10 – 16 February
Rationale: During this important first unit, learners will have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the online learning spaces and make first contacts with peers and facilitators. Learners will be encouraged to share their background knowledge, experiences and practices and begin to build relationships with peers and facilitators in order to be able to effectively engage in open collaborative activities and develop learning support networks. Also, participants will have the opportunity to learn more about Problem-Based Learning (PBL) which is the pedagogical design used to enable collaborative peer learning and join PBL groups.
17 – 23 February
Rationale: During this unit we will explore together important literacies to survive and thrive in the digital age as learners and educators. Accessing, filtering, critically evaluating information in vast networks, repositories and digital libraries as well as connecting with individuals and groups via social networks and make use for learning and teaching is a complex process and requires specific skills, attitudes and behaviours which become increasingly more important for individuals and society. We will also investigate the transition from digital consumer of information to producer and co-creator and contributor of new information, knowledge co-construction in the digital world and reflect on our digital presence and identity, experiences through consumption, communication, collaboration and creation, as learners and educators.
24 February – 2 March
Rationale: This second unit explores some of the drivers behind flexible, distance and online learning. The 21st century has seen a change in student demographic. The student body is increasingly diverse, for example, many students are older learners who may have work and family schedules as well as study commitments, attending traditional face-to-face classes in a college or university may not always be possible. Ubiquitous networked computer technology, the growth of the Internet and the widely use of personalise technologies as well as social media provide multiple-platforms for cooperation and co-learning has given increased opportunity to both students and educators, in a time of increasing uncertainty in the educational landscape. Participants will be encouraged to explore some of the drivers behind these changes from a personal, institutional and international perspective and challenged to explore a variety of learning and teaching approaches that support aspects of FDOL.
3 – 9 March
Rationale: Proponents of collaborative learning have long heralded the power of well managed group-based interaction as a means of promoting positive interdependence, individual accountability, social skills, and group processing. This third unit will encourage learners to explore aspects of collaborative, cooperative and community learning especially in relation to networked online spaces for learning, personal learning networks and environments and discuss the relevance of peer learning and the development of learning communities in the context of self-directed and self-organised learning within and beyond institutional boundaries (formal, informal and non-formal learning).
10 – 16 March
Rationale: Student learning support is a key area in the provision of a ‘quality’ educational experience in formal settings. Students expect academic, technical, administrative and pastoral support as part of their educational provision. Successful student support has a marked and positive impact on retention, progression, completion rates and overall student satisfaction – this can be even more so for students studying at a distance. In this unit participants will have the opportunity to explore a variety of contemporary conceptions of online tutoring and online facilitation derived, including peer-support and peer-tutoring models, from theory and research and consider their initial experiences of good and effective practice in the support of flexible, blended and online learning provisions offered by institutions to own students and external learners.
17 – 23 March
Rationale: The move towards ‘openness’ in education has accelerated in recent years with a number of high profile institutional initiatives such as the MIT OpenCourseware project and there is now a growing body of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) offered by a number of institutions around the globe which not only give access to free educational courseware, such as images, video, audio and other assets to educators and learners worldwide, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees but also provide opportunities for open access participation and learning in course settings via for example Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) which often attract large numbers of participants. The OER and OEP have emerged as a concept with great potential to support educational transformation as well as provide extended opportunities for learning in non-formal settings. This unit explores the benefits and challenges of openness in education and learning more generally and looks at ways in which educators and learners can harness and benefit from a plethora of open opportunities to engage and re-engage in learning but also to explore how OER and OEP can be re-purposed, adapted and contextualised for specific learning and teaching situations.