I am a philosopher, interdisciplinary researcher and educational technologist. In my graduate study (University of Essex) I focused on modern European philosophy in the critical tradition, writing my PhD thesis on the normative foundations of the critical theories of Jurgen Habermas and Axel Honneth.
I started out in IET as a research assistant for a project on mobile and lifelong learning. This led to working on a range of projects around the Institute, allowing to develop expertise in accessibility, evaluation, mobile learning, using technology to support research communities, and most recently, open education. My interests coagulate around the way that evidence around the impact of technological interventions feed through into policy, and ways of ensuring that innovations can be ethically justified. Technologies increasingly mediate our interactions both within and outside formal education contexts, and I use interdisciplinary approaches to try to make sense of this in ways that can feed through to changes in pedagogy as well as better system design.
In addition to my own research and editorial work, I have acted as a referee for a number of academic journals, including International Education Studies, British Journal of Educational Technology, Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice and Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. I am an associate editor of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education.
My main research areas are in technology enhanced learning (especially open education) and in understanding how our implicit assumptions, ideological commitments and orthodoxies influence the design, implementation and evaluation of learning systems.
I'm interested in a wide range of questions which might be thought to graviatate around ideology, communication and ethics in education; policy formation; decision-making; knowledge transmission; and the effects of technology on teaching and learning. As a result I publish both empirical and theoretical papers and some material that bridges the gap between the two.
UK Open Textbooks (2017-18)
Open Textbooks have seen impressive growth and impact in the North American context, through providers and initiatives such as OpenStax, the Open Textbook Network, BC Campus, and Lumen Learning. With the exception of Siyavula in South Africa however, the open textbook model has largely been restricted to North America.
Whether this is a result of particular contextual dependencies (such as the relative cost of textbooks) or because this is where the funding and interest has been focused is as yet unknown. The aim of this project then is to test the transferability of this model to a new context, namely that of the UK.
Models of Online, Open, Flexible and Technology-Enhanced Learning (OOFAT) (2017)
The “OOFAT” project is currently looking at different models of open, online, flexible and technology-enhanced learning (OOFAT) in higher education. It’s conducted on behalf of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), and a key element is the desire to cover and model a wide range of activity. Too often research projects are too focused on the search for new, innovative practices. The emphasis on very tech- oriented models also tends to favour the ‘silicon valley’ approach to education. This tends to over-represent some small scale examples, which often don’t develop into sustainable models once the hype has died down. These models are not always applicable to providers elsewhere, given their particular situation and the audience they serve. The result is that many institutions fail to see themselves in some of the more breathless accounts of technology use in education.
In this project we are capturing a range of practices covering a global perspective. We made an early decision to focus on models that had demonstrated their viability and sustainability already. We focused on three aspects of offering:
OER World Map (2013-2018)
In consortium with Hochschulbibliothekszentrum des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (hbz) I am Co-Investigator on the project to build the OER World Map. Funded by The Hewlett Foundation, this project builds on the success of OER Impact Map. My focus is on outreach and communications; developing authentic use cases; and mediating technical solutions and human requirements. You can check out the map at http://oerworldmap.org.
Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JiME) (2012-)
I became an Associate Editor of JiME in mid 2011. JIME is an open access online journal in educational technology that focuses on the implications and use of digital media in education. It aims to foster a multidisciplinary and intellectually rigorous debate on both the theory and practice of interactive media in education.
Ethics and Technology-Enhanced Learning (2011-)
I have an ongoing interest in the ethical issues surrounding technology-enhanced learning. While many educators are aware that the use of mobile technologies raises a number of ethical issues concerning privacy, security, the appropriate use of public space and the role of technology in education. I'm interested in the potential impact of communications technologies on social interaction more generally construed, on (inter-)subjectivity, and on processes of identity and norm-formation. So far, this has given rise to conference presentations on frameworks for understanding the ethics of mobile learning and a paper on ethics and open education. In 2015 I joined the JISC Advisory Group for the Code of Practice for Learning Analytics.
OER Research Hub (2012-2016)
The Open Educational Resources Research Hub (OER Research Hub) provided a focus for research, designed to give answers to the overall question ‘What is the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices?’ and identify the particular influence of openness. We did this by working in collaboration with projects across four education sectors (K12, college, higher education and informal) extending a network of research with shared methods and shared results. We gathered and systematically organised evidence for what works and when, but also established methods and instruments for broader engagement in researching the impact of openness on learning.
The project combined:
The aim of OLnet was to gather evidence and methods about how we can research and understand ways to learn in a more open world, particularly linked to Open Educational Resources (OER). My main role on this project concerns the best way to present evidence gathered through collective intelligence to different audiences, such as policymakers, researchers and practicioners. I act as the main point of liaison between KMi and IET for the OLnet Evidence Hub, working with research staff in IET to seed the Hub with evidence relating to open education and OER. I also presented the software on a number of occasions, including launching the site at Open Ed 2011 and at a number of smaller events, such as OpenOpen (Dec 2011) and Cambridge 2012 (Apr 2012). I also produced a short instructional screencast to help users of the site make effective use of the software platform.Digital Scholarship
I'm working in a small research team to investigate the impact of new communications technologies on research and scholarly practices. I've been focusing on the implications for the review and dissemination of research, as well as the changing nature of academic communities. I'll be presenting some of this research at the Digital Humanities Colloquium.
EU4ALL (European Union Accessible LifeLong Learning for Higher Education) is an European Commission funded project about accessibility in higher education and lifelong learning for everyone, without exceptions. The aim of the EU4ALL framework is to mediate individual access to educational resources through an open service architecture which addresses both the provision of alternative formats and the way that information about student disability is shared through HEA institutions. I was responsible for evaluating the prototypes deveoped by IET, and developed & carried out an evaluation programme which included user testing, focus groups and student surveys.
Interdisciplinary Research in the context of Technology-Enhanced Learning (2010)
The growth in research into the use of technology in education has drawn together research teams from many different backgrounds, including educationalists, psychologists, information scientists, and technologists, as well as subject specialists. This research project explores interdisciplinarity in a TEL context, and evaluates the ways in which technology might support and document interdisciplinary research. The project is led by Grainne Conole and Eileen Scanlon. My main contributions were to provide an up-to-date literature review, capture the ongoing Cloudworks consultation and synthesise these materials into a summary of current debates, epistemological and methodological issues, teaching interdisciplinarity, and what interdisciplinarity might mean in a TEL context.
Mobile Learning Evaluation (2010)
I interviewed Open University course chairs and course managers to ascertain the impact of IET's Mobile Learning Guide, written by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and Anna Page in 2009, across the OU as a whole.
Securing Greater Accessibility (SeGA) (2010)
I audited the information on Accessibility that may be found on the OU internet and intranet sites to see how logically the materials are organised. This has led to a second phase of input for me, contributing to the review of where responsibility and accountability for accessibility reside within the Open University.
MOTILL (Mobile Technologies in Lifelong Learning) (2009-10)
In my first role in IET, I collected and analysed data on best practices in mobile and lifelong learning, wrote numerous reviews of scientific literature mobile and lifelong learning, and provided secondary research into EU policy directives, digital strategy in the UK, and pedagogy. I worked with a range of policymakers (including JISC, NIACE, Becta and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Adult and Lifelong Learning) to disseminate and apply research into mobile learning arising from MOTILL.
Before taking on my current role(s) I worked as part of the Learning and Teaching Development Team supporting both staff within the Institute, academics in the faculties and other units in the University in the areas of accessibility, usability and developmental testing, supporting research and undertaking academic collaboration.
Before joining the Open University, I taught philosophy at the University of Essex, where I studied for a PhD in philosophy. During my time at Essex, I also worked as Editorial Office Manager for the journal Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. My philosophical research interests gravitate toward ethics, social and political philosophy, and philosophical anthropology. I have particular interests in normative accounts of human nature and the role these play in self-understanding, political debate, and social criticism. Similarly, I'm thinking about the ambiguous ways that information technologies are changing the way we communicate (something I approach from a broadly Habermasian perspective).
Outside of academia, I have worked in research and policy in the education and voluntary sectors. My previous employers include the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC) and the Association of Charity Shops.
Although my role is mainly to research, I'm interested in how openness can lead to different approaches to learning and teaching. My most recent teaching has been conducted through the School of Open, where I was co-author on a short course on Open Research which anyone can take for free.
I taught PY-111 Introduction to Philosophy at the University of Essex while I was a PhD student. In many ways, this was the beginning of my foray into educational technoogy, as I started a teaching blog to try and find ways to cultivate the learning experience outside the classroom. While at Essex I also facilitated research skills seminars for doctoral students and taught conversational English to French summer school students.
All these activities were recorded as part of a professional portfolio for which I was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education and offered Associate membership of the Higher Education Academy.
Partly arising from my interest in OER visualisation I am exploring the ways in which philosophical ideas, traditions and texts have been mapped or visualised and used pedagogically. I keep track of these here.
Consultant, UNESCO (2017)
Consultant, European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (2016-17)
Member, JISC Advisory Group for the Code of Practice for Learning Analytics (2015)
Open University 'Engaging Research' Award (2015) for OER Research Hub
Consultant, ROER4D project (2014-15)
Editor of The Open Education Handbook (2014)
|CREET: Technology Enhanced Learning Cluster||Cluster||Institute of Educational Technology|
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||02/Dec/2014||01/Dec/2015||The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation|
This paper proposes an approach to build an OER World Map as requested by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It builds upon phase I, in which we have successfully built a prototype in a relatively short time frame. The scope is much broader though, as we believe that for open education to be successful, a vivid and open community is at least as important as building upon open licenses, open source software and open data standards. Community building and actively involving the community in the development process is thus at the core of the suggested approach. The basic technical features of the proposed solution remain the same as in the prototype, albeit with a much greater focus on the user interface.