BYOD4L – a new perspective

This week has seen the third iteration of Bring Your Own Devices for Learning. My role this time round has been somewhat different – and I think this is because I am not facilitating a TweetChat this time. In the first iteration I was excited and nervous, the second confident and excited, and this time…
My main input is taking part in and leading some of the local face to face sessions at SHU and being an active and still irreverent participant in the evening tweetchats.

The role of face to face

Last time, in July, I proposed we promote and look at a more blended approach to BYOD4L, recognising that we could hit a threshold of online learners if we don’t find a way to scaffold the gap for those who are interested and not confident to commit themselves. I also saw local f2f sessions as a way to engage people from the region, not just the University.
I have to say that last July, and now in January 2015, our local sessions have been very valuable but have not attracted people from beyond the university nor have they attracted large numbers or people who need a bit of hand holding. In both iterations we seem to have a constant, small study group – and that is valuable.
Part of this may just reflect a trend in CPD, at least our experience of CPD at SHU. Here we have shifted our CPD focus to delivering large events like L&T Conferences and, to some extent special events like BYOD4L. Attendance and participation in these large events is very high because we are able to recognise the great things people are doing. 1 hour CPD workshops take too much time to plan as a central unit given the numbers they attract and we now support faculty colleagues in running these more locally.


The Tweetchats (#BYOD4Lchat) seem as good as ever. While many of the questions used are just as they have been before, I am finding myself learning new things – as if there wouldn’t be something new to learn in this rapidly evolving area!

New perspective

Certain things have changed.

In the last year approaches to open learning and variants of MOOCs have continued to proliferate. My own university, for example, has made a serious commitment to understanding their importance to teaching and learning; not just marketing. I know other universities have actively taken notice of the trend and delivered and supported the delivery of MOOCs. I met colleagues at the University of Sheffield last week where they have really got behind this too.

Helen Webster’s 10 Days of Twitter model has concurrently gained a lot of ground and in the December we saw evidence of several 12 Apps of Christmas online CPD courses.

Twitter, as a key social media tool, but other tools too, have gained a lot more ground amongst academics and students as tools that can be usefully integrated in learning.

The implications of this are that BYOD4L and tweetchats are not so unfamiliar to people. This means the dynamic of a tweetchat has changed. To be clear it has matured – the BYOD4Lchats are still frenzied, exciting, and very, very social, but I wonder if we are seeing more sharing, more depth, more cliques (in a good way) being active in the course of a chat? Someone needs to do some analysis perhaps.


Part of this is evident in the familiar faces. This is my third iteration, but i recognise many other constant companions. This signals how BYOD4L (and other events) are not courses, but social gatherings of peers who value each other’s support.

I am enjoying, in this iteration being much more of a participant. Not leading (even as someone with a ‘leader’ role) affords a rewarding, reflective and learning state of mind I feel.

About Andrew Middleton

NTF, PFHEA, committed to active learning, co-operative pedagogies, media-enhanced teaching and learning, authentic learning, postdigital learning spaces. Key publication: Middleton, A. (2018). Reimagining Spaces for Learning in Higher Education. Palgrave.
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