What I have been up to in 2018

2018 has been a busy year for me. So much so, that I had to take some time off by the end of the year, a time I usually use to catch up on things. My task manager app has a designated list for this time of the year but most of the tasks on it have not been completed this time around. One of the items on that list is the 2018 year roundup blog post and I aim to set a checkmark by publishing this post. Here it goes:

Consulting Work

After 2017, in which I basically had one major client, my projects have become a bit more diverse over the year. I co-developed an online course on connective and collaborative work practices, which is going to launch for all the client’s 2,800 employees in February this year. I was asked to host some of the videos that we recorded for this course in a studio setting and my career as a “TV anchorman” was officially launched in 2018.

While developing and producing online courses is something that I have done several times before, 2018 also had some new gigs lined up for me: I facilitated a three day Summer School with around 30 participants from Higher Ed, who were all eager to improve their teaching practices. We had plenty of workshops, a keynote by Sylvester Arnab, lightning talks, and lots of peer consulting work in smaller groups.

I also started to work closely with osb international, a group of consultants who specialize in systemic consulting, and I hope to continue and expand this relationship. Quite pragmatically, it makes it easier to acquire new clients, it also enables me to plan ahead a little better (something that 2018 has taught me not to underestimate). But more importantly, I like how the critically constructive view of the folks at osb on anything ‘digital’ aligns with my own views in many ways. Less bullshit, and an appreciation of the fact that any change, be it an organizational re-alignment, a new learning software, a slightly re-configured business model or the introduction of digital technologies in the workplace has many layers and perspectives, most of which are social and human and not as much technological in nature as many pundits want to make everyone believe.

I also was booked for more workshops in 2018 than before and I truly enjoy this work. Be it a workshop on designing online, blended or hybrid courses, a workshop on podcasting, on online collaboration and learning, please do let me know if you want to work with me.

One of the key threads of my self-employed work was podcasting: I gave a couple of workshops, especially with regards to the use of podcasts and podcasting in teaching and learning. I also was asked to host two podcast series, which I also recorded and produced ready for distribution. This was a great opportunity to deliberately enhance my skills as an interviewer and host and I am grateful to my clients that they went along with this experiment.

Workshops and Presentations

I facilitated quite a couple of workshops and I also started to speak and keynote more often in 2018, some of these opportunities were directly related to my new position at Wikimedia Deutschland, some were adventures on the side.

One key thread of the year were the several #BreakOpen workshop sessions that I got to co-facilitate with an impressive group of scholars, open advocates and practitioners. I also see the Wikimania session in this light. This continues to be important to me and I hope I can make some time for this ongoing collaborative work in 2019.

Another common theme of 2018 was to take a look at the intersections of open teaching and learning practices, participation in society and digital literacies. I facilitated a couple of introductory workshops in German and was also invited to talk about this a couple of times. Here’s the German transcript of one of my talks.

I was also invited to a “Studio Visit” on privacy by the facilitators of #unboundEQ and to be considered for this was an honor of its own. Maha, Mia and Catherine are creating a rich resource to look at when considering one’s own way of teaching and learning.

One of the 2018 highlights in terms of public speaking was a talk I gave together with Markus Deimann at the re:publica conference. Not only because it is not easy to be invited to speak here, but also because it helped me clarify my position on a couple of issues related to platforms for learning and teaching.

Virtually Connecting

I participated in quite a few Virtually Connecting sessions over the year, and while it is always hard to pick favorites, the conversations with Lucy Patterson, Thmoas Mboa and Jim Groom at re:publica stand out for me personally. Lucy has by now become a colleague at Wikimedia, but we first met in preparation for this session. And the session with Jim Groom, run from the streets in front of the venue, is one of my favorite Virtually Connecting conversations of the year.

I was also named a Co-Director of Virtually Connecting. What an honor. I sincerely hope I can make more time for this in 2019. Especially the second half of the year felt like I was missing out on some amazing work done by the community.

Starting at Wikimedia

I started my work as the Education and Science advisor at Wikimedia Deutschland in January 2018. This is part-time and, while I live in Hamburg, Wikimedia is based in Berlin. Some of the train conductors now know me by name and this constellation made me re-think some of my working practices. When to do work that requires high levels of concentration and focus, when to write, read, talk: I have deliberately been working to improve my timing and location for each of these practices, but it does not feel quite right yet. One of the outcomes of this is that I am now renting a desk in a co-working space while I used to work from home more often until fall. It doesn’t feel perfect yet, but it probably never will. Which is good in its own way.

We have done plenty of thinking and strategizing at Wikimedia, re-thinking the way we want to work in the realm of learning, education, and ‘open’. I am quite happy with the outcome of this process as we will focus on the above-mentioned intersections of ‘open’, participation in society and digital literacies. We have some ideas of what to work on and who to do it with and I hope we manage to pull off just a small percentage of all of the ideas we have, which would still be amazing.

Podcasting

Feierabendbier Open Education, the podcast I co-host with Markus Deimann, turned two years old last year. This remains to be one of the major projects that I am involved in while not being able to bill my work somewhere, which – in retrospect – is also at least part of the reason why we did not record as many episodes as I would have wished to. If my count is right, we still published 18 episodes, but in more than one cases I had to scratch these time-intensive recordings in order to do some ‘actual’ work, that I would be able to charge someone for. However, it is truly gratifying to have someone come up to you, mention the podcast and appreciate the work that goes into it.

I also started two new podcasting projects in 2018:

“Hamburg hOERt ein HOOU” is a podcast in which I interview researchers and practitioners at the Hamburg Open Online University, a project funded by the city of Hamburg and the public universities in the city. The team at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, who have hired me to host and produce this podcast, have put quite some thought and craftsmanship into the naming and design of this podcast and this continues to be lots of fun.

“Podcasting the Digital Turn” is quite similar, but different in the way that I interview a variety of educators in Higher Ed from all over the country. So far, we aimed to do a 45 minute deep dive on a specific topic and it will be interesting to see how this develops further this year.

Both of these podcasting projects have been and continue to be great fun and an awesome learning experience for me. I completely changed my recording and production setup for these projects and invested a bit to buy new equipment, becoming more and more confident in my skills and expertise. All together, I have published 26 podcast episodes over the last year.

2018 has taken its toll on me and it has taught me some important lessons on self-care, but also on more deliberately choosing projects, practices and collaborators. This list of projects and collaborations is not close to being finished, but it sure helped to go back and reflect on the year. I highly recommend doing this, even if you don’t aim to publish it.

Header Image by Paul M via unsplash

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