Drivers, benefits and challenges of FDOL

From last week I have actually found out how to drive the car. I am getting familiar with some internet platforms for education.  My PBL group has met twice at hangout in google+ .We created a presentation with three slides each on google drive, reflecting on a scenario about difficulties in a FDOL course. We presented and discussed our slides with each other at the latest hangout. I have also got a great tip on a web-based project management application, trello.com.

The task of this week in the FDOL course is to explore drivers for flexible, distance and online learning and discuss benefits and challenges of FDOL in your professional context

I think that a very strong driver for FDOL is curiosity of a new technique. What could it be used for? Where are the limits? It is important to reflect on this when planning a course that contains on-line learning. It is tempting to use cool gadgets just because they exist and because you are curious how they work. However, I am convinced that one should always let pedagogy go before technique. Never forget the constructive alignment; learning outcomes-learning activities-examination.  Once learning outcomes and examination is clear, one can plan learning activities and perhaps choose to do them on-line.

The flexibility in time and place is of course very cool and tempting to use with no further reflection on what it could add in pedagogy.  My own experience is that flexibility in time per se adds to pedagogy. This is the second course I have attended using FDOL. In both courses there has been a weekly task that should be commented on from other course participants. It is stressful getting mails the whole day long from facilitators and course participants that should be considered to be commented on or not. However, I have found that the constant flow of comments, tips and thoughts make me think about the topic of the week almost constantly. It drives a remodeling process in me that give much more knowledge in the end than an ordinary course would do. I do think, based on this experience, that pedagogy is enriched by the flexibility in time, if used in certain ways.

A challenge when planning a course with FDOL is clarity. Before starting a course, students and teachers must receive clear and realistic explanation of

  • Expectations (learning outcomes and examination)
  • Extent and nature of autonomous, collaborative and supported aspects of learning (learning activities)

Planning FDOL courses in my professional context, family medicine, requires extreme clarity in time planning.  Family doctors plan their tight schedules months ahead. When they apply to an FDOL course it must therefore be very clear how much time in every week the course participants needs to spend. Benefits for family doctors to attend an FDOL course would be that they are forced to be active and comment on others works. As a family doctor you work a lot alone. Therefore there is a need to reflect and discuss topics and maybe to be forced to do it weekly in an FDOL course. The flexibility in time and place would also make it possible to attend the course in a week with ordinary work, if you also set off time for the course. Bild

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2 thoughts on “Drivers, benefits and challenges of FDOL”

  1. I agree Anna, there has to be a relevant reason for choosing your tools. If it they are just chosen for coolness and are not supported learning activities constructively aligned to your learning outcomes, they will take up time for both you and your students. Some tools however, can be chosen not from a pedagogic point of view but just to make life easier, perhaps from a administrative aspect (like doodle for arranging group sessions) or arranging a feedback session with a student with skype, a practical reason.

    A constant flow of updates is enriching for some but could be stressful for others. Flexibility in time and space must be a way to choose when and where to do something . If your course aims to be flexible I think that as you write you have to be clear and explain in what way and what to expect – and also how you are allowed to form your own learning experience – perhaps by switching the notifications in the daytime 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Hi Anna,

    Like Maria I also agree with you that everything (digital tools) should serve a pedagogical purpose. Personally I have a classical view on teaching and learning and would be interested to find out how some of these new tools could change my way of teaching and what additional options do we have to transfer knowledge or stimulate learning.

    I also agree that sometimes a course or students benefit from structure rather than flexibility and I think the success of a course partially depends on finding the right balance between structure and flexibility.

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