FutureLearn Academic Network – Call for Papers

The next FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) meeting will take place online on Thursday 17th February 2022 between 14:00pm and 17:00pm GMT/UTC. It will be hosted by Dublin City University and hosted through Zoom. 

The theme of the meeting will be…

Micro-credentials: Moving from the Canvas to the Concrete’.

There is a growing expectancy over the role micro-credentials may play in the future. Recent European Council recommendations have firmly put micro-credentials and lifelong learning on the education and training agenda in Europe. The narrative, however, is largely anecdotal and evidence of the purported benefits and the successful implementation of micro-credentials remains limited. You can view a comprehensive collection of the published literature in this area in the Micro-credential Observatory.

We invite researchers, PhD students, course developers and practitioners to submit proposals for presentations on MOOC-based approaches to micro-credentials, focusing in particular on innovative approaches to implementation and evaluation.

Please send a brief abstract (100 words) to elaine.beirne@dcu.ie by Friday 4th February 2022.

If you have not been involved in FLAN before, the organisation was established in 2013 in order to connect staff and students, based at FutureLearn partner institutions, share research and explore shared research opportunities. These include joint research bids and publications, comparative studies using shared FutureLearn data, course designs, and methods to analyse and evaluate courses.

Attendance at FLAN events is free for those from FutureLearn partner institutions. It is an opportunity to catch up with research into FutureLearn and MOOCs more generally, and to talk informally with colleagues from other FutureLearn partner organisations. FLAN also hosts a closed Facebook Group to exchange ideas and propose themes. Contact rebecca.ferguson@open.ac.uk to join the Facebook group.

If you would like to attend via Zoom, please email flan@futurelearn.com (you can forward this email to others too).  

The event will be recorded, and recordings posted on the FutureLearn Partner Site together with any slides/papers etc for those who cannot make it. We look forward to your participation at FLAN this February. 

Going the Distance with a Hackathon: Personal Reflections

By Clare Gormley

Hackathons. It’s one of those words that seems to be cropping up a lot in education these days. I initially thought it was something to do with software development. With distant memories of Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs, I pictured young, mostly male coders typing intensely into the small hours of the morning, fuelled mostly by pizza and (an admittedly biased view) a geekish love of programming.

In this blog post I will try to offer a different perspective by reflecting on a rather different sort of Hackathon experience, wearing the hats of both learner and academic developer. 

This motivation to learn more about Hackathons has come from the fact that DCU is engaging in a major curriculum transformation project – DCU Futures – which includes Challenge Based Learning (CBL) as a key pedagogy. CBL is fundamentally about the investigation of real-life problems related to pressing societal issues. It is a pedagogical approach that is increasingly being used in higher education to foster transversal skills, increase knowledge of socio technical problems, and enhance collaboration with industry and community stakeholders (Gallagher & Savage, 2020).

A hackathon is one example of CBL in practice but it can take other forms including projects, design events, or competitions that aim to solve difficult problems. Lyons, Brown & Donlon (2021, p.1) describe a hackathon as an ‘intensive run’ where participants commit to forming collaborative teams to resolve and present solutions to real-world challenges during an allocated period of time. 

Most of us in Higher Education are completely new to the notion of Hackathons and even fewer of us again have actually organised one. Since supporting the design and implementation of CBL is part of the Teaching Enhancement Unit remit, it seemed important to get an authentic experience on how this approach might work. There could be no better way to ‘walk in the shoes of students’, than to get a first-hand experience of a Hackathon for myself.

You can continue to read Clare’s personal reflections on her hackathon experience at her “Learning Rush” blog. After describing the experience she shares a number of pros and cons and then concludes with 10 takeaways for those thinking about planning to integrate hackathons into their teaching in the future.