FDOL – history

Why open FDOL or how ideas develop and grow…

During the academic year 2010/11, I (Chrissi) organised a trial bringing together PgCert sudents studying towards a teaching qualificiation in Higher Education from different institutions in the UK. They had the opportunity to learn collaboratively online using Problem-Based Learning supported by PBL facilitators. This was an open experiment and part of my MSc thesis in Blended and Online Education which I was studying at the time at the Edinburgh Napier University. I learnt so much from this, especially thanks to the difficulties we experienced. Who says we don’t learn anything when things go wrong or when we make mistakes?

And while there were many times when I was unsure that this would work, in the end I have to say that it was a success as learners didn’t give up and completed the experiment successfully and facilitators went away also having learnt from this experience. Soon after completing my studies and while I was presenting some of my findings of the online PBL trial for the first time during the Celebrating the Past and Embracing the Future: Evolution and Innovation in Problem-Based Learning, 30-31 March 2011, I was fortunate to meet a colleague educational developer and experienced PBL practitioner from Sweden who showed interest in my work. This is Lars Uhlin. We stayed in contact and I started flirting with the idea of creating an open course based on lessons learnt from that trial.

Together and with one more academic developer from Sweden, Maria Kvarnstrom, we offered the FDOL131 pilot from February to May 2013. The course attracted educators from around the world but we had mainly participants 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. We are currently evaluating the pilot and will disseminate findings. 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 towards specific qualifications and will require different levels of engagement, formative and summative assessment which is tailored by module and programme requirements at local level. The invitiation was open for further institutions/organisations to join.

Chrissi is collecting data from FDOL132 participants who provided their consent to participate in her PhD research. Participation in the research project is completely voluntarily and non-participation in the research project did not effect FDOL132 participation in any way. Detailed information regarding this, as well as the consent form, were forwarded to all participants at the beginning of the course.

The FDOL team has started planning for FDOL141 which will be offered in February 2014. We will be making changes to the design and the format based on what we have learnt from FDOL131 and FDOL132. Chrissi will continue investigating future iterations of FDOL as part of her PhD research. Additional research activities are planned by other members of the team.

Chrissi, Lars and Maria
The FDOL organisers

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