Guest Post: Brian Kelly's Reflections on the #BYOD4L 'Mini-MOOC'

The #BYOD4L event took place this week. One of the aims of the five-day long online course was to encourage collaboration. Brian Kelly and I have agreed to collaborate by writing gust posts on each others blog. My post is available on the UK Web Focus blog and Brian’s post is given below.

What Was The BYOD4L Event About?

The BYOD4L (Bring Your Own Device for Learning) is described as “a truly open course, or an ‘open magical box’ for those who don’t like the term ‘course’ very much, for students and teachers (nothing is locked away or private and you won’t even need to register) who would like to develop their understanding, knowledge and skills linked to using smart devices for learning and teaching and use these more effectively, inclusively and creatively“.

The learning outcomes are that on successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Reflect on how smart devices can be used within their learning and/or teaching context.
  • Discuss opportunities and challenges which influence more widely the use of smart devices in Higher Education for inclusive practice.
  • Trial a specific BYOD intervention for learning/teaching in own context based on an informed rationale.

This post summarises my reflection om the potential of smart devices in a learning context, the opportunities available and the challenges to be faced and details of a new BYOD tool I came across this week. I should also add that although BYOD4L does not describe itself as a MOOC the approach taken and the tools used had many similarities with the HyperLinked Library MOOC in participated in last year. Perhaps Mini-MOOC might be a good description of BYOD4L, if you’ll permit “Mini-Massive” in the abbreviation!

What Did I Learn?

The five day event sought to encourage participants to publish their thoughts and engage in discussions on five topics, which were accompanied by a blog post published each morning during the week. The topics were (1) Connecting, (2) Communicating, (3) Curating, (4) Collaborating and (5) Creating.

It was difficult to engage fully in these activities on a daily basis, whilst still doing my day job! I therefore didn’t watch all of the videos which accompanied these themes. However I do feel that the event organisers provided a useful structure for helping to consider the role which using one’s own mobile devices may have in enriching learning.

I have written two posts this week related to this topic: one on “Buying a New Tablet (Useful for #BYOD4L)” and the other on “Responding to “I Don’t Have Time!” Comments“. In this post I will give my thoughts on the five issues.


Whilst the Social Web is not new, mobile devices enabled connections to be made, in the words of the old Martini advert, “anytime, anyplace, anywhere“. I have experienced the benefits of making new connections using mobile devices. The ability to be able to follow someone who has posted a link to an interesting article, shared useful resources or providing valuable insights into an area of interest to me whilst away from my desktop PC is useful to me. However people who worry about having too many people to follow do have a legitimate point, although this can be addressed by a periodic culling of one’s network, which might be particularly useful when one’s work activities change.


Although mobile devices can be useful when one is on the move, they can also be useful in other situations as I described almost two years ago in a post on how  Twitterers Do It In Bed! Since publishing that post on a number of occasions when giving a talk about social networking I’ve asked for a show of hands of people who have used a mobile device for work-related purposes while in bed: it has been interesting to see the people who put their hands-up straight away, those who reluctantly admit to this, seemingly feeling guilty about it and the look of horror on the faces of others who have never considered this!


Having worked at UKOLN for over 16 years I am very aware of the importance of content curation. Although Twitter can be regarded as transient conversations I have been aware of the value of curation of tweets for some time. When I facilitated a workshop on Wikipedia editing for the first time I encouraged the participants to tweet during the workshop. Shortly afterwards I used Storify to create an archive of the tweets which I’ve used to evaluate the event, the structure and the timing.

I was very pleased to see that the BYOD4L organisers provided Storify summaries  of the first and the second Tweetchats which they organised which was published shortly after the Tweetchats had concluded.


The toolAt 09.29 pm Wednesday 29 January Doug Belshaw tweeted: – one click video conversations

Since I know Doug keeps up-to-date with new technological developments I tried out this simple video conversation tool.  After investigating the tool five minutes later I shared my interest with my network:

The video conversation tools looks interest. HT to @dajbelshaw

But to use a conversational tool you need to have someone to talk to! So Sheila MacNeill and I tried it as shown in the screen shot. By 09.58 Sheila had reported on our collaboration:

me, @briankelly@gcujime trying out #byod4l

In less than 30 minutes I had been alerted of a new video conversation tool, found someone to try it with and shared our experiences. Collaboration in action!

In the video conversation we identified some possible uses for the tool: unlike Skype, no software needs to be installed and unlike Google Hangouts you do not need to sign up to the service. I also tried the service on my mobile phone, but found that the video wasn’t working (the black box in the screen shot was were the video from my phone should have been displayed).


The #byod4lchat Twubs archiveI created the #byod4lchat Twubs archive, which complements the #byod4l archive. Since the #BYOD4L event is about mobile devices, I should confess that I created this archive on my desktop computer. However I did posts several tweets from my phone, so I feel that I have contributed to the five areas!

Final Thoughts

Last year I took part in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC. This provided a valuable opportunity for me to both learn more about MOOCs and learn about the HyperLinked Library model and the ways in which libraries can exploit networked technologies in order to enhance their effectiveness.

I enjoyed the experience. I was conscious of the time it took to view the videos, read the recommended posts and articles and complete the assignments but, as I concluded in my Reflections on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC “if you were to ask me if I would recommend participation on the MOOC to others, my answer would be “Yes!“.

The BYODL4L event had many similarities to the HyperLinked Library MOOC. For me the main difference was the focussed approach taken by BYODL4L which lasted for 5 days.

Once again I would conclude that participation in the event gave me a wider appreciation of the approaches which can be taken to staff development. I do think we will see greater use of such collaborative approaches for supporting the development of staff within our institutions. I’ll conclude my thanks the organisers and volunteers who helped make the event so successful and asking the organisers some questions which would be of interest to others who may be considering organising a similar event:

  • How many people were involved in planning and delivering the BYOD4L event?
  • What was the business model for providing this free event?
  • Would you do it again? If so, what would you do differently?
  • What advice would you give to others who were considering organising a similar online event?

This guest blog post was written by Brian Kelly, Innovation Advocate at Cetis as an assignment for BYOD4L. Brian normally publishes on the UK Web Focus blog.

#byod4l day 3: Curating – so much stuff but how to find and use it?

I’m dipping back into #byod4l today. I didn’t manage to do anything really yesterday in the communication day. Kind of ironic as I thought it might be an area where I would be active. However, other non #byod4l communication such as email, twitter, blogging and that “work thang” kind of took priority.

I’ve just watched the two video scenarios and I relate to both of them.  Like the student I do worry about where and how to save and share “stuff”.  Over the years I’ve tried many different services and some listed in the curation resources area. Even now I’m still smarting from the delicious debacle, I flirted with diigo but it didn’t quite do it for me, I’ve tried pearltrees which I like, but my pearls are getting too big now so favourited tweets and a kind of weekly blog post also have their place in my chaotic curating methods.

I also empathise with the teacher who was bemoaning the fact that students don’t engage with the additional online resources she provides as they see them as add-ons. Whilst better course/activity design may go some way to address this, I can fully understand why this is the case. Students have to be pragmatic about what they do. Pragmatism is the key thing that will get me through #byod4l (and has done for other MOOCs I’ve managed to complete). It is a key, often forgotten about, aspect of self directed learning.  When there is so much “stuff” around you just can’t engage with everything. But having the metacognative skills to make the most informed decisions about engagement is now more than ever a key part of any educational experience.  It’s great having so many curating tools, but knowing how to use and manage them effectively is an ongoing challenge and one I struggle with.

One other related #byod4l activity today, here’s a screen shot of  Brian Kelly, me and Jim Emery trying a bit of collaboration this morning using a new to us free web conferencing tool

Trying out
Trying out

Developing new forms of online practice

One of the things I really excited about in my new institutional based role is being able to be part of projects, instead of just watching and commenting on what other people do.  When I spied the HEA’s  Developing New forms of online practice in the disciplines: the challenges of web residency call I thought it might be the perfect opportunity for me to start working with colleagues here at GCU on a small externally funded project.

From a personal point of view I was attracted to the call firstly because it was an area that I am interested in, secondly it was a 500 word proposal and didn’t involve a huge time commitment and thirdly and more importantly I saw this as a way for me to start some engagement with our students about digital identity and start to get a better understand of their perceptions of this aspect of digital literacy.

I knew Evelyn McElhinney and her work in virtual worlds, and developing professional practice online via twitter before I started working here and so felt that there could be potential us to do “a wee project” .  I’ve followed Dave White’s development of the digital visitors and residents metaphor with interest and felt that the visitors and residents mapping methodology would (and this is probably the key part of our proposal) provide a relatively simple way for our students to:

“to begin to articulate and understand their online engagement in the context of their continuing personal and professional development. Effective online engagement is particularly relevant to health care professionals, who are bound by professional codes of ethics. The increasing use of social media for professional and public engagement requires them to develop understanding of the interactions between professional and personal spaces.Insight gained from the mapping exercise will also feed into the development of our curriculum designs, technology provision and support.”

I’m also hoping that once we finished this pilot project, we can then run similar workshops within the other two schools here, and develop the process to help us support our students and also get greater insight to where, why, how and when they interact online.

I’ll keep you posted here as the project develops. Just now we are looking forward to meeting the other successful projects on 12th February and finding out more about the mapping activity.  This video from David explains it in more detail.

#byod4l: Day 1 – Connecting; a little bit of simple connectivity could go a long way (@melsiguk)

Just a very short post for day one.  I’m thinking about scenario 2 – the teacher, though this does apply to students too.

One issue I have been discussing with my colleague Jim Emery is about connectivity within our teaching spaces. A small thought, if we are encouraging staff to bring their own devices or indeed if institutions/departments  are providing ipads/tablets etc the wouldn’t it be great if staff could wirelessly connect to the projectors in our teaching rooms? No more faffing around with adapters, or forgetting to bring them, you could just switch on and go.

That might go some way to  help answer the questions of why/how would I use a phone/tablet/whatever for some and allow and encourage a bit more experimentation.



Getting set for #byod4L – what Sheila will be doing this week

After a bit of a respite and a small flirtation with FutureLearn, I’m getting back into the MOOC saddle again with #byod4L. Although not explicitly promoting itself as a MOOC, is kind of is and I’m hoping it will be the kind of MOOC experience I’ve found to enjoy the most – chaotic, crazy, connected, collaborative and fun. As this “open magical box” is being facilitated for a week, it does remind me of my first serious attempt at participating in a massive, open course – #moocmooc in  August 2012.

When I started that MOOC (btw, it does keep surprising me how comfortable I feel using the term as a verb), I knew I had to be very pragmatic about what I could and more importably couldn’t do. There was just so much going on during that week online, and as the majority of the participants with in North America, a lot happened whilst I was sleeping.  I decided to take a very pragmatic approach to try and do one thing everyday (which the design of the course facilitated) and to use my blog and twitter as my primary communication channels.  This worked well for me and is how I have approached other MOOCs that I seriously wanted to engage with. It will be my strategy for this week too.

I know I will miss out of some stuff, but a key part not just successful MOOCing  is becoming self directed, taking control, and realising that you can’t be everywhere, all the time and participate in everything. Remember no-one expects you to, and the facilitation team are dividing their time too as this really useful post from David Hopkins highlights.

I like the five topics for the week: connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating, creating. I think I’ll be most active in the connecting, collaborating and communicating spaces, but not sure if I’ll do enough to get a badge, tho that would be a nice momento of the experience.

I’m also trying to encourage others in my department and institution to engage with the course over the week. We’re having a MOOC meet-up on Friday afternoon to discuss our experiences. Like other places it’s the first week of teaching for our new semester so getting some kind of group work is a bit of a non starter, but I’m hoping that just having an hour or so to talk about experiences/reasons of participation or non participation will be useful itself.

A reminder of byod4l here is a little video I made for #moocmooc about places where I learn. Click on the image below or  this link to go the animoto page where it is hosted.

Places where I learn
Places where I learn

Looking back towards the future – what Sheila's seen this week

This week I’ve been thinking about the past and the future a bit more than normal. I’ve just finished reading Life after Life by Kate Aitkinson which has the premise “What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?” The  novel follows the many lives of Ursula Todd as she relives key episodes in her life.  At times I think we all have the “if only I had done that” feeling. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. But what if we did know what the future was going to bring, would we change things?

A tweet from David Kernohan early in the week reminded me of an email exchange we had with BCCampus in Canada about a year ago.

Me and @sheilmcn predicting 2013 just under 1 year ago, for @dendroglyph at BCCampus. I think we did pretty well…

— David Kernohan (@dkernohan) January 20, 2014

Looking back at it now, I agree with David that we did actually do pretty well. I had no idea this time last year I would have a “proper job” within an institution; and it has come to pass that, this week in particular, issues around which “areas of technology should be seen as commodities and those which should be considered as strategic investments.” Like many others we are having lots of discussions about our strategic developments in online learning, MOOCs, technology provision etc.  In that respect the timing of the Cetis paper “Beyond MOOCs, Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions” couldn’t really have come at a better time to give a balanced overview of strategic considerations for online learning provision.

I don’t think I would change anything from the overview we gave last year. I’m now working somewhere where we are developing an OER policy, we have 3-D printers, we are thinking about how to expand our online provison. But I do think that most people in the sector as still experiencing a bit of a groundhog day scenario with technology.  We’re all too often still buying “stuff” without really thinking through the implications, and the integrations need.  We have a solution without actually knowing what the problem(s) is/are. Although things are changing there are still too many assumptions that technology alone will solve all the problems we are facing. So I was heartened to see myself last year saying this:

“one last thing- everything is underpinned by the growing recognition of the need to develop digital literacy not just in the sector but beyond.  For us to make any sense  of “all this stuff” we need to ensure our staff and students are continually developing both the technical and meta-cognitive capabilities needed”

That’s an ethos I’d want to keep in any life.

And finally, because every blog post needs a picture, I’ve looked back to my blipfoto archive and this was my entry on Jan 24th last year.  Sadly no sunshine here today . . .

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 09.53.18

New learning analytics community, digital pedagogies, reasons to keep blogging: what sheila's seen this week

So this week I am no longer the newbie in our department as a new administrator joined us on Monday.  I’m starting to feel more like I am part of the institution and am actually starting to make a contribution to things.  I’ve submitted a bid for the HEA Challenges of Web Residency project, and it’s been great work with Evelyn McElhinney on that. Regardless of the outcome writing instead of reading bids has marked quite a sea change for me.  Marion Kelt in our library is making great progress developing our institutional policy on OER and it was catch up on progress with the working group this week. I’ve also been involved in discussions around some other internal projects exploring potential new initiatives – hopefully more on that in the weeks to come.

As I’ve been thinking about some possible future directions, they serendipity of twitter brought me to this post from Christina Costa. Outlining a lecture she had given about teaching in the 21st century, Christina clearly outlines some of the key challenges and affordances of using technology effectively for learning and raises some key questions, but ends with this “Can digital technologies, and the philosophies of practice associated with it, finally deliver on the promise of critical pedagogies?”  Just now I think the answer is sometimes, maybe . . .

I also spotted the website for the EU funded Learning Analytics Exchange Project (LACE). I’m hoping to be as track/be involved as much as I can with this. We’re really at the early days of learning analytics here at GCU so this could be a really useful place for us to get advice from others and start sharing and developing the key questions we want data and analytical approaches to help us answer.

Over the years I’ve really enjoyed blogging, and it certainly has paid off for me in terms of my career progression and other recognition. I start blogging from a non tradition academic post, and so my motivations weren’t academically driven.  This post from Deborah Lupton gives a really balanced view of the pros and cons of academic blogging and the need for continued research into its impact and development of practice.  As I become more and more engaged with institutional projects, and hopefully more “academically focused” (aka I need to write more papers)  I can see my approach to blogging will also have to change. The upside is that should have more focus for my writing, but the downside is that I will have to be far more considered. Actually that’s not really a bad thing is it? But having the motivation to keep blogging is an issue. It’s one of the reasons I started the (almost) weekly posts.  My old Cetis buddy David Sherlock sums up some of the practical “challenges” of blogging here  including the importance of fun – which sadly is sometimes lacking in educational contexts.

Sometimes you can’t beat old technology, and this pen my colleague brought back from the Blackboard Conference last week in Durham has been useful for various notes this week too.


What Sheila's seen this week

The first week back at work after the Christmas break is always a bit of a struggle, and having had a bit of an extended trip to Australia just in early December I do kind of feel the work part of my brain has been in hibernation mode for normal thank longer. However this week has got everything switched back on (almost!).  Our blended learning team here at GCU Lead is now complete with Jim Emery  now part of the team, and it’s been great to be able to start having some really good discussions about our plans for the coming year interspersed with a few about the new episodes of Sherlock.

At this time of year there’s lots of reviews and predictions around. Alastair Creelman has written a useful summary of the key points of this year’s NMC Horizons preview report.

My first thoughts on 2014 Horizon Report (earlier tweet had wrong link)

— Alastair Creelman (@alacre) January 8, 2014

Online, hybrid and collaborative learning is one of their “fast moving” trends, which I think working in a blended learning team is just part and parcel of my everyday job. This is intrinsically linked to one of the “slow trends” (in the next 5 years and beyond) of making online learning natural~ the increased use of audio/video communication is the key to this according to the report. Whilst I fully advocate the development and integration of non text based approaches it’s more than just “communication” that needs to be natural, the workflows and practices of teachers and learners should be too. It’s not enough just to have the tech in place people need to be comfortable with recording/listening/watching to themselves and others in an educational context.  I agree with Alistair that this is more of a medium trend. Like many others,here at GCU we are having a lot of  (quite heated) discussions about the merits of lecture capture and will be making decisions fairly quickly. We’re also seeing (and actively encouraging) the use of alternative feedback methods primarily audio.  The report also highlights the some of the challenges in increased adoption of TEL approaches including scalability and recognition and reward.

Lack of career development and incentives in TEL is also highlighted in the “Charting the development of technology- enhanced learning development across the UK higher education sector: a longitudinal perspective (2001-12) which I picked up on via a tweet from Peter Reed. The paper reviews the key findings and trends from the annual UCISA TEL surveys and is another good read.  Particularly around the tensions between central and local provision of technology within institutions, consistency of delivery versus more innovative approaches and the many remaining challenges around “developing course delivery models which focus on active student learning, maximising the opportunities that web and mobile technologies now offer for interactive, student centred learning design” .  Going back to lecture capture data from the UCISA surveys indicates that it is one of the emerging centrally provided technologies but “usage data indicate that the values of these tools is still to being determined by staff. . .”  So the fight goes on to support our staff and students from  technology  “being used to replicate or supplement existing teaching practices, rather than support structural change in instructional practice which transform the learning experience” .  As the report highlights MOOCs maybe are a catalyst for interest in TEL (particularly from senior management)  but there’s also a lot of work to be done in terms of ensuring that senior management really see beyond the hype around MOOCs  and that they not are the ultimate manifestation of TEL.

The central, departmental provision of technology of course is now expanding to incorporate byod.  Mobile devices can provide a way to use technology more imaginatively and engagingly, which brings me nicely onto the BYOD4L course. This “open magical box’ for those who don’t like the term ‘course’ very much, for students and teachers (nothing is locked away or private and you won’t even need to register) who would like to develop their understanding, knowledge and skills linked to using smart devices for learning and teaching and use these more effectively and creatively.” From 27th to 31st January this will be actively moderated and supported by a great team of people.  I may well be tempted to join in.

I really do wish I could do all the data stuff, maybe one day when I grow up I can be a data scientist. In the meantime, Shayne Lynn has pulled together a great online curriculum  for would be data scientists.  In the meantime I’m valiantly working my way through the left over Christmas chocolates in the office kitchen …

Left over Christmas chocolates

and there has been a small edutechie rush of activity of blip photo so hoping that along with others I can fulfil this year’s 365 challenge.

A resolution (almost) fulfilled . . . what Sheila blipped last year

Following the example of friends and colleagues (notably Lawrie Phips and Ross MacKenzie), last January I decided to take the blipfoto 365 challenge. I’m not a great photographer, more a happy snapper but just the act of thinking about a photo each day has, I hope, made me look at everyday things in a slightly different way.

A year later and I almost managed it, 361 photos,  over 8.000 views and I have officially got the blip bug.   Seeing what fellow blippers are doing has been inspiring and the supportive comments have been really motivating. So if you haven’t made any new year resolutions why not give the 365 challenge a go? I’m sure you won’t regret it.