Open CPD, digital evidence and personal open boundaries#op

I really enjoyed Chrissi Nerantzi’s session at #oer15 “Nothing stops us now” on open, collaborative CPD”.  Having participated in the #BYOD4L open online course (developed by Chrissi and Sue Beckingham) initially as a participant and earlier this year as a facilitator and institutional partner,  I know first hand the power of collaborative development and sharing of practice. It really helps build confidence and an extended sense of community and participation.

The session made me reflect on my most recent CPD experience preparing a portfolio for my HEA application.  I haven’t shared much of this experience “openly”, which is quite unusual for me as I do try and share openly most of my professional “goingson”.  I want to use this post to explore and share why I think this has happened.

The main reason I haven’t openly shared my developing portfolio is probably down to fear and uncertainty.  It has taken quite a while for me to believe that my work was relevant to, and could be mapped to the UKPSF. That may sound a bit odd, and was partly down to my lack of understanding of the framework, and my misconceptions that you had to be a traditional lecturer/academic to apply.  With the support of my mentor Sam Ellis, I have been able to contexualise my professional experience and map it to the framework.

My portfolio consists of two case studies and a personal reflection. Each part requires supporting evidence. For me this is where my open practice and sharing really came into its own.  My blog is really my portfolio. If anything important/interesting happens I tend to document it there. So for my case studies I had “loads” of  digital evidence from blog posts (and comments on them)  to  papers to presentations that I could find easily and use. Most if not all are openly (with CC licences and everything) available.  This body of evidence and personal reflection helped me remember and contextualise my role in certain developments.  I can’t begin to explain how helpful that was when starting think about what areas I should base my case studies on. “Thank God I blogged” became a bit of a personal mantra.

One of my case studies is around Learning Analytics and I broke my involvement into 3 categories and had great fun developing a time line for one of my case studies. It may have been a slight distraction from writing . . . but it did clearly show how much “digital” evidence I could quickly draw upon.

time line screen shot

Developing and sustaining reflective practice is challenging. I make the time to keep blogging and reflecting and doing that in an open way, it is a habit for me. I think that is why so many people don’t keep blogging. They just get out of the habit.

Blogging is  different to the established academic reflective practice of peer reviewed published work.  Personally I prefer a less formal approach. I find that it really helps when I have/want to do the “proper” stuff. Importantly I actually enjoy it. I know I’m not the best writer the world, or the most insightful but, dear reader, you seem to like it too so that keeps me going.

Which leads to my second reason for not sharing openly. This may sound even odder, but it’s almost too personal to share. Writing my case studies and reflection wasn’t like writing a blog post. I couldn’t be woolly, half baked, self deprecating. I had to reflect and represent my professionalism, my contributions, my worthiness. That has taken me to a personal open boundary. I am more comfortable with that piece of work only being available to the those who will  assess it (and me) and ultimately decided if it is worthy of gaining the professional reward.

I am still scared that I will fail, that I am not worthy of professional recognition. So it’s easier not to talk about it openly. If I fail, well only a handful of people will know. It’s another open paradox. Open professional development can indeed help build confidence but I, and I suspect many others, am still scared of open, professional failure when there is an externally validated award involved.

As I write this I am wondering if I should wait until I hear the outcome of my submission? I think not. Just writing this post has helped me to begin to overcome another personal, open boundary.

10 thoughts on “Open CPD, digital evidence and personal open boundaries#op

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post Sheila and I am glad I have started to follow you after watching/listening to your keynote at #OER15.
    Many people are doing fantastic and beneficial work within all areas of education/academia, and it takes confidence to place this into a domain where it is going to be judged and commented on. I feel your sense of fear and anxiety as I start my career in academia – is what I am doing acceptable? Does it have value? And, perhaps more important, what will others say? It is important that we have people who support and guide us (like your mentor Sam Ellis) and help us to see we are heading in the right direction.
    When teaching, I want learners to be aware that there is nothing wrong or bad about failing – it is what happens after this that is important. Being open about it supports not only our own ability to reflect but also encourages others to do so as well.
    I hope that you pass, but if you don’t, I hope the next blog post tells us how you reflected on this and moved forward to success – if we all succeed first time in everything where would the challenge be 

    • Thanks for the comment Ian and for following the blog. It’s been a fascinating experience for me and I think is just highlighting my own fears about my academic worthiness and the slightly unconventionial career path I have taken. Yes will share more when I find out sometime in June what the outcome is.

  2. Thanks, once again, for an honest and insightful post on the theme of openness, Sheila. You may need to publish a collection of these one day! Your reflections on the journey of an open practitioner are illuminating in so many ways, and for so many different audiences.

    The aspect of this post that really jumped out for me was the corollary to what we ask of our students. Those of us who are open educators may ask our student to create and share in open spaces — anything from comments and reflections to digital media creations of various types. If this work is assessed (i.e. judged) then — despite all we say and how much we encourage — there is a risk for students not just of criticism but of failure. For me, sensitivity to this potential dilemma helps immensely in planning and framing learning and assessment activities, and in discussing these with students. Very often this means uncoupling assessment from learning activities, or giving students choices re: openness while they develop their skills and confidence. Even for self-avowed open practitioners, opening ourselves to risk and judgement can be difficult. This self-awareness can deepen our understanding of openness and professional practice, and can make us better educators as well. Thank you, Sheila 🙂

    • Thank you Catherine, I just follow where you movers and shakers lead! Yes I agree with you about consideration of what we ask our students to do and the framing of assessment activities. I am realising more and more that I like being open when I am feel I am in control and setting my own limits. Luckily for me this is most of the time. In this CPD instance, I’m not. I working within a predefined framework that I don’t naturally fit into. My career to date is very light on actual teaching practice but everything I have done/do is around improving the learning and teaching process.

      • 🙂 Love that description, Sheila: “I like being open when I feel I am in control and setting my own limits.” Again, to the extent that we can help learners to develop that appreciation for context and autonomy, the better. There is great value in openness — but given the uneven distribution of power and control in the systems we work within, it shouldn’t be an imperative.

        Also, that quote is a pretty great justification for Reclaim Your Domain 😉

  3. I too found this a wonderful post to read and for me it has made me reflect upon how I might use my own blog to share my own experiences. I think that by through sharing our own vulnerabilities, there is the potential to let others know that they are not alone out there. Things may go wrong or are harder than expected – what did we learn from this? By sharing such experiences we could just help someone else.

    Good luck with your application. I have every faith in you!

  4. Hi Sheila,

    A very insightful post, that probably brings out thoughts we all have about our work and how we feel about it. You articulated it really well for all of us.

    Open is also being brave, as we share our perhaps more unpolished-self and take risks, sometimes risks that are too big? This can be dangerous to and make us feel exposed… I am thinking more and more about these things…

    Sharing our work with just a few, is also openness. Openness doesn’t need to mean openness to the whole world. Or does it?

    You gave me some more things to think about, so thank you and all the best with your application. Please share the good news when they arrive,

    Thank you for mentioning the session. It was lovely that you were there.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend,

    Chrissi
    ps. You say: “Personally I prefer a less informal approach” do you mean you prefer a less formal approach? Wasn’t sure.

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