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The Simple Joy of Learning:12 Apps of Christmas BC

Contributed by Leva Lee, BCcampus
In December 2016, BCcampus Professional Learning and ETUG offered a new kind of learning event that was free, open and online: the 12 Apps of Christmas BC. The project came about when ETUG community member Sylvia Riessner approached me in October to explore the possibility of offering a micro-learning event modelled after several U.K. 12 apps of Christmas offerings she had participated in over the last two years. Could we, she asked, with the help of our ETUG community and the support of BCcampus offer something similar to B.C. educators?  Yes! Let’s do it!
The idea captured our imagination and we mobilized quickly as a team of three: myself, Sylvia and Clint Lalonde, my colleague at BCcampus. Sylvia took the lead as the designer of our exemplar/lesson template, while I took on the wrangling of participants from our post-secondary community to help us create the app lessons. Clint masterminded our WordPress site, conceptualizing how we would do the reveal of one app each day. We reviewed the planning resources, tips and templates made available by Regent University London and ideas from Dublin Institute of Technology. The project was ready to go in a breathless 4 weeks with no time to spare. We launched the first app on December 1st and completed the offering on the 16th, with a team  of 14, hailing from 10 post-secondary institutions. Approximately 200 participants joined us from B.C., Ontario, Alberta, Washington State and the U.K.
We were pleased with our first offering of 12 Apps of Christmas BC and the excitement it generated, conversations it inspired, and the creative thinking and tinkering it sparked. We identified that for future events, more lead time is needed for team recruitment and orientation; the creation of support resources for lesson creators (screencast) and for promotion of the event. Also, we thought it was worth exploring augmenting the role of lesson creators as facilitators for discussion of their app on the featured day. We also wondered if focussing on apps for use in a particular academic discipline would be of interest to participants, and if they would like time to share their learning in a scheduled synchronous or asynchronous discussion.
Our participant feedback survey provided us with the following comments on what they enjoyed about the event:
“I have been out of the hands-on world for a while. It was great to have a cook’s tour of currently available toys and to get the teaching tips as well. I tried out most of them, but didn’t have time to pursue the challenges. Most are sitting on one of my devices waiting for some down time to play.”
“Learn new apps and different ways of using old apps.”
“This was a great introduction to some fantastic tools to incorporate into a toolbox for faculty members looking for a plus-one approach to incorporating UDL in their curriculum. Loved it!”
“I like the daily challenges. It was more than, “Here is an app.” I likes seeing others participate via twitter.”
“I loved the daily email, even though I didn’t get a chance to read all of them on the actual day. There was a lot of information in each email, nice to get a picture of what the app could do.”
And comments on what more they wished they could do:
“More challenges myself, more comments.”
“I wish I had time to do the challenges.”
“Tried more of the apps.”
“Created a working group to follow the event, explore the apps, and share their successes/thoughts with faculty at large.”
“Next year, we may promote it among our faculty here at WU. Or perhaps run our own. Not sure.”
“Tried more of the apps, although I have saved some of them for later to look at.”
In all, we found that the 12 Apps of Christmas BC provided participants with a fun, easy way to do self-directed and connected learning. The format offered an open invitation to participate  and an engaging theme with a delightful element of surprise as each app was unveiled. It was a learning experience where participants could revel in the simple joy of learning, and share  their discoveries, if they chose to or not, on social media.

For More Information

Website: 12appsofchristmas.ca
Twitter stream: #12apps
Summary Spreadsheet of 12 Apps offerings by Chris Jobling @cpjobling https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10hlQ93sNj5XeqgYgaEKQq7kvqb3kjhR1IqrenKAjRWI/edit?usp=sharing

Feedback & Suggestions

If you have feedback on the 12 Apps of Christmas, it’s not too late to tell us!
12 Apps of Christmas Participant Feedback
If you have a suggestion for a learning event or offering  and would like help in making it happen, we’d like to hear from you.  Send us a note: Contactus@etug.ca/ or leva.lee@bccampus.ca