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Exploring learner experiences in open cross-institutional and cross-boundary professional development courses in higher education


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Chrissi Nerantzi’s presentation of her #PhD research at the 5th GO-GN Seminar in Kraków, April 10th-11th, 2016.

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Exploring learner experiences in open cross-institutional and cross-boundary professional development courses in higher education

  1. 1. “I would probably find it quite hard if I had to do it in a foreign language” Exploring learner experiences in open cross-institutional and cross-boundary professional development courses in higher education, a Phd project work-in-progress 10 April 2016 Krakow Chrissi Nerantzi, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, @chrissinerantzi
  2. 2. Chrissi Nerantzi @chrissinerantzi, Academic Developer, CELT, MMU Glossop where I liveManchester where I work My favourite place on earth I still LOVE ice cream My boysWhat recipe? Playful
  3. 3. Overview 1. Context 2. Research questions 3. Methodology 4. Progress 5. First findings (surveys + phenomenographic analysis)
  4. 4. Context • Open practice • Informal cross-institutional provision • Academic development • Collaborative learning • How open collaborative learning is experienced in these settings
  5. 5. • Decentralised CPD with other institutions and linking to and sector- wide activities (King, 2004; Bamber, 2009; Crawford, 2009) • Working together! To embrace open practices based on collaboration (The Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2008) • Collaborate to compete (HEFCE, 2011) • Freeing education, cross-institutional collaboration (Nerantzi, 2011) • Join-up, open-up (European Commission, 2013) • Cross-institutional development (Smyth et al., 2013) • Break out of institutional silos (Cochrane et al. 2014) • Connecting universities, future models of HE (British Council, 2015) • Cross-institutional consortia (NMC HE Edition, 2015) open-up & join-up Cross-institutionalcollaboration
  6. 6. Research questions Expected Contribution to knowledge RQ1: How are open cross-institutional academic development courses experienced that have been designed to provide opportunities for collaborative learning? RQ2: Which characteristics of open cross- institutional academic development courses influence learners' experience and how? RQ3: Drawing upon research findings from research questions 1 and 2, what are the key features of a collaborative design framework for open online cross- institutional academic development provision? Recommendations and guidance on how collaborative learning can work in open online cross-institutional academic development contexts. Outcome linked to RQ1. Refinement of explanations of pedagogical models and frameworks used in open courses in the context of cross-institutional collaborative learning linked to academic development. Outcome linked to RQ2. Development of a collaborative learning framework and guidance on how this could be used, adapted and implemented in cross- institutional academic development provision. Outcome linked to RQ3.
  7. 7. Phenomenography (Marton, 1981) uncovering variations of conceptions of the collective experience as they are described Method: Semi-structured interviews (Fontana & Frey, 1994) Purposeful sampling often used in phenomenography to maximise ‘information- rich cases’ relevant to research (Patton, 2002) Sampling strategy: Collective case study approach (Stake, 1995) Methodology
  8. 8. Phenomenology Phenomenography concerned with the lived experience and the relations of the individuals and their world using subjective lenses through interpretation (Richardson, 1999) exploring the lived experience of individuals and focuses on understanding how it is to be in that experience and understanding the experience itself (Hesse-Biber & Leavy, 2011) gaining insights into the variation of qualitatively different ways individuals live and experience specific phenomena and how experiences are perceived, reflected upon and described collectively (Marton, 1981; Marton & Booth, 1997). Webb (1996, 87) Provides a ‘first order’ perspective’ focusing on the experiences (Marton, 1981, 171) provides a ‘second order’ perspective which focuses on the descriptions of individuals’ experiences (Marton, 1981, 171) Phenomenology as a philosophy provided theoretical grounding to phenomenography (Larsson & Holström, 2007) methodologies
  9. 9. Case 1 132 Informal collaborating institutions Open Education Europa Teacher Contest Finalist 2015 @BYOD4L @OpenNetLearn @FOS4L
  10. 10. Case 2 Informal collaborating institutions & partners Creativity for Learning in HE by Chrissi Nerantzi for CELT, MMU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Open Education Europa Teacher Contest Finalist 2015 Shortlisted for Credo Digital Award for Information Literacy 2016, highly commended Offered also during OEW16 #creativeHE to be offered then again!
  11. 11. Commonalities of cases FDOL pilot (FDOL131) University of Salford and Karolinska Institutet Case 1: FDOL132 University of Salford, Karolinska Institutet and Manchester Metropolitan University Case 2: CreativeHE Manchester Metropolitan University, London Metropolitan University, University of Macedonia, Creative Academic and Lifewide Education networks Cases  Based on academic development courses linked to existing institutional module at postgraduate level in at least one higher education institution  Cross-institutional participation of colleagues from at least two higher education institutions  Collaborative learning as choice  Development using freely available social media platforms  Openly licensed courses using a creative commons licence  Developed or co- developed by researcher  Facilitated by a small group of distributed facilitators 10 12 8 Duration in weeks Feb – May 2013 Sep – Dec 2013 Sep – Nov 2015 Dates Optional, in small groups using PBL with peripheral and core participation Optional, in small groups using PBL Optional, in small groups or pairs using a variety of pedagogical approaches agreed with learners Collaborative design features Collaborative: University of Salford and Karolinska Institutet Collaborative: University of Salford and Karolinska Institutet Manchester Metropolitan University Development Certificate of participation Open badges for participation Recognition for open learners n/a At the University of Salford: approved Flexible, Distance and Online learning module at postgraduate level as part of the PgCert in Academic Practice. At Karolinska Institutet: Part of study towards the accredited development courses 2-weeks or 5-weeks. At Manchester Metropolitan University: Part of the Creativity for Learning module, option to also use work towards FLEX 15 or FLEX 30 modules. All three are part of the MA in Higher Education. University of Macedonia: part of MA in Lifelong Learning Formal study option n/a n/a London Metropolitan University: part of Take5 initiative. Study linked to further local engagement opportunities
  12. 12. Progress so far… • Fieldwork completed • Abstract, Prologue, Acknowledgement, Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4 drafts edited • Survey findings completed • Phenomenographic analysis, outcome space still to create • Writing up findings
  13. 13. Research design Case 1 FDOL132 (2013) (n=19) Case 2 #creativeHE (2015) (n=14) Initial survey, 19 Qs (n=25) Final survey, 11 Qs (n=22) Individual phenomenographic interviews (n=22) Pool 1 Organisaton 4 categories of description Pool 2 Collaboration 3 categories of description Pool 3 Cross-Boundaries 4 categories of description Outcome space – to create Collaborative learning framework – to create Phenomenography(Marton,1981)
  14. 14. All data collected December 2015 Details Case 1 FDOL132 Case 2 #creativeHE Case 1 + Case 2 Expression of interest 20 28 48 Completed consent form, participants in study 19 14 33 Completed initial survey 17 8 25 Completed final survey 11 11 22 Interviews 11 11 22
  15. 15. Some of the findings so far…
  16. 16. Frequency (n=23) % ISQ 15: In which country do you live? UK 13 57 Sweden 6 26 Canada 2 9 Norway 1 4 Uganda 1 4 ISQ 18: What is your highest qualification? Doctoral qualification 10 40 Masters qualification 11 44 Undergraduate qualification 2 8 Other 2 8 ISQ 2: Please indicate your employment status Full-time 20 80 Part-time 4 16 Voluntary 1 4 ISQ 3: Please indicate your employment sector Higher Education 22 88 Public Sector 2 8 Further Education 1 4 survey data: demographics
  17. 17. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 independent study [ISQ 12] being supported by other learners [ISQ 12] being supported by a tutor/facilitator [ISQ 12] participating in a structured course [ISQ 12] using media-rich resources (video, audio, animation etc.) [ISQ 12] participating in group tasks/group projects [ISQ 12] feedback on work [ISQ 4] informal recognition for study (certificate) [ISQ 4] study towards a qualification/academic credits [ISQ 4] Participate in a specific course unit/topic only [ISQ 5] Combining ISQ 4, ISQ 5 and ISQ 12 (%, n=22) responses and FSQ 6 (%, n=22) indicating how effective/valuable the below activities are for learning (FDOL132 & #creativeHE) Final survey (FSQ 6) % (n=22) Initial survey (ISQ 4, ISQ 5, ISQ 12) % (n=25) survey data
  18. 18. An opportunity to reflect on the course via an open question FSQ10: Is there anything else you would like to share about the course? (FDOL132 & #creativeHE, n=15) Positive comments – course level Challenges – course level - Enjoyment - Learning - Individuals from different backgrounds and cultures - Students and educators learning together - Opportunity to link course to own practice - Give something back to the community - Raised self-awareness - Initial challenges with the technology - Time issues - The need of course learning outcomes was challenged Positive comments - group level Challenges – group level - Potential increase in motivation and engagement recognised - Value of synchronous communication and collaboration - Synchronous communication and related time constraints - Cross-cultural challenges experienced - PBL approach seen as too complex - Lack of clarity about participants working towards credits and related confusion survey data
  19. 19. Countries of residence of participants FDOL132 & #creativeHE (n=22, interviews only) 13 4 3 1 1 male 50% female 50% Gender of interviewees (FDOL132 & creativeHE) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 academic developer lecturer learning technologist librarian postgraduate student retired consultant Interviewees' occupations (FDOL132 & creativeHE) Data linked to Interviews
  20. 20. Phenomenographic analysis “We cannot specify exact techniques for phenomenographic research. It takes some discovery to find out the qualitatively different ways in which people experience or conceptualise a specific phenomenon.” (Marton 1986, 42) “creating methods adapted to the objects” (Svensson, 1997, 162) “Phenomenography doesn’t have a ‘template’ of methodological procedures; instead it operates under a set of guidelines.” (Irvin, 2005, 106) Conceptions commonly appear in fragments. These need to be synthesised as a whole (Marton et al., 2003) to create distinct categories of description and the final outcome space (Marton, 1981).
  21. 21. Cross-boundary learning through modes of participation … as a blurred formal and informal learning experience … as a valued informal learning experience … as an assessment challenge for formal participation … as an opportunity to explore recognition for learning Cross-boundary learning through time and place … as a continuum … as an interruption Cross-boundary learning through culture and language … as inclusion … as exclusion Cross-boundary learning through mixed professional contexts … as fertiliser … as discomfort POOL3:Cross-Boundaries
  22. 22. Cross-boundary learning through culture and language … as inclusion “I like the basic concept of the course. I like the fact that I was collaborating with participants not only professional backgrounds, but linguistic background, cultural background educational background. […] We had to remember again our English. Not only in a written dimension, but in an oral one too. Something that was totally challenging. And, of course, the rest of our participants who were heroes to hear us, they supported us and never made any statement or insult, for example. They were really encouraging and supportive. In that way they were trying to, I think, they were trying to set up ‘we’re not here to judge you about the fact that maybe you, make errors or you mix perhaps some words and I don't know what else, but we’re here to share our thoughts, opinions, ideas’. And, of course, there was an image that was shared in the community that was ‘never judge a person who doesn’t speak your language. He just knows another one’. So this motto was, was present in the, in the community. No one never said anything about errors or syntax, syntactical or grammatical errors.” C1 “We were from two different countries in my group. And that was, I think that was more attractive for me rather than different institutions. I mean if everybody was from UK, maybe because I think, or I feel that I know the UK system and how it works, maybe it wouldn't have made any difference. I see how things are working in different countries, because maybe we are taking things for granted. Maybe I think that everybody's doing e-learning in a certain way, for example. And then I realise that they are doing it differently or they're not doing it or, you know? So from that point of view it was good. […] I think that I felt good of contributing with my experience to what they're doing. So when, they ask something, and I saw that it can work in a certain way because we have done it here in UK I could tell them what we have done and then they can experiment. So from that point of view it felt good, of sharing information.” F7 “We were more people at the beginning in the PBL group which can be difficult to handle. But I think the Google hangout works better than Adobe Connect when you are like 6, 7, 8 people in a discussion. But then we were more like 3, 2, 5 people and of course it is smaller group, it is easier to feel safe, to feel connected with the people there and in the end we really were 3 Swedish people left so we could speak in Swedish. And that of course is our native language, that made it perhaps easier to communicate. We were writing in English and talking in Swedish. It would have been bizzar if we were talking English to each other. But perhaps, I mean if there was a fourth person there, sometimes the facilitator was participating and our discussions were in English.” F6
  23. 23. Cross-boundary learning through culture and language … as exclusion “I find it useful to learn from other people's experiences. The international nature. I think it's useful, I think it was, it was useful to share those experiences, um, but I think sometimes the language barrier, like there was a lack of confidence from some members of the group, which was fine in some aspects, um, but meant that in discussions it felt like the UK people tended to take over. Not because they, you know, they wanted to, but I always got the impression it was, like a lack of confidence, and, to be honest I would probably find it quite hard if I had to do it in a foreign language and keep up with the following a conversation, to be able to do that.” F2 “I felt a little bit anxiety, because I have 1 year, 2 years my English I can understand very well but I don’t use it. I had a long time to use my English. So the language it was problem for me. But I find it a challenge to make it better. […]I didn't feel the confidence about my writing skills. So I read it [the information] and I read it again. I couldn’t manage the time. I couldn’t realise how many hours I could use for a specific section because, I was trying to read and read again my texts. And I lost, I was losing a lot of time during this process. […] I didn’t participate in a group, because I didn’t feel confident about the language and I felt a little bit, I felt the pressure I didn’t-, I wanted to have a little time to adjust in the community and it was in the last week I feel more confident to communicate, to react with others. But it was the last week.” C10
  24. 24. 7 April 2016 Pool of Meanings
  25. 25. Open learning as a collaborative design … empowering … enabling … constraining Open learning as a facilitated experience … facilitative and supportive … lacking direction and instruction … controlling Open learning as course planning … organisation aided participation … organisation was challenging for participation Open learning as resource- and activity-based … helpful … challenging POOL1:Organisation
  26. 26. Collaboration as engagement in learning … immersive … dipping in Collaboration as shared product creation … satisfaction with group product … dissatisfaction with group product Collaboration as social interaction … valuing each others’ presence … missing each other’s presence … disapproving of others’ actions or behaviour POOL1:Organisation
  27. 27. Research design Case 1 FDOL132 (2013) (n=19) Case 2 #creativeHE (2015) (n=14) Initial survey, 19 Qs (n=25) Final survey, 11 Qs (n=22) Individual phenomenographic interviews (n=22) Pool 1 Organisaton 4 categories of description Pool 2 Collaboration 3 categories of description Pool 3 Cross-Boundaries 4 categories of description Outcome space – to create Collaborative learning framework – to create Phenomenography(Marton,1981)
  28. 28. What next? • Develop the outcome space, finish Findings chapter • Write up Discussion and create Design Framework • Conclusions • Get the first draft ready by the end of August Key messages so far • These two cross-institutional open academic development courses (FDOL132, #creativeHE) were valuable development opportunities. • Supported collaborative learning in these courses seems to have made a difference to engagement, motivation and learning. • Choice is vital and expected! • Learning in these open courses did foster cross-boundary learning and this seems to have been of value to the participants.
  29. 29. Is this the answer?
  30. 30. Please share your comments & observations
  31. 31. References Bamber, V. (2009) Framing Development: Concepts, Factors and Challenges in CPD Frameworks for Academics, in: Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Vol. 4, No. 1, April 2009, pp. 4-25. British Council (2015) Connecting Universities: Future models of higher education. Analysing innovative models for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka An Economist Intelligence Unit report produced for the British Council, January 2015, available at Cape Town Meeting Participants (2008) “The Cape Town Open Education Declaration,” online], available from: Cochrane, T., Antonczak, L., Keegan, H. & Narayan, V. (2014) Riding the wave of BYOD: developing a framework for creative pedagogies, in: Research in Learning Technology, Vol. 22, 2014, pp. 1-14. Crawford, K. (2009) Continuing Professional Development in Higher Education: Voices from Below, EdD thesis, University of Lincoln, available at Ed%28D%29Thesis-CPDinHE-FINAL%28Sept09%29.pdf European Commission (2015) Draft 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET2020). New priorities for European cooperation in education and training, Brussels: European Commission, available at European Commission (2013) High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education. Report to the European Commission on Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions, European Union, available at Fontana, A. & Frey, JH. (1994). "Interviewing the art of science" in NK Denzin and YS Lincoln (eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research, pp. 361-376. HEFCE (2011) Collaborate to compete – Seizing the opportunity of online learning for UK higher education. available at: King, H. (2004) Continuing Professional Development in Higher Education: what do academics do?, in: Educational Developments, Issue 5.4, Dec. 2004, pp. 1-5, available at Marton, F. (1981) Phenomenography – describing conceptions of the world around us, Instructional Science, 10, pp. 177-200. Nerantzi, C. (2011) Freeing education within and beyond academic development. In: Greener, S. and Rospigliosi, A. Proceedings of the 10th European Conference on e-Learning, Brighton Business School, University of Brighton, 10-11 November, pp. 558-566, Academic Conferences International. NMC Higher Education Edition (2015), available at Patton, M. Q. (2002) Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.), Thousand Oaks: California: Sage. Smyth, K., Vlachopoulos, P., Walker, D., Wheeler, A. (2013). Cross-Institutional development of an online open course for educators: confronting current challenges and imagining future possibilities. In Carter, H, Gosper M. and Hedberg, J. (eds.), Electric Dreams. Proceedings ascilite 2013 Sydney. (pp.826-829) Stake, R. E. (1995) The Art of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage. The Scottish Open Declaration (2015), available at The Wales Open Education Declaration of Intend (2013), available at
  32. 32. “I would probably find it quite hard if I had to do it in a foreign language” Exploring learner experiences in open cross-institutional and cross-boundary professional development courses in higher education, a Phd project work-in-progress Chrissi Nerantzi, Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, @chrissinerantzi This trip was funded by