Skip to content

Archive for

Time to practice

Cello cello cello cello cello

That’s where my brain is at the moment. Every year I do a recital at the University and every year there is a moment when I wonder why why why?  I don’t have to. Nobody requires me to, it’s not part of my job. But somehow I need to. It is very important to me to put myself through the paces, to learn and do the same as I require the students to do, but it’s a balancing act and it’s no more easy for me than it is for them or anyone. It takes time. I’ve started waking up early, going to bed late, even waking up after everyone else has gone to bed. I think the music just creeps into your blood.


Practise practise practise! (or practice in ‘Americanish’ as my children used to say)

I very much enjoy the process, the sound, and having something to say – a voice – where I don’t have to have words. If you asked me what the music means, I wouldn’t have words, but it is full of meaning. I’m happy to talk about that, but maybe another time. Read more

#HEAOpen is here!

Embracing Open Learning


Today’s the day!

I’m running a day long workshop for the HEA at my uni (University of Chichester) and in the spirit of the title of the day I thought I’d include the schedule and the info I’m using/sharing with the people attending. The schedule is below – please feel free to join in. On Twitter we’re using the hashtag #HEAOpen and there will be other ways to connect as well throughout the day. You’ll find a link to my slides HERE. I’ll be tweeting links throughout the day- so follow along! I’m @laura_ritchie on Twitter.

10:00 Arrival

10:30 Welcome

10:45 MUS654

11:00 Twitter, websites & blogs

11:45 Listening in and reaching out: An audio interview with Howard Rheingold (part 1) Read more

The question of connection

(2 min read) In learning,

there is not always an equal anything.

Give, Take-

Maybe there is…

but I don’t think it comes in predefined, easy to see values. If someone is in a class for x minutes it doesn’t mean they will have learned y, or even close to y. It doesn’t mean they haven’t learned, but it is possible to be involved in a learning experience, a communication interchange of and to learn ‘orange’.


Not even in the same ball park as the question and not the expected answer. (Image by Steluma CC BY-NC-ND)

As teachers we don’t get to decide exactly how people take in, interact with, or even use what they learn, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something passed on, accomplished, or learned. It can be like that on a grand scale, but also on the most small scale- with communication. It can be a whole module that is tricky to communicate, or a single tutorial. (I’m talking from the teacher’s point of view.)

The scenario for this post comes from Day 2 of the #BYOD4L project, questions how to connect, and it involves the unknown, doubt, and just wondering how to change and adopt new methods. The whole idea of having a few people to talk with or not knowing how to ‘find out’, is realistic, and even a commonly sentiment among academics. Let’s turn it on it’s head and think of it like you were being asked that question by a student – the student comes to you about a project and says, I don’t know how to find out about it… The first response might be to suggest they look it up, or ask for help and then maybe they could exchange ideas with someone else. All of these apply exactly to the teacher too.

However, there is still that initial inquiry; there are few who share in the same specialist area, and so it doesn’t always seem easy. That is where the wider community is so useful and amazing. It is surprising how much we can learn both from those in our areas of specialism and across the globe doing completely different things across walks of life.

Taking that step to reach out, and metaphorically ‘look up’ like minded people or ask for help or even just say something about what you do can feel like a risk, but how can we learn if we don’t ask and do? It does take that effort and once you do find a few like minded people, then the collaboration can begin. Sometimes it will be fruitful and other times it may feel less so, but in doing you (we) can learn. It is necessary to be brave and go for it. Then you’ll find the other side of the equation. There is an equal sign somewhere, but be prepared for the ‘answer’ to be open – it might be more than you expect or less, or come in a different form. As long as you take that step, you can begin the process…


Image shared by Olivier Gillet CC BY-NC-ND

Featured Image by PROMartin LaBar CC BY-NC


Embracing Open 20 Jan







These are all words that, for me, are synonymous with aspects of good teaching and learning. I didn’t always use all of these in the context of ‘open’ the way I do now. Why the change? I was never against the idea, and I think I always practiced both connected learning and co-learning, but at some point I was introduced to different technological tools, techniques, and then I was encouraged. I’m a student too – always learning to teach better, differently, and part of that for me involves reaching out. I hope to be an encourager for others and perhaps to introduce a few new things…

On January 20th I have the privilege of running a workshop on ‘Embracing Open‘ at the University of Chichester for the Higher Education Academy. It is a day long event that is free to attend for anyone who is a Fellow of the HEA, and there will be points in the day where we invite anyone from around the globe to join in. We’ll be exploring aspects of blogging, Tweets, Google Hangouts, Open Source Learning and CC content, collaborative activities and how all these can be used in different everyday teaching situations across disciplines. There will be opportunities to ‘have a go’ at using all of these, and the day will be dotted with real-time connections with teachers and learners across the globe. Students will be involved too. We’ll be Tweeting with the hashtag #HEAOpen and you are more than welcome to join in! Read more

I saw your light

When you (or I) light that candle there is no telling how far the light will extend, how many lives it will touch now or in the future, and how many other candles will be lit from it. 

This morning while still in darkness, with sounds of wind kicking up and splaying bouts of rain on the house I read something from one of those unmet friends – one of the connections from the land of the Internet. Gardner Campbell very eloquently told a story of connection, meaning, and value in his blog post from today (well last night still on his half of the world) and I kept thinking yep, hey, I know exactly what you mean. I don’t want to spoil his post by telling you all about it – you should definitely read every word of it. It is not an academic article – it relates to everyone who has ever met another human being and been affected by their words, touch, or presence and felt that sense of connection – the gratitude that gives you a resonance of warmth, and then if you let it, radiates from you.

The glow of Gardner’s post, that light from his ‘Candle in the window‘ as he called it was felt across the ocean. I have to admit it took me two goes to read it – I saw his initial tweet and Candle in the window is a children’s Christmas song in the UK and it happens to be the one you hear at school with the class half-singing to a cheesy CD backing track – and as a performing musician not quite learning things right sometimes makes me cringe. Because of that association, I didn’t click the link on his original tweet, but then it popped up again on my Twitter feed:Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 07.39.09

– and this time I clicked on it.

In this fast-paced now-land that we live in, the million instant views of a video clip on facebook (with all the autoplay on devices) is very appealing and I too find myself thinking wouldn’t it be nice it…. one day I’ll figure that all out. In the meantime I really really like the idea of the unmet friends. -and Gardner, when we do meet there’s a lot of catching up to do since we last met virtually on that last webinar of Connected Courses. Remember I improvised a bit on my cello for the first time live on air? My candle was lit then; I borrowed some of the fire from your flame.

When someone else lights their candle from mine, or I from theirs, is not diminished (we all know that Buddhist saying). Recently I’ve been reminded about the importance of telling people what they mean, what they do, thank you. In academia we call it feedback. In life we call it communication. Whatever the label, it is important and how else can we know? When tragedy does happen, there are often fantastic eulogies, and the dead person finally gets told so much, but shouldn’t living ears hear those words? The important thing is that we stoke the fire while it burns.

Keep blogging. You’ve got something to say and it’s not falling on deaf ears.


Image CC BY-NC by Santanu Vasant

Featured image (top) by Diana CC BY-NC-ND