(Work-based) Priorities for 2010

I am quite often asked what it is that I actually do … sometimes it is helpful to reflect upon this point as it helps personal prioritisation of work on a day to day and week by week basis amongst a view of the bigger picture. For my own and others information then, my priorities for the coming months are as follows:

1. develop a shell module framework (cross institutional framework plus and individual entry route)

2. launch a fully online leadership and professional development module

3. evaluate and report upon the pilot online module

4. promote creative approaches to work-based learning through staff development sessions

5. evaluate the impact and effectiveness of work based learning provision through a range of methods (data gathering phase)

6. facilitate the formation of new work-based learning opportunities.

7. facilitate the cross fertilization of ideas amongst staff (subsumed in 2. perhaps but worthy of inclusion also).

8. develop promotional material for work based learning, informed by evaluative work

9. hunt down external examples of good practice in teaching and learning and bring them back to share internally (this involves networking, event attendance, online awareness).

10. actively seek out opportunities for external dissemination of good practice, new developments and research.


Yesterday – November 26th 2008 – it was a joy to finally get to meet the researchers who I have facilitated for three years, but never actually met, but most of who I felt I knew. It was a very strange feeling being in a room of ‘friends’ and not knowing which one was which, some of course I recognised from their pictures, or even from pictures of their families which have been shared along the way. Every award was deserved and in chatting to people through the day it seems the hardest challenges were  balancing the work, family and study. Seeing the researchers graduate makes the last three years of my working life feel absolutely purposeful and totally rewarding. And I hope colleagues past, who built the ‘machine’ of UV,  will feel the same. It was also wonderful to put a lid on my own studies alongside the people who have largely been at the heart of my own research.

Worth it!


Today, with a rather unceremonious chink of my letterbox, ended my enormous feat!  Five years ago I started my MA (yes … it shouldn’t have taken that long!) – I studied research methods, online learning and facilitation, autonomy in online education, personalised learning and eventually undertook a dissertation on personalised learning from a learner perspective. Perhaps the greatest learning for me came in the experience of simply being a learner; feeling first hand and understanding what it is like to study when life gets in the way.

Studying at times has a high price on an individual and critically on their nearest and dearest.

So to all of mine – thank you! 

And was it worth it? Of course it was.

I guess if was easy then the warm glow I got when opening my certificate would not be quite so warm.

 Lydia Arnold Masters Certificate
Lydia Arnold Masters Certificate


I have just (literally) seen that the researchers that I have facilitated in their learning have also received their certificates today – each and every one of them has their own story of triumph, tribulation, heartache and celebration. Experts in Learning Technology and Research; but also not mentioned explicitly on the certificates – relentless in determination. Well done folks – magnificent. 

Big Congrats also to Sarah 🙂

Overcoming personal barriers to research

Talking with Ian about our individual routes to becoming published it was interesting to identify common themes, barriers and steps,  and to identify differences.


Initial under-confidence

The need for dialogue to ‘spur’ ideas

The need for encouragement from colleagues – building self belief

Having a high value on practice  (seeing our experience and practice as interesting to others).

Maintaining innovative practice to be the object of research.

Reflective practice leads productively to informal writing and output (internal papers, blogs).

Informal output as a confidence building, articulation of ideas.

The use of collaborative tools for co-authoring (distributed team writing)

A lack of formal support structures (possibly a consequence of being off campus?)

The use of informal support structures to ‘bounce’ ideas (trusted networks)

The domino effect – one output resulting in another (ideas, questions and confidence).

The need for credibility with researchers and empathy with the research process  and issues arising on a research based degree spurring practitioner research.

Overcoming time issues by valuing research as integral to pedagogic practice.



Collaborative writing vs Individual writing.

Formal study leading to research output.

Identifying journal before writing or finding outlet for work already written.

Undoubtedly the most important single factor for my own journey (so far) has been the support and encouragement of colleagues past and present.

Is there a typical journey? How can the expectation to research be met amongst staff with such high teaching loads?  As RAE becomes in increasingly prominent it would be interesting assemble more stories of researchers who are at different stages in their personal research journey.



The closure of Ultralab : Richard Millwood on recent events | Merlin John Online  

And from me … 

As Ultralab closes its doors, along with others, will be staying at Anglia Ruskin to continue to work on the innovative, life changing degree programme BA Learning Research & Technology within the Faculty of Education. I am pleased to be staying to continue developing a programme that has and could transform the opportunities of many. 

Over the last four years I have been involved in a project and a working community which dared to go beyond. The people were undoubtedly the main ingredient. As I sat at dinner last night with the new team, an exciting new phase of the project was born. Though undoubtedly I still have a slightly heavy heart as we proceed less truly wonderful colleagues. I have had great pleasure in working with an amazing bunch of people. As I closed the door on Ultralab today, my final trip to Chelmsford this year, I was deeply, deeply sad that Ultralab has ceased though I remain excited about the possibilities of the Ultraversity Project, the BA LTR, my own future and the future of colleagues. I am immensely proud to have been part of the lab and extremely thankful and lucky to have worked with truly wonderful people. It was great and you know who you are! Thank you. 

A new year, a new future. Here’s to possibility & opportunity …. always remembering to keep “eyes on the horizon, feet on the ground” 

My new email then, with immediate effect: