All posts by Caroline Kuhn

About Caroline Kuhn

I'm an open researcher|educator @Bath Spa university. I lead the award educational technology and innovation. PhD candidate looking at student's agency in open digital learning spaces.

The EDIC+ experience

EDIC stands for European Democratic Intercultural Citizenship, and the +, Prof. Wiel Veugelers told us, represents or identifies Erasmus + as the main body who funds this programme. I would say instead, that the + stands for the range of different nationalities that this intensive programme gathered this year. Although there are seven universities participating and each of them invite three postgraduate students, there were eleven nationalities represented instead of seven. Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Ghana, Greece, UK, Prague, Russia, Spain, the Netherlands and China. It seems to me that this programme has a broader impact than planned. All of the students will take their learning and insights back to their home country and influence how to teach democratic intercultural citizenship.

On the social aspect of the programme, we had plenty of time to share with our fellow students, we did a city tour in Tallinn which was stunning, we went on short trips, we sang karaoke, we danced all sorts of music including a typically Estonian dance and so we got to know each other. It was lovely to see how different some practices were but how similar we all are when it comes to the essentials. We found unity and empathy within the differences. The lived experience of our differences was the starting point for deep conversations and a springboard for learning from each other. We experienced the power of diversity and inclusion during these ten days.

The intensive programme (IP) was organised in two blocks, one at the University of Tallinn in Estonia where we had the chance to visit a comprehensive school and observe their teaching practices and the other one in Helsinki at the faculty of educational sciences. In Helsinki we travelled through time, we explored the past, stopped in the present and learned about a desirable future. As part of our adventure into the past, we visited the Helsinki City Museum and we got immersed in a classroom from the 30’s (as the picture shows). We dressed like those students, we sat in old desks and we had a teacher of the 30’s. It was fantastic!! The present, we experienced in a very traditional and famous comprehensive school that serves as the practising school to many teacher trainees from the University of Helsinki. There, different students went to different teaching sessions and we reflected as a group about our experience. The future we explored through a talk about the importance of teaching with purpose and being ethically sensitive.

We had lectures every day about democratic intercultural education all of them addressing a different dimension of such complex construct. The Netherlands started explaining what global citizenship is and the different types there are, giving particular importance to the political and critical dimension of global citizenship. Greece informed their view from a more philosophical perspective thinking about how does intercultural schools should look like and what is the ethos of such schools. What do teachers need to know so that they are mindful teachers that are capable of teaching in multicultural classrooms? The UK informed intercultural citizenship from the perspective of social justice and equity. We made critical questions about the status of refugees and different minority groups. Prague addressed the issue from the stance of the civil society and the work of NGOs as different agents of socialization. Tereza touched on different definitions (e.g. UNESCO) of citizenship education and we agreed that although there are different ways to define it, the most important thing is to have teachers agreeing on the importance of educating their students to become democratic and intercultural citizens. One difficult point is the difficulty to find common ground among teachers, the different perspectives teachers have about citizenship education, ranging from those who think that the school is not a place for politics to those who perceive citizenship education as an alpha and omega of the socialization children should get in schools. I found these positions hard to reconcile for those who have the task of educating teachers. Estonia also took the perspective of teacher trainees. Helsinki thought about the importance of teaching with purpose taking into account the different dimensions of ethical sensitivity while teaching. All of these perspectives as I see it are different dimensions of intercultural or global citizenship. The beauty of it is that all of them complemented each other, allowing us to build a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of what global citizenship is, different approaches to teaching it and how it is deeply rooted in moral values. It is incredibly enriching how different countries cope with different problems regarding democratic intercultural citizenship hence their practice is shaped by these challenges. It stroke me, in particular, the case of Prague and how they are exploring the consequences of an oppressive system whereas Greece faces critical issues regarding migrants so for them finding out what an Intercultural school looks like is highly relevant.

An issue I am concerned with is how can open education or, more general, open practice foster democratic intercultural citizenship? And I believe that in a society increasingly mediated by digital tools, having an online presence and being able to critically think about the Web and its open nature is important.

Questions such as how to cope with a variety of cultural backgrounds in one classroom? How to inform the teaching from an intercultural perspective? What to do with teacher’s own biases regarding different cultures and nationalities? How can we design activities that may advance elements of a moral compass for political participation, how near to us are institutions that address issues of social justice and human rights such as UNESCO, UNICEF, Commonwealth? where addressed during the different talks, not with the intention of finding an answer but to provide a platform for discussion and debate so that critical issues like this can be thought as a group and in so doing deepening our perspective as teacher and students interested in issues of global citizenship.

For all of us the experience, intellectually and emotionally, was life-changing! We shall keep the inspiration alive and find ways to deepen our knowledge and skills so that we can transform our daily teaching practice making democratic intercultural citizenship

P.S. A longer post with all the details of each session in on its way 😉

three things examiners look for in methods chapters

Detailed analysis of what examiners are looking for when deciding if you can get a license to do further research!! From Patt Thomson’s blog


Once upon a time, when I worked in schools, early childhood teachers routinely issued young children with a ‘pen license’.A pen license was much sought after as it meant that a child could ‘advance’ to using a pen instead of a pencil. Using indelible ink meant that the child was able to write legibly in longhand. But legibility wasn’t enough, the child also had to be able to copy and compose text without making lots of mistakes that needed to be erased. Writing in pen meant the pupil had been deemed competent at basic writing tasks.

Of course, while schools issued rubrics about what counted as the standard for the pen license, different teachers did interpret the rules slightly differently. And different children learnt differently, so they didn’t all achieve the license at the same time. However, by and large, it seemed that most children got their pen license well…

View original post 1,484 more words

Art as digital counterpractice
Excellent article that puts in evidence so much that is hidden in the digital hype. It’s an excellent critique of all that which most of the time stays hidden in the background shadowed by discourse of the bigger structure that use technology for their efficiencies and administrative agenda but not for improving students digital agency.

It brings me to think how dangerous it is to think that students are READYMADE for techonology, making us sometimes​ forget how anxious many of them are about the digital and how helpless they feel towards a format -the digital and it’s tools and concomitant skills,  they feel they can’t master. Many times, although they are as young as 20, they feel they are the forgotten generation!! No one has taught them how to operate digital tools to study! 

This quote is taken from the article and it illustrates a bit of this in a different context.

“Through their engagement the audience might become something other than “readymade” for technology—they too can entertain what a counterpractice in the digital space might look like.”

“Global EdTech Landscape 1.0”

“Global EdTech Landscape 1.0” @patrickbrothers

Christmas Trilogy 2013 Part I: The Other Isaac [1].

Barrow and Newton! Putting Barrow in its place 🙂

The Renaissance Mathematicus

In a recent post on John Wallis I commented on seventeenth century English mathematicians who have been largely lost to history, obscured by the vast shadow cast by Isaac Newton. One person, who has suffered this fate, possibly more than any other, was the first Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, and thus Newton’s predecessor on that chair, Isaac Barrow (1630 – 1677), who in popular history has been reduced to a mere footnote in the Newton mythology.

Statue of Isaac Barrow in the Chapel of Trinity College Statue of Isaac Barrow in the Chapel of Trinity College

He was born in London in 1630 the son of John Barrow a draper. The Barrow’s were a Cambridge family notable for its many prominent scholars and theologians. Isaac father was the exception in that he had gone into trade but he was keen that his son should follow the family tradition and become a scholar.  With this aim in view the young…

View original post 1,559 more words

Cape Town with #go_gn + OEGlobal. Fantastic!


I am part of a wonderful network, the @GOER_GN, a global network of PhD students that are researching in open education in general. Everyone has a slightly different focus, but all of us are interested in using OPEN as a tool to social justice and inclusion. The #go_gn (how the gang is called) organises once a year a gather together, an intensive seminar for 3 days. There, all of us have a chance to present our research for 20 min, and we get 10 min for comments and feedback from the gang. That is a luxury I have to say! So many bright scholars around me focusing on what I am doing and thinking how to shed light in the not so clear spots.

I had good feedback on my work, basically two things: I can’t solve the world with my PhD, that is for later, so I need to pick up ONE strand and go deep into it. As my beautiful friend @catherinecronin says, go in and go out!  (advice she, in turn, got from one of her committee’s members). Second, I need to differentiate between doing research, as objective as possible, finding out things from the data, discovering the problem and barriers to students’ digital practice, and another is to solve those problems. And I agree, I have a tendency to be pragmatic, well, I am pragmatic! But when one is doing research, the real need is to do the research, to flesh that little bit of the world we are worried about.

Here is the feedback and a succinct account of my work in words of @phillospher1978 aka Rob Farrow, who was taking notes during the sessions.

Caroline’s research centres on personal learning spaces as an alternative for institutional students.  Her project has had to evolve somewhat since she started.  She has been working with undergraduates to explore their personal learning environments.  Similar themes were also raised at a ‘student voice’ conference at Bath Spa.  Guided by Selwyn, Caroline is looking at actual practices and analysing them in terms of openness. Several theoretical frameworks are currently under consideration, including Schatzki (2006) and Kemmis et al (2010).  The aim of education is taken to be flourishing (Wright, 2010).  

A constructive grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2014) explored assumptions about ‘digital natives’ and provides a richer description of actual student learning ‘spaces’ and the extent to which these are ‘open’ or ‘closed’.  Interesting things arising from the data include the idea that students are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material available online; students are also concerned about their grades and this can impede experimentation.  There is no shared understanding of digital literacies, but Google is so commonplace as to not even be thought of as a tool.  Many students are intimidated by technology with which they are unfamiliar.   This work has led her to the idea that an explorative mindset needs to be cultivated and encouraged.  


  • Similar themes emerging in the work of others in the grou
  • Need to distinguish the research elements and the attempt to be pragmatic and improve student learning
  • How to deal with students who are risk-averse?
  • Maybe a need to narrow down the study and be less tempted to follow every idea or theoretical lead.  Clear research questions may help.

One thing that has become clearer to me is the danger to be an advocate of our own research. Doing research should not be done to re-confirm what one is advocating for. Instead, it should be the outcome of the study. I attended the talk that Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams gave at OEGLobal. She was telling us about the new project they are undertaking within a bigger project she leads, ROER4D. The project is studying the impact of OEP in the world. This new project is a meta-analysis (synthesis she also called it), that will analyse and unpack the causes of change in the different countries that are taking part of the project. She said it is not the role of the researcher to advocate but to understand what are the barriers and then find ways to overcome those barriers. And that is where my research will aim to go, to identify the barriers students encounter in their daily academic digital practice. This will be accomplished exploring the state-of-the-actual of students’ academic practice, scrutinising the present and not the potential, staying grounded in the reality, in the daily entanglements of students when engaging with the Web for academic purposes. 

In the conference, I presented my work but in a slightly different manner than I had planned. The reason for this? We had the gala dinner the night before and it was the first talk the last day!! It needed to be dynamic and challenging in some way. So I did a sort of flipped talked. I was willing to explore what the audience thought about the data I have collected. To do this I gave each group (3 groups of ± 6 participants). Luckily enough 2 members of the #go_gn were in the groups which allowed me to have a more detail view of what was discussed in each group.

In this Padlet wall you can see what each group thought was the data about. The stories are short but I am working with some participants to get more details and have a more detailed version of what was discussed in each table. This work has resulted in amazing and unexpected answers!

Overall the experience in Cape Town was one of the best I have had so far and I have assisted to many of them as part of my development as a researcher. I am really grateful for the generosity not only of the organiser, the GOER_GN but also of all the participants that made the work so joyful and intellectually productive. And some dancing did also happen there 🙂


The power of narrative research in #OER17

Last week the yearly OER conference took place in London. The title, the Politics of Open, and the themes can give a sense of the depth and breadth of the event.  A great experience where different scholars from around the Globe, and this is really AROUND THE GLOBE, we had people from South Africa, Chile, USA, Egypt, Europe, UK, Colombia, and maybe more, gathered together to share their thoughts, findings and new ideas about different elements of the politics of open education. If you want to have an idea of all what was happening during and after take a look at the blog post roundup #OER17

Much of the conversation in OER17 was about care (The refugee situation in Europe demands attention), inclusion (The MOONLITE project), social justice (Critical pragmatism and critical advocacy) and in general, the bigger conversation was about the need to be critical when researching about open. In his talkOpenness and Ethics: a provocation, Rob Farrow said something very relevant

As ‘open’ is becoming mainstream, more radical aspirations of the open movement are becoming secondary!

This cannot be allowed, radical aspirations need to be kept alive and the conference was a place to make this possible!

The experience was not only intellectually challenging but also emotionally moving. I felt immersed in a space of care and social justice, of women wanting to make a difference with their discourses and actions, of art wanting to find its place in open education, of open projects like Wikipedia wanting, among other things, to bridge the gender gap… A special place, for sure! And it is in that special place where we, Catherine Cronin and Caroline Kuhn, gave a workshop to stress the power of narrative research and storytelling to uncover the nuances of students’ digital practices and daily entanglements with digital technologies as well as the struggles and negotiation practitioners face when thinking about the open as a way to embrace their teaching practice. There is an inner story for this workshop and I (Caroline) want to share it with you. Catherine and I, are without planning it, doing a very similar research –not only regarding the topic we are exploring but also how we are exploring it. We are interested in the idea of understanding, through exploration, the daily experience of individuals (practitioners, in the case of Catherine and students in my case) with open practice and digital practice, respectively. Both are using constructive grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006). This mutual interest is in students and practitioner’s experiences and meaning-making.

The aim of our workshop was twofold: challenging participant’s beliefs about young people being ‘digital natives’ and not-so-young people being digital immigrants. This idea of youth being digitally fluent and versed in the digital world is a limitation when it comes to HEI policy and other initiatives to educate students digitally.  In this part of the workshop, we shared part of our data with asked participants to create a tentative profile for that group. We used a Padlet wall (link) so that participants could write and share their stories. Then participants related those stories to their own experiences, both professional and personal, recognising themselves in some of the data they worked with. The workshop ended with a rich discussion about participants’ own experience.

It is rewarding to read what participants thought and felt after the workshop; all the work is worth this! Thank you to all who participated, assisted and made the workshop possible


ScholarStudio Sessions: Necessary Repetition in the Dissertation

Many people worry that their dissertations feel repetitive. If they don’t, there’s a problem.

Source: ScholarStudio Sessions: Necessary Repetition in the Dissertation

ScholarStudio Sessions: Necessary Repetition in the Dissertation

In preparation for writing my dissertation!

Many people worry that their dissertations feel repetitive. If they don’t, there’s a problem.

Source: ScholarStudio Sessions: Necessary Repetition in the Dissertation

Describing Qualitative Methods in Educational Research: The Annotated Infographic

An excellent article that helps and guides my thinking about key points to consider when writing the methodology of my research.