Tag Archives: phd

Some updates

It’s been a long time since I blogged, but I have some valid excuses!! 🙂 (Is there ever such a thing?)

1. I finished my PhD
I finally got there. After some weeks of getting my head down and writing, writing, writing, I submitted my thesis and defended it. Some more details on my research work are on this page. If you would like a copy of my thesis, do get in touch.
But this was also more than a year ago… so what’s been keeping me busy since then?

2. I became a mommy!
This has been the biggest change in my life. My daughter has been putting me through a whole new learning experience, that involves a lot of creativity, patience and little sleep.

3. I started a new job
Since a couple of months, I have been working as an assistant professor at the Open Universiteit. I have been working on some topics that are very different from my original research, so it has taken me some time to settle in.

So, you can expect some regular updates from now on.


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Connect The Dots! Pilot

After much sweat (and nearly some tears), the Connect The Dots! tool is finally online! And I already have a place to pilot it, in preparation of the upcoming Networked Learning Conference. I shouldn’t forget to thank all the people who helped me out at the last minute (you know who you are 🙂 )

If you’re interested in joining in, the call is just below, and it includes all the instructions to join in.


As the Networked Learning Conference is fast approaching, we thought this would be the ideal time to study networked learning in practice.

Join Connect The Dots!
A conference is an exciting moment in any research calendar and usually offers lots of opportunities for interaction and reflection. However, it can be a challenge to grasp and keep track of the different perspectives, views and ideas that come up during such an event. If this sounds familiar to you, then this is for you!
We have developed a new tool called Connect The Dots! to support you in gaining more from such events. We are piloting it over the next two weeks and are looking for volunteers to experiment with it. Interested?
We are looking for anyone who is interested in keeping better track of how their ideas and thoughts develop during their participation in the Networked Learning Conference 2012. We will start on Friday 23rd of March and continue till the 6th of April 2012 (Friday after the NLC 2012).

What will you be expected to do?
Every day, you will spend about 10 minutes a day recording and reflecting on what you have done that day: the people you have talked to, the conversations you have had, the presentations you have heard, the things you have read…. anything. For these reflections, you will use the Connect The Dots! tool.
Although this activity is not restricted to any domain, we would like to understand how your understanding of a domain develops. For this reason, we have chosen to focus on one shared topic (the topic of the last NLC2012 Hotseat: online learner identity) and one individual topic (e.g. your own research interests or own practice). There will be a questionnaire asking you about these when you sign up and one questionnaire after the activities, on Friday, the 6th of April.

How to sign up
Here’s how you can join in: Sign up today by filling in this questionnaire and following the instructions at the end of it.

Link to the questionnaire: http://bit.ly/GPk12z
Here are the instructions for signing up to the Connect The Dots! Pilot.


As you see, everyone’s welcome to join in! So please spread the word!

If you want to use the tool as part of your own networked learning, on other topics or other events, you are absolutely welcome to. Just get in touch whatever your plans are. Hope to hear from you soon!

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A case for formal education

The last few days many people have been discussing and debating Donald Clark‘s keynote at the Media and Learning Conference last week. Today, he has followed up this keynote with a more elaborated blogpost entitled “21st Century Skills are so last century!”. I have been thinking about his message quite a lot and I do agree with some of his points on formal education.

The thing is: formal education is not only about learning skills. And, reducing formal education to the development of particular skills in learners is restricting formal education quite a lot. He argues that we need fundamental change in the established formal educational system (schools, universities, etc.). But what is this change about? And how should it take shape? It is not only about bringing technology to the classroom.

This past year we have seen a lot of social changes which are partly due to the increased access to communication tools (such as social media). But does this necessarily tell us that we no longer need formal education? Are the people on Tahrir Square in Cairo only there because they had access to and know how to use Facebook?

In my opinion, learning skills is just part of what you do at school. Apart from these, formal education, as it is organised now, encourages:

  • group identification (through classroom / group structure)
  • building of personal social network
  • self discovery
  • organised time and space for self-reflection
  • time and space to build self confidence
  • safe space with a trusted person to make mistakes, get guidance and improve
  • self-discipline: following set rules and guidelines
  • entrepreneurship (or breaking the rules and guidelines if you like 🙂 )
  • ……

These aspects of formal education are often underestimated in our educational research world. However, I think most people who join formal education, as a learner or as a teacher, join for these reasons, and not necessarily to learn/teach skills alone. Formal education is much more than learning skills to function in society, and being accredited for these skills. Those skills are necessary, the accreditation is necessary but they cannot be the only reason you enter school.

I think for this reason, formal education still holds a very important, even essential, place in society, as it always did. And the role of the teachers becomes even more important. They may not be the ones who show you how to use the tools you have at your disposal, but they are the people who will give context to what you see, read, and make. They will make you understand.

Can we really minimise the role of the thousands and thousands of teachers and role models who inspired people in the Middle East to come on to the streets and stand up for what they believe in?

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And just when the going seemed to be good

Some days reading is hard….

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Over the last weeks, my PhD plan is slowly but surely taking shape. The argumentation is coming together, my research question seems obvious, the bibliography is getting longer and I even have some ideas of what my experiments could be.
The only thing is I am really taking a lot of time…..

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