On Celebrating the messiness of life: Thank you Erik Duval !

Last Saturday, I was attending a public speaking event and during the break I wanted to check something on Facebook. Scrolling down the page, I saw a picture Grainne Conole posted where she was with Georges Siemens and Erik Duval. I had not seen the comments and the picture had all of them smiling so I smiled thinking “what a great picture with great minds” and went on with formulating “musical vibes from Bonn” in my head when I suddenly paid attention to what the comments said. I left the page in shock and immediately searched on Twitter where the few tweets just confirmed the sad news. My tears made blurred my sight and I understood that Erik has peacefully left this world.

A few weeks ago, I decided to write the first post of this year 2016  “Recalling the messy interview” dedicated to Erik who always found the time and the energy to comment on my posts, to share them and to encourage me to carry on writing even if at times it feels difficult.

I first met Erik at a conference in Leuven back in 2009 where he was one of the keynote speakers and during the break I went up to him and introduced myself “Chahira Nouira” which did not ring a bell for him until I said ” Cosmocat on Twitter” and while handing my business card he kindly declined it and said ” I know who you are! I am not good with business cards anyway, I can never find them again”

A few years later I finally dared asking Erik for an interview about what inspired him at a workshop he spoke at and the messy interview was born! I remember that I was a little bit embarrassed because I felt that my question on whether universities are ready to adopt and adapt to technological change was not the best but Erik gave me more than an answer: he gave me the possibility to make the best transition ever and then talked about “Celebrating the messiness of life!”

That evening all participants of the workshop were invited for dinner. I was inspired by the interview earlier and thought I would sing and create some musical chaos. Out of the blue, when no one was prepared for it, I started singing “A change is gonna come” I did not make it too far and stopped at the beginning of the second verse because back then I was not so comfortable with creating chaos but also because I had a realization. Until that point Erik and I agreed to disagree on who sang the best version ever of “A change is gonna come”.  In some of our exchanges on music on different channels he confirmed it was the one and only Sam Cooke. I could not change my mind and loved Otis Redding´s version. Everyone thought I was over with the singing and clapped which saved me form my second embarrassment that day. What actually happened is I for the first time realized how amazing the song and the lyrics are and singing it in presence of the Science Rockstar was a privilege.

Erik was a big music fan and knowledgeable about so many styles. We would talk about his passion and how important that is in his family. When I spoke about some of my music gigs he always wished me the best.

When Erik started the battle against cancer I would from time to time send “musical vibes and wishes”.  Talking about wishes, Erik would wish you a happy birthday on the first day of a new starting year! No, it´s never too late for wishes, just think about it differently!

The few past days so many people have been writing beautiful things about Erik and I could not help but crying reading these wonderful tributes to a great person he was and will be forever in the hearts of so many people around the globe and the hearts of his family.  I never met Erik´s family but heard a lot about them and I wish his wife and his daughters a lot of strength.

Thank you Erik for your vision, your trust in people and for teaching me something about  celebrating the messiness of life!


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With a little help from YOU!

Some of you will know what I am writing about here because you have received an email or a request “with a little help from you!”. But here is the full story for everyone else!

For more than a year now, I have been closely following  DISCUSS a Community of Practice for Lifelong Learning. At the end 2015 I was asked to think about how to bring more visibility to the community. What was personally important for me is to connect ideas and thoughts from experts my community and my network because I do believe that the lessons learned and the good practices do matter not only for improvement purposes but also to ignite some reflection on the topic beyond the theoretical underpinnings.

When I finally dared asking- yes it took me a long time to do so! I decided to ask some of you and sent an email. I tried to be as informative and concise as possible and asked for the following:

My Request

My idea is to get insights from you on CoPs based on your experience and stories. If you wish to help me with this one:

-Have a look at http://www.discuss-community.eu/ You can register with your Twitter or Facebook account

-Record an audio file (MP3 would be great) between 6 and 9 min answering the following
1. Introduce yourself
2. What is your experience with CoPs?
3. What do you think is the most relevant thing a CoP for lifelong learning should offer ? Why? (your experience and lessons learned are very welcome)

– Send me the recording which I would, with your permission post onto my audioboom channel and later embed on the DISCUSS homepage.

Any chance you can find time for this in your tight agenda in the coming days?
I must say I was amazed with how many of you immediately reacted and helped me out. Thank you again very much!
The series Reflections on Communities of Practice by YOU was born thanks to you.
So far, Ewen Le Borgne, Alan Levine, Sascha Foerster, Alastair Creelman have been so kind to send me audio files that I embedded on my AudioBoom Channel. I used my channel for practical reasons: files are easy to upload, I used the tool in the past to collect thoughts and ideas about learning and technology in general and it has a playlist function.
Here is the playlist where the order of appearance is from most recent to oldest posts received !
The list is growing and I am thrilled to receive more audio recordings ! Stay tuned!
A special thanks goes to my friend Inge de Waard who once again exceeded my expectations! Inge decided to go for the extra mile and offered the whole package: a blog post, a video and sharing on many channels social media. Thanks Inge! I am very grateful!
If you feel Reflections on Communities of Practice by YOU is something of interest, just let me know. I am only a tweet away !
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Recalling the “messy interview”

Recently I was going through my AudioBoom channel that I used often on conferences to capture moments, ideas and chats with Edtechies around the world. I listened to a few of them and there is one audio that will always stand out!

A few years ago, I attended a workshop on mobile learning and had the chance to record a chat with Erik Duval. Erik said during the interview “maybe we should call this the messy interview” and so it was!

Today, I am still looking for ways to embrace the messiness of ideas that could serve a learning path/journey, create some value for others, bring together the amazing experiences and knowledge from friends and colleagues in the online learning scene, etc. but I guess it is a learning journey in itself to which I want to dedicate some blog posts in the near future. So stay tuned and maybe you too, will get inspired by the messy interview!

Thank you, Erik !

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Just do it – you know you want to !

A home for good ideas

So many things have been going on since the beginning of this month at work and during my travels for workshops and conferences. I guess I should start from there and make this space “a home for good ideas” again or at least try to.

Just do it – you know you want to ! That´s what Sheila said when I mentioned how bad I am with resuming blogging. I always thought I will manage to write on a regular basis but I am not really good at it, well at least I think so. Many of my friends thought I should go for an Radio show instead and I must say I am tempted (BTW DS106radio, I miss you!) . I believe the one cannot replace the other though.

So, watch this space and maybe you will be surprised to read some posts “with a whiff of academese” as there is no way around it if I want my future research plans to come true and do more academic writing. Martin Weller puts it very nicely “I don’t know how any academic writer functions without a blog”

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Let´s try this blogging again

IMG_7407It seems like it is that time of the year where I think “Maybe I should give it a try again !”

Finding the right topic is not so much of a concern but it is very hard, at least for me, to find a good rhythm and the right motivation to write and publish.

I have been thinking about what language I should blog in. As in my daily professional life English is the official language, it sounds almost obvious that I should use English here. But then again, I speak French on a regular basis, so why not try both?

This may create a lot of confusion but I think it is worth an experiment 🙂 I am not so keen on creating another blog for the moment, so I will mix French and English here and try to write in one language or the other on a specific day. People would know what they can expect. However, I can´t guarantee this is going to be without surprises !

So, I hope to share more about the books I am reading these days, the struggles I have with writing my PhD Research proposal, my fascination about technology and its role in making learning an inspiring journey and my public speaking experiments.

Stay tuned ‘!

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You said “QR” ?


Today, I was thinking about all the new and cool stuff I learned watching Martin Weller´s “10 Digital Scholarship Lessons in 10 Videos” talk

One thing I learned and try to apply here is “Just start now” You probably have never heard about my blog. The reason is simple: I have created one and never really started blogging. So, I am giving it a try ! Thanks, Martin !

I wanted to talk about QR codes. It´s more a question that came to my mind after listening to  a conversation two friends of mine had about QR codes. They were not so sure whether these are really useful.

I think it´s nice to be able to point your phone at the code and immediately check the related info. It´s also really cool to generate a QR code, I did one with my details, in case you are still wondering 🙂

I am not so sure whether QR codes use could go beyond marketing: QR for educational purposes ? I can´t think of any concrete examples right now but maybe there are some good projects out there. I will have to research that but if in the meantime you have any ideas, feel free to share.

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Dare Speak !

When I first started working as an e-learning assistant for UNU,  I thought of starting my own blog. It took me a bit longer but I am happy I finally joined the blogosphere !

I will use this space to share my learning experience and write about my passion for connecting people, spreading ideas, music and languages!

As I am writing this very first post I am thinking about my microblogging experience that I started in 2009 on Twitter. I joined Twitter after having a Skype conversation with a friend. She was telling me about a very simple and short way of sharing ideas and knowledge on the web with people you may have not met face to face, but who have a lot in common with you ! I still remember my frustration when I wanted to follow friends who were not yet convinced of the use of the social networking platform, but also my great satisfaction to easily find people specialized in the field of e-learning, economics and music.

I sometimes ask myself if using Twitter very often is one of the reasons that made it a bit more difficult for me to start a blog. Nevertheless, I did end up starting a blog of my own, after all… here I am, Cosmocat !

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I took this picture at the 5th e-Learning Africa Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. I was as well wondering about OER !

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