#fdol131 unit 3 coming to an end @openfdol

THINK Together

together we are richer

Our first 2 weeks of PBL are over. Groups had the opportunity to work closer together using COOL FISh and explore one of the stories from our archive which were contributed by FDOL participants. Having authentic stories would contextualise learning and I could see that some groups also choose to get together and construct their story at the beginning of unit 3. My groups made a good start. I think the fact that they started working together in unit 2 was helpful and prepared them better for unit 3. I can sense that their experience became now more personal through the relationships they have started forming.

general observations about unit 3

  • Discussions in the FDOL community space did not happen
  • Webinar was well attended and the recording was accessed afterwards as well. Received really positive comments about the webinar.
  • We also noted limited activity in some of the groups and are thinking to merge further groups to enable more active participants to be part of an active PBL group. This did happen and we had 5 groups at the end of unit 3.
  • Some groups work really effectively together and I could see that the level of commitment and engagement was impressive. Group members supported each other really well, felt that they were learning and completed the task successfully.
  • My groups organised Google hangouts autonomously and they didn’t feel that they needed me there. A good sign that groups are maturing and are able to self-manage their activities. Wonderful. I am of course here if/when I am needed. I am kept up-to-date as I follow with great interest their group spaces where activities are captured and comment when needed or asked to.
  • There is a need to understand why some participants are still in-active and others who have been active have now disappeared. An invitation for reflection has been posted in my 2 groups and I hope that participants will use this opportunity to reflect on their unit 3 experience and share their thoughts with us.
  • Also thinking about the evaluation of FDOL and the interviews I would like to conduct. Putting some first questions together at the moment.
  • Would also like to suggest to my groups to write about their experience a reflective article for further dissemination and I hope they will be interested. They don’t know yet about this… but I guess they know now 😉

Invitation to reflect

As we complete our first PBL unit, it might be useful to briefly reflect on your experience working together during unit 3 and I am including here 3 questions to help you with this.

1. What did you enjoy most during unit 3?

2. What are the main difficulties you experienced during unit 3 and how did you overcome these?

3. How could your facilitator and group members help you enhance your experience during FDOL?

#fdol131 thoughts and observations on unit 2 @openfdol

by Chrissi Nerantzi


Unit 2 arrived and action was initially limited. Some conversations started happening in the FDOL community space but the groups hadn’t found each other yet.

A lot of effort was put into contacting participants and we noticed that many who had expressed interest to work within PBL groups seemed to be in-active. We were trying to understand why and emails were sent out to all. We noticed that sending messages to individual participants triggered a reply from them so we started to understand what was happening. Many were too busy and perhaps didn’t understand the level of engagement required to fully participate in the PBL groups. What was the motivation to join this course initially (we have the info in the registration data) and what changed now? We need to understand more about this and would welcome your thoughts on this.

As some group members were in-active, we decided to merge groups and we reduced them from 8 to 6. Also we went from 4 PBL facilitators to 3. First meetings were now arranged by the PBL facilitators who took a more pro-active role to help the groups get together for the first time. This was achieved in some groups and the first Google hangouts were arranged. Suddenly things started to change, at least in some groups. This is how it felt to me and I could see the level of commitment going up. At least for some. I am really interested in finding out how the hangouts changed behaviours and engagement.

I am currently working with 2 groups and we have a core of about 4 participants. This seems to be a good number to co-ordinate and collaborate effectively. We had a fruitful hangout with both groups. My approach was facilitative and I wanted to make sure from the beginning that the group itself would be leading their activities. I think this was achieved and I was really happy with how the groups embraced this. For many it was the first time working remotely with others and they also used some of the technologies for the first time too. One of my groups has some experience in PBL while the other has limited experience of PBL but were keen to learn. So both groups did use unit 2 to carry out a tester PBL task linked to learning that needed to be done around PBL in readiness for unit 3. This was a fantastic decision and both groups worked well together to make progress and develop a better understanding of PBL through a collaborative task based on PBL. Some of the resources provided such as COOL FISh were used but I am wondering if they were too detailed… something we need to revisit, I think.

By the end of unit 2 both of my groups had make good progress with the task they set themselves and I was confident about what would follow if the level of commitment and engagement would be maintained.

general observations about unit 2

  • The webinar seemed to be the highlight of the unit. The recording was accessed afterwards as well which was positive
  • Some conversations around Flexible, Distance and Online Learning did happen in the FDOL community space and participants shared experiences
  • Resources sharing was limited within Diigo. More links were shared in the FDOL community space
  • Organisers connected the the main FDOL community space with the PBL group spaces and the FDOL course site
  • Groups got together and started using their PBL spaces
  • First group hangouts were a positive step to bring groups together and start learning together
  • Merging groups was a necessary move and triggered actions within the groups
  • Facilitators became pro-active in helping the group members to connect
  • High-level of group-commitment was observed in groups 1 and 2 among core members
  • Organisers and facilitators continued using their private community space to co-ordinate course activities and also organised Skype meetings on a weekly basis. Throughout the unit, the organisers were in regular contact via the Facebook messaging system.

Feel free to share your observations and reflections here too!

#fdol131 unit 1 reflections @openfdol

Please note, this is a copy of the post in our FDOL community space where this was originally posted. Up to now, I wasn’t sure where to post my reflections but I have no decided to add them to my personal space and hope that you will stop by if you are participating in this course and also comment.

I am also including the comments made there, just to keep things together. But I have anonymised these. If anybody is unhappy for me to use them here, please let me know as soon as possible and I will remove immediately. Thank you.

by Chrissi Nerantzi


We wanted everything to go well and tried to close any loop holes along the way. It was really good to have a team of 4 working closely together as the time progressed and exchange ideas and agree a way forward. We use another Google + community to communicate with each other but also store documents in Google docs and Dropbox. On top of this, I communicate with Lars via Facebook using the private messaging feature there. Why I am sharing all that with you? I think it is might be useful for others to find out how we communicate in the background with each other and that co-ordination is really important. There are a number of tools we are using and this can be challenging at times and we are asking ourselves: Do we really need all these tools? The Google tools have given us flexibility and we can get in touch with each other on the go,which I think is a big bonus. The same way we are using this community here.

One thing I would like to reflect on is the orientation webinar. I thought we had worked it all out, I had tested the link BUT, and there is a big but, I didn’t test to upload the presentation in advance and assumed that it would be work as I have used Blackboard Collaborate many times before. Well, I logged in 1 hour in advance and soon discovered that we had a problem. I messaged Lars and he was there is seconds. Tried to upload the presentation from his end but it didn’t work. I was getting frustrated with myself and didn’t really know how to resolve this.Together with Lars we started exploring various options, such as sharing desktop, uploading the presentation to Google doc and open it from there but nothing was ideal as we would loose the whiteboard interactivity!!!  In the end we decided to go for the editing view and shared desktop so that I could also see participants and the chat. I couldn’t believe what was happening. All these months! All that hard work and now I was not able to upload the presentation… anyway, Lars helped me to calm down, he is really good at this!!! and we started on time. Looking back and after a short conversation with all PBL facilitators that evening when we reflected on the webinar and how it went, I felt that I survived and that we need now to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We didn’t have any technical support during the webinar and I think this is something that can be very handy when things like that happen… but what do we do if it is not available?

I will stop here as this post is getting very long and will wait for others to comment.

Comments received via the FDOL Google community: 

“Hi all! Well like I mentioned in my presentation this is a challenge for me to work with social media. It took me a while to join Google+ and now I also have a twitter account. I know that several educations are using different platforms in their teaching and thought I might be more interactive with my students on the internet for example ping pong. The thing is it takes lots of time to just check what is going on and read all comments and also try and reflect and puts comments myself. I have difficulties seeing that I will have this time for my teaching since I am mostly in the clinic with my students and since I am responsible for a group of patients who really fill my day my teaching will also cover the evenings. This I can accept for a period of time like now but not all the time. We all need some free time and time with our families.
How do you all work it out? I love working close to people and have meetings with patients, colleagues and students in real life and I do not want to communicate through social media all the time.
Comments? Suggestions?”

“My initial reflection was – Wow How am I going to get my head around all of these tools etc. I am aware of some of the tools but never used them and this caused me some initial anxiety (and excitement!). I have recently acquired an Ipad and wanted to see if this would work for the webinar. I downloaded the app and was ready to go. Unfortunately I found a problem with speaking and adding to the whiteboard but found the webinar very useful. I have used collaborate once before and find this a useful resource for working together. I am looking forward to the PBL sessions and will be interested to see how this works as I have only completed PBL face-to-face. I did pick up the ‘PBL online’ book (I have added this resource to Diigo) and am reading this in readiness….”

“I’m finding the first week difficult due to other work/personal commitments and was away for a long weekend with no internet access. It did make me consider the relevance and importance of online and offline resources when studying at a distance: the possibility of  downloading content to view when away from my umbilical WiFi at work or home. I have also created a Google+ account as I previously did not have one. Traditionally I’ve fostered a division between my social networking presence and my professional life in the belief that I did not want to blur the boundaries. I’m aware I’m still doing this on the FDOL course as Google+ will only be a professional resource. My Twitter is a ‘locked’ account and covers issues of interest outside of my professional life so I’m considering creating a different Twitter account and having another presence online.. multiple personalities.. how to manage these? Raising interesting questions for me already :o)”

“On Monday evening the 20th I was trying hard to find my group members on the net. But without that muck of results. I stayed om the working place on Google + between 7 and 8 and saw 1, 2 and 3 anonymous persons watching the same site. I asked some questions on the chat but no answers. This experience makes me ask whether or not I was on the right place? And an other question: is this conversation the place to communicate?”

going FISh… ing with #lthejan13 @pgcap

LTHEJan13 week 7 assessment and feedback

Why do students want to be assessed? Why do they want feedback? Have you asked your students?

LTHEJan13 week 7 assessment and feedback

What does this mean for teachers?

LTHEJan13 week 7 assessment and feedback

How can you help your students?


Using the FISh model. Did this work?

LTHEJan13 week 7 assessment and feedback

PBL groups in action investigating and discovering. Was I really needed?

LTHEJan13 week 7 assessment and feedback

Sharing and debating findings… more questions than answers? I hope so!

jumping to week 6 #lthejan13 @pgcap

Well that was interesting I have to say. Only a tiny number of students noticed my silence and the absense of resources, readings and communication between week 5 and 6 – no reminder about room location… two asked me at the beginning of week 6 session where the resources were and a said afterwards that they had noticed that they were not there… and while some did notice… did anybody understand what the purpose of this excercise was? What was I trying to do?

There is a very good reason why I do and don’t do things on this programme and why we use different learning spaces and move around the campus and beyond into virtual spaces as well. If you haven’t made the connection yet, I am inviting you know to think about it now.

Just including below my favourite video from week 5 before I forget when we brought our action learning set flipped classroom task “learning theories via editing wikipedia” together via a collaborative mindmapping activity.

Ok, back to week 6 now…

What did I learn and more questions!
I learnt that my students have very different views when it comes to large and small group teaching and the appropiateness of more interactive learning experiences. Some very very traditional or dare I say conservative views surfaced ( we could have organised a proper debate and that was indeed a missed opportunity, but we still can do this online in our community space). It seems that there are some students who feel that creating opportunities for interaction during a traditional lecture is really problematic… and not really the place for it! I also heard my students who are teachers, saying that students expect a lecture when they arrive at a lecture, which I understood means that the students are quiet and listen and perhaps take notes while the lecturer does all the work? Do students expect this because this is normality or do they expect it because it is better for them? And if it is normality and they expect it, should they really get it if we are convinced that it is not that good for them? Content is everywhere. Why would they come to us to hear some of the stuff they could find elsewhere and access in their own time? What is it that they don’t get when we are not together in the classroom? Shouldn’t we really focus on what students can’t do when they are outside the classroom? We know that learning happens everywhere and most learning does indeed happen outside the classroom. So how can or should we use the time we spend together with our students in a more meaningful way so that our students get the most from them?

LTHEJan13 week 6: teaching, facilitating learning

Think about it!

LTHEJan13 week 6: teaching, facilitating learning

Would this be possible with 50, 100, 200 +? Give me one good reason why we shouldn’t do more of this!

LTHEJan13 week 6: teaching, facilitating learning

Moving around during a ‘lecture’? Using the walls? Only possible with a few? Why not with more? What stops you?

LTHEJan13 week 6: teaching, facilitating learning

And now on the floor? What next? Collaborative learning and large-group teaching incompatible? Mission (im)possible?

Remember! Less is more! Focus on uncovering instead of covering. If you want to make your students think and help them learn, create the right conditions to let the mind wonder and wander and make discoveries.

Remember! Using PBL next week! We will be learning about assessment and feedback via PBL. Will it work? There is only one way to find out 😉