Following on from my previous post, this is Creating day for #BYOD4L and it seems like a good time to capture and share some thoughts on the blended open approach to CPD I have tried to develop for Sheffield Hallam University on this iteration of #BYOD4L. There’s a lot to think about and report, but for this post I will just set out some initial thoughts on what we did.
The original idea is captured on the institutional page for SHU but follows various conversations with other BYOD4L facilitators that in this second iteration of BYOD4L I wanted to involve more of our staff in BYOD4L as a CPD opportunity, including and especially those who might not know how to engage with the technology or might not be confident to do so. A face to face (f2f) dimension seemed useful and I built upon an impromptu f2f session run in Sheffield in the first iteration in January. This real world moment was so valuable and complemented the thriving, immersive online experience.
So this time round we booked a room and a time for each of the five days. We promoted the course, on and off-line, through the university’s usual CPD communication channels. In addition I wanted to try a little more, and so ‘devised’ a Smart Walk for the Tuesday. As it turned out this had to be a little more ‘open and flexible’ than I had originally intended as I just had no time to plan some of this, especially as our wifi went so wiffy on the Tuesday morning and I didn’t have the opportunity to set up and learn about Aurasma in the way I wanted. However, a small group of us met as planned in the Main Entrance to the university. I had asked that people install a small number of apps: Twitter, YouTube Capture, Instagram, SoundCloud and Aurasma. Everyone had Twitter and one or two others had Aurasma. This lack of compliance reflects more on me not getting the full information out until too late, rather than those who turned up. Nevertheless we agreed to use what we had between us – probably a better strategy after all.
The intention was to create a narrative or map using multimedia. Here it is:
— Andrew Middleton (@andrewmid) July 18, 2014
So we made it. I learnt about each of the apps and how to use them. While I had them installed, I had never used them purposefully. I have used Storify before, though I have confirmed that it is certainly something I’d like to explore more fully. The idea of using tweets and so forth as dialogue in a narrative – rather than as the narrative – has plenty of potential for teaching and learning.
Returning to day 1, myself and colleagues ran a f2f Twitter workshop. We felt this would give people the opportunity to ‘have a look’ at something that otherwise might appear to be too mysterious for them. I think the tactic worked. Several people attended the workshop who would not otherwise have joined BYOD4L. We also met one or two people who were already using social media in their practice and I think it gave them an opportunity to declare themselves as being innovators;: quite an important statement.
As it happened the group who attended mostly stuck with it for the week. One or two went and one or two came. Those who left were going on holiday. But I have just realised that we used a room in a building associated with a particular faculty. All of the people who we met f2f were from that faculty… If we’d chosen a room in a different building would we have had a different group?
We made things together each time we met:
- On Monday we recorded an audio summary about the advantages of using Twitter for Learning. This was recorded on my iPad using the excellent Voice Record app which allowed me to post it to SoundCloud and my Twitter feed.
- On Tuesday we made various item using text, images, video and audio on the walk (see above). But we also had a lunchtime workshop in which we attempted to make a Socrative quiz for use outside of a classroom. To be honest to distracted ourselves while thinking about the questions. Perhaps we discovered that designing questions is hard! Especially in a busy group.
- On Wednesday we had a workshop on curating. We talked a lot about citation management and Anne Nortcliffe showed a video of how she uses the EndNote app. We also talked about Mendeley (and later established a Mendeley group on smart learning). We summarised out discussion using a SoundCloud recording>
- On Thursday I couldn’t attend the meeting, but I did ask the group to make something. It was Collaborating day and initially it seemed they spent the session looking at Blackboard Collaborate. I was a little disappointed when I heard. Then I realised they’d spent the session evaluating the Bb Collaborate app and created a Padlet board (which I can’t link to at the moment).
- On Friday, today, we set ourselves a problem and, as we were f2f, we used a whiteboard and pens to create a kind of mindmap together to facilitate our brainstorm. We also made a list of sorts. We photographed and tweeted the list and video narrated the mindmap, each of us summarising part of it.
Novices and slightly more experienced people proved throughout the week how easy it is now to create really useful artefacts fairly instantly in any media. In all cases we collaborated and the smart media facilitated and deepened the collaboration – it did not get in the way, it extended our range in many ways.
One question that has preoccupied me this week is whether #BYOD4L has been joined up. Did the f2f element shift the focus off the intensity of the immersive online experience? Well, it has certainly felt different to me. The responsibility of the f2f everyday has added to the demand of facilitating and taking part online. And that is very demanding. It ends up being a long day. Every day. It’s 10.45pm again and I haven’t finished yet and every day has been an early start too. This is mostly trying to fit it around the day job and other responsibilities. So it’s been hard. The evening tweetchats however have been fantastically rewarding. A powerful bonding and learning experience. Apart from my daily blog post I haven’t done the daily activities – because I didn’t need to, there’s been plenty to think about and do. So yes, quite a fragmented set of daily #BYOD4L engagements, but each quite powerful and joined by the day’s theme.
The real question is how did the f2f link to the online experience? It becomes clear that blended is very much the right word now, if somewhat different to other understandings of it. For the f2f group our commitment to make products as an outcome of our real world meeting has been framed by me in terms of making an offering to our online friends. Our online partners have given us an authentic audience for our products. However, it is a shame that we have not received more feedback from colleagues elsewhere on what we have produced. That would have really helped. Perhaps it was the lack of acknowledgement of these products that has left me feeling dissatisfied. Having said that I know some of the other universities have had some f2f events and I have not noticed particularly – probably because I have been busy myself. Even though it’s we’re very connected, we are not necessarily paying attention to each other!
To finish on a positive note, the feedback we have generated for ourselves when we have been together has been highly rewarding. I always value people who are prepared to do a little bit extra ‘off piste‘ just because they think it could be interesting. Soi thank you SHU f2f-ers! You made my week and help me to retain my faith in making things together!
And thank you all #BYOD4L-ers – you have to marvel at the collective energy and ingenuity we display. Thank you.