The 12 Apps of Christmas (12AoC) is a free online course run by the Learning Technology Team at Regent’s University London. Chris Rowell, Deputy Learning Technology Manager at Regent’s University in London, shares his experience on how to get busy academics and education technologists learning about the ever-changing world of apps and mobile learning through a MOOC.

  1. Set the scene (what, why)

The course was first run in 2014 with two further versions run in 2015 and 2016. The course was designed a bit like an advent calendar where a new app was revealed each day to participants over 12 days. Last year the apps included Bb Student, Skitch/Sketch, Kahhoot!, Stop Motion Studio, Snapchat, Habitica, Book Creator, Voki, Lensoo Create, Google Cardboard, Sway, Thinglink and  Elfster.  Participants had the opportunity to complete a ’10 minute activity’ that introduced them to the app with further suggestions on how to use it in a teaching and learning context. The Christmas theme ran throughout the 12 days through branding, imagery and the traditional Christmas cracker jokes!

The course was aimed at three professions working within colleges and universities: lecturers, librarians and learning technologists. We were very conscious that these are very busy roles and many find it difficult to fit in training about the ever-changing world of apps and mobile learning, especially at the end of a busy semester. However, the demand for this type of course was evident and an increasing number joined each year. In the first year we had over 500 join the course, over 1,000 in 2015 and last Christmas nearly 1,400 signed up. The course won the Credo Digital Information Literacy Award 2015 and has inspired other institutions to run similar projects.

  1. Solution (How)

We run the 12AoC on the Blackboard Open Education site. This means that once we publicise the course, anyone from any part of the world can join. Participants are mainly from the UK but there is a significant proportion from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and USA. This ‘openness’ really brings something new to this type of CPD activity. Once we have introduced the app and the adjacent activity there is a forum where the app can be discussed in more detail, covering the activity and how the app can be used in teaching and learning. The diversity and experience of the participants means that someone has usually used the app or has an alternative to recommend.

  1. Results

Last year, 1,365 registered on the 12AoC course, with 107 completing the end of course survey and providing a positive response. Many comments praised the ‘bite-sized’ content and how it held their interest over the 12 days. “Another really good course – a great format with a small amount of content which can be squeezed into most days. I’ve signed up to other MOOCs which require far too much time; the success of this one is due to it being in small chunks every day (plus the great apps, and excellent range of instructors!”

79% of the respondents thought it delivered an Excellent/Good overall experience. 97% found the examples useful or very useful and the top 3 apps that they were most likely to use again were: Kahoot (59%), Book Creator (29%) and Stop Motion Studio (28%). Last year also saw a greater engagement by the participants using social media, with over 50% using Twitter and the course hashtag #12Aoc during the course. Over the 12 days the total time spent on the course was 1,964 hours and 1,894 posts were made in the discussion forums by 311 participants.

As one of participants put it last year, “12AoC is quickly turning into a national institution, so please keep doing what you are doing, it is great! Thanks!”

This year we intend to run a fourth version of the 12AoC. The 12AoC 2017 will offer a completely new range of carefully selected apps, while keeping to the same simple, entertaining formula which has made it so successful to date. Expect guest posts, engaging hands-on activities and a chance to be part of a friendly, enquiring community of educators worldwide. And for those of you who took part last year – yes, we’re afraid the Christmas cracker jokes will be back…

Some useful sites:

To enroll for 12AoC 2017 and to access the last 3 versions Click here

Advise to how to build your own 12AoC

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