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!