Using Lego Serious Play online – can it be done?

Many thanks to Suzanne Faulkner from University of Stathclyde who did an excellent online session with us today on Lego Serious play. What I really wanted to know is how could I use lego in an online environment? Is it possible?

After the an excellent introduction where Suzanne outlinned what Lego Serious Play is and how it could be used we moved onto some tasks that she set for us. Previously she had sent us some packs of lego in the post  and we used these in our set tasks:

Our first task was to make a dog with 6 bricks which I just about manged to do – even though it did look like a sausage dog (see above)! I then showed it to everyone in the session using the camera and saw everyone else’s efforts. The tasks got more complex as we then made a representation of our job and our expectations and challenges for the future:

Again I thought this worked really well – we were able to describe the models and metaphors we had built and this led to a great deal of discussion and interaction.

So given its success – could I do a similar session at work?  I think the answer is yes, it would work well for provoking discussion and reflection in webinars where lecturers are discussing the usefulness of the learning technologies they use. I think the main barrier would simply be getting the Lego pieces to them – it does seem a bit of a hassel setting up a system to do this. It might be easier if the participants supply their own (or beg, borrow and steal it from friends or family!). Anyway much ‘food for thought’ and I will need to think how I can use it in the future training sessions with staff.

Big thanks to Suzanne, Safia and Sandra for the webinar and here was my contribution to the session:


Using @Snapchat – Interview with Suzanne Faulkner


Here is a great interview with Suzanne Faulkner @SFaulknerPandO about her use of Snapchat. Suzanne is a Teaching Fellow in Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Stathclyde.

Is Academia worth paying for?


I have uploaded a couple a papers to Academia and received the following message:


Using the free version of this site it tells you how many cited papers mention my name (assuming there is only one Chris Rowell) but it looks like you have to pay a subscription to get more information. I was wondering if anyone out there uses the pay for subsciption and is it worth it?

#Panoptothon 2020


Thanks to everyone who came along to yesterday’s #Panoptothon.

Slides from the event:


Panoptothon 2020 session plan

Activity 1

Feedback from the session:

Q1. Which aspects of the workshop did you find particularly useful?

Finding out what other people are doing with Panopto.

Helpful to meet others and network. Good to see other examples.

Networking. Seeing others use the program and some of them are ones I can utilise.

Group discussion. Sharing ideas.

Cases presented by colleagues.

Sharing ideas from different areas.

Sharing ideas of future Panopto use.

I arrived late – talking to colleagues, listening.

Q2. Where there any aspects of the workshop that you did not find helpful or that we should change?

None. All useful.

No all good.

Longer sessions on implementing the programs.

Would like to see more detailed demonstrations.

None all tof them were useful.


No – met the need and expectation.

New to Panopto – just finding my feet.

Q3. Is there anything we could include in a future workshop that was not covered in the session?

Perhaps links to how to use Panopto. Something we can read when we have questions.

More practical set up issues or perhaps demonstrations of aspects of Panopt others have been using. How others are using editing.

Combining Panopto with other technologies.

Maybe a session of 10 mins to show the software in case one has never seen it.

Demonstration. Technical issues. How to share ideas in Panopto (online?).

Other examples of how Panopto has been used in the university

A simple approach to Panopto. 1. Simple recording 2. Editing 3. Moving files something like that (eg BBC bitesize revision) These things may already be available! (I indicated I was new)

Q4. Any other comments?

Brilliant and extremely helpful session. Thank you!

Not yet but will think of more.

Like the idea of workshops/presentations of future work and would like to be included.

Open floor to people to present ideas if possible.

Thank you for organising it.



The benefits of Open Access publishing

Last July I finished editing and published a book called ‘Social Media in Higher Education’ – it was published by Open Book Publishing (OBP). Social Media is a ‘hot’ topic at the moment and there is plenty of discussion and research happening in this field so I was fairly confident there would be a readership for it in colleges and universities, both here in UK and around the world. I deliberately chose an open access publisher becasue I knew that they would make a free version of the book available to those who wanted it. OBP do a free PDF and HTML version of the book and make avaible via their website, Google Books and OAPEN (who make it available to most academic libraries). They also sell a paperback and hardback version of the book.

As you can see from the stats below its sold 14 copies of the hardback and 39 of the paperback in the the last five months, which has hopefully generated a little bit of income for the publishers. It been interesting to the the stats for the free download increasing over the the last few months. Online readership totals 2421 and total ebook downloads amount to 1167! These figures easily surpassed my expectations and really do show the benifits of open access publishing!

The other thing that did surprised me was the global readership of the book. As the book is written in english, the english speaking coutries have viewed the book the most but  there has been a very wide readership across several different continents:

Day 3 – Open Education Global conference 2019 #OEGlobal19

I was a bit worried about getting into the conference on time this morning as the local transport system is on strike today. However, I made it on time as the strike didn’t start until 9am – it does mean I will have to leave a bit early to be safe to catch my plane this evening. After Chrissy Nerantzi’s informal welcome to the day Paul Stacey said a few words about the Open Education Consortium. The big news is that they are changing their name to the Open Education Global with a new branding, logo and URL (

Day 3 1

The first keynote was titled ‘New Learning Pathways in an Open and Digital World – What might the education landscape look like in 2030? By Dominic Orr. The goals in higher education he wants to see is that learners gain new skills and competences, HE should be place to practice future social reform and the opportunities for creating new learning spaces should be harnessed to improve the accessibility and quality of education. Dominic’s vision is:

To ensure that all members of society participate in higher education at some point in their lifetime.

Therefore, there are things that need to change. New and collaborative learning spaces are emerging, especially in HE libraries. Student lives are changing – 51% of students are working and as students get older studying is only one part of their lives. The ‘ecological university’ (Ron Barnett) for the community moves us away from the research university.Digital technologies open up new spaces for learning.

The vision of everyone in society being able to access HE can only be realised through different pathways throughout their lives. Dominic talked about 4 different learning pathways through HE, which he called: 1. Tamgotchi (status quo) its ‘one block’ education – a closed ecosystem built around the students. The traditional system. 2. Jenga – building up towers. HE providers offer a foundation of knowledge which is extended by the learners through shorter study blocks later in their life. 3. Lego – the course of study is not completed as a compact long unit- but consists of individually combined units or modules. 4. Transformer – opening up education to all. These are students who have worked and then returned to HE. The final part of his talk was a brief description of how his organisation Kiron relates to these issues and how these different pathways can be moved into the mainstream of HE.

After the keynote I went to some interesting lightening talks; 1. The Troubling Prevalence of Apple’s Eye of Sauron at Open Education Meetings (a brief and provocative talk on the benefits of FLOSS free/libre/open-source software; gives agency, saves on costs, pronotes lieracy), 2. Embedding research in education via wiki (short demo on ‘Green knowledge network’ created by the Wagennigen University in Holland. The wiki was created on the Confluence platform. 3. The planet is (an open) school. Talk from the Karisma Foundation. It is based on a storytelling approach and using a low tech approach because only 50% have access to the internet. 4. From classroom to Consortium: Impacting Students with Open at different Levels of Magnitude. Lots of great examples of different assessment methods from the classroom and details about the Open Active Textbook project. 6. Back to the FutOER or about the open tribulations of a learning developer – reflective account of a Learning Developer from HE University in Holland who creates and supports MOOCs.

Day 3 2.jpg

7. New Case Studies of Openess: Empowering educators to share practice. Open book on case studies of educators talking about their practice published in 2013. It had a very practical orientation to promote open practice and resources. The book was updated with a new title ‘New case studies In and Beyond the Language classroom’. 8. The Library as OER publisher: supporting OER Creation on Campus. Pressbooks is the main platform they used, as this became so successful it did put pressure on levels of editing and copyright support, interactive content and maths content. I had quite a few conversations with delegates about the use of Pressbook at the conference over the last few days. Its been on my radar for sometime and this last example is something i need to do a little bit more research on and see if it could be of relevance to my own institution.

I couldn’t make the last keynote of the day so the last session so I went to Challenges and Solutions to Creating Accessible OER’s with AR, VR and MR, unfortuantly the speaker didnt turn up so I went next door and caught the tail end of Open Platforms for Open Education Resources. I think I missed Commons in a Box https// but did catch a brief description ‘Ethnographies of Work’ and the Preceedings on the Environmental Design Research Association (lots of great stuff on sustainable arts and activism).

Finally I’d just like to say a big thank you to the organisers of #OERGlobal19 and all the wonderfull delegates. Also to UCISA who gave me a bursary to attend the conference. Hope you all have a safe and easy journey home.

Arrivederci !

Day 2 – Open Education Global conference 2019 #OEGlobal19

Getting across Milan is very easy on public transport. It only took me 30 mins to get from Navigli in the south of the city to Bovisa train station in the north. Luckily most of the journey was under cover so I managed to avoid getting soaked by the rain! Day 2 started with opening address from Chrissy Nerantzi and Rosa Maiello and then there was a brief introduction to a new Math and Stats resources Next there was the opening keynote from Carassa Dadda on Advancing Science and Math Education Worldwide through OER: Lessons learned from PhET interactive simulations:  PhET website gives a good overview of their work: “Founded in 2002 by Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, the PhET Interactive Simulations project at the University of Colorado Boulder creates free interactive math and science simulations. PhET sims are based on extensive education research and engage students through an intuitive, game-like environment where students learn through exploration and discovery” The aim is to make STEM learning more interactive and interesting.

Day 2.1

The first presentation I went to was ‘What is Open Education? Part 1: Are MOOCs Open Educational Resources?’ (Christian M. Stracke) First gave a definition of OERs, then looked at OER typologies and frameworks (SAMR, ICAP,7Cs), then he looked at definitions of Massive, Online, Open Courses (MOOCs) – MOOCs are growing with 81m students 800+ universities. MOOCs and quality: drop out rates over 90% but they could still be considered successful because students just go and get what they want from the course straight away and do not return. A quality reference framework has been developed What is quality open education? Quality cannot be defined except for a specific location and specific aims and objectives of the course. Some conclusions – the reality is complex, MOOCS, from a resources point of view, are not always OERs whilst from a learning innovation perspective they can be and often are more than a MOOC.

After that I went to a short session on Open Education Resources for students by students: challenges and implications. The aim of this research project was to investigate the use of transmedia skills by current students at Manchester Metropolitan University. Some interesting research is taking place – students are watching videos, especially Instagram vloggers. Students were asked to do a mock presentation and then they get feedback from the tutor. Day 2.2Then the students summarise the presentation and create a short video using Creative Commons licences for the images. The first challenge is to understand the digital literacy skills of the student, like recording the screen. Secondly, to create participatory learning environments. Thirdly, to embed this into other modules on the course. Future plans are to expand the number of students creating these videos. Finally the presenter summed up the project with the following sentence: ‘It’s a lot of work but the students are learning more’!

After lunch I went to check out the Poster presentations. Here are two of the posters:


I especially like the poster entitled ‘Sharing the end of the World’ – this is a course at the University of Massachusetts where the tutor asked their students to create a podcast based on end of the world scenarios.  Here is the link to the students podcasts; sound interesting!

After the poster diplays I headed to the action lab on Decentralising education using Bockchain was led by Alexander Mikroyannidis from the Open University. This is ‘hot’ topic at the moment so it led to a lively discussion. We were asked to develop personas and describe how blockchain technology could affect these  personas so the discussion focused around the potential for developing long term records of qualifications, skills and experience that would be useful for employers, students and universities. Alexander is working on a prototype blockchain with several universities at the moment – it will be interesting to see the results of this experimentation into the the prototype version whwn they are revealed.

I next went to Martin Dougiamas’ talk on ‘Building an open education technology platform for the next 100 years’. He started with the values of Moodle and how to make it most efficient as a learning platform (using things like plugins), also he descibed the development of MoodleNet – a platform for Moodle developers and educators. Finally, he outlined the Moodle Education Certification Programe – which are 22 courses that teach skills in Moodle.

He argues that we are now living in a complex and dangerous world with lots of scary things happening, Shrinking world, More data (real and fake), More AI, More corporate influences over news, crazier government behaviour, Issues too complex for anyone to understand, 8-10 billion people struggling to make sense of the world. These are masive global issues that humanity has to resolve or we are going to face a desperate future. For Martin, one solution to these problems is a high quality education:

Day 2 2.5

He unpacked some of these issues in the short period of time that he had but it was good to see he did not start explicitly with the technology. The concepts he outlined in the slide above are civic values that will require new ways of doing things – and maybe that’s what universities should be trying to do! The last part of his talk quickly moved on to the Open EdTech Guiding Principles as a way forward to building the future online learning environment and his last slide should the different ways to keep in touch with these developments:

Day2 2.6

The final Keynote presentation of the day was given by Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams entitled ‘The Warp & Weft of Open Education & Social Justice’. Cheryl used the metaphor of the Warp and Weft to understand the relationship between open Ed and social justice in which Warp threads keep the structure and Weft threads make the pattern. The two interrelated to create the Weave like the traditional Shweshwe cloth (the African denim). This was brought by the European settlers to South Africa.

Using Nancy Fraser’s definition of social justice Cheryl argued we need 1. economic equity; 2. cultural diversity.; 3. Politically who has the decision-making power? Open education is looking for these 3 things – these were encapsulated in the Cape Town Open Education declaration. Open education needs to ‘weave’ the economics, cultural and political elements of justice together in the resources and practices it produces:

Day 22.6.jpg


So that was the end of my Day 2 – the Gala Conference Dinner is tonight for the lucky few so I’m off to explore a bit of my local neighbourhood Navigli tonight!






Day 1 – Open Education Global conference 2019 #OEGlobal19


I am lucky enough to be attending  the Open Education Global Conference 2019. After a short journey across Milan I arrived nice and early at the Politecnico di Milano:

9   8   7.jpg Day 1 1 1

I was generously given a bursary by UCISA to attend the conference and as the conference website says, the theme, Open Education for an Open Future, aims to “emphasize opportunities offered by Open Education as a means to empowerment and to increase accessibility and quality of educational opportunities for all”. The first thing that struck me was the number of students on campus! It was great to see the ‘hustle and bustle’ of students on campus for a change. Normally the conferences I attend are usually on a university campus but not usually during term time.

The first keynote was entitled: Students: Storytellers and Creators of Their Own Open Futures. It was great to see the conference open with the students voice – three students from three countries (USA, Germany and Italy) and different backgrounds , Computing, Literature and History. They talked about the many ‘small steps’ they were using to promote and share open education (OE) and the importance of having role models promoting OE – I especially like the quote one of the students used, “If students see themselves reflected in the materials they are using, they will care about the materials they are using. With open you can make that change.” – student and @canyons #OER leader Trudi Radtke. She also stressed the Importance of CC licence. The session also had time for a couple of questions including this one, What would be your one wish that could be granted from your university? And the overriding response from the them was ‘trust the students’…such a good point to end the session on.

Next I went to a short poster presentation on he Quality Reference Framework for the Qulaity of MOOCs:

Capture 23

I really enjoyed Rob Farrow and Markus Diemann’s  presentation on  ‘Philosophical thinking of openness: the ground below us, the stars above: Exploring philosophical approaches to Open education’. Markus started with some general statements about some contemporary issues like, Education is Broken, Can technology fix the problem?, What is the value system of education? What is the philosophy of education? The art of teaching Vs teaching as a duty. Next Rob introduced some philosophical provocations. Rob gave a brief historical background. Open education has several strands of social justice such as, improving access, decolonising the curriculum or increasing access. One of criticisms of open education projects and social justice is that we do not often recognise the tensions between the two. To tease out some of these tension Rob introduced 4 provoacations:

  • Provocation 1. Does open education have a philosophy?
  • Provocation 2 Is social justice a necessary element of open education
  • Provocation 3. How can groups that were traditionally excluded from the conversation be included
  • Provocation 4. How important is ethics for open education? Are people doing ethical work in education.

Given the limited time the answers from the audience were very brief but there was some consensus that open education had some common philosophical roots base on social justice, even if this was not know by practitioners when they were doing it

After the afternoon’s coffee break I went to a session  Decentralising education using Blockchain technology. Obviously Blockchain is a hot topic in HE at the moment and we really don’t know if this is going to be the future or not! But that doesn’t stop people spectulating about it. I suppose it depends whether or not it becomes a reliable and authentic place where students can build a portfolio of their qualifications and experience. I do remain a bit sceptical about this but it is definately an area to watch!

The final presentation was from Dublin City University who were granted University of of Santuary status in 2016. It was an inspiring presentiation based on interviews of asylum students describing the ‘dual world’ they were living in and trying to find out what they could do to help and empower these students – a really inspirational note to finish day one of the conference!

capture 24

Call for Chapter Proposals: Critical Digital Pedagogy


Peach Colorful Icon Abstract Logo (1)

Call for Chapter Proposals: Critical Digital Pedagogy – Broadening Horizons, Bridging Theory and Practice.

Edited by Suzan Koseoglu, George Veletsianos, Chris Rowell

We are excited to announce the call for proposals for an edited collection on the intersection of critical pedagogy and digital technologies in post-secondary and higher education contexts. Although there has been growing interest in critical digital pedagogy, scholarly literature in this area is scarce, fragmented, and lacks a diversity of voices. In addition, there is a dearth of examples showing how the philosophy of critical pedagogy is applied in practice in today’s increasingly digital and expansive higher education systems. This gap raises significant concerns because it makes it difficult for instructors, faculty trainers, instructional designers, administrators, and policymakers to transfer critical theory to practice and policy, and engage with critical digital pedagogy as an emerging and intersectional practice. To address this gap, we invite case studies and reflections that demonstrate how critical pedagogy is enacted in digital learning contexts (i.e., open, online, blended, etc.). Due to the interdisciplinary and practical nature of the edited book, we welcome contributions from scholars in a broad range of fields and from different backgrounds.

Planned publication online and in paper format by Athabasca University Press as a Gold Open Access publication.

Target Audience
The edited collection is aimed for instructors, faculty trainers, instructional designers, administrators, policymakers and students who wish to better understand how critical pedagogy is applied in different digital learning contexts and across different disciplines. As such, submissions should be accessible to a broad range of readers.

Scope and Recommended Topics
Critical pedagogy is the central theme in the edited book and all submissions should clearly contribute to the theme. We encourage submissions that demonstrate “failures” as well as successes, while taking a critical look into the approach itself.
Related topics include but are not limited to: decolonization, diversity, equality, equity, inclusion, indigenization, targeted pedagogical approaches such as feminist- and anti-racist pedagogy, a critical look into the use of technology for learner empowerment and agency, the use of critical pedagogy in open and networked spaces.

We invite submissions which explore critical digital pedagogy in context through case studies and/or reflective accounts of practice. Language and style should be accessible to a broad range of readers. To ensure consistency between the book chapters, all proposals should address the following in their submissions: (i) how critical pedagogy is enacted in practice, (ii) the role of digital technologies in this practice, and (iii) lessons learned/implications. Final submissions should be between 3500-4000 words including references. Further guidelines will be provided with notifications of acceptance.

Important Dates
1 December 2019: Proposal submission deadline (one page)
1 January 2020: Notification of acceptance (chapter guidelines will be provided)
1 April 2020: Full chapter submission (3500-4500 words including references)
15 June 2020: Reviews (authors will be invited to review other contributions)
1 August 2020: Revisions due from authors
September 2020: Editing and submission to Athabasca University Press.

Proposals should be submitted to the editors via email ( For further enquiries, please feel free to contact any of the editors.

Information on Athabasca University Press
The final manuscript will be submitted to the Distance Education series at Athabasca University Press. Books in this series offer informative and accessible overviews, research results, discussions and explorations of current issues, technologies and services used in distance education. It’s current focus is on digital learning and education, with each volume examining critical issues, emerging trends, and historical perspectives in the field. The series is targeted at a wide group of readers that study and practice digital and online learning.

Book published under this Distance Education series are available at Athabasca University Press 

Here’s a useful link on What is Critical Digital Pedagogy and Why does Highe Education need it?

Quizslides – overview


Short video interview with Martin Bush and Lucia Otoyo about Quizslides:

For more information check out Quizslides website.