Crossing boundaries with #byod4l – some thoughts on sustaining and extending open: design, resources and practice

( Nerantzi, 2017)

This post is an attempt to try and sort our a stream of thoughts currently running around my brain after last week’s #BYOD4L event; after hearing Chrissi talking about open practice at this event also last week;  and some quick chats with my fellow #BYOD4L facilitators.  I’m also following Laura Pasquani’s current work in networked, digital academic life in HE.

I’m trying to make sense of what it is about #BYOD4l that motivates me, my fellow facilitators and the wider community to continue to participate.  There are many unique things about #BYOD4L, but at its heart is an open and flexible design based on open educational practice – the 5 C framework.

This year we extend the model slightly to add 5 more Cs to the mix to reflect some changes in practice and to extend the conversations particularly in the nightly tweet chats.  Every year we have a quick review meeting to see what we should update, but we haven’t (so far) felt the need to update the original content and resources. That might be down to lack of time, perhaps a bit of laziness? But also the fact that it all seems OK. That might change next year. However I think we are probably less concerned with the content as we know it is the community interaction that is at the heart of the week. So we tend to focus our attention on making sure that the synchronous bits are fully supported.

As #BYOD4L has evolved, it seems to me that the nightly tweet chats have become increasingly important. In fact, based on no real evidence whatsoever apart from my observed interaction, I think that for many this is their main contact with the event.

The community engagement is (perhaps) more important than the content/design of the day. Also the chats aren’t really so much about BYOD anymore, they seem to me (again without any empirical evidence) to be about practice and how we are all dealing with the many boundaries we have to deal with in (higher) education between personal/professional everyday practice, personal/institutional technology provision,  formal and informal academic development.  Hence the link with Laura’s work.

  • How does being part of a digital learning network support learning and development for higher ed professionals?
  • How are faculty and staff shaping their online identity and presence to share professional values, work, etc.?
  • How can does a networked community expand knowledge to enhance our roles on campus and the work we do?
  • Why might others higher ed professionals want to network with peers to scaffold their own career goals?

I really hope that I can participate in at least one of the slow tweetchats she has planned over the coming months. Not least to compare that experience with the somewhat frenetic hour long #BYOD4L ones.

We have 5 years worth of archived tweets now and  it would be fascinating and probably quite illuminating to do some proper SNA, textual analysis of the tweet chats – another one day job . . .

However back to motivation.  There is definitely something about the open, collaborative element of the event that provides my motivation to continue to be involved in the facilitation team. It also provides really accessible  routes in and out of my daily professional development and the support I provide from others within and outwith my institution. This is first year I haven’t actually organised some kind of CPD event in my institution around  #BYOD4L. That was largely  down to other work  commitments  during the week, and tbh lack of headspace for me to do that.

That said, despite it being a really busy week for me, participating and facilitating the week has really provided me with a much needed networked, community boost – another key motivation factor for continuing to be involved. The community interaction makes me think about “stuff” – particularly my own CPD and in turn the wider CPD provision I am involved in my institution,  in a different way. It’s also giving my blog a bit of an injection which is always good. (Well for me anyway, hopefully it is for you too, dear reader). #BYOD4l  allows me to cross many boundaries,  which links to Chrissi’s PhD research which specially investigated the:

benefits of crossing boundaries (i.e. open learning) in an academic development contextand proposes an alternative model to traditional academic Continuing Professional Development (CPD). It engages academic staff in experiencing novel approaches to learning and teaching and developing as practitioners through engagement in academic CPD that stretches beyond institutionalboundaries, characterised by diversity and based on collaboration and openness.”
 I’m really hoping that with the rest of my facilitation team we can explore this more and write up our experiences of not just open learning but the motivations, benefits and challenges of open facilitation using Chriss’s PhD (which I am really enjoying reading just now) as our theoretical underpinning.

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