Why I want to bring social learning to a live arena at SXSWedu 2015

Professor Mike Sharples, Academic Lead at FutureLearn, outlines his proposed session for SXSWedu 2015 and asks for your vote in the Panel Picker.

I, along with over 1,000 others, have pitched a session for next year’s SXSWedu conference to be held in Austin, Texas, in March. As part of the conference’s Panel Picker process, I need your votes to help the chances of securing a slot on the programme.

My aim is to stage a live demonstration of social learning, as massive open online learning grows at pace around the world and finds many more applications outside the higher education sector.

Why a live demonstration?

There’s been no shortage of theories put forward about different approaches to enabling digital education online. I have spoken and written about these pedagogies, and explained why FutureLearn has built social learning into the core of the platform.

The session at SXSWedu will allow us to put social learning into practice in a fun and engaging way. It will enable participants to experience the three principles that guide FutureLearn’s take on online learning: provoking conversation, telling stories and celebrating progress.

How the SXSWedu session would work

We’ve decided to make ‘citizen journalism’ the topic of our session, as it lends itself very well to our experiment:

  • it provokes conversation — anyone so inclined can be a citizen journalist, allowing many views and voices to be heard;
  • it’s all about storytelling — which is how we design our courses at FutureLearn;
  • and it’s mobile — anyone with a smartphone or tablet device can capture a great piece of content.

As well as engaging with pre-prepared material, participants will create their own content and stories. We intend to harness the wisdom of the community in a live discussion around the examples of citizen journalism, to debate opinions. We’ll use a visual tool, the ArgueGraph, to track changing views.

What do we want to accomplish?

At the end of this session, we aim to have demonstrated the power of combining online social learning with mobile storytelling and live debate. We’ll mix the best pre-prepared material and online education tools, such as quizzes and the ArgueGraph, together with video capture and live discussion.

In so doing, we’ll replicate and extend in the live arena, the dynamism of the learner experience on FutureLearn.com. FutureLearn is best placed to do this — we’ve developed the platform from the inside, to support social learning, with discussions tied to all the learning material. At SXSWedu, we’d show why our learners find this such a fun and effective way of learning.

If you’d like to see this SXSWedu session take place, please cast your vote on our session page and share your thoughts on social learning in the comments section.

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