#BYOD4L is back – this time with added C’s

It’s January, it’s cold and dark outside but bringing a little ray of collaborative sunshine and social media goodness back into our lives is BYOD4L.

BYOD4L is really all about community.  I have been part of that community first iteration of the event, and I’m delighted once again to be be part of the organising team with Alex Spiers, Neil Withnell. Joining us this year are Debbie Baff and Suzanne Faulkner.

This year we will be following our familiar model. Each day will have a theme which you can explore and share your experiences in our Google+ community, twitter or where ever you want to really.  Each night between 8-9 pm (BST) in a tweet chat. This year we have extended the C’s. So with connecting we have confidence; with communication we have (digital) capabilities, copyright is added to curation, with collaborating we have community; and for our final day we have added celebrating to creating.

I hope to see many of you online next week and would love to hear your stories about how you use BYOD4L as part of your personal and professional development.

Pre #bydo4l reflections on twitter, Trump and why I'm not leaving social media

I’m getting ready for the week long social media frenzy that is #BYOD4L (bring your own device for learning).  This is the 5th iteration of the open, online course and as it’s evolved, it’s becoming less about devices and more about general effective use of technology within in education.   As I’ve blogged about before, I really enjoy #byod4l and the effective way it brings people together to share practice. As Chris Jobling has done it’s a great way to reflect on how your own use of technology has evolved.

Sunday is one of the few days that I buy an actual newspaper.  I tend to consume most of my news online now.  Today I saw a couple of articles about digital detoxes, and people leaving social media. These were alongside articles about the President Elect of the USA, and of course you can’t talk about him without at least a passing reference to twitter.

I doubt that when Jack Dorsey and Noah Glass  were developing twitter, they never,  in their wildest dreams, imagined that there would come a point where their fledgling idea would become the main communication channel for a President of the United States.

The at times, bizarre and incoherent stream of consciousness from the President elect illustrates (imho)  the antithesis of everything I use twitter for. It’s  Broadcast Mode (with deliberate capitalisation), uncensored, offensive . . .   So whilst I’m not wanting in anyway to compare myself to or with “The Donald”,  his use of twitter does illustrate why many people are turning off the service.

A few years ago, when twitter was new and shiny and free from advertising and obvious megalomania, when I was explaining its use to people I often used to say “you can’t really understand it or see the point of it until you use it”.  Making and sustaining connections – and yes, I’ll admit in the beginning there was a bit of thrill  (or as the wonderful @ambrouk called in “vanalytics “) watching how many followers I seemed to be amassing.

BYOD4L is a clear illustration of the  power of twitter as an  an educational tool/technology.  It’s free and easy to use, (in the beginning) community driven by for example #hashtags, the conventions of RTs, @ messages, acknowledgements etc.

It allowed us to use SNA to understand our community engagement in ways we hadn’t been able to before (take a bow @mhawksey for inventing the wonderful Tags Explorer visualisation tool).  It allows us to save and share all kinds of “stuff”. I  am still amazed at how articulate (some)  people  can be in 140 characters.  It allows use to connect and sustain networks, which to me has been and still is the most powerful aspect of twitter for me.

Having been one of the early adopters, my use of twitter has settled from the first thrills of always checking, always sharing  to the realisation that twitter was for me mainly a work tool so I should step away from it after work, at the weekends etc.

I guess I’ve been quite lucky in that my use of twitter has always had a clear professional purpose. Once I started using it I easily started making connections and found a clear rationale for using it.  The personal benefits ( for example the Eurovision Song Contest is lifted to a whole other level via the twitter backchannel), have always been a bit of an add on.

I’ve never gone on twitter just to broadcast (though i do confess to a certain level of “shameless self promotion” through sharing links to my blog posts, presentations etc),  I don’t go on to fight with people or deliberately be offensive/aggressive/obtuse . I’ve had some great conversations. I’ve also been very fortunate in that I haven’t been trolled. I’ve only had a couple of abusive messages.  I am very aware of the bubble I exist in, and I am thankful for it.

So whilst I can see that many people now find the adverts, the aggression, the trolling, the broadcast (as opposed to engaged mode that I prefer) mode of delivery,  it still works for me. Today I had a lovely exchange of twitter with some colleagues (@carolak @sharonflynn, @catherinecronin) I would never have known, or benefited from the sharing of their work  without twitter.

I’m not giving that up just because “the Donald” is around. I won’t let him take that away from me.

Exploring #BYOD4L and #BYOD4Lchat

Last week’s #BYOD4L, and in particular, the nightly #byod4lchat tweet chats were fun, at times frenetic and fascinating insight into how our community is connecting, communicating collaborating, curating and creating using a range of mobile apps and devices.

Thanks to Martin Hawksey’s fantastic, open TAGSexplorer tool,  we can delve into the twitter stream a bit more.

In the main #BYOD4L there were 1028 unique tweets sent over the week, and 813 links which is quite a bit of sharing. Unsurprisingly, the #BYOD4lchat was a bit more active with 2467 unique tweets sent over the week. The screenshot below shows the list of top tweeters.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.24.32

When we go into the TAGSExplorer interactive view we can get a far richer picture of the the community and its connections.  Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.26.31.png

As well as the “swirly twirly” diagram,  we can explore not only the top tweeters, but also the top conversationalists (there are some users in both but differences too).

screen shot of top #byod4l conversationlists

We can also explore and search a time line archive of the tweets which is fascinating and gives a really nice visual overview of the periods of twitter activity each night last week.

screen shot of archive timeline view

We really did hit twitter every night last week between 8 and 9 pm.  We may or may not have been responsible for twitter going down on Friday night. . . .

I know I enjoyed all the tweet chats I managed to be part of. I found out about lots of new (to me) things and practice, made some new connections as well as catching up with old friends. That’s really the point of events like #BYOD4l, we all learn best by sharing with each other. I hope that the new connections made over the course of last week grow from strength to strength and I look forward to the next round of #BYOD4l.



#BYOD4L 2016

Once again #BYOD4L is back to brighten up the dark, wet January days and nights with 5 days of 5C’s getting people connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating.

I’m delighted to be part of the organisation team this year along with Neil Withnell, Alex Spiers (with some help from Chrissi). We have a great team of community mentors too, so I’m sure the week is going to be another whirlwind of activity.  The BYOD4L open model really is a great way to get people to share their practice, experiment with new things and get swept up in the twitter chats each evening. There is of course the opportunity to earn a digital badge or two too.

So even if you only have 5 minutes over the next five days, I’d urge you to have a look at the #byod4l twitter stream, check out the website, and google+ community. I think you’ll find it worth it.

I’ve had a really worth while CPD experience from being a participant, facilitator and now organiser of the event. You can read more about my, and others. experience of open facilitation, in this special edition of Learning and Teaching in Action.  As Alex says in his video introduction to the event it really does bring a little ray of sunshine to January.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 13.57.09




What Sheila's seen this week – #BYOD4L badge fairy

screen shot of digital badges

For various reasons outwith my control,  yesterday wasn’t a particularly good day for me. However there were a few rays of sunshine in my inbox when I got notification of the full set of badges from the recent iteration of #BYOD4L.

It always surprises me how good getting a badge makes me feel. I’m still not quite sure what to do with them. My Mozilla back pack isn’t part of my CV,  but I have shared the facilitator one into LinkedIn via the social sharing mechanisms in Credly (the badge issuer system used by #BYOD4L). I was slightly disappointed the badge graphic didn’t appear.  On the plus side, it is something else to add to LinkedIn. TBH I’m not quite sure what to do with that either, but do feel I need to have a presence there. . .

screen shot of linkedin page

Anyway hope lots of other #BYOD4L-ers are getting their badges too and equal feelings of happiness.choice for #BYOD4L) –  was slightly disappointed the graphic didn’t appear.

#byod4l day 3 – curating, Evernote and lists

Stuff, stuff, everywhere stuff – where to save/share? Do you ever feel like that? Judging from the #byod4l tweet chat last night and the discussions during our drop in session yesterday I think most people working in education and with technology feel a bit overwhelmed at times, with the amount of “good stuff” out there. We all have ways of curating and are often driven by that “just in case it might be useful” urge.

I said a couple of times yesterday that I am “a bit rubbish at curation”. Despite many attempts with just about every curation service I seem to lack an inner librarian that is need to keep on top of the amount of “stuff” I curate. I think my most consistent technique (and it is a bit haphazard) is favouriting tweets. Because I (and twitter) archive my tweets I am fairly confident I can find things again (tho after a couple of weeks if I haven’t referred to something I probably won’t again).  I do a semi regular blog post ‘what Sheila’s seen this week” which originally was kind of an attempt to curate interesting things I had spied that week. It kind of does and doesn’t work.  So my stuff and stuff I find from others tends to be very loosely curated all over the web in twitter, instagram, flicker, and a number or other places that I have forgotten about.

One of the tools/services that was discussed quite a bit last night was Evernote. I don’t really think of Evernote as a curation tool, to me it’s a writing tool,  but of course it is. I love Evernote.  It was pivotal in making my iPad a useful device for work (that an a wee keyboard for typing when I was traveling a lot more than I do now).  I have the iPad, iPhone and desktop versions and every now and again I log into the web version.The fact that it syncs across many devices is  invaluable.  I always have my notes with me. It’s sync’d with my calendar so if I’m at a meeting it automagically saves the note with the date and meeting details (very handy).  There is a whole host of functionality that I don’t really make use of like tagging (again that missing inner librarian), clipping, adding photos etc. There are also a host of iftt (if this then that) recipes that can really help turn your evernote into a powerful curation tool.

I tend to use it as my notebook so it is very much a personal tool for me but you can easily share notes with others. They have recently introduced a chat function which I’m sure would be really handy for collaborative writing.  I tend to use google docs for collaborative writing.  For example I draft all my blog posts in evernote then copy them into my blog. Having suffered that horrible feeling of spending hours writing a blog post then inadvertently losing the post as it hadn’t saved or I closed a tab by mistake, I like having a backup. I also like the UI which I think makes a difference when you are writing. But it is really the multiple platform aspect of it that I find most useful.

screenshot of my evernote
My Evernote

In our drop in session we all spent quite a bit of time talking about some list services including wunderlist and List.ly – both are pretty useful for curation and can be shared too. Again worth having a look. Playlists are of course very popular now and I came across this blog post yesterday (using my fail-safe twitter favourite curation technique it has been easy to find) about extending the notion of having learning playlists instead of “learning programmes”. An interesting idea and could work in some contexts really well, but there sometimes, like an album learning needs to happen in a set order.

Anyway onto day 4 now – can’t believe the week in nearly at at end and the next “C” which is collaboration.

#byod4l day 2 – communication

So once again #byod4l has provided me with an opportunity to do something new. Last night, along with Sam Illingworth and Mike Nicholson I facilitated the day 2 tweet chat on communication. As ever the chat was fast, furious and good natured, and a wide range of approaches to communication both for learning and teaching and in more general terms was discussed.

 visualistaion of #byod4l

Our mobile devices give us access to instant communication however there was a note of caution coming through about being “always on” and the temptation to reply instantly. Sometimes it is good to take a pause before sending that tweet, email, text. It might actually be better to pick up the phone and speak to someone too.

Finding the “right balance” is always tricky. I know that I have started to slowly move away from certain communication channels at certain times. For example twitter is something that is really work related for me so I try and stay away from it at weekends, evenings and holidays. At these times I tend now to communicate online via photographs using instagram and blipfoto which I sometimes share to twitter and Facebook. I’m finding that after a period of sharing everything, everywhere I’m becoming far more discerning about where, when and how I share things. I think my online presence is becoming much more compartmentalised.

#BYOD4L is challenging my own Facebook use. I try to keep it work free, but it is being used to communicate with the facilitators group. So although I am really enjoying being part of the BYOD4L team,  FB isn’t my favourite communication channel to keep in touch. I feel a bit guilty if I’m looking at Facebook at work and if I’m looking at it at home seeing the BYOD4L notifications reminds me of work. I’m probably in a bit of communication rut, I use the spaces I’m comfortable in and that are useful to me, but maybe I need to challenge myself more. Can I cope with yet another one? I did experiment with Medium last year but it doesn’t seem to be working for me yet . . . Or maybe I just need to work more on my f2f communication skills.

Anyway lots to think about, and I particularly liked Julie Gillin’s approach to email.

Looking forward to today’s topic of curation.

Where Sheila's been seen this week – 100th post, open education and movie making for #byod4l

This is my 100th post on this blog. I was going to try and mark this milestone with an in-depth, though provoking piece on the state of education and the role of technology. However, work kind of got in the way this week so it’s really a very quick post sharing a couple of things I’ve been up to this week. I think, dear reader, that’s what you prefer anyway!

On Monday I presented our experiences of our open event GCU Games On at the joint Jisc RSC Scotland and SHED Open Education day.  I’ve written a quick summary of the day, including my slides, on the GCU Blended Learning Team blog.

We’re excited to be one of the institutional partners for the next instantiation of the hugely successful and enjoyable Bring Your Own Device for Learning (#BYOD4L) open event in January. All those involved have been asked to create a short intro video, so yesterday Jim, Linda and I spend a few hours, mainly laughing, and making our video. Many thanks to our colleague Martin who saved the day and filmed for us. Who would have thought it would be so difficult to talk, hold and pass an ipad?

Anyway as they say the trailers have the best bits of any movies so I hope you enjoy ours.

And here is our intro video- enjoy!

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 appear.in toolAt 09.29 pm Wednesday 29 January Doug Belshaw tweeted:

appear.in – one click video conversations tmblr.co/Z-yoOw15o6kPX

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 appear.in 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 appear.in #byod4l pic.twitter.com/lFEcUWXJiE

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 appear.in 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 appear.in

Trying out appear.in
Trying out appear.in