PD in your PJs with #EDENChat

February 3, 2016 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)

, , ,

The importance and impact of a major Association such as EDEN comes from its ability to give a true and powerful expression to the aspirations and concerns of the community it serves. This means to be able to represent all kinds of actors involved and convey its different voices. In the field of open, distance and eLearning, EDEN clearly stands out not only as the largest European network of institutions and individual experts, but also the one which best represents the diversity of the community.

In fact, the EDEN NAP - our Association's Network of Academics and Professionals - is one of the largest and most important networks of researchers and practitioners of our field worldwide. The NAP not only provides a platform for networking and sharing information and resources, but also engages the members in influential discussions and many other activities. You may remember in a previous post a reflection on a topic being discussed in a new successful EDEN NAP initiative called the #EDENChat. Well, since then this initiative consolidated and became quite representative of the NAP's activity. So, it's time to share with you how it started and has evolved.

For that purpose, I've invited once again my good friend and colleague Steve Wheeler, who besides being one of the top education bloggers in the world is also the Chair of the NAP's Steering Committee. Under this intriguing title «PD in your PJs with #EDENChat», Steve explores the story behind the #EDENChat initiative. I hope you'll enjoy it and feel inspired to follow the debates and contribute as well.




Unattributed image modified by Amy Burvall

When I was elected as chair of the Network of Academics and Professionals (NAP) in 2014, I wondered what I might do to make my mark. NAP is the membership wing of the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) which is a prestigious, global co-operative of education professionals, representing all sectors and aspects of technology enhanced learning. Because the membership is so eclectic and wide ranging, I wondered just how I and my team of NAP steering group members would be able to represent all their interests.

And then it dawned on me. The answer was staring me right in the face. I would establish a new Twitter chat, where everyone, members and non-members of EDEN could come together periodically and virtually, to discuss the burning issues of the day. Twitter has been, for me and countless other professionals, a powerful form of informal professional development, where you can learn from each other, share ideas and collaborate across distance. It is easily accessible, populated with thousands of people who share a common interest with you, and many of these are willing to freely share their ideas, expertise and resources with you. It can also be PD in your PJs – professional development at any time, even if you’re in bed! Twitter was therefore an ideal medium for the membership to use to communicate their ideas and debate topics of interest.

And so, after some initial discussion, we decided on the name #EDENChat (we needed a short, unique hash tag and it does what it says on the can), and began to plan our first series of Twitter chats. On Twitter, our chats are moderated by a NAP steering group member and are always exactly one hour in duration. Every chat is archived using the social media tool Storify, so that anyone can revisit the discussion at any time on the EDEN website here.

Those who do so will discover a treasure trove of ideas, comments and dialogues that focus on the themes of the chats, and often a shared link to additional relevant resources or media. It really is informal learning at its best, and as an added bonus, people who participate often discover other like minded individuals they would never have encountered otherwise. It's simple to connect to each other with a click to 'follow' so you can continue to share each others' timelines.

We are now in our third series of #EDENChats, which commenced this January. In previous series, we have covered subjects ranging from personal learning environments, open education, the future of distance learning, and mobile learning. Our sessions on new and emerging learning environments, e-assessment, MOOCs, critical thinking and open scholarship were particularly popular, drawing participants from all over Europe and also farther afield. The discussions are always lively and thought provoking and take the form of prompting questions that are posed by a moderator. We have also conducted special edition #EDENChat sessions to coincide with Distance Learning week (in conjunction with the USDLA) and live from the EDEN summer conference in Barcelona. Upcoming chats are already planned and can be seen on this schedule.

Any EDEN member can propose a topic for discussion by emailing me, and suggesting some questions, usually around 6-7 in a sequence. We look forward to welcoming you as a participant in the forthcoming #EDENChats!



Steve Wheeler is an Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Plymouth, in South West England and the Chair of the EDEN NAP Steering Committee. Originally trained as a psychologist, he has spent his entire career working in media, technology and learning, predominantly in nurse education (NHS 1981-1995) and teacher education and training (1976-1981 and 1995-present). Steve is the author of several books including The Digital Classroom (Routledge: 2008) and Connected Minds, Emerging Cultures (Information Age: 2009). He is also a very active edublogger. His blog Learning with ‘e’s is a regular online commentary on the social and cultural impact of disruptive technologies, and digital media in education and training. Read more here.


PD in your PJs with #EDENChat by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.