topic 1: connecting

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 if this is their preferred way of learning during FDOL.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

  1. familiarise yourself with the online learning spaces and features
  2. make first contacts with other learners and facilitators
  3. discuss Problem-Based, open and collaborative learning in the context of FDOL

Activities/tasks for all learners

  1. The tools used in FDOL: Familiarise yourself with the tools used in FDOL, (see tab 6. tools). We use a variety of Google tools so please create a Google account and a Google+ profile
  2. Google + community FDOL: Join the FDOL community. Participate in the who is who discussion: Introduce yourself and share the link to your portfolio or web-presence. Comment on other learners’ introductions.
  3. Twitter: Create a/use your Twitter account. Make a tweet about this course to say hello there. Remember to use the hashtag #fdol141. A simple tweet is enough at this stage if you are new to Twitter. You might also want to follow @openfdol and the facilitators.
  4. Personal learning space/portfolio: We recommend you to consider using a blog or portfolio to capture your reflections (see tools). We suggest to start with a post “The digital me” and reflect on who you are as an individual in the digital age and your journey so far. Start making links between the digital me in your personal and professional life and think about what you would like to get out of FDOL, how and why. Use some of the literature and share your portfolio with others.

Additional activities/tasks for learners within PBL groups

  1. Introduction to Problem-Based Learning: Familiarise yourself with PBL and the COOL FISh design in the context of FDOL. Useful information can be found on the design page.
  2. Formation of PBL groups: During topic 1 you will have the opportunity to form PBL groups so that you can  collaborate with others throughout the course or during a specific topic. For more information and guidance see learning together
  3. Connect with the other group members and start forming as a group
    A good idea is to connect and organize a Google hangout with your group members as soon as possible to get to know each other. You will need a webcam and a headset to participate fully in the Hangouts. Agree how you are going to work together.


“I have just signed up to do an online course and have no idea where to start? I am excited to be on the course but have no experience of online courses and do not know who else will be there? I had an email from the course organisers that was very reassuring, so at least I know 2 people. Should I introduce myself? How should I do this?, I read that videos would be good but this scares me…Where should I introduce myself?, there are various spaces online…., When should I do this?, before the start, at the start?… I guess that other participants will be more experienced than me, and probably know each other.”

  1. Study the scenario: or contribute your own.
  2. Investigate the chosen scenario: Consider using the COOL FISh framework and adapt as it suits the group.
  3. Share you findings: At the end of this topic share your main findings in a creative way in the FDOL  community.
  4. Reflection: Reflect individually and in your PBL group on your learning.


suggested readings

1. Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control- according to the research by Marion Coomey* and John Stephenson available here

2. Problem-Based Learning Online: Multiple Perspectives on Collaborative Knowledge Construction by Ellina Chernobilsky, Anandi Nagarajan and Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver, available here

3. Openness, Dynamic Specialization, and the Disaggregated Future of Higher Education, by David Wiley, John Hilton, available here

4. FlexiblePedagogies: technology-enhanced learning, by Neil Gordon, available here

additional resources

FDOL diigo group at

Please check this learners’ generated collection and add further resources you find useful and link well with this unit. Remember to use tags and comment on resources shared by others.

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