Kerstin´s final summarizing blog

Some of the most important things that I´ve learnt through my engagement in the ONL162 course is the importance of self-motivation and management of time when learning online. To contribute actively is important and I am happy that I participated as actively as possible and fully engaged in my learning in order to complete this course. It was good to have deadlines for the meetings in the PBL group and the schedule of the various topics set by the course leaders. These requirements among other things helped me to manage my time efficiently.

In the beginning of the course it also took time to become familiar and comfortable with the use of technology. I´ve also learnt the importance of having a good quality computer and internet access and always have a “plan B” in case of computer or other technical problems, when you are going to participate in discussions online. I think it´s necessary to immediately ask for help and communicate with computer technicians or facilitators if you experience technical difficulties.

Another challenge for me was to write and communicate in English since I have previously been most used to read English texts. But even that began to work better during this course, but I know that I need a lot more training to write and speak English. To write and communicate in English is something that I, besides using me of more digital resources, will develop for the future. I think that I will use digital resources to enhance learning/teaching in many ways, for example as a way to introduce students to a topic, as a stimulus to group or whole-class discussion, as a part of a lecture or demonstration and to engage students in activities that are not possible in a classroom.

Collaborative learning is possible for my students with the new technology through many different means, such as online discussion groups, interactive platforms and online classroom environments. The students can work together on group projects, publish on blogs, solve problems, have debates and study teams and use computer tools and resources to search for information and create products. Using technology for collaboration allows my students to engage in conversations and learn synchronously or asynchronously, no matter where they may be attending a course. All the time technology is changing and as a future teacher I will continue to develop my understanding and practice regarding the use of technology to help my students to learn effectively.

Designing learning for an oneline course


I have not thought of doing an online course in my current teaching job, but I have participated in many online courses as a student, both in what Bates (2016) calls fully online courses and blended learning courses. What, however, would be important for me to think about, whether my prefect would ask me to convert one of my face-to-face courses to an online course? Bates (2016) points out that the main questions I have to ask myself are, where on the continuum of teaching my course should be and on what basis I should make that decision? And in any form of blended learning, how do I decide what is best done online, and what is best done face-to-face? Because online students work in different contexts and have different needs to students in face-to-face classes, you shouldn’t merely transport classroom teaching to an online environment (Bates, 2016).

There are several online course designs that can help you as a teacher when implementing e-learning. One design model that you could use for oneline learning is the five-phase instructional model ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation) (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL20E84CD77B301A20). ADDIE has become successful, but the limitations with this model are that it is too pre-determined, linear, inflexible and works best with large and complex projects. Applied to courses with small student numbers and a deliberately simple or traditional classroom design, it becomes expensive and possibly redundant (Bates, 2015).

Another design model is Gilly Salmo´s five-stage- model, which offers support and development to the participants at each of the stages: access and motivation, online socialisation, information and exchange, knowledge construction and development (http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html). According to studies by the Institute of Learning Innovation at the University of Leicester (http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/beyond-distance-research-alliance/unpublished-content/learning-futures-academy/research-to-practice-models) the basic structure of the five-stage-model appears to hold good, but the potential at each stage is slightly different and there is no need to separate the activities that support learning to benefit from using the technological platform from those needed to undertake course-related tasks and establishing a constructive learning group.

McLoughlin and Lee (2008) point out that in our digital world we need to expand our vision of pedagogy, so that learners become active participants and co-producers rather than passive consumers of content and learning processes are participatory and social, supportive of personal life goals and needs. To address the changing needs in the digital age Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes and Garrison (2013), for example, updated the Chickering and Gamson principles that have guided educational practice in higher education over the last two decades. The updated seven principles are about creation of open communication and trust, critical reflection and discourse, establishing community and cohesion, inquiry dynamics, sustaining respect and responsibility, inquiry that moves to resolution and ensuring that assessment is congruent with intended processes and outcomes.

References:
Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning. http://teachonline.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/teaching-in-a-digital-age_2016.pdf  Accessed 20 November 2016

Bates, T (2016). The 10 Fundamentals of Teaching Online for Faculty and Instructors. Accessed 20 November 2016.

McLoughlin,C., Mark J. W., & Lee, M.J.W (2008). The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society: Personalization, Participation, and Productivity. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 10-27. Accessed 20 November 2016.

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press. Accessed 20 November 2016.

About collaborative online learning and instruction

In a collaborative learning environment students are active in their process of knowledge acquisition, as they participate in discussions, search for information and exchange opinions with their peers (Brindley, Blaschke & Walti, 2009). Thus the knowledge is cocreated and shared among peers and not owned by one particular student after obtaining it from the instructor.

According to Brindley et al.(2009) some benefits with collaborative learning is development of critical thinking skills, co-creation of knowledge and meaning, reflection and transformative learning. To promote higher-order thinking it is the instructional strategy, not the technology, that influences the quality of online learning, according to Anderson (2008). Hence; online learning must create challenging activities, that enable learners to link new information to old, acquire meaningful knowledge and use their metacognitive abilities.

Once when I experienced that I and my fellow-students grew from collaborative online learning and acquired transformative knowledge was, when I as a student studied Public Health Sciences. I and my fellow students applied problem-based learning (PBL) in the courses and I remembered the triggering scenarios, that made me and group members approaching the scenarios with great skepticism and suspicion. I remember us thinking looking at the scenarios: “Can this really be true?” PBL was a new and different way for us to study at and it made us active, questioning and analyzing. This pedagogy made us consciously applying tactics and strategies to uncover meaning. To study collaboratively in our PBL-group challenged our beliefs and made us grow from the learning experience.

Brindley et al.(2009) recommend following instructional strategies to improve the quality of group collaboration and to increase the likelihood of student participation:
1) Facilitate learner readiness for group work. Scaffolding is important!
2) Establish a healthy balance between structure and learner autonomy. Clearity and flexibility of task!
3) Nurture the establishment of learner relationships and sense of community. Informality, familiarity, honesty, openness, heart, passion, dialogue, rapport, empathy, trust, authenticity, disclosure, humour, and diverse opinions!
4) Monitor group activities actively and closely. Continuous feedback!
5) Make the group task relevant for the learner. Authentic, realworld environments and relevant content provide motivation for collaborative learning.
6) Choose tasks that are best performed by a group. Tasks that benefit from teamwork!
7) Provide sufficient time. Most importantly, time is required for the discussion and exchange of ideas that are crucial to deeper learning!

Capdeferro and Romero (2012) confirm most of the above findings by Brindley et al. (2009). In their study the students´ main source of frustration was, the team members´ commitment imbalance, and therefore, they emphasize that the online activities should be designed with the aim of guaranteeing a certain level of positive interdependence and individual accountability (Capdeferro & Romero, 2012).

And finally: Learning is contagious (Dron & Anderson, 2014).

References:
Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M. & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3). Accessed 5 November 2016.

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. Accessed 5 November 2016.

Anderson, T. (2008). Teaching in an online learning context. In The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 343-395). Athabasca university press. Accessed 5 November 2016.

Dron, J. & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca University Press. Accessed 5 November 2016.

Open Learning – Sharing and Openness

Although the use of IT is significantly more prevalent in younger generations in our  society I think we can´t take for granted that our students have digital literacy and it´s important for both students and teachers to learn how to use digital tools and social media, to use OER, to know how copyright issues should be handled and how to master information retrieval and source criticism. The rapid advancements in technology have meant that many teachers suggest a more integrated approach between Learning Management Systems and Open access social media (Watson, 2014). I think that it´s important to think about the level of collaboration my students require and which activities I´ll integrate. Blogging is for example a good choice if you are using prompts to fuel the online discussion. For sharing quick links and taking polls Facebook and Twitter can be preferred.

By sharing your digital learning resources you help other teachers to get ideas and materials into their teaching. You contribute to the collegiate learning online and thus to develop teaching. One way to contribute to collegiate learning is to publish lesson ideas, content and materials on the Web. Teachers can choose to have a blog or other sites where they publish materials, a Youtube channel for movies etc. Teachers can share more continuous of lesson concepts and ideas in certain groups on Facebook. Bates (2015) points out that the Open Professionals Education Network has a guide to find and use OER. However, it is important to check out to see whether the resource has a Creative Common license or a statement that gives permission to re-use. Many sites, such as OpenLearn, allow only individual, personal use for noncommercial purposes. This means that rather than integrating the materials directly into your own teaching you should provide a link to the site for your students (Bates, 2015).

According to Creative Commons guide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YkbeycRa2A) Creative Commons licenses are based on the four licensing: 1) Attribution (BY). You must enter the author, the work’s title and the license for it. This condition is included in all licenses, 2) No Derivatives (ND). The work may not be processed in any way. It may only be copied and distributed, 3) Non-Commercial (NC). Administration may be used only for non-commercial purposes. It may therefore not be sold or used for commercial purpose and 4) ShareAlike (SA). If you process the work may be new material, created by processing only distributed under the same terms as the original work. The differences between them is how many rules to apply when somebody wants to use your work.

By attending this ONL162-course I have become aware of the rapid international development of net-based education (both regular courses and MOOCs) and if Swedish higher education should be able to participate in this rapid development technical infrastructure is required for the support of qualified and full virtual learning environments. It will be important that universities change their digital learning environments that support working teachers to work in a qualified digital learning environment in the next years. It is in other words not only a question of that individual teachers should be encouraged to develop net-based teaching. Weller and Anderson (2013) propose the resilience model in ecology as a model for analyzing an institution´s ability to adopt within an altered environment while retaining the core functionality. They examined both MOOCs and OAP and the authors believe that institutions should actively investigate and develop new methods and models of postsecondary institutions to insure dominance of more resilient organizations.

ONL162-course is a type of MOOC and Bates (2015) lists some advantages and disadvantages with open courses of MOOC formats. Some of the advantages are that a MOOC course can open access to high quality content (particularly in developing countries), they are free to anyone with a computer and Internet connection and a valuable form of lifelong learning. Some of the weaknesses are that the high registration numbers are misleading; less than half of registrants actively participate and of these only a small proportion successfully complete the course, a tendency to attract those with already a high level of education, rather than widen access and MOOCs have been limited in the ability to develop high level academic learning. I think that above listed advantages and disadvantages may well be true of ONL162-course.

References
Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning. http://teachonline.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/teaching-in-a-digital-age_2016.pdf accessed 22 October 2016

Watson, K. (2014) Learning management system or the open web? Cofa Videos, Learning to teach online UNSW. http://online.cofa.unsw.edu.au/learning-to-teach-online/ltto-episodes?view=video&video=159 accessed 22 October 2016

Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 16(1), 53 http://www.eurodl.org/index.php?p=archives&year=2013&halfyear=1&article=559
accessed 22 October 2016

The balance between private and professional lives

Professional communication, when you must represent both yourself and your teaching profession with the outside world requires, in my opinion, responsiveness, but above all it allows the boundaries between work and leisure to become blurred. The teaching profession is a public profession and hence there is a problem regarding the distinction between private life and professional life.

If I as a private person write something privately on Facebook for example and I am concerned if it is going to be read by the wrong person, I always think whether it is really so important to publish it and why. There is a risk that what you write online can be interpreted not as I wish it to be interpreted. A good rule in my opinion, either as an individual or in the role of a teacher, is that you should never write that you won´t say face to face. I think that it´s better to try to separate private and professional roles and use groups on Facebook and Linkedin to get in touch with people, who you do´nt have as friends in your private account.

White and Cornu (2011) illustrate the balance between private and professional lives when discussing Visitors and Residents. An individual might take a Resident approach in their private life but a Visitor approach in their role as a professional. Similarly it is not unusual for someone in a leadership role in a special interest group to manage that responsibility in a Resident style online while in a personal or professional context they choose to act as a Visitor. The authors believe that individuals are generally very good at managing their differing approaches across contexts and have much experience of similar shifts in attitude and motivation as they move between roles played out in physical spaces.

According to Savin-Baden and Wilkie (2006) there is relatively little research that has explored what it is that students do when they go online and what goes on in the minds of tutors and students engaged in PBL-online learning. The learning process may affect the dialogue in PBL-learning, for example seems asynchronous discussion to create a reflective learning space and the learner can respond in a way that is both a reply and a reflection. In asynchronous PBL-online learning students often speak of feelings of loss of control and a sense of danger, which relate more to presentation of identity than to control of knowledge. The authors believe that this could affect the quality of the dialog in the team and more meta-commenting compared with face-to-face PBL-learning. I think it´s important that teachers are up to date with research on social media´s impact on people and learning.

Kek and Huijser (2015) highlight a holistic approach to PBL-based learning with blurred boundaries between formal and informal learning environments, between work and study, public and private spaces etc. The authors suggest that students during their university studies should acquire a particular “way-of-being” that is of a longlife learner and suitable to 21 st century context of supercomplexity.

Sharples et al. (2014) describe the blurred boundaries:

When students bring their own smartphones and tablet computers into the classroom, this action changes their relationship with the school and with their teachers. They arrive equipped not only with individual technologies that they maintain and improve, but also with their own personal learning environments and social networks. This means that teachers become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge (Sharples et al.,2014, p.4).

References
Kek, M.  & Huijser, H. (2015). 21st century skills: problem based learning and the University of the Future. Paper Third 21st Century Academic Forum Conference, Harvard, Boston, USA, at https://opennetworkedlearning.wordpress.com/topics-and-activities/topic1/topic-1-introduction-aims-resources/ accessed 6 October 2016.

Savin-Baden, M. & Wilkie, K. (2006). The challenge of using problem-based learning online. In: Problem-based learning online, https://opennetworkedlearning.wordpress.com/topics-and-activities/topic1/topic-1-introduction-aims-resources/ accessed 6 October 2016

Sharples, M., Adams, A., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. (2014). Innovating pedagogy 2014: Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers (Open University Innovation Report 3). http://www.open.ac.uk/iet/main/sites/www.open.ac.uk.iet.main/files/files/ecms/web-content/Innovating_Pedagogy_2014.pdf  accessed 6 October 2016

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9), https://opennetworkedlearning.wordpress.com/topics-and-activities/topic1/topic-1-introduction-aims-resources/ accessed 6 October 2016