W20 & W21 #becomingeducational: the music of Get Ahead

W20 we flagged up the Get Ahead Conference and the Music Improvisation sessions coming up in W21. We stressed that attendance was essential – to support #becomingeducational students presenting at the Conference – and for everybody to experience these alternative teaching and learning events. We moved on to plan the last few weeks of the course – and gathered volunteers to run sessions… We have coming: Music workshop; Go-Karts sessions; Developing Emotional Literacies; Digital Artefact workshop; Labyrinth production; and workshops on the final assignments for the module. We are really looking forward to your sessions peeps!!!

W21: Sandra says farewell #rhizo14: the community is the curriculum – and thank you to the Get Ahead Team… Read on…



 #rhizo14 – De-schooling to Get Ahead

I have a couple THANKS to offer this week – one is to all those that have buoyed me up during #rhizo14 – and the other is to the student team who devised and delivered this year’s student-facing Get Ahead Conference. They are my answer to this week’s ‘what next’ question: we need a re-schooling rhizome and creative learning space!!

W8: Demobbing Soldiers (Mar 4-?)

Video introduction to week 8

“the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed [is] to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.” Paulo Freire via Maha Bali

From Maha’s Blog Post – Liberating the Oppressors…

Question: “How can we take people who’ve spent their whole lives believing that [BLAH] is ‘learning’ and MAKE them … [plan towards their obsolescence] ? (Remix of Dave’s thoughts from week 2 and week 6.)

Demobbing soldier

Dave Cormier: Workers-Soldiers-Or-Nomads

W8 Challenge: Help us think more clearly (big challenge!). Do we demob soldiers? Do we de/re-school soldiers? Do we mob soldiers? Who needs soldiers? Who is we?

And Sandra says, Thank you to all of you whose blogs, poems, songs, voices and stories have made this such a special special rhizome. Many of you are in the auto-ethnography project – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mSrZFBt1cYjDSAaFc6Et-BAZ95oEEBMi-AvAX8Fz8Qs/edit – and you are in my mind and in my heart. 

My small rhizome…

… and one possible answer to this week’s question: keep fighting for creative learning spaces for students. Our non-traditional students especially need physical real world and real time spaces to be with each other to feel their power – to gain their voice – to SING! And that is where our Get Ahead conference comes in.

Get Ahead

Get Ahead is our conference by students for students. Ostensibly an event that promotes study and employability success – it becomes a student generated space where students have permission to be with their University and each other: to experience university as a place of opportunity, energy and excitement.

We sponsor one annually – and each year we recruit a team of students to design the day – to get students to present – to drum up interest – to run the day itself. It is hard work for a small team whose other academic work goes on regardless and relentlessly – and who may also have paid employment and families to support.

So THANKS to the Get Ahead Team! They were fearless in their attempts to drum up interest in the Conference – talking their way into lectures – talking about Get Ahead and talking people into the Conference. It was a buzzy, exciting and engaging event – and they were amazing: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/get_ahead_conf/

Where next – and how: Staff Buy-in to student as agent

For this student initiative to work, we need Lecturers to sign up to the Get Ahead idea and help to engage their students with the Conference.

One of the Education Studies tutors worked with a Team of Education Studies students – including a couple of our first year #becomingeducational students – to produce a session for other students. They chose ‘Networking’ and spread the rhizome! The Get Ahead Conference and that session were flagged up in Education Studies Team meetings – and those staff recommended the Conference as an Enhancement Week event. Our own ‘Becoming an Educationalist’  students had Get Ahead as their Enhancement Week activity – they knew about it – we made time for it – and they attended with a sense of excitement and expectation.

Initiating big ideas like ‘student as partner’, ‘student as producer’, ‘student as change agent’, ‘student as rhizome’… takes investment of mind, body and timetable. We think that it is worth this time and effort…

But how?

One thing this year’s Team suggested is that they build on what they have learned this year – and run next year’s Conference. They have also suggested that the Conference is ‘built up to’ from the very beginning of the year – this way staff can write it into module handbooks – and the students can run pre-conference events – with *staff* and students.

The pragmatics

We would love it if staff substituted engagement with the Conference for one small piece of course work; we can offer a menu of possible ‘buy-ins’: students from one Module could put on a poster exhibition – perhaps students from Work Placement can present about that – perhaps Computing students could run something ICT – Maths students could run a Quants session…  Events Management students might still run the Conference – and if so – Events Management staff would ensure that attending the conference was either a module requirement or an enhancement Week activity for *ALL* Events Management students…

We could go International?

As a second year literature student our Tom ran the first ever International Dario Fo Festival. This event was a mix of academic symposium and Theatrical workshop and performance. Alongside an International Fo Symposium, to which students were also invited, there were theatre workshops for students and people from the local community… And there were big theatrical performances as well – including Fo’s ‘The bosses funeral’ (!!).

This mix of the academic and the theatrical or the more fun elements seems a great model – we can help students do better with their studies and with their job applications – but we also provide opportunities for some of the cultural and play events that the University also offers.

De-schooling society

If students are to embrace different concepts of learning – and the what – where – why and how of it – staff have to buy in to that as well. Or… ‘that’s all folks!’

Last Word

The Music Improvisation session was wonderful – so how about an artefact as beautiful as this people! http://zeega.com/163227


W7: Becoming an Educationalist: What is a Conference?

This was our Enhancement Week and we explored Universities as places of research and knowledge-construction and dissemination. 

  1. What is a Conference?
  2. Poster Presentations
  3. Planning Get Ahead 2014 

What is a Conference?

First we were asked to draw our concept of research – and to use the drawing to seed our notemaking for the session. Sandra’s and Quaco’s notes were displayed to the class and we could see the slightly different interpretations of research through the similarities and differences in their drawings. 

Sandra’s had an eye scoping out the ground – then bubbles for thinking and light bulbs for ideas. Another eye signified the research process itself – then more thought bubbles to indicate interpreting data. Finally there was a mouth indicating that we need to tell people about the findings of our research. 

Quaco’s drawing included pictures of houses, rooting research in real life – and real communities and with real life outcomes. All the ideas gathered from the research in Quaco’s drawing ended up in an essay. This shows that our own studies are also research – and that we tell people about our findings in our assignments. 

Tom then discussed various aspects of Universities – with a focus on their research role:

  • Research
  • Ethics
  • Knowledge-construction
  • Social constructivist model
  • Dialogue (Freire, Bakhtin)
  • Staff and Students
  • Dissemination: teaching; papers; conferences. 

There were plenty of ideas to note – and to follow up later. 

We then moved on to thinking more about how students can become actively involved in the ‘business’ of a University – including through their research actions. We briefly discussed Lincoln (Student as Producer), Exeter (Student as Change Agent) and Birmingham City University Student as Partner). We were invited to think about what model we might want to develop here at London Met – and invited to think about developing an HEA Bid to take our ideas forward (deadline 2nd December): 

LincolnUniversity: http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/

Exeter – student as change agent

Students as Change Agents – Academic Services – University of Exeter

as.exeter.ac.uk › … › Current Projects

Students as Change Agents is an ambitious scheme that lets you take an active part in making your time at the University of Exeter even better. You can identify 

Students as Change Agents – Current Students – University of Exeter

http://www.exeter.ac.uk › Studying › Current students

Students as Change Agents. So you want to make a change? We know you love studying here, but there’s always room for improvement, and we think you’re the 

Students as Change Agents – University of Exeter


Themes > Students as Change Agents. “In a world where the students’ expectations of their university experience will only increase, the need to gauge student 

The Design Studio / Students as Change Agents 

[PDF]Student Academic Partners – Birmingham City University


Academic Partners scheme – which teams staff and students in an equal  ::::::Creating the Learning Community through Student Academic Partners. Student Academic Partners – Birmingham City Students Union

http://www.bcusu.com › Learning › Academic Partnerships

Hello and welcome to your Students‘ Union, here at Birmingham City University! As a Birmingham City University student you are automatically a member of 

[PDF]Student Academic Partners Birmingham City University – Higher 


Student Academic PartnersBirmingham City UniversityBirmingham City University (BCU) sees effective learning partnerships between students and staff as 

[PPT]Academic Partners Programme Birmingham City University


Academic Partners Programme Birmingham City UniversityStudent Academic PartnersStudent Academic Partners: The Scheme; The Pioneers; The Projects. 

HEA Bid: Students as partners in the Curriculum

We were invited to get involved in the following HEA Change programme:

Students as partners in the curriculum 

“Applications are being invited for the latest HEA Change programme, Students as partners in the curriculum. This programme will help HE providers develop their capacity to work with students to enhance the curriculum and engage students with learning and teaching processes and will build on the successes of last year’s inaugural Students as partners change programme

At least half the members of participating teams will be students, with the rest made up of academic staff, professional support staff and senior managers. Last year’s programme included teams from ManchesterMetropolitanUniversity, University of Oxford and University of Ulster with projects such as reducing distress and improving achievement amongst students, students at the heart of curriculum design, and students as partners in a transformed university. Further details about last year’s programme, and the mini case studies, are available here on the HEA website. 

The deadline for applications is Monday 2 December 2013More information, including how to apply, is available on the HEA website.” 

What is a Conference?

We moved on to think about what role a Conference plays in the life of an academic and a student – by exploring some of the Conferences that our Team are currently working on – or that they have attended:

Look – Draw – Make: Using the Visual to transform pedagogic practices 

Due on 3rd December. It will be a one day for 50 people with just one strand to attend. 

“Learning Developers are invited to our one-day conference, hosted at LondonMetropolitanUniversity to explore how Visual learning practices are becoming mainstream in the digital age. Drawing upon experiences of ‘Draw to Learn’ (from the LearnHigher CETL); MOOC participation; and recent classroom practice – we explore the embedding of a series of Visual tasks in classrooms across the disciplines. This day will inform, challenge and offer you practical ways to transform practice. 

9.30-10.00 arrival, coffee, registration 

10.00 Welcome from Associate Professor Digby Warren 

10.15 Welcome from Pauline Ridley, Sandra Sinfield, Debbie Holley, Tom Burns – and Chris O’Reilly 

10.30 – 11.30 ‘Draw to learn’ 

11.30-12.30 Science and Social Sciences: using the visual for qualitative research methods and to (re)conceptualising science (Philip Howlett and Debbie Holley)  

12.30-1.30 lunch and networking 

1.30-2.30 ‘It’s more than just drawing!’ Using collages and Cabinets of Curiosities; Memory envelopes and installations; Digital artefacts and Animations – for LTA. (Sandra Sinfield, Tom Burns & Chris O’Reillly) 

2.30/ 2.45 shuffle & comfort break – reconvene in main hall 

2.45- 3.45 MOOC madness: digital tools, activities, exemplars – and table tasks. 

3.45- 4.00 summary, thanks, depart.”  

Other Conferences often have multiple, parallel strands – with lots of things happening and many opportunities for participants to meet, talk and share ideas with others interested in the same topics:


We were asked to think about our notes and how they had changed over the course of the lecture. Our notes are supposed to be a dialogue with the information that we had heard. They are supposed to be active and interactive… With things to do. 

Seminar time

Our Peer Mentors had been invited to our seminars to act as audience for the Poster Presentations we were giving on our field research – where we had explored the University as a site/many sites of learning. This gave us a taste of the Conference experience – we had undertaken some research and we were presenting our findings to our peers. 

There were great presentations from everybody – not just with posters, but using Prezi as a poster form – and with some creative use of PowerPoint and  embedded video interviews (conducted as part of the initial research process). Hopefully participants will post links to their blogs – and their presentations – in their own blogs. There were definitely a few ideas emerging that could be worked up in to an HEA Bid! 

And finally – planning Get Ahead 2014

Our final task was to think about the possible shape and size of the next Get Ahead Conference at London Met. Get Ahead is designed to be a Conference for students organized, and in some case delivered, by other students. In the past, Events Management students seem to have taken the lead with this Conference – and typically final year students at that. This year we have been asked to come up with some ideas – and to seriously consider taking on the planning, advertising and delivery of the actual event. Of course it will be hard work – it will require real time and effort – and if we take it on we must mean it and deliver. 

The typical Get Ahead has a focus on student success: success in their studies – and success in finding employment. Previous years have had strands on Study and Academic Skills: Managing time; Developing memory; Drawing for Learning; Making great notes. There have been strands on Academic writing – with some workshops delivered by Writing Mentors – and sessions on Dissertations delivered by staff. Student Services have run sessions on CV production and preparing for Job Interviews – and also sessions on developing self confidence. 

We were invited to shape a new Get Ahead – and to think about the practicalities of budget – and of how we night actually get time-poor students to attend. 

Watch this space to see if after a week’s further thinking about it – there does emerge a group that offers to run Get Ahead with and for the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching. If we do it – we will blog about it!