Wow, we have officially reached the end of #fdol132 unit 1 and I would like to use this space to capture some of my thoughts about the course so far.
Really pleased we got such a rich mix of individuals from different countries and different disciplines joining us for this course. But also the facilitators’ team is rich in so many ways. Neil, who was a participant in #FDOL131 joined us as a PBL facilitator and Maria who was a PBL facilitator is now also one of the #FDOL132 organisers. Lovely to work with both of them and Lars of course 😉
It feels like that community buzz has been created amongst colleagues in this course, but across geographical boundaries.” participant
I have enjoyed reading many introductions and responding also and engaging in some conversations. I have found it great that people also responded actively to other posts and have started sharing ideas but also reaching out for help, support and ideas. Some have started using their personal learning spaces and others created new ones. Wonderful! Have a look for example into Simon’s space, Martin’s, Fjodor’s, Mark’s, Maria’s, Anna’s to add a few) Also, the webinars have been really lively and participants shared their webcams, contributed to the chat but also took the microphone, well we actively encouraged them 😉 Seeing people makes such a difference, to me at least. Is it because I am a picture person? But then again people love looking at each other. So, I don’t think it is just me.
The team of facilitators has worked hard to secure the smooth opening and running of the course. It is not an easy job! Believe me! At times we were confronted with challenges that require quick decision making, coordination and changes. I guess this is not unique to our situation. We are, however, in different locations and use exclusively social media (Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook, a private Google + community and Skype) to communicate, co-ordinate, create and collaborate. Again, probably nothing unusual today as more and more collaborations have a global span. Anyway, being always, well almost on stand-by, or switched-on helps us operate quietly in the background so that everything runs smoothly in the course. Being switched-on all the time can be a challenge, or is a challenge, for me at least, Balancing the physical and digial world can be difficult and I definitly need to find a better strategy. Would be interesting to hear what others think about this.
We are experimenting with a specific collaborative learning approach in open course settings. This is a simplified version of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and we needed groups. Putting the groups together is an intense activity but Lars mastered it again really really well and with patience, a lot of patience and hard work. What would we do without him. What would we do without you Lars?… if you are reading this? While we have streamlined our COOL FISh model and removed peripheral participation in the groups as this didn’t seem to work during the pilot, we have now 8-9 individuals in each group and it will be interesting to see how the groups will work.
I am really pleased that all 4 facilitators are on the same wavelength about facilitation, what it is and what it isn’t. I also love the fact that we can see each other’s group spaces. Actually anybody can see them, even individuals who are not PBL group members, anybody out there. We have made ‘classroom’ walls transparent, actually we got rid of them, and made the web a big learning space. So many teachers fear to be observed teaching in their classrooms. Closing the door and locking everybody out, makes some teachers feel save. But is this healthy for the teachers/facilitators? And what about the learners? We talk about being inclusive? How can we be exclusive while claiming that our learning and teaching is inclusive? I can’t resist adding here Palmer’s (2007, 146) words which echo in my mind when thinking about teaching and learning behind closed doors, behind closed spaces:
“Though we teach in front of students, we almost always teach solo, out of colleagial sight – as contrasted with surgeons or trial lawyers, who work in the presence of others who know their craft well. Lawyers argue cases in front of other lawyers, where gaps in their skill and knowledge are clear for all to see. Surgeons operate under the gaze of specialists who notice if a hand trembles, making malpractice less likely. But teachers can lose sponges or amputate the wrong limb with no witness except the victims.”
In FDOL132 we see facilitation as a collaborative, transparent and supportive process but also a way to learn with and from each other. Sharing is at the heart of what we do day-in and day-out in the facilitators team! We share our ideas, our worries, our feelings. There is honesty and commitment. Commitment to each other, the course and the participants.
When the groups were created last time, conversations in the main community space died out! I wouldn’t like this to happen again especially as we have loads of autonomous learners who are there at the moment and we need to find ways to engage them in a meaningful way so that they get the maximum out of the course and each unit.
Finalising my initial survey for my PhD research at the moment and will post to all on Monday.
end of unit 1 numbers
registered participants: 107 (mainly from the UK and Sweden but also Canada, Ireland, Greenland, Norway, New Zealand, Belgium, Slovenia, Argentina, Switzerland, Hongkong)
Google plus community: 67
Groups: 4 (8-9 members each)
Food for thought:
1. How to form groups in the future using a more sustainable approach.
2. Engage autonomous learners throughout the course
3. Identify additional PBL facilitators from participants or past participants.
Let’s unit 2 begin!