the police' and within minutes an ad had popped up saying 'single police officers in your area, click now' surprisebig grin

My daughter grew up during the era we were grappling with internet safety for children. I was very lucky as I was doing research on bullying at this time, so had access to a mass of expert opinion (some of which I was writing). I had friends who were social workers, barristers and IT experts, who told me that Instagram was marginally safer than Snapchat because on Snapchat photos disappear in seconds, so people think they are safe to bully on there. I think schools and the police responded incredibly quickly, getting together to circulate robust advice to children and parents. (The best advice I had was someone who wrote on a blog that making an iPad child-friendly is impossible - it is a device designed for adults, it's like giving your kid the keys to the car and hoping they will be OK out there. You can only keep them safe online by constant vigilance.)

Now in her young teens, my daughter is more internet-savvy than I am so I learn a lot by observing her online habits.

She splits up her social media accounts. She has Snapchat and Instagram to connect with schoolmates and her cousins. (She is not friends with me on those but she is friends with adult women friends of mine she admires, who will tell me quicker than she can delete the posts if anything is going on.) Recently she opened a Facebook account for the purpose of connecting up with older relatives and friends; she is friends with me on Facebook. (Very annoying, as I have had to moderate my Facebook posting in consequence angry Although it does mean I can post cute pictures of the cats for her to check out while she is at school 😻😻smile)

As part of starting my MAODE studies, I have had a think about my own social media networks.

We have a lot of Associate Lecturer specific forums. These can get crowded with threads, and some of the bigger ones have a poor reputation for negative posting. I do find the module Tutor Forums useful, as a means to chat about what is happening on the module and raise issues with the Module Teams. One module Tutor Forum is less useful, maybe because it is for a much smaller teaching team.

I go on the university Yammer site and I find this a more enjoyable and versatile means to share my thinking about teaching and work issues than going on large generic tutor forums. Not many people go on Yammer and this has made it a more positive space to post in. (Plus, I know senior managers read the posts, even if they don't post much.)

Screenshot of Yammer top ribbon

I have sometimes spent long periods 'off my facebook', but recently I have got a clearer idea about how I want to use it and have gone back to it. I found a lot of political material circulates. If I were meeting friends in the pub, we would often avoid these topics - since some of my friends and I have very different ideas about Brexit, immigration and other topics of the day. However on Facebook, I can see their posts and they can see mine - so we are able to engage in dialogue and gain better insights from each other. I post political material publicly, and I post personal and family issues with my 'friends'. (Have to be a bit careful to always remember to use the right privacy button.)

I have started a Twitter account, and I mean to keep that for posting about digital technologies and e-learning. Although I couldn't resist recently posting the picture of two cakes I took to a face-to-face tutorial tongueouttongueout I guess that is about 'distance learning' in a way since we have the face-to-face tutorials quite rarely, being a Distance Education institution.

Photo of cake with blurred groups of students in the background

Finally I am going to have to figure out WhatsApp, as my fellow MAODE students are starting a WhatsApp support group. This will mean learning how to operate my phone as a Smartphone, whereas up til now I have got away with saying 'hahaha, my phone is smarter than I am' and being able to peacefully knit on the bus instead of having to engage in my teaching/studies while travelling smile

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Open Educational Resources – assumption about publications.

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Monday, 9 Oct 2017, 12:29

As I work through the material for the latest part of the module, I am struck by another assumption being made about digital technologies in the form of OERs.

There is intense focus on research publication in thinking about using digital technologies for scholarship. There seems to be little about developing better pedagogy through social networking online. Academia has traditionally been dominated by focus on research publication. It seems that this prejudice is continuing in academic networks on the internet, even though Hurley et al (2010) say, scholars in less competitive institutions are more likely to “embrace these publication outlets”. (This would definitely include Associate Lecturers at the Open University, who are not even allowed to name the OU as our institution when publishing research, unless we have applied for special scholar status, and who are much more focussed on teaching than other British academics.)

All the materials in this current section of the module (The Open University 2017), are concerned with how to disseminate or publicise write-ups of research. Harley et al note that, in spite of being tech-savvy, junior researchers are even more wedded to the peer reviewed journal article, because of their need to progress in careers bench-marked by publication rather than teaching or service. Terras (2012) notes how the downloads and citations of her published work increase when she blogs and tweets about it.

Currently in the UK, we are experiencing the impact of a set of political events on Higher Education so seismic that we could call it a paradigm shift (in the full Kuhnian sense).

  • Brexit may cut us off from access to research funding from the European Union, plus cut down our opportunities to develop international collaborative research with European partners.
  • The Labour Party’s call to end tuition fees has proved popular with sought-after younger voters and now all parties are trying to emulate it. (Tuition fees are not really the problem, the problem is making students borrow for much higher maintenance costs and bankers charging compound interest on student loans – but universities are getting the flak. Since tuition fees didn’t cover the full cost of delivering a degree in the first place, this political spin on university fees could spell financial disaster for Higher Education in the UK.)
Screenshot showing set of articles about tuition fees in The Guardian

For decades, UK Higher Education institutions have focussed effort on a series of measures which rewarded not high quality teaching, nor even high quality research, but highly regarded publication records. High quality teaching is supported by high quality research, in quite complex ways. British universities continue to have a deserved high reputation for our scholarship, attracting international students. However, intellectuals have never been as highly regarded by the public here as in other European countries. Research at UK institutions is being undermined by government policy generally, including Brexit. High ranking universities: Oxbridge and the Russell Group, are heavily invested in research. If UK Higher Education as a whole were to switch focus onto teaching, they would lose out to institutions like … The Open University. It would not be surprising, therefore, if they tried to put the brakes on such a move.

As a corollary to the low status of teaching in Higher Education, there is no protocol for acknowledging teaching material. When I have developed something which I think helps my students, I like to share it around with my colleagues so I often see my slides popping up in other tutors’ presentations. I borrow other colleagues’ material too. Nobody in academia would dream of borrowing somebody-else’s writing in an academic paper without rigorously referencing that work. Yet we have to use each other’s power point slides and ice-breaker exercises without any protocol as to how to acknowledge the original work put into these.We often hesitate to 'steal' these useful teaching activities in consequence.

In order to raise the status of teaching in Higher Education, it would be helpful if we could find a means to acknowledge authorship of teaching materials. This might be through using the Creative Commons Licensing system, or just with a copyright notice in the footer of everything we develop.

Screenshot of information on Yammer thread about acknowledging shared materials
(On a Yammer thread I set up about sharing ideas for teaching with Adobe Connect, I have tried to find a way to acknowledge where resources came from.)

You can get credit for developing innovative teaching – if you write up about it in a world ranking journal. Of course, there are not very many journals about teaching in Higher Education which are regarded as world ranking, because teaching in Higher Education is not regarded as a prestigious activity.

The way we write about teaching could be re-considered too. Traditionally, all academic articles start with a little overview of relevant literature. Recently I have been trying to turnaround my writing, so that I provide the case study of how I undertook an innovative bit of teaching first (in this way, anyone who wants to replicate it can quickly and easily grasp how it was undertaken), then I write the pedagogic literature account of where my thinking about it comes from at the end of the paper.

Any thoughts?


Harley, D., Acord, S., Earl-Novell, S., Lawrence, S. and King, C. (2010) Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley, Berkeley [online]. Available at http://escholarship.org/ uc/ cshe_fsc (Accessed 09/10/2017).

The Open University (2017). ‘Section 3.3 Social Networking and Impact’ H818 Unit 3 – Themes and formats. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1097706&section=3, (Accessed 09/10/2017).

Terras, M. (2012) ‘The Impact of Social Media on the Dissemination of Research: Results of an Experiment’, Journal of Digital Humanities, vol. 1, no. 4 [online]. Available at http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/ 1-3/ the-impact-of-social-media-on-the-dissemination-of-research-by-melissa-terras (Accessed 09/10/2017).

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Visualising networks (Activity 2.5)

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This part of the module materials brought up the memory of a time when research projects I was doing had small elements of SNA - Social Network Analysis. (See the International Network for Social Network Analysis for more on this.) Dating from before Facebook was even thought of wide eyes, SNA involved making computer maps of people's connections. I expect the ones we drew up would look very clunky next to the visualisations linked to in this part of the module. 

I also thought vaguely about social capital. Although this is more widely known in the Robert Putnam version, I prefer Bourdieu's more nuanced version. (I think I better write a separate blogpost about this, as I will need it for my own students smile)

At first I felt a bit stuck about the exercise. I do have a Twitter account but it's so old that I don't want to go back to it. I had decided to open a new one when the module starts officially - that seems like a good moment to begin tweeting.

I thought about exploring my Facebook connections, as Tony Hirst does. This could be interesting, since my Facebook contacts are a pretty diverse bunch. I have some far left buddies - one or two of whom I became friends with on Facebook and have never had a connection with outside of the virtual circle. I have some centrist right buddies whom I met in other contexts, and whom I politely try to bring back from the Dark Side (ie Brexit and their self-contradictory posts about immigration). I have an American friend who, after the election of Trump, went from posting pictures of her kids' tea parties to suddenly posting a lot of material about race politics and feminism, and a Catalan friend - you can imagine what he is posting just now. Some of my friends are from the queer communities, and post sexually exploratory art. Others are mums I know from school, they post pictures of nights out with their friends. Some of my cousins post art-y photos and others post photos of their dogs and one posts art-y photos of her dog. 

Facebook post of baby elephant chasing birds

Another difficulty was that when I looked at the visualisations and network maps, I found them beautiful but impossible to read. I've remarked previously that I am very text-oriented. I felt this irresistible tendency to think 'so?' as I was presented with lovely collections of images and lines radiating out everywhere. (Cheeringly, Tony Hirst himself remarks in the blogpost Socially Positioning Sherlock "THe question is: what’s this actually useful for?" big grin)

I determined to take part though. I used my brother-in-law's band's twitter name to see what the Portwiture app would produce.

Screenshot of Portwiture visualisation for @PeatbogFaeries

Lovely! (Means nothing to me - but looks great big grin Incidentally, they are on tour just now, if you fancy going to see them. Check their website for details.)
  • Did the visualisation reveal anything surprising?
Perhaps something more personal would surprise me more. This was such a melange, it didn't seem to have any meaning. Plus the pictures are so small, it's quite hard to see them.
  • Could you think of ways you might use a visualisation like this in your presentation?
TBH - no big grin
  • What else would it need to do to add benefit?
Have words! (In Katy Jordan's poster mapping academic networks, I was rushing over the diagrammes to get to the conclusion where she summarises her findings, so that I could understand what was going on in the pictures.)
  • Did you have any concerns about what could be found about the networks of others using these tools?
... mixed All of this data is in the public realm, so ... not really. I don't think my Facebook friends would mind my knowing what they like, as long as I like their posts some more. That is one aspect of Facebook. You are supposed to get yourself liked a lot and try to develop a meme that goes viral, not hide who you are and what you enjoy. (Except from advertisers. I have so far successfully hidden what I like from advertisers, who have resorted to advertising wrinkle cream and dog food for me cool)

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Ordinary Openness

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Here's an example when I used open information and hardly thought about it.

I had an acute attack of sinusitis recently. I know that as it's a viral infection the GP won't be able to do anything about it, so I looked up the NHS website advice. There I found openly shared information. The site suggested a remedy you can make cheaply at home.

Screenshot of NHS website advice on sinusitis

The NHS are testing a new information site - it's clean and easy to read with good clear links to follow.

By comparison here is a USA website with 'free' information about sinusitis.

Screenshot of US website advice on sinusitis

To access this open information, you have to leave yourself open to advertising. There's more, though. They recommend proprietary products to help with your sinusitis, rather than something you can make yourself at home.

Screenshot of US website recommendations on sinusitis

'Open' doesn't equate to 'free'. The UK website isn't really 'free' either, it relies on government funding raised through taxes.

Both sites can argue they are influenced by the wish to help people get better. The UK site is also influenced by a wish to keep government spending on public health down, the US site by commercial interests. The UK site can then focus better on helping people rather than commerce.

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Openness and Privacy

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Friday, 29 Sep 2017, 21:05

Issues of privacy have been much more prominent in my research than issues of openness. The argument that all data are sensitive and should be treated equally (as mentioned in The Open University 2017) has met with polite scorn from me.

Much of my research was with, firstly black gay communities in Britain, and then in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer Muslim community.

I interviewed people whose families were extraordinarily rational in their acceptance of lesbian and gay children, who considered that once they had argued their case out, the principles of their faith were such that they should peacefully allow their children to live life as they saw fit. I met one lesbian woman who had been denied access to her university mosque on the grounds of her sexuality. An Imam was brought in to discuss the situation with her. He  said to her fellow students that they had put their case to her, she had listened and had decided how she would live her life and she should be allowed to practise her faith in the mosque in peace now.

I also met people who had left home and moved to the other side of the country, cutting themselves off from family and friends in order to live with a loved partner. I met people whose family members had brutally assaulted and hospitalised them. I met people who were in fear of being kidnapped and forcibly married.

The circles I moved in while conducting this research were necessarily small. I knew there were other academics in them. Even when writing up the case study material for deposit in obscure academic repositories, I took great pains to anonymise it so that participants' rights to privacy could be fully respected.

At the same time, in the queer communities, the rhetoric was about coming out, showing the world: "We're here, we're queer - and we're not going shopping!" That was a slogan used by the activist lesbian, gay and bisexual people who would do same sex kiss-in's at shopping centres in the States in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We also shouted it on Gay Pride marches in Britain, although I remember one Winter Pride a small committed band of us were marching and diligently shouting on our way to the Winter Pride fair in what was then called ULU (the University of London students' Union). Someone said: "Hang on a minute, we're going to the Winter Pride fair and when I get there I intend to look at all the stalls, especially the leather goods [I will save your blushes here by not describing those in detail! big grinwink]." Someone-else said: "Yeah, so do I!" We decided to chant: "We're here, we're queer and we ARE going shopping."

Those who braved the risk and volunteered to be interviewed for the research project I was involved in with lgb Muslim people did so (even though they feared it was a cover for a brainwashing programme), in order to show the world that it is possible to be Muslim and same-sex oriented, to save others the isolation that they themselves experienced.

My job as the academic was to mediate between their absolute and vital (in the full sense of that word) need for privacy, and our wish to tell it as it was, to tell their stories so that others would know they are not alone in a pitiless faith - and to contribute safely to the stock of openly available knowledge about the world, to science.

Some of the people I spoke with had thought long and hard - had agonised, had gone through the principles of Islam and could argue with scholarly authority that there was nothing wrong or inconsistent with being a lesbian, gay or bisexual Muslim. (Queer may be another matter - see Pilgrim, 2012.) However, they felt a strict obligation to keep their sexuality private for their families' sakes. People frequently said they could not come out themselves, because it would ruin the marriage chances of brothers and sisters, and even their cousins.


The Open University, 2017. '2.4 Online privacy and identity', H818 Unit 2 Openness and privacy [online]. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1097703&section=4 (accessed 29/09/2017).

Pilgrim, A.N. 2012. “Sexuality Politics in Islam” in Farrar, M., Robinson, S., Valli, Y. and Wetherly P. (eds) 2012 Islam in the West, Palgrave Mcmillan. 

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Researching Openness (Activity 2.3) #2

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Friday, 29 Sep 2017, 08:42
For my second 'open' term, I picked out 'open peer review'. (This term was not in the module Wordle; it was in the material about Open Science on Wikipedia - it was on the e(LATE)D course that I learnt the tip of going online to search for something, picking up something-else and following that, and so on - like a breadcrumb trail.)

I deliberately avoided the Wikipedia entry at first, and went for the second entry which is an organisation called Open Scholar. Guess what! they have a Wordle too smile

Wordle based on 'peer review'

I know, however, that how you get to the top of search engines is not a transparent process - this is part of the reason I use DuckDuckGo rather than a more commercial search engine like Google, although I often resort to Google as well because it is undeniably efficient. I therefore checked up the Wikipedia entry to see if Open Scholar are the main spokesperson(s) for this initiative. What I found there was reference to material about open peer review offering several definitions of the term, from a European organisation openAIRE, with a well-populated blog. Clearly there is lots going on and at least two groups have formed to develop what they see as their own vision of an open peer review.

openAIRE are coy about who exactly the '50 partners' in their project are, so I don't know who is involved; they are funded by the European Commission. Open Scholar have a UK URL, with scholars from Greece and Ireland and Norway on the working team. Their working team of seven appear to be all white men although their members look more diverse.

The activity looks like it's happening in Europe, but this may be because I am based in the UK and the search engine recognises that. A search for 'open peer review USA' throws up a couple of articles but not any organisation in the States. (Unlike the European material, the US articles are dotted with advertising.)

The apparent drivers and motivators for calls for peer review to be open are mainly the opportunity. Publishing online means there isn't the same stranglehold control over academic writing which paper journals had. There has for a long time been dissatisfaction with the 'blind' peer review system, and having personally suffered from it, I am all for it being changed.

Open Scholar have one particular kind of 'open peer review' in mind, which they seek to foster through their own multidisciplinary open journal of science. openAIRE publish this blogpost in which they seek to identify the different kinds of 'open peer review'. This does not necessarily mean online peer review, this could just be a review where the reviewer names themself rather than anonymously comments.

TBH, it's not very clear to me how open peer review might connect now, or in the future, with learning and teaching activity. The issue of peer review is crucially important to research rather than teaching. I had already thought of it as something which open science would need to consider. The difficulty with publishing information widely and freely is that there can be such a lot of it, and nobody can be sure if it is reliable.

In the OU, we have a nice mnemonic called PROMPT which the library encourages us to use to determine whether research is reliable. The second 'P' is for 'provenance' - who was it who published the thing? Lay persons often suppose that a published book will be the most valued scholarly product, and are amazed to hear it is the much shorter journal article. This is because the journal article will have been read by two, three or even more peers - who reviewed it and said it was of sufficient scientific merit to be published.

That is the academic scandal of the MMR Vaccine story (when research apparently linking the triple vaccine to autism led to a mass of parents refusing it for their children, and a sudden spike in measles in the UK) - that Andrew Wakefield et al's paper was published by the Lancet in spite of these supposed precautions - and let's note too that in common with hard science practice, there were twelve (12) other scientist-authors who had supposedly produced that article and should at least have read it before putting their names to it.

So we can already see that the 'blind' peer review process is not efficient at filtering out poor research. My story shows the other side - how it can block publication.

A few years ago, I wrote up an article for a special issue, about a highly relevant project on which I had been the Research Fellow. As an early career scholar, I was very keen to start publishing and since the journal particularly asked for contributions in a further topic area which my research was based in, I was hopeful of my article being accepted. I did, however, ask that the article not be sent to the one other person in the UK who had done research in that field, on the grounds that he had been the Principal Investigator for the project I was writing about, so was too closely associated with it to comment without bias. I didn't add that he had bullied me mercilessly and hated my guts! as I felt this wasn't an academic argument. Unfortunately the editors didn't read my note, sent him the article and he promptly accused me of plagiarism. (I only found this out because the guy who did the investigation bumped into me at a memormial event and told me about it!)

I was of course cleared of the plagiarism accusation - not that I was even supposed to know about it, but the editors of the journal then sent my article to three specialists in community safety mixed - I dunno; frankly I see that as prejudiced - the article was not about security issues at all, it was about family and kinship mixed

I would really have liked to have named a couple of specialist thinkers in family and kinship studies - especially since my article was partly based in anthropological rather than sociological thinking about kinship. Even if they had said the writing was poor, they would have given me good feedback in my own area of work - rather than the useless feedback I got which was all about how I hadn't covered issues of community safety in my article (because that wasn't what it was about! wide eyes)

The article was turned down and has lain dormant on my C drive ever since. Perhaps I will dig it out and offer it to the Open Society journal - once I have got over this sinus infection, fed the cats, been the farmers' market for fresh food for the family, bought and delivered a couple of ready meals to my elderly friend who is housebound, sorted out my students' tutorials and done another thing (which I might write a blogpost about since it is a great case study for the open/closed debate).

On a more positive note, a couple of years later I did get an article published out of my PhD material. The journal editors were friends of mine wink, so I was able to make sure the article got sent to someone appropriate. I had fantastic feedback which drew my attention to some great material in the field which I could use to re-draft the article. I don't know who that good reviewer was, I wish I did so I could thank them.

The closed journal article publishing world is all very Bourdieu! and four forms of capital, I think that is probably material for another blogpost smile

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Researching Openness (Activity 2.3) #1

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My ignorance about internet matters made it difficult for me to be sure how to identify a search term in the Wordle we were offered, but I guess you take the words and add 'open' to any of them.

Wordle based on the word 'open

For my first word, I picked 'open science'. I snuck off to the first link in DuckDuckGo that popped up: the open resource I am always telling my own students not to use big grin, Wikipedia.

(The reason I say it's not a good idea for students to use Wikipedia is that it presents summaries of complicated material. If you have got an academic background in that material, you can tell what it is they are referring to but if you are coming to this fresh, you can be misled by the summary. Wikipedia is not peer-reviewed like journal articles are, so the information may not be reliable - here we see one problem with open access material. In my own case, I am looking for some other links to follow up which I hope I will be able to recognise as authoritative, rather than for an accurate summary of 'open science' - although that would be nice too.)

Gosh, there are clearly a lot more 'open' terms I can go off and explore underneath the term 'open science' wide eyes

Diagramme showing other areas of openness which make up Open Science

(Developed by Andreas E. Neuhold. and made available under CC)

It's not clear who are the main spokesperson(s) for this initiative, as it seems to be very widespread. However a paper by Pontika et al (2015) mentions a European Union funded project (FOSTER) which is looking to develop training and a taxonomy of open science (presumably just in Europe - and not including us Brits any more sad). There is also The Open Knowledge Foundation.

Open Science is happening all around, but there are some quite different opinions about when it started.

On the one hand, Wikipedia (2017) says Open Science developed in the seventeenth century. Earlier scientists (eg Gallileo) had been obliged to circulate their thinking in code. The founding of the Royal Society in England and the Académie des Sciences in France allowed for government funding of scientific projects, and of academic journals in which scientists could openly write about our work.

On the other hand, Pontika et al (2015) say: "OS is a relatively new and complex concept and its adoption will require a shift in the researchers' behaviour regarding the conduction of research and information sharing and will demand the adoption of new practices." We are seeing a shift in practices for writing about academic work - one so great that we might even call it a paradigm shift in the strict Kuhnian sense of that term (as discussed in Smith 1998). However Open Science is clearly not that new a concept; having been developing since the Enlightenment on the principles of rationality and humanism which Enlightenment thinking is based in (again see Smith 1998). What has changed is the medium through which Open Science can be disseminated - it has gone from paper to internet.

It's interesting that this mere shift in medium is viewed as an opportunity to be even more open. Primarily it seems to me that this is about money (and social class). It's expensive to train up in the sciences, become a member of a (Royal) Society and get copies of the journal sent to you, it costs comparatively little to make material available online for anyone in the world to read. (Although not nothing.)

The apparent drivers and motivators for Open Science becoming viewed as even more open are the internet. However a serious barrier here is our capitalist economic system of governance. It's necessary to tinker around and provide government funding to support the people doing research, and the person who uploads the findings online for everybody else to access. This is vulnerable to political change like Brexit - who now is going to fund the open dissemination of British science?

In terms of products and progress, there seems to be a lot of research on how we could do open research. Some blogs and some material is being made publicly available. In my own field, Education, a massive database (whose name escapes me at the moment!) of information on British children has been made freely available in the last few years, and the 'owners' of it are strongly encouraging education researchers to come and use it rather than spend money collecting their own data. Researchers appear reluctant, it seems that using primary data has more kudos than using data someone-else has collected, starting from scratch is more exciting. 

Another open resource is information from the Office for National Statistics, made publicly available in raw form and also in summary bulletins which offer a brief analysis.

How these might connect now, or in the future, with learning and teaching activity? My immediate thought is that I ought to dig out the reference to that database and suggest to my Education students that they could go to it and make use of it. Particularly in postgraduate studies, it allows us to give students access to 'real' data and teach them to handle this messy stuff in the raw. Making this particular data so openly available might also allow someone to provide an illuminating analysis of it which would support better education. (That would be better than the English government just introducing education policy on the basis of a good idea that occurred to them while eating breakfast! I'm not sure if government ministers have time for breakfast unless they are having a breakfast meeting, which would explain a lot. Research shows that the most important factor in children being able to concentrate and work well in school, is whether they had something to eat before they got there.)


Pontika, N.; Knoth, P.; Cancellieri, M.; Pearce, S., 2015. "Fostering Open Science to Research using a Taxonomy and an eLearning Portal". Available at: https://docs.google.com/uc?authuser=0&id=0ByewXV9UyaMtVnFVd3FWNklBNTA&export=download, Accessed 28/09/2017

Smith, M.J., 1998. Social Science in Question. London: Sage Publications.

Wikipedia (2017) Open Science [Online], 7 September 2017. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_science (Accessed 28/9/2017).

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Assumptions about digital technologies #3

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This is a quick skim through some articles I read over the summer, mainly by economists, in which I explore three assumptions I think people make about computerised (digital) technology.

Digitalisation can replace humans.

Managers often think digitalisation can do human work for no pay. (Except management work, I don’t think there are any managers who have successfully replaced themselves with computers mixed)

A bunch of Cambridge academics were pessimistic about human employment in the face of increasing digitalisation. Noreena Hertz, ITV New's Economics Editor, said: "owners of machines will do well. Those who are replaced by them, won't." Cambridge educated economists generally see a period of stagnation coming, as automation (among other things) leads to lower employment in two ways: less jobs created, many of those jobs at such a low level that people will not feel they are worth doing. Todd Buchholtz, George W. Bush’s White House director of economic policy, added: “We’re in a global race for IQ points, and whoever harnesses intelligence will prosper most.” (Quoted in Marshall, 2017).

Photo of magazine article, with mug

However in an FT report on robots in the trading world (Martin and Noonan, 2017), Beatriz Martín Jiménez says: “It frees people up to do more complex tasks.”

newspaper article with mug of tea

She adds that it will be “several years” before the robots are allowed to execute trades without human bankers first approving them. (The introduction of digitalisation ought to be done very slowly and with many checks.)

Tim Harford (2017) says: “machines have been tools that enhanced human productivity. They automate some routine tasks. This expands output and it also boosts demand for humans to perform complementary, non-routine tasks. This leads to better pay, more interesting work and as many jobs as ever overall.” It’s not automation that is leading to slow productivity, but something else causing a logjam in the economy and a lack of jobs. Harford says the only job that was ever done away with by automation was that of elevator operators.

newspaper article with mug of tea

Of particular interest to me, as the Open University moves to increased digitilisation of our teaching, was an article about robots in the classroom. Those involved in this experiment are very clear that the robots are not supposed to replace human teachers, though. They want to offer kids good early familiarisation with technology in a world with more and more technology – you need humans to teach the kids how to do that.

Photo of magazine article, with mug

Other mums often say disparagingly to me that they will not buy their children iPads or iPhones, regarding these as expensive exotic toys. We bought my daughter an iPad mini when she was about 9. She was photographed with a group of other early digital users at school; she is the only one holding her iPad properly. She learns a huge amount from it, as she consumes lots of material off it – made by humans. I can’t just leave her to it, though. I have to input to make sure her security checks are up to date so she doesn’t download unsuitable material without realising, and explain that just because ‘Pepper’ Potts goes out with a billionaire, a girl who is a scientist doesn’t have to hang out at the Business School looking for a boyfriend. (She can become an Open University lecturer approve)

Most of my daughter’s learning happens at a school staffed by humans, who generously give up their time to run science and digital leader clubs after lessons.


Arnold, Martin and Noonan, Laura (2017) “Robots enter trading floors to lift returns”. FT Weekend 8 July/9 July 2017, p.14.

Harford, Tim (2017) “We are still waiting for the robot revolution” FT Weekend 1 July/2 July, p.9.

Marshall, Alex (2017). “A New Normal: Forget everything you know about how the world works, this is the global economy, 3.0” in CAM, Cambridge Alumni Magazine. Issue 81, Easter 2017.

Vasagar, Jeevan (2017) “My First Robot”. FT Weekend Magazine, 15/16 July, pp.26-31.

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Assumptions about digital technologies #2

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017, 10:12

This is a quick skim through some articles I read over the summer, mainly by economists, in which I explore three assumptions I think people make about computerised (digital) technology.

Computers are cheaper

Computers are sometimes cheaper.

Photo of magazine article, with mug

Tim Harford (2017) says “new technologies have polarised the labour market, with more demand for both the high-end skills and the low-end ones, and a hollowing out in the middle.” We can use automation to “unbundle” tasks: give automatic repetitive work to computers, and have humans complete the high-end intellectual puzzle-solving parts or the low-end part that uses fingers and thumbs.

An example of this at the Open University is electronic marking. I award marks for two or three parts of a student assignment, the computerised marksheet automatically adds them up and will even warn me if I mistakenly entered an extra zero and gave more marks than are available. (Sorry, students! sad I tried.)

Computers can mark multiple choice assignments, but not read and assess essays. It might be possible to create a computerised marking scheme which would weigh up whether a student has effectively answered the question, should they get some marks for using the right material – providing an implicit answer rather than an explicit one, have they done the referencing (appropriately for this level of study), did they use good paragraph-writing skills, do they need to be referred to module advice on writing introductions and conclusions – but it would be very expensive.

It’s much cheaper to employ me to mark essays than to invent a software to do so, especially as I will adapt year on year to assess the answers to new assignment questions whereas the computer would have to be re-programmed every time to do this. (By a human who must make sure they get the programming exactly right – a computer will not spot human error in marking guidance as I sometimes do.)

Harford says, “the most influential technologies are often humble and cheap”. The Gutenberg Press revolutionised our lives, but it would not have had any impact if someone had not also invented paper.

We should be cautious about expensive complicated technology. To be taken up and widely used, technology should be easily affordable and it should fit in with the trend of social and cultural development. Technology should enhance human activity, humans should not have to try to adapt to technology.


Harford, Tim (2017) “What we get wrong about technology” FT Weekend Magazine July 8/9 2017, pp.12-18.

"Emma" - Le Trèfle Maxi Feuille (2013), added by Le Trèfle. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbMOLg-2SFw, (accessed 26/09/2017).

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Assumptions about digital technologies #1

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Tuesday, 26 Sep 2017, 10:10

This is a quick skim through some articles I read over the summer, mainly by economists, in which I explore three assumptions I think people make about computerised (digital) technology.

The more complex and exciting technology is, the better it is.

If you are cooking a meal, a potato peeler is useful, although you would of course rather have the Starship Enterprise.

Here we see an unfortunate robot which came unstuck at a task which humans normally take in our stride (literally).

Screenshot of BBC news item: Robot 'drowns' in fountain mishap


BBC, 2017. Robot ‘drowns’ in fountain mishap [online]. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-40642968 (accessed 26/09/2017).

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Finding other presentations on my topic (Activity 1.6)

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Friday, 22 Sep 2017, 09:54

OK, so I set aside good time on this sunny morning to focus on searching for material I could reflect on about the topic I will probably write up for my assignments: the use of online forums in teaching. (I did this partly by working late last night, writing forum posts to welcome my own new group of students - who suddenly popped up on my homepage when I wasn't yet expecting them sleepysmile)

I actually have a little set of academic papers on forum use which I have collected slowly over the last two years as I attempted to develop my work on this topic -  while also teaching three modules, looking to develop my portfolio of teaching, bringing up my daughter, feeding my cats and occasionally getting to go out with my friends. (I think I still have some friends! wide eyes They are mostly parents or OU Associate Lecturers too, so they understand why I don't get out that often, blinking in the social sunlight.)

However, using my already existing list would be cheating so I set slowly to exploring the sites listed: the Association of Learning Technologists (that sounds good - maybe I could go to one of their conferences at a later date?), Youtube, Slideshare, Prezi and Animoto.

I am hampered in my search by the fact that the word 'forum' is frequently used in phrases like 'we will discuss this in our forum'. I try phrases like 'teaching in online forums'. I find very little, although one Youtube slideshow does say that the topic is under-researched (good news for me if so! that would mean this is a good area to continue developing work).

I don't manage to do a search on Animoto, as it looks like you have to sign up to the site to do this. I am deeply suspicious of signing up to things online, and have an email Junk Box full of messages from beautiful Russian and Japanese women begging me to marry them (and undertake other less salubrious activities) to explain why. (I am half-Japanese myself, and I don't need another beautiful Japanese woman around; I know how expensive we are.)

Another issue for me is that I hate videos. I find it impossible to concentrate in audio clips, videos and other aural/visual learning media. I am an exceptionally text-oriented person, who used to try and carry on reading at night as a child, by lying next to the door holding a book to the sliver of light from the crack under the door. When I have to view/hear video and audio material on the modules I teach, so I can teach about them, I have to do something else at the same time in order to concentrate: the ironing, or knitting. I readily provide, use and recommend sympathetic materials for my students, who are often not textual learners, but I personally switch off within 10 seconds of a video or audio clip. This makes it hard to even figure out whether the clip has got anything relevant in it. I have managed to learn a little Welsh from two and three minute videos only by listening to them while I make my daughter's packed lunch in the morning. ("Bore da! Mae'n braf heddiw yng Cymru." smile)

I do manage to find three things before starting to bite my memory sticks with boredom. One is a Youtube video by a Prof. Bonk. His name stuck in my mind from other reading on the module (for some reason wink), so I figure his will be a good video to view - although his delivery style makes me feel like going to do washing up and ironing immediately. I will get my knitting, I have just got to quite a difficult bit so I will have to make sure I concentrate on Prof. Bonk and not finishing off the picot hem to the thumb of my mitten.

Computer showing video on online forums, with knitting on the keyboard

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Learning through sharing (Activity 1.4)

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I used to play rugby. This is probably the sport which is most geared to team play. Even in football you can be an individually brilliant player but in rugby you are nothing without the rest of the team. Team play is a key part of the game: linking with the other players is an assumed part of the skillset.

Diagramme showing rugby players

(This diagramme from RugbyCoachWeekly shows how important linking between team members is in rugby.)

Academia is very different. Although my work is mainly teaching, and teaching in a team rather than as a sole operator, there is a strong individualistic ethos. In teaching collaboration is made more difficult because there is no convention for acknowledging teaching materials when these are shared, as there is in research and publication. There's no incentive to share good ideas about teaching.

Managers seem to expect teamwork to happen out of thin air. For example, since students are thought to be on Facebook a lot, there is an expectation that they will be happy to go on Forums to chat. However students are shy and anxious about putting themselves forward on a module forum, they frequently talk about fearing they will be judged or that their ideas might be ‘stolen’.

Image incorporating various social media logos

(In the article which this image illustrates, the author talks about how to get an ad better placed in Facebook - showing how hard many people work to establish an apparently effortless community feeling online.)

John Seely Brown (The Open University 2017) mentions our lack of trust in others as a problem preventing working as if in a ‘studio’.

Trust has to be built, it doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Facebook relies on the trust people have built up offline with the people they ‘friend’ online. Some way needs to be found to build relationships between students so that they trust each other enough to post together.

Some students have spoken about picture-avatars as a means to do this. I don’t use one myself, though, for reasons I will write about in a different blogpost.

The Open University, 2017. 'Open Architectural Studio' [Video] H818 The networked practitioner. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1097701&section=4.2 (accessed 20/09/2017).

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Veletsianos and Kimmons 2012 (Activity 1.3)

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In activity 1.3, we are asked to read and comment on a paper about Open Scholarship, also variously referred to as Open Educational Resources (OER). In particular, the authors suggest four assumptions about open scholarship. (My notes are in the text boxes.)

Screenshot of table from paper with notes

While I would agree with Veletsianos and Kimmons that there is an assumption that open scholarship can seamlessly support a more democratic education, I might go further than them in my critique of the extent this is possible. It might be illuminating to look at publications about open scholarship in terms of how many women, people from ethnic minority communities and people from less developed countries, in particular, actually are involved in this field of scholarship.

Too often, there are sets of outcomes which are publicly circulated while an invisible set of outcomes are far more influential in academia. For example, when interviewing for lectureships, candidates may be asked about teaching and management skills and qualifications, but it is the list of research publications which is the real means to an appointment.

Generally in digital scholarship and teaching, it seems to me that there is a lack of acknowledgement of human social input. Time spent engaging with students or with colleagues on forums is often not realistically quantified; if it were, the actual cost of engaging in digital scholarship would have to be counted as much higher.

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Activity 1.2 Reflection on learning

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Edited by Anita Naoko Pilgrim, Monday, 18 Sep 2017, 11:51

Here we're asked to reflect on a previous learning experience. I'm going to use the studies I did on the eLATE(D) module, a 12 week course on e-learning (which I've written about on my Tutor's blog: https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=162665). 

  • Experience: what was the context of the learning? What did you actually do during and after the learning experience? What else happened?
This was a professional development module I did two years ago. I had been very keen for a while to develop my online teaching skills. It was quite hard to find out about the courses which are available to Open University tutors to support our professional development, but one day I saw an email pop up about e(LATE)D, and hurriedly signed up to the course.
  • Personal: What was your perspective on the learning experience? How did you perceive the situation? What were your assumptions and beliefs about the situation?
I assumed that as I already had substantial experience in teaching online, this would be a rubber stamp for my knowledge. I would be able to 'prove' that I had those skills by pointing to my course certificate approve

Course website with sticker in front of it saying "social media ninja"

I expected to cruise through the course without learning very much.

  • Feelings: How did your feelings about the learning experience change from anticipation through to completion? Did you enjoy it? Did it make you uncertain, or nervous? If you found the learning difficult, did this cause frustration? Which aspects of the learning experience led to positive feelings, and which to negative? Did other things affect your mood at the time, for example work or family events? Did your feelings influence your intentions or change your behaviour?
e(LATE)D was a much more interesting course than I had imagined it would be. It introduced me to a body of literature about online education which I had not realised existed. I was also forced to read pedagogic literature: literature about teaching, which I had never bothered to do in the past because a) I had very little time, b) I always get great feedback on my teaching so assumed I didn't need to do so. I don't say I learned a great deal about teaching, most of my reading confirmed that the way I teach is good practice, but the reading allowed me to reflect on my teaching practice, and to reference my thinking about it with more authority when talking about it.

I did learn a lot about online teaching. Much of this was because of an opportunity to discuss online teaching with others - to figure things out in conversation on forums and through submitted coursework, rather than just Carry On Online Teaching on my own.

There was a form to fill in at the start of the module which helped you to see if you would have enough time to do it. I didn't have enough time to fill that in, so I just signed up and got on with it big grin I was often frustrated by the lack of time I had to commit to my studies. I have substantial family commitments, and had to miss a couple of tutorials in order to give time to the family. I always meant to listen to the recordings of them, but I was so frustrated by missing out on them that I never managed to do this.

Many other tutors dropped out of the module as we went on. I hung on to the end, handing work in late and using forums - as I could post after the deadline on these. I often 'blurted' on forums, posting emoticons about trying to catch up.
  • Critical stance: Reviewing your notes so far, identify any assumptions you have made and ask if they are justified. Are there other questions you could ask of yourself to deepen your understanding of your learning?
I assumed my practical experience in teaching didn't require input from pedagogic literature.

I didn't realise how out of practice I am at writing up my work in the style of an academic paper.

I assumed I could speed through the module without engaging deeply in it, and do it more quickly than the allocated time provided for.

  • Perspective: Were others involved in this learning experience? If so, what might be their perspective and what could you learn from this? Are you aware of literature that relates to your experience, and if so how does it relate? Is the social context important for your experience, and if so how is it important? Is the historical context important for your experience, and if so how is it important? Are ethics important for your experience, and if so how are they important?
I was to get feedback from a peer on the course, and give feedback to another peer. I wrote up my experience of this on my blog: https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=162678. It was a lesson to me not only in terms of the feedback I got, but also in how students approach assignments! I am shocked when I think how cavalier I was about reading the carefully designed Student Notes which aim to support writing up of assignments surprise

We were all also supposed to take part in forum discussions. I threw myself into these with enthusiasm, as I love forum posting. I was disappointed in how disengaged many of my colleagues seemed to be. I knew there were many of us on the module, and at the end I could see that there were a lot of people who just worked through without connecting with the rest of us on the forums. I have never quite understood whether other people just don't like forums? I do wonder sometimes if my enthusiastic style puts people off.

  • Outcome: What did you learn from the experience? And what have you learnt from this activity about yourself as a learner? Are there implications for your H818 studies? Would you do anything different in the future? Would you continue to do the same or do it differently now? In either case say why.
I learned that I can be an impatient learner, skipping sections of the study material and exercises which I think are beneath me. On H818, I plan to do the exercises as carefully as I can regardless. I don't have much more time these days than I did back then! but by humbly observing my own students, I have been able to see how the more successful ones plan and commit time to their studies. I am always advising students that prioritising their studies doesn't mean they are putting their families second - children see us concentrating on our studies and do the same on their schoolwork. I learned to prioritise my own studies.

I remain very keen on forum usage as a means of learning/teaching. I shall carry on taking enthusiastic part, and ask for more feedback about my forum posting style on H818. (I have learned more about this on a three week Tutor Moderator course as well.) It's likely that I will look at forums for my project for H818.

I got a great perspective into what students actually do by being a student myself! and have been able to take this back into designing my teaching support. 

I think I was a poor e(LATE)D student: skipping sections, filling in parts late, rushing my work, however I learned loads. I was able to build on the piece of work I wrote, and start developing it as an application for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (for various reasons not yet completed!). I learned that sometimes it can take a while, especially when you have other responsibilities in life. The main thing is to start your learning journey and focus on the learning, not the certificate. 

Although I did feel very proud that I struggled through the course, and got my certificate in the end approve

Course certificate

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