Why open FDOL or how ideas develop and grow…

During the academic year 2010/11, Chrissi Nerantzi organised an experiment as part of her MSc in Blended and Online Education which brought together PgCert students studying towards a teaching qualification in Higher Education from different institutions in the UK (Nerantzi, 2011). Participants had the opportunity to learn collaboratively online using Problem-Based Learning and were supported by PBL facilitators who were academic developers at UK based institutions. This was an open experiment and part of Chrissi’s MSc thesis in Blended and Online Education which she was studying at the time at the Edinburgh Napier University. Chrissi learnt so much from this, especially thanks to the difficulties experienced.

Soon after completing her studies and while she was presenting some of her findings of the above online PBL experiment during the Celebrating the Past and Embracing the Future: Evolution and Innovation in Problem-Based Learning, 30-31 March 2011, she meet a colleague educational developer and experienced PBL practitioner from Sweden who showed interest in her work. This is Lars Uhlin. Chrissi developed the open module Flexible, Distance and Online Learning (FDOL) which was approved by her institution. The module was based on the lessons learnt from her earlier open PBL experiment. Chrissi and Lars decided to offer FDOL together to colleagues in their institutions and other educators and started development the site and related social spaces.

In February to May 2013 they offered the pilot FDOL131 during which Maria Kvarnstroem joined as an additional facilitator. The course attracted educators mainly from the UK and Sweden who actively participated and completed the course. The Problem-Based Learning approach used enabled collaborative learning and seemed to also work as a motivator for learning. The pilot was a useful playground for some of Chrissi’s and Lars’ ideas and helped Chrissi to refine and better define her PhD research in open educational practices which she started at Edinburgh Napier Universityin 2013. For more information regarding FDOL131 please click here.

In September 2013 it was the first time FDOL was used by students studying formally at different institutions in the UK and in Sweden who were working towards specific qualifications and required different levels of engagement. The assessment was tailored to the local programme requirements.  The facilitators team now also included Neil Withnell from the University of Salford.

Chrissi collected data from FDOL132 participants who provided their consent to participate in her PhD research. Participation in the research project was completely voluntarily and non-participation in the research project did not effect FDOL132 participation in any way. The thesis has been completed in 2017 and is now available (FDOL132 was one of the two cases through which data was collected) and the findings will be made available through open access publications. Insights into the collaborative learning experience have been gained and a cross-boundary collaborative open learning framework for cross-institutional academic development has been developed as the key output of this phenomenographic study.

Nerantzi, C. (2017) Towards a framework for cross-boundary collaborative open learning for cross-institutional academic development. PhD thesis, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Napier University, available at https://www.napier.ac.uk/~/media/worktribe/output-1025583/towards-a-framework-for-cross-boundary-collaborative-open-learning-for.pdf

For more information about this study click here.

The FDOL team has grown and the third iteration, FDOL141, included over 10 facilitators and was offered over 6 weeks early in 2014.

Chrissi and Lars
The FDOL course leaders

FDOL is no longer a live project. It has evolved into two different open courses:

Flexible, Open and Social Learning

Open Networked Learning

The core FDOL concepts have also been used for BYOD4L


Nerantzi, C. (2011) “Anyone there?” Online Problem-Based Learning within Academic Development, MSc Dissertation, Edinburgh Napier University (UK).

 Nerantzi, C. & Uhlin, L. (2012) FISh, original illustration, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrissinerantzi/9963707266/in/set-72157632690605470 / FISh description available at https://fdol.wordpress.com/fdol131/design/


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