I’m in the final few weeks of my PhD — the thesis-writing part of the process, anyway. My research topic is open educational practices (OEP), specifically how educators and students make sense of and make use of OEP in higher education. So, yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. But I’ve been reflecting also on my practice as an open researcher, particularly how this has taken many different forms over four years of doctoral research.
I’ve blogged (at decidedly irregular intervals) throughout the process. I blogged about my initial ideas, tentatively. As my research developed, I blogged about the emerging results, particularly when I struggled to make sense of particular findings. Discussions that resulted from sharing ideas — at conferences/workshops (e.g. ALTC14/15, OER15/16/17, Networked Learning 14/16, dLRN15, NextGenDL16, OEGlobal17) and in related posts here in the blog — were instrumental in helping me to develop my thinking and analysis.
And then, as all open practitioners know, due to my open research practice, I’ve connected with many others. As a result, I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to share, discuss, and deepen my work, most recently with staff in the e/merge Africa network and the Open Education Tuesdays network and in many global conversations about openness in this Year of Open. One keynote (OER16) made its way into an EDUCAUSE Review article, just published today — Open Education, Open Questions. And I’ve had the joy of collaborating with some amazingly smart and wonderful people including Laura Czerniewicz, Caroline Kuhn, Vivien Rolfe, Frances Bell, Laura Gogia, Maha Bali, Alan Levine, and many more. Thank you all.
When I embarked on this research I had a large and lively PLN. That network is so much richer now. I joined GO-GN (Global OER Network), a network of postgraduate researchers in the area of open education (all open education researchers: do join!). The support I’ve found in that network has been invaluable — from formal GO-GN activities organised by the OER Hub (e.g. webinars, annual workshop) to the informal collaborations and friendships springing from the network.
All of which brings me to the writing-up-the-thesis stage. Beginning last summer, I turned my focus inward somewhat, spending less time on social media and more time immersed in my findings and writing/rewriting — thesis chapters as well as proposals, abstracts, and papers. Sometimes, I couldn’t find words to blog. All of that open research and networking took another form, however. That lively and generous network of open researchers and practitioners checked in, sent encouragement, provided feedback, and generally showed up in all kinds of ways to say Keep Going. Those were sometimes expressions in open spaces…
— Catherine Cronin (@catherinecronin) 11 October 2017
…but more often they were DMs, emails, cards — too many creative expressions of encouragement to count. The gift of openness returns in myriad ways, so many of which I am just learning about now.
To all who’ve reached out, in any way at all, I extend my thanks. I have a few more weeks of intense writing and editing ahead of me, but I hope to emerge ready to move forward to yet another stage of open research. Chrissi Nerrantzi has been a role model in terms of openly sharing the steps of completion, thesis submission, and preparing for the viva. Beyond that, however, I plan to continue, as the title of my blog suggests: learning, reflecting and sharing as an open educator and open researcher.
OK now, back to #writing that thesis…
Image: CC0 Oliver Cole from Unsplash.