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Topic 5 – Lessons learnt and future practice

It’s. Oh. So quiet   Shhh, shhh
It’s. Oh. So still      Shhh, shhh
You’re all alone   Shhh, shhh
And so peaceful until…

Lyrics from the song It´s Oh so quiet by Björk

Often for things to happen it´s all about the timing and every once in a while the timing is right.

I accidentally noticed a post about ONL171 made by Alastair Creelman at our University intranet and decided in a spur to jump on the train. Not once did I regret that decision and now ten weeks have passed in a blink of an eye. It feels like I´ve been inside a bubble and now are about to step back into the world again.

Two weeks have passed since our last webinar and the lyrics above represented the way I feel after leaving the course. Without our weekly webinars with the PBL-group, without the tweetchats and the course events it is Oh so quiet!

My ONL171 experience has been challenging in many ways but also greatly rewarding and now I´m feeling a bit in love with process. I decided from the start that my motto should be Why not? Why not try blogging, why not try tweeting, why not putting myself and my personality out there, and sharing my ideas and thoughts with others. It was super scary writing my first blog post and using Twitter for the first time – but I did it and now I can´t wait to participate in another tweetchat.

ONL171 offers learning on many levels. The topics of course, they are brilliantly chosen and organized by the course team. However the outcome of the course is also about group development, personal development and learning about the learning process. The last became very obvious in topic 3 and 4.

But what struck me the most when reflecting on the course was the collaborative process.  Collaborative work is more about learning together rather than finishing a task. The greatest learning during the course took place in the webinars, in the interaction with the members of my PBL-group. That is where it all came together and also where I felt in charge of my own learning process. I am eager to learn more about Student-centered learning and personalized learning and I truly believe that we need to move towards that kind of learning environments.

During the group work, at the same time as we were learning the group changed and a parallel process of group development took place. It is something you need to be aware of as an educator since it affects learning. This is especially true if the course is based on the PBL method. Students will affect each other’s possibilities to learn and our obligation is to create the best learning environment for them regardless of what they know prior to the course.  It is not about passing on knowledge or giving them the truth. It is about giving them the tools to prosper individually and collaboratively. The role of the educator is to facilitate that learning experience. That is exactly how I felt that our facilitators worked during ONL171.

It was a privilege to have facilitators who themselves had experienced the course as previous participants. They could relate to the stress, anxiety, frustration, frienship and joy that we all experienced during the course.  It felt reassuring to know that they were standing by our side always ready to jump in when we needed them but also they helped us to move forward when we tended to get stuck in discussions. A great facilitator, as the ones leading our group, PBL7, knows when to stay in the background and when to step in. That is a very tricky act of balance and it takes practice to learn.

So, when I´m now looking at the course in the rearview mirror I´ve come to the conclusion that it´s my responsibility to make some noise and engage if I want the quietness to stop. Holding on to the network and keeping in contact with my new found friends all over the world. I want to end this last post by saying thank you to all the group members of PBL7 – ONL171. I´ve thoroughly enjoyed this ride together with you. I´ve learned so much from all of you and I hope that I´ve contributed to your learning as well.  Also thank you to Sonja and Malin for you extraordinary support and engagement in our group. I will miss all of you!

Are you thinking whether or not to sign up for ONL172 – don´t think twice, just join. You will have an extraordinary experience.

Topic 4 – Design for online and blended learning

If topic 3 was about solving a puzzle together with others then topic 4 was about solving a crossword. Can you recognize that sensational feeling when you fill in the last blank squares with letters? For me one of those words was reading about the Five Stage Model by Gilly Salmon. It was like an epiphany – but not so much for presenting new ways of doing things. Rather the opposite – I could identify my working methods with those in her model which of course felt reassuring.

 

What I like about the model is its simplicity and the fact that it looks at course design from two angles; the teacher/developer view and the student/expected outcome view. Working as an ed tech I often find myself in the middle between these two groups. If consulted in time I know that I, in dialog with the teacher, can affect the course design. The Five Stage Model offers arguments when discussing the importance of course design with both groups.

In our PBL group we talked about the changing role of the teacher; from the traditional role as knowledge bearer to becoming a facilitator. The new role is about helping the students to understand and apply the knowledge rather than lecturing to them. This is truly the key to empowering the students so that they can take responsibility for their own learning. The complexity of it is also something that Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes & Garrison discuss in depth in their presentation of the teaching presence when investigating the Community of Inquiry framework. I especially like how they stress the word teaching and not teacher presence. Teaching in this sense is extended not only to include the educators but also to the students themselves.

Student-centered learning requires commitment and interest in the individual learners especially when looking at course design. Salmon´s models makes it easier to understand what is needed from the facilitator and what to expect from the students after choosing a certain tool, activity or assignment. One of our group members in PBL7 wrote an excellent blog post in which she linked the model to PBL.

There are a lot of things to take into account when working with course design. The foundation always have to be the course syllabus and more precise the learning objectives. What are the students supposed to have learnt when leaving the course and how can we work together with them during the course so that they can meet the objectives. It is the HOW that will define the learning process when looking at the design issues. If we want the students to reflect on their learning and abilities and to learn from each other we need to create incentives for them to do so.  We need to give them tools to use and a framework to act within. That is what course design is for me.

By participating in ONL171 I felt like I took part in a real life experiment, a sort of test environment. I experienced the course as a student while reading and learning about the topic as an educator. This offered me an exceptional opportunity to reflect on learning in two different ways and I value this experience highly.

Sources:

Salmon, Gilly (2013) The Five Stage Model.

https://asarosengren.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/the-five-stage-model-and-pbl-some-reflections/

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press. Chapter 1 “Conceptual framework”.

Topic 3 – How ONL changed my views on collaborative work – finding the missing piece

Previous to ONL171  if someone would ask me to define collaborative work I would probably say “Well, it´s group work, people working together to complete a task”. I probably wouldn´t consider what that really meant, the form, the design or the journey that collaborative work will take you on.

What ONL have taught me is that there is a difference between working together in a group and doing collaborative work. I stumbled upon a blog post by Adam Kirk Smith which touched up on this subject. His post is about leadership however I find them applicable to education as well.  One sentence from his post really stuck with me. A perfect collaboration happens when one person needs their missing piece of the puzzle from another person to push their work forward.”

That, for me, sums up what collaborative work is about. And in regard to ONL171 also the purpose of being part of a PBL group during this journey.

We are solving a puzzle together. Each and every one of us has different but crucial pieces needed to solve the puzzle. If we would divide the work between us we wouldn´t come very far.  We would all see parts of the picture but it wouldn´t be sufficient to see the whole picture.  The only way to do it, to succeed, is by sharing the pieces with each other, twisting and turning them to find the one that fits.  It is in that little routine that the magic in collaborative working have given me the best experiences. When you’re battling with your own irregular little piece and suddenly find the right context for it with the assistance of other members of the group. To succeed on a personal level the best you can do is to listen and be open to what other people say.  From what I´ve experienced so far, it´s in the meeting with others that my  personal development prospers.

What I´ve learned from the PBL work is that collaborative group work is not only about finishing a task together. It´s about learning together and testing your knowledge and experience against someone else’s ideas.  It´s truly hard work, the collaborative process, but at the same time greatly rewarding if you just give it a chance. Topic 3 was a challenge for our PBL group. We walked right into the topic, doors slammed open and full of confidence. At the same time as we worked and learned about the COI and read the article by Capdefferro, N. & Romero,M. (2012) and Cleveland-Innes and Campbell (2012) we actually experienced the emotions, change in directions, lack of time and heavy workload. However in the end we really pulled it off by working together, determined to succeed. And in the end we left the topic with tons of experience from working as students.

Sources:
Capdeferro, N. & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?. The International review of research in open and distance learning, 13(2), 26-44.

http://asmithblog.com/collaboration/

Martha Cleveland-Innes and Prisca Campbell (2012) Emotional Presence, Learning, and the Online Learning Environment  http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1234/2333

Topic 2 – Open learning – sharing and openness

How strange it feels to write about openness and sharing today. More important than ever with this weekend in mind.  My country is known for openness, a welcoming and including attitude and tradition of giving a helping hand to people in need.  A young girl called Jenny Nguyen created the hashtag #openstockholm this weekend which allowed for people to connect. It quickly created a network with people that opened their homes, offered transportation, a place to sleep and food for those who got stuck in the lock-down of our capital. The impact of that little hashtag wouldn´t have been possible without a society which embrace openness in all its forms.

In Education 2030, goal 4 in UNESCOS agenda for sustainable development the following is stated “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” . UNESCO targets education as one of the most important factors to obtain sustainable development in all 17 goals. SDG 4 is therefore connected to several other goals in their agenda. Like SDG 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Even though we strive for it we know for a fact that education isn´t equitable, accessible, equal or open to all human beings. At the same time we know that education is an important catalyst for development in all levels. This is where Open Education and Open Educational Resources are of importance.

According to statistics from ITU (International Telecommunication Union) 95% of the world population now lives in areas covered by a mobile-cellular network.  However it´s also important to remember that 53% of the world population is not using the internet and therefore are excluded from this opportunity. Digitalism is a fact and it is expanding fast. More and more people have access to internet via smartphones which facilitates access to MOOCS, OER and other free, sharable resources.

Maybe now more than ever universities and educators have to take a stand and push for more openness and sharing of educational resources. When boarders are closing we have the power to ensure that ideas, research and collaboration remain open so that people all over the world still can connect with each other.  We can then make sure that learning is accessible and that development can prosper. For the sake of my children I have to believe that openness and inclusion is the future.

Sources:

http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/a/BaA5l/jennys-hashtag-hjalpte-stockholmarna-att-organisera-sig

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/education-for-all/sdg4-education-2030/

http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2016.pdf

Open education and the future, Short TED-talk by David Wiley,

Topic 1 – Online participation and digital literacies

Reflection and the importance of it is something that I´ve learned to value during the ONL171 course. In topic 1 the reflection was about the digital me. My footprint and imprint in a digital world. We were given a chance to contemplate on our behavioral pattern online, digital literacy and residency in a digital world.

I think of myself as digitally literate or maybe I should say I thought of myself as being digitally literate. I am curious in to trying new tools, partly since it part of my job, but also in trying to be a hip and modern parent, trying to keep up with my children who are entering their teens.

However during topic 1 I started thinking and analyzing the digital me and it made me wonder; what am I doing, how am I doing it and why do I chose not to do certain things online. And maybe most important how does my behavior and attitude affect my children?

I watch my children. For them there is no life without internet, computers, smartphones, PlayStation and social media. The first thing they ask when arriving to a new place is “Is there free wifi?”.  It is part of their society, a way of living and as natural as playing football or riding a bike. They don´t think twice about putting themselves out there. They don´t even consider the “big-brother-is-watching-you” syndrome that people in my generation and older sometimes refers to. Their counter question is “Why wouldn´t you want to leave a digital footprint?”. I can only lean back and note that they have for sure moved in, unpacked and started to decorate in their residency while I´m to some extent is still standing in the hallway contemplating whether or not I should hang up my coat.  This is collides with my role as a parent. A person who should be a role model and give advice on life and share experiences so that they eventually can make their own decisions. Yuhyun Park wrote an interesting article for World Economic Forum, on this subject and the importance of equipping our children with digital intelligence.

In the midst of topic 1 and with this article in mind I attended a parent-teacher meeting at one of my sons schools. As we were about to finish a question was raised by one of the parents concerning our children’s addiction to mobiles. The parent suggested that the school ought to have a mobile free day once a week or at least once a month. My first instinct was, like I guess most of the parents in the room, that this was a good idea. The children need to learn the social skills of talking face-to-face. But then I stopped and thought to myself “why do I consider face-to-face more important than engaging online”? Maybe because that´s how I learned to engage with others when I was in the same age.  And it hit me –by pushing our values and attitudes towards digitalism and the use of social media on to our children we become that stubborn little child lying on the floor crying and refusing to move. Our children on the other hand are already residents but are often left adrift without escort in daunting and unknown digital world. By refusing to engage or try to understand what they are doing online we as parents don´t take the responsibility that we actually have in raising our children. So are we really helping them or aren’t we instead fooling our self when suggesting that they should put down their phones? Should the schools and we as parents instead, like the article mentioned, teach our children on digital intelligence to equip them so that they can dodge the pitfalls, be safe and aware to eventually be able create their own digital self.  As a bonus we might actually learn something useful ourselves.

(as a footnote… I didn´t raise my hand for YES when voting on this suggestion and I was glad to see that other parents like me chose to vote against it).  

Sources:

Yuhyun Park, 8 digital skills we must teach our children. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/06/8-digital-skills-we-must-teach-our-children/
Doug Belshaw, The 8 c´s of digital literacy, http://dougbelshaw.com/blog/2009/08/04/the-8-cs-of-digital-literacy/

Getting started and connected

When I was an intermediate student I used to have pen-pals. There was this organization who matched people from all over the world (actually now when I think about it, it was sort of a real life platform for connecting people). I had friends in Zimbabwe, Trinidad & Tobago and Italy to mention a few. It was a constant wait by the post box looking for a reply to one of the letters that I had written. If we both replied quickly it would only take two weeks sending and receiving a new letter.

Sometimes development and technology is fantastic. The possibility to talk to and at the same time watch someone who literally is on the opposite side of the globe is breathtaking. Think of all the opportunities this brings to us.

Knowledge and information are powerful tools and should be shared not hidden. Development always follows when people share ideas and thoughts with each other. It doesn´t matter if it´s between colleagues, friends and higher up at a political level. The willingness to listen, take in the spoken or written word and as a special feature also see the expressions it that persons face is important. For me life and learning is a state of mind. There is always a lesson learned in a meeting with others.

Stating that could imply that I love team-work …. but sadly not! But it has nothing to do with the people or the team-work for that matter. It is the getting to know each other phase that I dread.

This is the picture that I posted when we did our individual presentations in preparation for our first group task.

meinonl

I´m a doer and I perform at my best when I´m in safe and recognizable environment. Probably not the only one who works like that. New groups and new environments are therefore a challenge for a control freak like me. I quickly want every one on board in a very selfish way to get the group started and running like an engine.  For me the first stage of group development – forming it- is something that is necessary evil. However the rational side of me knows that each step of the process is equally important. I also know that it is of importance for the group to know its members and to share information to help building stronger bonds. So hello PBL7 I´m sharing – now you know that I am both energetic and impatient but in the end also a team-player.

Soon the first week ONL171 have passed and I can tell you this – I´ve already had the privilege to meet several new friends, scattered around the globe. In just a few days I am now connected with two fantastic girls in South Africa, another one in Sri Lanka and of course not to forget a whole bunch of new friends in Sweden and Finland. We have a broad and various background and you could easily feel intimidated by all the experience. But we are all connected in a shared interest; the development of higher education using digital and flexible learning methods. It will be an interesting journey ahead.

 

And we are live…

Today is the first day of our course. We have been assigned a PBL group and I belong to lucky number 7. Our members are scattered around the globe and our first challenge will be to figure out how and at what hour we can schedule our online meetings.

Right now I´m feeling a bit lost. There are so many first for me in this experience; first time blogging, first time using Google +, first time participating in a global online course, first time sharing my thoughts loud and open for anyone to see.

But as the title of my blog implies I am a firm believer that you can learn something new every day. Especially by listening and talking to other people. Therefore – let the adventure begin.