Posted by & filed under mosomelt.


The traditional notion of a ‘bootcamp’ conjures up images of blood, sweat and toil; of instructions for almost unachievable tasks being shouted at quivering participants by military style authoritarians, with the purpose as much about them relishing their domination and power as it is about personal achievements of those taking part. Today’s #mosomelt bootcamp at AUT South was the antithesis of this. Rather, it was an opportunity to get together mid-way through the semester, to chat as equals and share ideas for trying, evaluating, and implementing digital technologies into our learning and teaching.

Today, perhaps even more than usual, I was struck by our shared goals that transcend our disciplinary areas; the heutogological self-determined learning we strive for in our students and the almost statutory period of unlearning required by them (and teaching staff) to enable the seeds of this learning experience to be allowed to grow and flourish; the shared challenges we face either with students or institutional structures and processes creating unnecessary and sometimes necessary hurdles to be considered and negotiated.

While our discussions included challenges with ‘things’: iPhones, iPads, Apps and other gadgets, I think it was agreed that the bigger challenge lies within the mindset of people who don’t easily see the role of self-determined learning or the value in exploring, embracing, and critiquing digital media within the tertiary setting, despite the inevitability of an increasingly digitialised world for our graduates within an uncertain and changing future workforce paradigm.


I was reminded of Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), the Hungarian-British author and journalist, who possibly might have thought bootcamps were just what were needed to ignite innovation within the staid academic traditionalists:

“The inertia of the human mind and its resistance to innovation are most clearly demonstrated not, as one might expect, by the ignorant mass- which is easily swayed once its imagination is caught- but by professionals with a vested interest in tradition and in the monopoly of learning. Innovation is a twofold threat to academic mediocrities: it endangers their oracular authority, and it evokes the deeper fear that their whole, laboriously constructed intellectual edifice might collapse. The academic backwoodsmen have been the curse of genius from Aristarchus to Darwin and Freud; they stretch, a solid and hostile phalanx of pedantic mediocrities, across the centuries.”


While Koestler’s words are harsh they reflect his frustration with the hesitancy to change as the world changes, which perhaps today, in our 21st Century tertiary setting, is just not an option (especially if we are ‘the university for the changing world’).

I was reminded that during last week’s student presentations for our Media and Communication in Health Promotion paper, one student made the statement:

“Social media skill is not any more a matter of choice”

They presented the statement as a quote and I asked the student who were they quoting – they replied that it was their own.

Not only was the student’s message correct, but they had come to realise this themselves, through their own curation of, and reflection on, learning experiences facilitated through engagement with the class discussions and independent exploration. Furthermore, they felt confident to present their idea as a quote as if declaring the legitimacy of their own learning and experientially informed knowledge.

Their quote has stayed with me and it’s relevance solidified during today’s bootcamp discussions on possible inappropriate uses of social media by students, likely ramifications and the most effective strategies for instilling ethical use of social media. Do we steer clear of using social media in learning and teaching or do we have an ethical obligation to embrace it, thus allowing for a more collaborative, supportive learning environment within which students can assess the appropriateness of its use?

Do we wait for students to fall and then berate them like the traditional bootcamp’s authoritarian leader or do we embrace social media and together explore its boundaries and benefits? Perhaps “its not any more a matter of choice“.

Posted by & filed under Conference, go_gn, Methodology, mosomelt, My Research Journal, PhD reflections and writings, Reflections, research skills.


I am part of a wonderful network, the @GOER_GN, a global network of PhD students that are researching in open education in general. Everyone has a slightly different focus, but all of us are interested in using OPEN as a tool to social justice and inclusion. The #go_gn (how the gang is called) organises once a year a gather together, an intensive seminar for 3 days. There, all of us have a chance to present our research for 20 min, and we get 10 min for comments and feedback from the gang. That is a luxury I have to say! So many bright scholars around me focusing on what I am doing and thinking how to shed light in the not so clear spots.

I had good feedback on my work, basically two things: I can’t solve the world with my PhD, that is for later, so I need to pick up ONE strand and go deep into it. As my beautiful friend @catherinecronin says, go in and go out!  (advice she, in turn, got from one of her committee’s members). Second, I need to differentiate between doing research, as objective as possible, finding out things from the data, discovering the problem and barriers to students’ digital practice, and another is to solve those problems. And I agree, I have a tendency to be pragmatic, well, I am pragmatic! But when one is doing research, the real need is to do the research, to flesh that little bit of the world we are worried about.

Here is the feedback and a succinct account of my work in words of @phillospher1978 aka Rob Farrow, who was taking notes during the sessions.

Caroline’s research centres on personal learning spaces as an alternative for institutional students.  Her project has had to evolve somewhat since she started.  She has been working with undergraduates to explore their personal learning environments.  Similar themes were also raised at a ‘student voice’ conference at Bath Spa.  Guided by Selwyn, Caroline is looking at actual practices and analysing them in terms of openness. Several theoretical frameworks are currently under consideration, including Schatzki (2006) and Kemmis et al (2010).  The aim of education is taken to be flourishing (Wright, 2010).  

A constructive grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2014) explored assumptions about ‘digital natives’ and provides a richer description of actual student learning ‘spaces’ and the extent to which these are ‘open’ or ‘closed’.  Interesting things arising from the data include the idea that students are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material available online; students are also concerned about their grades and this can impede experimentation.  There is no shared understanding of digital literacies, but Google is so commonplace as to not even be thought of as a tool.  Many students are intimidated by technology with which they are unfamiliar.   This work has led her to the idea that an explorative mindset needs to be cultivated and encouraged.  


  • Similar themes emerging in the work of others in the grou
  • Need to distinguish the research elements and the attempt to be pragmatic and improve student learning
  • How to deal with students who are risk-averse?
  • Maybe a need to narrow down the study and be less tempted to follow every idea or theoretical lead.  Clear research questions may help.

One thing that has become clearer to me is the danger to be an advocate of our own research. Doing research should not be done to re-confirm what one is advocating for. Instead, it should be the outcome of the study. I attended the talk that Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams gave at OEGLobal. She was telling us about the new project they are undertaking within a bigger project she leads, ROER4D. The project is studying the impact of OEP in the world. This new project is a meta-analysis (synthesis she also called it), that will analyse and unpack the causes of change in the different countries that are taking part of the project. She said it is not the role of the researcher to advocate but to understand what are the barriers and then find ways to overcome those barriers. And that is where my research will aim to go, to identify the barriers students encounter in their daily academic digital practice. This will be accomplished exploring the state-of-the-actual of students’ academic practice, scrutinising the present and not the potential, staying grounded in the reality, in the daily entanglements of students when engaging with the Web for academic purposes. 

In the conference, I presented my work but in a slightly different manner than I had planned. The reason for this? We had the gala dinner the night before and it was the first talk the last day!! It needed to be dynamic and challenging in some way. So I did a sort of flipped talked. I was willing to explore what the audience thought about the data I have collected. To do this I gave each group (3 groups of ± 6 participants). Luckily enough 2 members of the #go_gn were in the groups which allowed me to have a more detail view of what was discussed in each group.

In this Padlet wall you can see what each group thought was the data about. The stories are short but I am working with some participants to get more details and have a more detailed version of what was discussed in each table. This work has resulted in amazing and unexpected answers!

Overall the experience in Cape Town was one of the best I have had so far and I have assisted to many of them as part of my development as a researcher. I am really grateful for the generosity not only of the organiser, the GOER_GN but also of all the participants that made the work so joyful and intellectually productive. And some dancing did also happen there 🙂


Posted by & filed under #OER17, Conference, Food for thought, mosomelt, Reflections.

Last week the yearly OER conference took place in London. The title, the Politics of Open, and the themes can give a sense of the depth and breadth of the event.  A great experience where different scholars from around the Globe, and this is really AROUND THE GLOBE, we had people from South Africa, Chile, USA, Egypt, Europe, UK, Colombia, and maybe more, gathered together to share their thoughts, findings and new ideas about different elements of the politics of open education. If you want to have an idea of all what was happening during and after take a look at the blog post roundup #OER17

Much of the conversation in OER17 was about care (The refugee situation in Europe demands attention), inclusion (The MOONLITE project), social justice (Critical pragmatism and critical advocacy) and in general, the bigger conversation was about the need to be critical when researching about open. In his talkOpenness and Ethics: a provocation, Rob Farrow said something very relevant

As ‘open’ is becoming mainstream, more radical aspirations of the open movement are becoming secondary!

This cannot be allowed, radical aspirations need to be kept alive and the conference was a place to make this possible!

The experience was not only intellectually challenging but also emotionally moving. I felt immersed in a space of care and social justice, of women wanting to make a difference with their discourses and actions, of art wanting to find its place in open education, of open projects like Wikipedia wanting, among other things, to bridge the gender gap… A special place, for sure! And it is in that special place where we, Catherine Cronin and Caroline Kuhn, gave a workshop to stress the power of narrative research and storytelling to uncover the nuances of students’ digital practices and daily entanglements with digital technologies as well as the struggles and negotiation practitioners face when thinking about the open as a way to embrace their teaching practice. There is an inner story for this workshop and I (Caroline) want to share it with you. Catherine and I, are without planning it, doing a very similar research –not only regarding the topic we are exploring but also how we are exploring it. We are interested in the idea of understanding, through exploration, the daily experience of individuals (practitioners, in the case of Catherine and students in my case) with open practice and digital practice, respectively. Both are using constructive grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006). This mutual interest is in students and practitioner’s experiences and meaning-making.

The aim of our workshop was twofold: challenging participant’s beliefs about young people being ‘digital natives’ and not-so-young people being digital immigrants. This idea of youth being digitally fluent and versed in the digital world is a limitation when it comes to HEI policy and other initiatives to educate students digitally.  In this part of the workshop, we shared part of our data with asked participants to create a tentative profile for that group. We used a Padlet wall (link) so that participants could write and share their stories. Then participants related those stories to their own experiences, both professional and personal, recognising themselves in some of the data they worked with. The workshop ended with a rich discussion about participants’ own experience.

It is rewarding to read what participants thought and felt after the workshop; all the work is worth this! Thank you to all who participated, assisted and made the workshop possible


Posted by & filed under mosomelt.

I have been using Evernote for a number of years now, though have not been conscious of how I use it. Here’s my reflection on what has worked for me:

  1. Get Premium. While the free account gets you going, I enjoy the fact that I can access the notes from a variety of devices- including offline and has a more powerful search facility (including searching pdfs and handwritten notes)
  2. Organise folders the same as email. I have used the GTD strategy of organising folders in my email. By replicating this in Evernote, I automatically organise appropriate documents into the right folder. Always problematic when you think that a key phase is best at the time, though makes no sense later on- better have the two systems using same “key words”
  3. Tag- if it works for you. Certainly helps for grouping. Personally, I find tagging more labour intensive as the built-in search tool and use of the folders above does me fine.  Others I know who use Evernote swear by the tagging…
  4. Know your Evernote email. This can be found by looking in your Account Info
  5. Know some shortcuts. When sending emails, know that:
    1. The beginning of the subject line will be the title of your note
    2. To pop your email straight into a known notebook, include “@” immediately followed by the appropriate notebook in the Subject field.
    3. Into tagging? Add “#” immediately followed by an existing tag in the Subject field
    4. Need a reminder? Include an exclamation point- e.g. Email Subject: Portfolio Meeting !2017/04/12
    5. Need all of the above? Then the order is Email Subject: [Title of Note] ![Reminder Date] @[Folder] #[Tag]
  6. Want to quickly present your info? The presentation tool is a quick and easy way to present what is in an Evernote note. Once in presentation mode, look to the far right where you can change the “Presentation Settings”, adding horizontal lines to your note to create the likes of slides…
  7. Install browser add-ins. Most browsers have add-ins that you can download to make clipping notes to Evernote a piece of cake!
  8. iOS IFTTT applets. The “if [this occurs] then do this” applets for iPhone and iPad are also handy. This might include converting your Reminders to a note, saving Instagram photos or Tweets to Evernote, quickly appending to a to-do (or shopping) note, or copying new Evernote to Onenote

Posted by & filed under mosomelt.

Recently, I was privy to seeing what the Paramedic team have produced ( in terms of developing a 360 degree environment that then has “Hot Spots” added to link viewers to related material. Added with the loan of an LG 360 camera (, I was inspired to create something myself. This is what I came up with ( The idea is to provide students an introduction of a clinical environment. Within that space, they explore by viewing prompting questions, linking to videos, course documents and lectures, reflection log, and case scenarios.

The potential from here is to have role-play for sections of the environment, with the student required to gather information from the available resources in the simulated environment before entering the next. For example, picture a hockey field where the PHYSIOTHERAPIST is the first to the scene of a player who was knocked in the mouth by a wayward hockey ball and has a suspected concussion. The student would need to assess the patient, witnesses, may be deal with conflict of the coach who want the player to be quickly patched up and continue playing. After being guided through some videos, quizzes and other resources, the physio recommends for the patient to be taken to the hospital via PARAMEDIC. Enter new scene where there is handover of appropriate information at the sideline. The physio gets to “see” the 360 environment of the ambulance, as the paramedicine student continues with assessment, may be deal with an en-route seizure, before handing over to the NURSE.

While the initial set up of Seekbeak ( took some getting use to (and knowing to pass on the public link for the created environment rather than the working link…), if the linked resources are already available, is relatively easy to use.

Thinking cap on for the next teaching/ interprofessional environment…