Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Reflections on @FOS4L Flexible Open Social Learning #FOS4L

This post is an accont and reflection of my experiences engaging with and facilitating FOS learning. Details of what FOS is and how it came about can be found in a previous post. In short FOS stands for flexible open and social learning and took place last week as a 5 day learning event. 

The co-learning experience

Months of planning and finally it was time to commence FOS. That said we had been promoting a community space on Google+ for participants to introduce themselves. I felt this worked well and gave me and the other facilitators the opportunity to welcome joining participants. The event is totally open with no registration required. This is to allow everyone to dip in and listen if they wish to, and join in when they are ready. 

On launch day we released the first of the daily posts containing signposts to the activities, resources and recommended reading. As the day progressed I was delighted delighted to find so many new posts in the Google+ Community and a growing collection of tweets containing the #FOS4L hashtag. Along with other facilitators in the FOS team we were keen to respond to posts and welcome new participants to the community. From experience when taking online courses myself, it is really important to build social presence. Letting people know you have read their contributions by responding to them is valued. 

Public domain image:
As facilitators it was important to work together and support each other too. Making use of social tools like Facebook groups, Google hangouts and Google Docs allowed us to communicate, raise questions and plan along the way. I'm constantly amazed at what people can achieve when we do work together towards a common goal. 

On the Monday we held an upside down twitter chat or 'question shower'. This was a new approach initiated by the wonderfully creative Chrissi Nerantzi. Now at this point I as an experienced partaker and lead for numerous tweet chats, started to feel nervous. Chrissi was taking away the structure of pre-planned questions and suggesting that anyone can ask a question, based on the suggested pre-reading in the blog. An hour of scattered questions! She assured me it would be fine... Now I have ultimate faith in Chrissi, so whilst it did take me out of my comfort zone I agreed to lead the first question shower - which was to introduce it and then let others jump in and question away. I can't say I didn't have a few worries but in the name of creativity the question shower was launched. And guess what?.... It was a blast. Questions darted all over the place, with answers galore in response. You can see how it went in the Storify below. It's worth a look!

Storify of the Question Shower on Twitter

Fast forward....

The week flew by and if I could have pressed pause or indeed rewind I would have done! My new experiences have been learning curves and I'm pleased I took some new challenges. It is so easy to get set in our ways. I was reminded that if a new innovation doesn't work then review it and see if it can be tweaked and try again. In the event you and your learners are still not happy you can always go back to what you were doing before or find something even better.

Before we knew it, it was Friday and the week  culminated with a 'giant hangout'. I truly felt as if I have been "Standing on the shoulders of giants". I feel privileged that in the short space of a week I had the opportunity of co-learning with so many wonderful educators. Informal learning and CPD doesn't need to take up hours and whatever time you invest, you can come away learning something new that you can apply to your practice. Building your personal learning network and connecting with other like minded people is in my mind the richest opportunity any educator can have - connections can be made both online and off.    

Review of the week

Below is a slidedeck that captures key highlights of the week. A huge thanks must go to our facilitators Neil Withnall, Stephen Powell, Mike Nicholson, Stathis Konstandinidis and Deb Baff. Our team of 7 come from 5 different institutions and I know I can speak for myself and Chrissi as organisers of this event, it would not have been possible without them. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work and learn together.    

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue,

    So lovely to read your thoughts and reflections linked to FOS. Pleased this was a valuable journey and you took some risks too. I think the moment we as facilitators stop learning and taking risks, we start disconnecting from our learners.

    As always, I enjoyed our collaboration, the experiments that were generated through this and the conversations we had with our wonderful facilitators and participants.

    Happy Summer ;)