Reader, I married him … and by him I mean The Open University. Unlike Bronte, mine isn’t closeted in the attic, instead I work, live, breath, and now research at The Open University.
So you may at this point be thinking that I am a literature PhD student, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I am in fact an EdD (Doctorate in Education) student in the field of social learning, specifically in why learners become engaged in MOOCs and the impact on design.
So how did I get here? To this point? Researching this doctorate?
I joined the OU in 2005, and over the years I developed a range of projects with students and academics, largely on the theme of improving online communication methods within the web presence at the OU, utilising a range of emerging tools, platforms, and techniques to leverage student engagement.
Since 2009 I have been working on several projects on the impact of social media on student engagement. With the developing movement towards social learning and its use of hosting on third party platforms, my portfolio has now expanded to the role of Senior Producer: MOOCs at The Open University.
It’s within a previous role and the culmination of my projects, research, and dare I say…my thoughts in this domain that led me to influencing and leading on the development of The Open University’s SocialLearn platform which is now being utilised as a research platform in the Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) for further projects and research.
It was at this point, on this project, that *that* moment happened, the lightbulb, the spark, my personal eureka.
Whilst working on the development of SocialLearn the first xMOOCs were being presented, I instantly enrolled, curious to learn more about this method of online pedagogy and the tools used to deliver it. From that I started to consume cMOOCs as my own personal comparison study. As ‘a product of the OU’ I am well versed in the experiences of being an online student, with my undergraduate, three postgraduate, and now my doctorate research qualifications being with the OU (I did say I was devoted heart and soul to this place). I started mapping as a thought experiment MOOCs into SocialLearn, a platform designed on the concept of connected learning journeys.
From SocialLearn I then when on to work on FutureLearn (FL) for the OU by moving from KMi to OMU (Open Media Unit) – at this point I must shamelessly plug my department – http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/OpenMedia/ and continued to work in the field of MOOCs being presented by the OU on FL (apologies for acronym city) but expanded further into our primary channel of OpenLearn (http://www.open.edu/openlearn/) and our third party channels.
I continued my thoughts on learner journeys and after soundboarding with a number of academics (especially Simon Buckingham-Shum to whom I am eternally grateful for the wisdom he granted to me) I developed my doctorate proposal. And from that moment nervously waited until the time the The Research School accepted it and assigned to me Rebecca Ferguson as my primary supervisor, and Denise Whitlock as my secondary supervisor.
So, normally a private writer I have been persuaded by Rebecca to empty my thoughts through this blog, which I have to admit appeals to my categorising and organised nature whilst saving a few trees, pens, and my wrist from RSI.
It is at this point that I should provide a health warning that the observant would have already noted. I don’t write like an academic, like the OU I am open to people, places, methods, and ideas, so my style of writing reflects as such. I write for all to be able to read, comment, and respond to, and if you would wish to do so please feel free as I like to listen and partake in a healthy debate, especially if it helps to move ideas forward.
No doubt the blog will develop over time, but you will also find me firmly sticking a flag in the ground at these online spots:
So, for now I am, the Doctor in Waiting