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.

Coming together with all the C’s: a short reflection on #BYOD4L


So another week of connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating with #BYOD4L has just come to an end.  As ever I find the week just flies by in a whirl of persicopes, tweet chats, googl+-ing and general community sharing and fun.

This year we add a few more C’s into the mix to  extend the conversations a bit and also to reflect evolving practice and use of mobile devices, web services and apps.   So we had connecting and confidence, communication and (digital) capabilities, curation and and copyright, collaboration and community,  creating and celebrating.   I think that these additions really did help.   And once again our community came together in a whirl of sharing based on shared values. It’s really hard so soon after the event to pull anything coherent however a couple of the C’s stood out for me. The first of them being community.

One of the reason I continue to be involved with #BYOD4L is the community spirit it engenders. Over the past three years Neil Withnell, Alex Spiers  and I have evolved into our own wee team/community organising things behind the scenes. We very rarely get the chance to meet in person but we just seem to naturally be able to divide up what needs to be done and support each other in a really collegiate way. There’s no rivalry, no one-man-upship, we just get on with things.

This year we were joined by Debbie Baff – an stalwart of the #BYOD4L community and Suzanne Faulkner a complete newbie to the whole thing. What a joy it was to work with them both.  Debbie is just one of those lovely really open educational practitioners people who always shares and cares.  Suzanne, well what can I say. Talk about embracing all the C’s! She was periscoping every day, often with her students, tweeting and she even wrote that blog post she had been thinking about for such a long time.  We managed to meet up briefly on Friday afternoon and what a joy that was. Although we had never met, it was like meeting a long lost friend.

I think for those of us who have been working and networking online for the last decade and are part of established networks, it’s all  to easy to forget that others aren’t.  Events like #BYOD4l are a great way to jump start that on line networking within a safe. supportive environment and community.

So whilst I know many of us are finding Twitter not quite the same place as it used to be, it still can be a great space to connect. It saddens me that others may not have the same experiences that I have had in terms of connecting, collaborating and community building that I have been so lucky to experience.

During the week I was speaking at an event in London where I met many of my extended online community, including Chrissi Nerantzi (one of the inventors of BYOD4L).  I took the opportunity to do a very unplanned, slightly chaotic persicope from the event with Chrissi and a few others.  It still quite amazes me that just with my phone I can broadcast from anywhere with a decent 3/4G or wifi connection.

The other C that I really need to think about more is curation. On Wednesday night we joined with with #LTHEchat community  to discuss curation and copyright. So many threads to that discussion! The recent-ish news about Storify now moving to a paid for service has certainly help to focus minds in some aspects of curation. I think it’s fair to say many people used storify primarily as a twitter curation tool. I know that’s how it was/is used by #BYOD4L. We do also back up using Tags Explorer too. But the storify interface is/was simple to set up and use. A salutary tale in terms of becoming reliant on free at point of use, and apparently open services.

Personally I am in a slight quandary about my own curation. I have “stuff” all over the place, mainly in the cloud. Maybe I have an over simple faith that I will be able to find said “stuff” whenever I need it. In reality, when I am looking for that link/paper/ref and can’t find it in 5 minutes, I usually just resort to an internet search . . .  Part of me feels that I should try to have a less  chaotic approach to curation, but that doesn’t seem to last very long. My laziness and faith in asking the “lazy web” just keeps getting in the way.

Anyway lots more to think about after the week and hopefully a few more blog posts once my thoughts are a bit more in order.



#BYOD4L – a story of personal and professional needs and wants

It’s only 10 days ’til the next iteration of Bring Your Own Device for Learning (#byod4l).  Once again, along with Alex Spiers and Neil Withnell I’m facilitating the week long open event ably assisted with a team of volunteer mentors.

Now I have to confess,  I love BYOD4L.  I love the madness of the nightly tweet chats, the sharing of practice and ideas in people’s blogs, google+, in fact all over the interweb.  But harking back to my last blog post about needs and want, although BYOD4L gives me an opportunity to do many things I want to do, is it really something I need to do?

I would say the answer is categorically yes. Although this is an open, social, informal, collaborative (with a sprinkling of badges) experience it also has provided me, my department, my colleagues, my institution with an space to allow people to experiment and experience a short blast of online collaboration and learning. In terms of staff development, BYOD4L has allowed us to augment the 5c model with informal drop in sessions where we can have more contextualised discussions about practice and experiences. In addition to the 5c model that BYOD4L uses, I think there is another C that this engenders –  confidence.  If you haven’t tweeted before, haven’t used Google+,  have no idea how or what a tweet chat is, it’s a great (and safe) place to start. You don’t have to say anything – just experience the structure, pace and interactions.  I know a number of my colleagues have done this and it has given them the confidence to start to use twitter in their teaching practice.

It is really hard to unpack what the impact of the tweet chats are. We do curate every one via storify, but it there are pretty big. However, as I facilitator I can see that there are many really interesting conversations happening. This year we are encouraging people to try and do a bit of their own more reflective curation and creating by way of telling their own byod4l story. That could be in any form – a smaller storify with a bit more context or what happened next, a blog post, an image, a video, a periscope.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly it will hopefully help to unpack the experience. We hope that more  smaller digital stories, swill be really valuable in terms of open collaboration and sharing.  Secondly, we hope that these vignettes of experience and practice will help people in terms of more formal CPD opportunities.   I have very much tried to document and reflect on my BYOD4L experiences (mainly through my blog) and this has been invaluable in terms of having evidence for both my HEA Fellow and CMALT applications.

So to get the ball rolling so to speak, here is my #BYOD4l story so far (created with Sutori). Just click on the image to see the full version.