Sunday, 17 September 2017

From Tsundoku to #PhDshelfie: An ongoing story

Pile of Books

Over the summer I had a number of conversations on Twitter with Sue Watling about books, PhDs, technology enhanced learning and the chasm which we still refer to as the digital divide. Twitter is my go to learning space and has become so as I have built a valued network of educators who also use this space to share their work and that of others. This leads to fascinating discussions. More often it opens my eyes to new concepts. I read a lot of things I may never have come across. I use the dictionary frequently. I realise the more I learn, the more there is to learn. At times it can feel intimidating when I don't understand new things BUT never for long as there is always someone I can go to to ask questions or at the very least be signposted to further reading that makes a topic more understandable. 

This post is in reply to Sue and other scholars who were sharing blog posts about their PhD book shelves and tweeting a link along with the hashtag #PhDshelfie. Sue invited me to contribute knowing I was in the process of starting my PhD journey. Do search for this hashtag as there are many valuable stories to read.

My study

I love books and love to buy second hand ones as well as new. The academic ones are stored in my study. (My girls have grown up and left home now so I have a study all to myself - luxury!). This has a wide bookshelf and two bookcases. They are all full. Having undertaken two Master's degrees and a PgCert in Learning and Teaching in Education, plus a a variety of projects over the years, I've accumulated quite a collection. Now embarking on a PhD, new books are being added, and those already on the shelves are being pulled out and added to a growing pile to delve into. 

I organise my books in 'collections' rather than a Dewey like system by author. These groupings have formed based on my teaching and research interests and include topics such as:
  • technology enhanced learning
  • open learning
  • creative learning 
  • scholarship of learning
  • research methods and study skills
  • communication and media 
  • networking and social network analysis
  • social media in business
  • social media and online presence 
  • social media in higher education

My book shelves are also scattered with mementos and photos of family and friends. One of my newest and most treasured is this hand crafted Twitter bird which my dear friend Chrissi Nerantzi gave me.  

As I start a new project (be this a course or some research) I tend to pull the books off the shelf and create piles. Once the project is finished I find them a place back on the shelf. Below is one of my newer piles of books I'm delving into. These of course compliment a raft of journal papers and blog posts accessed online. My #PhDshelfie is therefore in its infancy. It will evolve the more I read. Not captured will be a dictionary as I explore new words and concepts and try and make sense of them.   


My Summer Twitter links and conversations also led me to a book called Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders. In the book she captures a collection of words and beautifully illustrates these along with an interpretation of their meaning. One particular word that caught my eye in this was the Japenese word Tsundoku. This is described as:
"A book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books"
It made me reflect on the books I buy as their journey to the bookshelf often takes a while. A new purchase may be read straight away, but to be honest this is the exception rather than the rule. I tend to identify a useful book cited by a writer and want to read more in the context of that quote. In the midst of a project the remainder of the book is likely to go unread. This book and others (both bought and borrowed) will become an ever growing pile. 

However from my 'tsundoku' collections (as there may be many) I can already see scope for future #PhDshelfie posts as I gather books to address different aspects of my PhD experience and the research I intend to undertake. It will be interesting to document how this evolves. 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Celebrating innovative scholarship through social media #ESLTIS17

In July I presented at the Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship Conference which was hosted by the University of Sheffield and organised by Dr Sam Nolan and team. 


The focus of my paper considers the increasing relevance of digital and social scholarship, and why this should be encouraged. Teaching focused academics who practice the scholarship of teaching, share reflective practice in order to enhance the teaching and learning of others. Traditionally this may be shared through publications and conference presentations. However, digital technology and social media has the potential to extend the reach of these outputs enabling the dissemination of an individual's work to reach a much wider audience. 

Open reflective practice through social media allows scholars to make their work more visible, findable and easily shared. Whilst the ripple effect may be far reaching, in order to enhance learning it is important to also provide forums for discussion and question asking, inquiry and investigation, which are subjected to critical evaluation. Engagement in this scholarly process can encourage innovation and changes in practice that span different disciplines and geographical locations. 

The very nature of social media as an open space also serves to celebrate teaching excellence – both the scholarship and practice – in a variety of formats.

Digital Scholarship

Drawing upon Smith Rumsey's work I shared this quote to define digital scholarship and gave examples of esteemed colleagues and Digital Scholars Catherine Cronin and Laura Pasquini. Both utilise a variety of social media to share their work openly. For example through blogging, Twitter, SlideShare, YouTube, Google+, and ResearchGate. 

We are seeing a shift away from disseminating scholarly work via mass 'all staff' emails to open blogging where it can be tagged and searched by topic. A ripple effect ensues as it can easily be shared through automated dissemination via Twitter and other social media channels, and also by those who read the posts. 

From my own personal perspective I value the opportunity to learn from other academics. Those that share their scholarly activity and the work of others though social media help me find this work. Often serendipity comes to lay and I come across fascinating work that I would have not found otherwise, simply because I wouldn't have been looking for it. I've extended my informal learning through digital scholars from a wide range of disciplines in this way. In turn I share my own work through social media and hope this is helpful to others. I give my work a Creative Commons licence so that other educators can use it as they wish to. 

Celebrating innovative scholarship through social media #ESLTIS17 from Sue Beckingham


To raise the profile of teaching only academics in the research intensive climate, it is vital to shine a spotlight on the innovative learning and teaching they undertake. The best way to achieve this is through the promotion of the innovative scholarship of learning and teaching being driven by this subset of the academic community. This third meeting of a national teaching fellow network is therefore a forum to share innovative scholarship across disciplinary boundaries and to develop a national voice for teaching focussed academics.

The programme of abstracts can be found here.

Dr Luisa Wakeling has written a great post about the conference

The associated journal is Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (PESTLHE)

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Social Media for Academic Studies (SMASH)

SMASH logo created by the students

In December 2016 four of my IT with Business Studies students from Sheffield Hallam University attended the SocMedHE16 conference at Sheffield Hallam University (having individually applied for one of 10 free student places). The students are:
After attending this event I approached the students to see if they would be interested in taking these conversations forward. Under my guidance they formed a student-led group and met weekly. They named the group SMASH (Social Media for Academic Studies at Hallam) and created their own logo.

The focus of the group was to look at how social media could be used in enhance learning and teaching. They set out to achieve the following objectives in relation to social media use at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU):

  • Learning ActivitiesHelping staff to identify and use social media tools for communication and collaboration within and beyond the classroom.
  • Organising LearningHelping students and staff to identify and use relevant social media tools to curate and organise information relating to learning.
  • Showcasing LearningHelping students to prepare digital portfolios to openly share outcomes and projects to develop a professional online presence.

The students have created an infographic and written a guest blog post providing examples of how social media can be used to meet these three objectives. Below is a slideshow of the infographic. 

I have shared the students work through social media and was delighted to find that Eric Stoller mentioned it in his keynote at the University of Staffordshire's Learning and Teaching Conference #StaffsLT17. This was tweeted by Sarah Knight 

Eric also included a link to my student's blog post at the HEA Conference in his keynote there.

Aside from producing this work, my hopes were that the students would gain confidence through leading such a project and further develop the skills they have. The experience can be added to their LinkedIn profile and may provide an example to refer to as they undertake interviews for future graduate roles. I'm looking forward to seeing how this group will be taken forward by Corran. Sher has now graduated and both Jess and Ola are out on placement for the next academic year. She already has other students interested in joining her. 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Visiting Fellow at Edge Hill University

I was delighted to receive a letter from Edge Hill University to confirm that the Standing Professorial Conferment Panel of Edge Hill University has agreed to offer me the title of Visiting Fellow within the Centre for Learning and Teaching at the University.

This is is a wonderful opportunity to work with Professor Mark Schofield and others at the University. 

In addition I am looking forward to attending the SOLSTICE Conference as a guest speaker June 4-5 2017. 

My presentation is titled: The Project Based Learning (PjBL) Toolkit: Integrating digital and social media to enhance meaningful reflective practice in project based learning.

Projects may be carried out by both individuals and within groups. The outputs might include a report, presentation, poster, artefact or prototype (physical or digital). Project based learning is “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.” (BIE 2015).

When undertaking a project, seven distinct stages have been identified that the project owner(s) go through. These are: the question, plan, research, produce, improve, present and evaluate. At each stage students may engage in a variety of activities. This multifaceted form of learning presents opportunities to participate in authentic and meaningful problems and to develop a range of skills along the journey. Reflecting upon these experiences, can encourage students to reconstruct what they have learned, and go on to confidently articulate the skills they have developed (or have yet to develop), and how they can apply these in other situations. Learning how to self-reflect on these experiences and developing a habit of doing so, can have a profound impact on learning. However for some this does not come easily and is often undervalued.

In my talk I will share the Project Based Learning (PjBL) Toolkit and how resources within this can be used to scaffold effective and meaningful multimedia reflective practice, develop confident communication skills and digital capabilities.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The LearningWheel: A Model of Digital Pedagogy

I was delighted to be invited by Deborah Kellsey and Amanda Taylor to write the Foreword for their book The LearningWheel: A Model of Digital Pedagogy. Having been a LearningWheel contributor on a number of occasions I was familiar with and a great admirer of Deborah's work (and have written about this previously).

The pair met through the inaugural Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference in December 2015 at Sheffield Hallam University. Deborah was there presenting a paper on the 'LearningWheel' and Amanda a paper on 'When Actual Met Virtual' which was about the use of book groups in Social Work education. A serendipitous mix-up in train journeys on their way home led to further conversations and the successful collaboration leading to this book. 


Given the influence of digital technologies on the world at large education and educators are yet again being forced to consider their educational practices.  Not all educators have been socialised professionally to use technologies and therefore knowledge gaps exist.  This book adds to emerging conversations about the use of technologies to support and indeed replace traditional teaching methodologies in a range of educational settings.  It offers an example of innovative approach ‘LearningWheel’ to bridge the aforementioned knowledge gap and provides an opportunity for readers to engage with technologies for teaching and learning purposes.

Beginning with an outline of how technologies are shaping the learning landscape more broadly each subsequent chapter takes on a layer of the LearningWheel and sets it in context from a theoretical position. An example wheel is included in each chapter, as are stop and pause questions to prompt educators to engage with the content in a very real sense.  By the end of the book, readers will have had the opportunity to connect with the LearningWheel (VCoP) in the development of a Learning Wheel unique to this book.


Denise Turner has written a review of the book in Social Work Education. Amanda alerted me to the mention of my Foreword contribution. A welcome addition to my 'happy file'.  


You can purchase a copy of the book from Critical Publishing here:

Thursday, 9 March 2017

International Women's Day #IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange #IWDSheff17

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. 

This year the theme for International Women's Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. I was invited to contribute a workshop to the event led by Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield with Kirsty Bowen. We'd never met before but hit it off straight away, both sharing a passion for using social media as a communication channel and a means of developing valued learning networks. 

Our workshop focused on using social media to create a professional online presence. Kirsty and I shared our own experiences and some good practice tips. The workshop element provided an opportunity for participants to explore a variety of social media tools and discuss how these can be used to connect, communicate, curate, collaborate and create. The session was delivered twice (as were the other options) so it was interesting to see the different questions that emerged. Feedback was positive via the post-it notes collected and demonstrated that staff development sessions like these are valued. Not just from what you can learn in a workshop, but the rich conversations that emerge as a result of bringing people together. 


At the event there were two truly inspiring keynote speakers. Both shared their career paths in an honest and open way. Unsurprisingly their progression took grit and resilience. Being a leader is with any doubts hard, and with the role comes the responsibility to make hard decisions. Hard because they involve people - and people matter, people's lives matter. 

I wish the keynotes had been recorded. I'd love to listen to them both again. Below are just a few quotes from both Natalie and Christina. 

Natalie Bennet - Former Leader of the Green Party

My favourite quote from Natalie was taken from the sash she brought with her, which said: 
"Well behaved women seldom make history"  

Professor Christina Hughes - Pro Vice Chancellor Student Experience at Sheffield Hallam University

Christina's advice to us all was:

"Be the brightest shade of you that you can possibly be" 

International Women's Day website

I recommend taking a look at the International Women's Day website and follow @womensday on Twitter to read about the many inspiring stories. 

The ethos is to work together to help forge a better working world - a more gender inclusive world. Consider how you might contribute. Suggestions made include challenge bias and inequality, campaign against violence, forge women's advancement, celebrate women's achievements, and champion women's education. 

At my own university there were also events going for students and a rich collection of stories of inspiring women At the University of Sheffield take at look at 


Follow on Twitter @womensday #IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange

Make a pledge for parity

Note: Responses are captured by

Saturday, 4 March 2017

#EdTechRations Emergency Rations: What's so important we can't leave it at home?


Another wonderful opportunity to work with David Hopkins has resulted in contributing a chapter to his latest book. I just received my copy today!

My challenge along with the others who also wrote a piece was to write between 800-1200 words in response to this: 

"What is the technology you find yourself turning around and going home for if you forget it. What can't you leave at home or work, what do you feel naked without? (in your bag, in your pocket, wearable, etc.)? What connects your personal and professional lives to the extent you need to alter your plans to return back to the office to 'rescue'? It would be fantastic to hear your experiences and thoughts on this."
The response to the call was amazing and I feel proud to have had my chapter accepted alongside people like Steve Wheeler, Maha Bali, Amy Burvall, Simon Lancaster, Eric Stoller, Jane Bozarth, Sarah Knight, Julian Stodd, Alec Couros and many more. 

It's fascinating to see the different takes on the challenge and all make for a wonderful read. I know I'm biased but I recommend you get a copy! 

Many of the authors who have contributed to this book are already valued members of my personal network. However some are new and I am certain will add further value going forward. Whilst many of us may not have met face to face, the contributions they make to the edtech community have helped me develop my own learning in this area and all things related to learning and teaching and more! 

Thanks must go to David Hopkins @hopkinsdavid who has worked so hard to pull this all together. I can't wait to see what the next challenge will be!

Find out more about options for buying the book here:

Below is an infographic of my emergency tech rations and gives you a 
flavour of the tech I can't be without. To hear the full story you'll have to go and buy a copy of the book!