Where did FOS come from?

Flexible – Open – Social Learning or short FOS is an open online course developed by Chrissi Nerantzi based the 30 credit open postgraduate module Flexible, Distance and Online Learning also developed by Chrissi Nerantzi while at the University of Salford and then turned into the open  FDOL course with Lars Uhlin from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden (Nerantzi & Uhlin). Some features of FOS have also been influenced by the open course BYOD4L (Nerantzi & Beckingham).

Who can participate?

FOS is for teachers, educational developers, learning technologists, course designers who would like to experience, explore and learn more about the pedagogy of flexible, open and social learning. We model the use of freely available social media tools and platform which we utilise for learning that don’t require extensive technical expertise to be mastered and implemented.

FOS will enable participants to develop an understanding of the benefits and challenges learners and facilitators are facing in such settings through experiencing these first hand. The course will also assist participants to develop effective strategies in order to design and implement their own activities, courses, modules and programmes depending on their professional context.


  1. To provide opportunities for learners’ engagement in inclusive and flexible pedagogies and collaborative open practices that support learning in the digital age.
  2. To provide opportunities to develop learners’ understanding of the benefits and challenges involved in designing flexible pedagogical applications supported by technology in face-to-face, blended and fully online mode.
  3. To provide learners opportunities for reflection on their practice based on the  experience as learner in open educational settings.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, learners will be able to:

  1. Reflect on how inclusive and flexible pedagogies can be used within their teaching context
  2. Discuss benefits and challenges which influence the use of flexible pedagogies supported by  technologies in Higher Education.
  3. Reflect on their experience as learners in open educational settings.

Please note, the above are generic course ILOs. You are also encouraged to define your own intended learning outcomes if you learn autonomously and/or within a group.

A selection of open access readings linked to specific themes have been added under the specific tab.

Participation modes

If you participate in FOS, you will be able to work autonomously, with a study budy or within a facilitated group. It is up to you. The FOS community will come together via Twitter using the hashtag #FOS and in Google +. You decide where and how you would like to participate. Remember, if you are capturing your learning in a portfolio, share this with the rest of the community via Twitter and/or the Google + community so that you can engage others in conversations around your work but also comment on other’s work.

FOS facilitators

The facilitator will be there to support individual participants and groups if and when needed throughout the course. All facilitators are from collaborating institutions. The facilitators might be more hands-on at the beginning to help you co-ordinate the initial activities so that you can get started. Progressively, the facilitators will step back and let individuals and groups decide when they need his/her help. Please reach out if you need help!

FISh, a model for individual or group inquiry

Participants are asked to consider the use of the FISh model for personal and group inquiry. This is based loosely on Inquiry-Based Learning and particularly Problem-Based Learning. It was developed by Nerantzi & Uhlin (2012) and was first used during the openly-licensed FDOL course. Consider the use of FISh when engaging in individual or collaborative learning activities.

FISh might help learners keep on track and make progress with their learning. However, it is important also to remember that learning is messy and following or restricting ourself to a linear and structured process might not work and can be frustrating at times.

The FISh model has been developed by Chrissi Nerantzi & Lars Uhlin (2012), image designed by artist Ellie Livermore, available at http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5507/11322417494_aeceda1bdf_b.jp

Step 1: Focus

  • What do I/we see?

  • How do I/we understand what we see?

  • What do I/we need to find out more about?

  • Specify learning issues/intended learning outcomes!

Step 2: Investigate

  • How and where am I/are we going to find answers?

  • What will I do/Who will do what and by when?

  • What main findings and solutions do I/we propose?

Step 3: Share

  • How am I/are we going to present my/our findings?

  • What do I/we want to share with the community?

  • How can I/we provide feedback to others?

  • What reflections do I have about my learning (and working with others)?


Creative Commons License
FISh by Chrissi Nerantzi and Lars Uhlin (2012) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Cross-boundary collaborative open learning framework

This evidence-based framework (Nerantzi, 2017) will be used for the first time in October 2017. It is a key output of a phenomenographic study and is hoped to enhance open learning within groups. You can see it below. It has three dimensions:

  • Learning patterns
  • Learning needs
  • Design considerations
learning engagement patterns alternative version-02
Nerantzi (2017) available under the Creative Commons licence Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Research has shown that as a learner you will be moving between selective and immersive collaboration and this will mean that you needs will change. The above will help you, your peers and your facilitator to agree appropriate strategies so that you all get the maximum out of working in a group. A paper about the design of the framework is in preparation.

Activities and gamification

Active participation in FOS will help you get the maximum out of it. Learning will happen everywhere, in the community spaces such as Google + and Twitter, personal learning spaces, such as portfolios but also offline. Connect with the distributed and local community. A series of suggested activities have been added to each topic which are there to drive engagement together with the learning triggers in the form of scenarios, available as text, animation and audio. You are welcome to do as much or as little as you wish and personalise the outcomes further, as mentioned above.

The scenarios used as learning triggers in FOS come from FDOL and the OER stories collection created for this. These are all fully anonymised contributions. Resources used, adapted and made available here are Open Educational Resources, unless otherwise stated (please also check before re-use) and their origin has been acknowledged.



The animations have been created by artist Ellie Livermore @ellielivermore Voice overs by Ellie Livermore and Dr Sam Illingworth @samillingworth. We thank them both for their valuable contributions.

If you have any questions about FOS or would like to collaborate with us, please get in touch. Thank you.

The FOS team

FOS is available under a Creative Commons License. If you use or re-purpose the resources or activities shared here, remember to acknowledge the source by adding the license below:
Creative Commons License
FOS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://fdol.wordpress.com/.

Nerantzi, C. (2017) Towards a cross-boundary collaborative open learning framework for cross-institutional academic development, PhD thesis, Edinburgh Napier University: Edinburgh.


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