Blended and flipped at BETT2016

This has been the week of BETT 2016, the ‘world’s leading learning technology event’ according to the blurb, held at the gigantic Excel exhibition centre in London. I would say its main focus is really the schools sector, although there have been specific themed speakers and events for HE and FE too. The several thousand delegates came from all over the UK and Europe, and it was interesting to hear about learning technology developments in France and elsewhere.

I was there for one day only, having been invited to speak as part of a panel session on ‘Moving away from traditional lectures: Incorporating blended learning and flipped classroom models’. The session was well attended and there were lots of questions around embedding blended and flipped learning, measuring success, and the impact on students to highlight just a few. Strategy and policy were also mentioned. We don’t have a separate strategy for blended learning at GCU as we see it as a core aspect of all learning and teaching. It is however a key priority in our Strategy for Learning, and an annual operational plan sets targets for digital learning (now including online developments), allowing progress to be monitored. We also gather examples of innovative practice to showcase here in this blog, on our WillItBlend site in Coursesites (open to all but initial sign up required), and through our regular face to face Blended Learning Coffee Club sessions. There are also support resources for staff, including for online developments, under the Staff Help tab in GCULearn.

BETT 2016 was exhilarating, exhausting and inspiring, with lots of suppliers touting gadgets, ideas and new, swishy applications. It highlighted for me the ‘big business’ that learning technology has become, but at the same time reminded me that creative  and evidence-based approaches to embedding technology in learning and teaching are more important than ever.



A Personal Reflection on #BYOD4L

screen shot of mindmap

Last week we encouraged staff and students here at GCU to participate in the national #BYOD4l open CPD event. A number of staff participated in our drop in sessions as well as the wider activities.  Allan Thomson, Lecturer in Podiatory, has written a short reflection on his experience of the week.

Last week I took part in the Bring Your Own Device For Learning course.  This open online educational course has been running for a few years and aims to help students and teachers develop their understanding, knowledge and skills linked to using smart devices for learning and teaching.  (continue reading here)


#BYOD4L – Day one: connecting

#BYOD4l is up and running again, and we’ve just had the first of our drop in sessions here at GCU.  It’s always great to see the interest the event creates and the issues that our staff are thinking about in terms of mobile devices.

Today as we were exploring the twitter stream we noticed that Alex Spiers was periscoping.  As Periscope was new to a number of people “in the room” so we decided to follow Alex’s example and instead of explaining Periscope, just do it. Our very short Periscope was enough create quite an interesting discussion around the pros and cons of using it in learning and teaching (see this post for some more thoughts).

We’re looking forward to the tweet chat tonight (remember the hashtag is #byod4lchat) and to our online session tomorrow (details here)  where we’ll be thinking about communicating via the new Collaborate Ultra web conferencing system.


GCU and #BYOD4L 2016

BYOD4L community badge picture

BYOD4L, the ever popular open online event is back next week, 11-15th January,  for another iteration. The basic format will stay the same following the 5 C model with each day focusing on one of the C’s (connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating, creating).

Following the success of our drop in sessions during the last years event, we are doing it all again, with GCU  being one of the event’s  institutional partners and yours truly (Sheila MacNeill) being one of the organisers.

We’d encourage all GCU staff and students to follow the #byod4l hashtag and @byod4l twitter account, join the nightly (8-9pm) tweet chats. If you’ve never experienced a tweet chat before this is a great place to start.  We are also organising a number of drop in sessions over the week, including an introduction to Collaborate Ultra, which will be our learning and teaching online webinar and conferencing system later this year. As GCU LEAD has moved offices this is also an opportunity for you to check out our new office space.

Our programme for the week is:

  • Monday: 1 -2 pm:  introduction to the week, M301 (our new office space in the Moore Building)
  • Tuesday:  2.00 – 2.30pm: introduction and overview to Collaborate Ultra ( log in here   – remember you’ll need PC/device with sound (and headphones if you are in a shared office) we also advise using the Chrome browser to access the session.
  • Wednesday: 12- 1pm W323  Introduction to Edshare, GCUs new open educational resources repository. (more info on Edshare is available  here).
  • Friday: 12.30 – 1.30 M301 – round up and sharing of experiences of the week.

We are all looking forward to being part of this international event, and hope that you will be inspired as much as one of our colleagues last year to try something new.

“The drop in sessions are great for inspiration & motivation; everyone was so enthusiastic it makes me want to engage, and try stuff, just so I can join in the chat and use my experiences to personally help others.”