Connectivity: thoughts from day 1 of the #BYOD4L MOOC

The first day of the Bring Your Own Device for Learning #BYOD4L MOOC looks at connectivity. A good place to start, I think, but as I’ve been marking exam scripts most of the morning, in a meeting for the most of the afternoon, I’ve only been connecting with the MOOC intermittently.

byod4lIndeed, this blog post is even being drafted offline as the train I’m commuting on isn’t wifi enabled (some are, which is great) and my iPad doesn’t have a 3G package. The iPhone is an option, but I don’t need to be online for all of this task: I can connect but don’t need to be connected all of the time.  I also think it’s just as important to know when to sign out and get some down time.

The first ‘student’ scenario is typical, and features a problem which we, as educators, should assist students in giving them some direction in how to connect academically with the world. Sure, they may be digital natives, but some subject specific guidance is surely worthwhile.

The student in the scenario wants to know more about ‘wellbeing’ but I’m going to adapt this learning object and reuse it for my own disciple and offer some response that fits better for legal education. Let’s say Internet law, and that the student instead wants to more about  ‘privacy’ or ‘data protection’. The question remains the same, how do you connect to cutting edge researchers and what’s hot in the field?

My answer would be to provide some of my own recommendations for who is good to follow on twitter, what hashtags are popular or relevant, and when relevant conferences are taking place. Because I engage with colleagues in my discipline area I already know who is worth following and that is a good starting point for the student to branch out from and locate their own sources.

I saw some #BYOD4L mentions of curation today, which is a skill that students could do with learning to help manage their ‘research’ into social media connections. Even simple ideas such as using Storify to recount and expand upon tweets  that arise from a conference are good learning activities in themselves.

I like to use our VLE to connect with current developments by embedding RSS feeds into various modules. It helps to keep the module looking fresh and new content put in (without the need for me to do it!) such as the contents of the latest relevant journal, decided cases from the appeal courts or even the BBC newsfeed on a topic such as healthcare.

So, this brings me to scenario two, the busy teacher, who hasn’t time to connect or use apps on her phone. The key point is the reluctance to take up connective technology and the old adage of ‘I haven’t got time’!

How to solve it? I think I can allude to an anonymous colleague who fits this description but who wanted to engage. The solution is to tap into the plea of the hectic, busy workload and suggest that time-savings or other efficiencies can be gotten from fairly simple or basic apps.

Alerts for new developments in her subject, having some bells and whistles that do some of the research for you and other such time savers are connectivity tools that might bring this educator into the world of apps and mobile technologies.

I’d also be suggesting to her many of the ideas I gave for the student scenario above. One I might not suggest to the reluctant embracer, is an app I only recently discovered which fits very well with the Bring Your Own Device theme: An ideal way to encourage large classroom interactions, real time questions, polls, open ended questions etc, but does require a bit of time to set up and encourage use. Although I’m not exactly rich in free time, piloting, innovating or just doing something new for the first time takes quite a bit of effort and time to get to work. However, my selling point for the academic in the video: it encourages participation and even records the feedback which you can look at later – a great source of evidence should you need it.

Something caught my eye on the twitter feed for today’s MOOC topic was the notion of always learning and doing:

@lifewider1: @lifewider life’s an ‘ing’ we’re always – working, playing, learning, developing, creating, slogging, blogging, tweeting #BYOD4L ing

I immediately thought, yes, always busy but how much is ever completed or converted from the gerund to the past participle?! I’m from the school of thought that learning, developing and creating should never end, but to the busy academic, being connected just adds more to our plates might be the retort from the lady in scenario 2.

I treat twitter as a dip in and out type connectivity tool. It’s not my inbox, but, like a hosepipe I can turn it on and dowse myself for a while with whatever I choose, turn it off and repeat as required. That way I’m connecting, learning, thinking, and making use of dead time (I checked twitter whilst waiting for/walking to/ sitting on buses/trains/meetings/colleagues (okay, not sitting on colleagues!) so far today).

So, to come full circle, I’m still marking (not finished) but have participated in my meeting, connected with the #BYOD4L community, and learned a lot today (lots of past tense you see!). None of the connectivity activities would have happened today without my iPhone or iPad – marking and meeting would have been the gist of my day. I can now add tweeting, creating, learning and MOOCing to my day!

Last thing on my list is the live twitter chat this evening, which is a bit out-of-hours for me, but it’s when I’ll finally upload this blog post written on a wifi-less train, which at least connects home with work so I’m thankful for that level of connectivity!

Update: pleased to have gained a badge for participating in day 1.


About Michael Bromby
Lecturer in Law at Truman Bodden Law School

One Response to Connectivity: thoughts from day 1 of the #BYOD4L MOOC

  1. amiddlet50 says:

    I’m just catching up with #BYOD4L postings. Thankfully connectivity isn’t all about being synchronous and frenetic. I think your response to scenario 2 is spot – ‘the advocates’ challenge to to be able to express quite clearly the benefits to the reluctant time pressured academic.

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