Explorations into collaborative open online learning (COOL): Participants’ and facilitators’ voices and their open learning ecologies (2014)

Sue Beckingham, Sheffield Hallam University and Chrissi Nerantzi, Manchester Metropolitan University

BYOD4Learning is a truly open course, or an ‘open magical box’ for students and teachers in Higher Education who would like to develop their understanding, knowledge and skills linked to using smart devices for learning and teaching and use these more effectively, inclusively and creatively. It was offered for the first time in January 2014 as a registration-free and bite-size course over 5 consecutive days led by a team of volunteer facilitators from within and beyond the UK.

The aim of the course was to put the participant in the driving seat and present exciting opportunities to learn autonomously and collaboratively based on authentic contextualised learning and development needs and aspirations. At the same it encouraged support from peers and an open culture of sharing within an emerging learning ecology.

Within BYOD4Learning, learning was fully accessible via smart devices and was a lived and immersive experience. Active experimentation and discovery learning was encouraged and supported through peers, facilitators and the wider community. Participants were able to connect, share experiences and learn with others from the wider community located in many different parts of the world using social media over distributed learning ecologies. The topics and activities provided a scaffold for learning and introduce participants to progressively more complex uses in bite-size learning chunks that trigger interest, engagement and help them to make connections to people, ideas and reflect on their own practice. Collaborative Open Online Learning (COOL) Focus – Investigate – Share (FISh), a simplified version loosely based on Problem-Based Learning was the underpinning pedagogical design of this course. Topics are introduced via short multimedia scenarios and present both teacher and student perspectives. Participants used these individually or collaborative as a basis for their enquiry and to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills linked to specific topics: connecting, communicating, collaborating, creating and curating through which they also had the opportunity to reflect on their current practices and identify opportunities for change and innovation.

Our digital poster will reflect upon the first iteration of this innovative learning experience. It should be noted that the course carries a Creative Commons licence, an explicit encouragement for others to reuse, repurpose and adapt for specific needs and learning situations. We hope therefore to also include reflections of how others, individuals and groups, might have taken this forward and used the COOL BYOD4L framework.