EdLab Interview Presentation – Mick

This was the interview presentation that helped me get the EdLab Job at MMU.


I’m excited about the project outlined in the visioning document and how the Educational Innovation and Enterprise Tutor post supports it.  It seems is fantastic way to bring employability skills into the student experience. This is a good location for it. There’s a great diversity of groups in surrounding areas, loads of informal education happening, lots of opportunities for student-led projects to make a real impact.

I’ve arranged the presentation using the four key principles of the project’s visioning document to propose some links with skills and other learning from my previous projects.

  • Collaboration: I’ll look at collaborative and interdisciplinary writing of manuals and course materials specifically a project FLOSS Manuals.
  • Participation: I’ll bring in some reflections on setting up People’s Voice Media in Salford and the complex multi partner work and work with students and diverse volunteers.
  • Agility: The innovative and adaptive planning of the Hulme based Green Zone project.
  • Cogeneration: Recent work with JISC in the with innovative education technology and with Sunseed in recognising hard to represent skills

Collaboration – FLOSS Manuals, collaborative documentation and community building

I feel documenting both the projects and innovative processes used on the programme is vital. Setting up online, collaborative ways of doing this be it for video, photographs or collaborative writing.

Floss Manuals Case Study:

  • FLOSS Manuals has the goal to create Free Manuals for Free Software. It took processes related to software and applied them to writing educational resources.
  • Using open licences and an online collaborative writing system
  • Outputting printed books and toolkits
  • Also ebooks for educational projects
  • It also adopted the process of BookSprints which has different stages, early planning of table of contents, bulk of gettting on with the writing in a team setting , printing out, revising and checking then getting the printed copies back from the printers.
  • The process has been adapted to other disciplines including an EC project bring together the different elements of different strands of an experimental computer science programme.
  • Also for the creation of course materials

I would be very happy to be involved in the training of the use of the software and the process of facilitation of intensive writing sprints. This could promote interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and generation to support the enterprise teaching strands and contents of the enrichment programme.

Later work with students to document and reflect on their involvement through collaborative writings which could inform future iterations of the project work. Outputs could be used as a basis for assessment.

This kind of rapid collaborative production is a great way to convince funders to support events convening national and international partners.

In terms of integration with formal curriculum there are several opportunities that jump out from previous courses structures. Policy, Practice and the Professional, Informal Education with Young People and Communities, and participation, reflective practice and research based elements. In previous courses these were in teh second year and that seems a good time.

Where possible, I feel the contents of formal employability and the enrichment programme should be best directed by a team involved in the delivery as getting relevant buy in a new programme is key to an enthusiastic roll out. This also seems to be in keeping with the core principles of the project.

Participation – Reflections from People’s Voice Media

The process of setting up a media centre in Salford involved working on a community level as part of a regeneration programme. We worked with students and volunteers to facilitate the uptake of social media and low cost media production for a network of community groups and small businesses. To do this we had to align a number of different directions and priorities of partners.

There were some key issues and learning that also apply to partnership work of this post:

  • Different partners have different priorities. Have clear offers for the different partners and organise around different strands or hubs of activity. Communicate what is in it for partners without us having to do too much juggling ourselves.
  • Maintain a good understanding of reciprocity when working with community groups who are established and have worked hard to get a sense of autonomy.
  • Communicate to students that the business and community activities are fun and rewarding but they also really build skills surrounding partnership work. Real projects with real people, can be scary but it’s worth it and we can support them.
  • Use media creation, written documentation or other generative tasks as key motivational factor for students and external groups. Be flexible. Use pilot projects, SMART objectives and different levels of participation.

Agility – Green Zone Hulme Community Development

The Hulme based, Green Zone project grew out of resident run projects including the Leaf Street Community garden and housing association City South Manchester.

The areas of activity interest were:

  • Community growing
  • Mapping and street planning – zones
  • Cultural activities fact finding missions
  • Employability skills around communication with website and radio projects
  • Children’s play areas
  • Developing capacity of resident groups
  • Lots of community events

In this one year project resident board members wanted to approach each area of development consultation with small pilot projects. Using feed back from this we grew and adapted our approach.

For example while the garden centre proposed two 20 week, accredited horticulture courses. After consultation the events were targetted are master classes for existing fruit trees and bushes, urban gardening in small spaces and permaculture design.

This iterative, agile approach gave us the ability to tailor our work to the different needs of the project participants in ways which can be applied to help meet the needs of a diverse body of students.

  • Offer many different levels of participation starting with casual day-by-day involvement in events to escalating to giving significant support and mentoring for longer term projects.
  • Don’t assume all students have similar interests or that they will be attracted to or prepared to embrace existing planned activities. Run consultation events and get regular feedback to see where your strong areas and gaps are.
  • For promising projects and individuals arrange training to access additional resources and funding for innovative project work and research.

Co-generation – Sunseed – Recognising Invisible Learning

Co-generation – Hybrid approaches to Educational Technology

The innovation happening in possibilities of online educational delivery are really interesting to me. I have done some experiments with online and hybrid approaches to education delivery. This involves creating several courses accredited with Open Badges done on behalf of FLOSS manuals in partnership with the Peer2Peer University and Creative Commons’ School of Open. Because of this interested, I applied and was a prize winner for the 2014 Jisc Summer of Student Innovation.

My project was the co-creation of a technically innovative hub for materials surrounding Digital Storytelling. The pilot group was a Community Arts North West course called Artists Do-IT. The process of designing a the layout and taxonomy of a learning resource repository was used as a catalyst for a rich exchange of practice and experience between tutors and students.

Most recently I’ve been working with projects linked to the subject matter of my Computing Masters and PGCE. I’m interested in ways of bringing more collaborative, participatory processes to the creation and delivery of course programmes in different contexts. I believe this is key to creating effective and engaging resources that can motivate young people.

The process of working with JISC and similar partners has given me a good insight into interesting processes for encouraging innovation in Education Technology. I can bring these to advance the work of this part of the programme.

I would be keen for us to work with MMU departments regarding the challenge of bringing together the best of Online Open Educational Resources, self-directed study, peer study groups and real life facilitation, mentoring and other interventions. For University, the goal has to be making sure all contact time is used tactically.

What other areas of innovation are ready to be tapped by new projects? There are several promising areas that could have direct relevance to the Educational Tech sector including:

  • crowdfunding for community based training
  • membership schemes & micropayments
  • credit unions and widening access to online education

There are definitely links to be made between our heritage of co-operative organisations, universal education and new opportunities provided by global online communities.


While there are very diverse elements and principles in the presentation I know that with the right team these different elements can pull together to create very rich set of experiences for students related to employment and innovation in education.

I also hope that previous work can be used as an asset. In some case directly. An example of this is that I’ve contributed to may toolkits written with open licences which allows very rapid repurposing of existing educational materials.

I have aimed to make this an engaging presentation which references fun processes and people. I hope this shows how I would go about enthusing and recruiting members of the student body.