A couple of weeks ago Sue Beckingham, who I first met at a SEDA conference invited me to be a facilitator on a new ‘course’ that she and her friend Chrissi Nerantzi had set up. When I heard the words ‘Bring Your Own Devise’ I instantly said ‘Yes’ without really investigating what I’d let myself in for!
I’m really pleased I said ‘Yes’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, its great to have access to the wonderful course Sue and Chrissi have created http://byod4learning.wordpress.com/. It’s a short 5 day course with the main objective of demonstrating and showing the potential of using mobile devices in a learning context. It’s a truly open course, as a participant you don’t have to register and although the 5 days have a series of structured activities its really up to the learners to decide how much they are going to complete. The ‘subject matter is grouped around 5 themes; connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating,creating. In the topics there ar a series of tasks based around different scenarios. So for example, on the first day there is a short YouTube video of a student and lecturer talking about mobiles phones and wondering how useful they could be in their own studies. The sceanarios, resources and structure of the course are great and will be useful to anyone interested in mobile technologies.
The second reason I’m looking forward to the course is to ‘work’ (is that the right word?) along side and with other people from other universities on a specific teaching experience. I’ve not done this before. The only two facilitators I’ve met in person are Sue and very briefly David Hopkins (Learning Technologist at Leicester Uni). Yesterday I had a brief telephone conversation with Andrew Midleton from Sheffield Hallam. All the other other facilitators are from a variety of different institutions: Manchester Met, Uni of Salford, Uni of Huddersfield, John Moores Uni Liverpool. Already we have been communicating with one another via various social media tools, twitter, Skype, YouTube, and rather less successfully for me Google hangouts.
Thirdly, I’m looking forward to the new experience of being a ‘Facilitator’ and what that involves. For 20 years I was a classroom teacher and during that time I really thought of myself as ‘facilitator’ in the classroom. For me, good teaching always involves interaction between students and between the students and myself, so inevitably involves collaboration. My role as the teacher was to create the activities and give instructions, help and feedback in the classroom (and sometimes online). When I started to look at the BYODL4L ‘course’ I realised that the facilitators role was very similar to this but the tools to do this are totally different. Gone is the face to face support and direction. It will be really interesting to see how the social media tools facilitate this type of learning.
On a personal note, I realised I needed more that just asynchronous online direction on my role as a facilitator. On Thursday evening the faciltators met up via Google hangouts to have a group meeting and discussion about our role. For some technical reasons (which I haven’t fully worked out) I was unable to join the meeting. That night and the next morning I started to a bit lonely and peripheral to the group of facilitaors …its such a weird feeling! Anyway the next afternoon I had a good chat with Andrew Middleton one of the facilitators and soon realised that all the things I was thinking were shared by the others too. I needed the chat (on the telephone) to bring me back into the group but I wonder if the participants on the BYOD4L course will feel the same when the we begin on Monday?
Lastly, and maybe this is bit premature because we are not sure how next week is going to go but I’m already thinking about some future developments. I wonder if its possible to run the course again using the BYOD4L website. I was a bit slow off the ground but if I thought about it earlier I could have organised a group of students and lecturers to meet up next week, as a kind of support group for the course. At the last minute I booked a room at my uni, posted an intranet article and sent some a email to people I know who will be interested to have a meeting on Monday lunchtime…not sure if anyone will turn up (also it’s the first week of a new term next week and everyone will be very busy).
The other idea I had for the future is to take the BYOD4L model of a course and see if I can apply to the type of staff development sessions I do here at Regent’s. At the moment I’m setting up the SEDA ‘Embedding Learning Technology’ staff training course and I’m wondering if this could be turned into a collaborative course with other universities (any takers facilitators?)…..
Anyway these are just some early thoughts on the matter….got to cook the Haggis now (its Burns Night tonight!)….looking forward to Monday!!