As a preparation for writing this final blog post, I went through my previous four posts to remind myself of the work that has been done and my own, personal reflections along the way. While going through the old posts, I was a bit surprised to realize that so much had happened in such a relatively short period of time. 12 weeks. My conclusion is that I have learned a lot. In fact, I have learned more than I thought I had (if that makes any sense). We all know that reflection is a powerful tool in teaching, but we rarely find enough time to reflect in any depth (or at any length) in our daily work. I know I try to reflect regularly on my work, but to be quite honest (and especially this crazy spring semester of 2020), working hard as a researcher and teacher makes it challenging to find enough time for reflection. But it is essential, and reflection has paid off as a useful tool in the design of this course. I doubt a longer paper at the end would have increased my learning from participating in the course. Thus, a very important lesson learned through my engagement in ONL201: Make sure I plan for time for reflection in my daily work. Reflection is essential to consolidate learning.
How will my learning from participating in ONL201 influence my practice? Well, the very first component from ONL201 that I started using in my own teaching practice was to ask students to take on roles as facilitators in my various online courses (i.e., “forced” online courses, from campus to online overnight, more or less, due to Corona). I happened to teach quite large groups of students this semester, and I had worried a bit about my multitasking skills before my first online seminar, for example, thinking “How on earth will I be able to notice when students have questions when the groups are so big?”. So, thanks for such a concrete solution: use students as facilitators! They were so happy to help – instructed to alert me when some peer raised their hand or wrote in the chat – and the use of facilitators has worked so well in all my seminars, throughout the semester. Very pleased.
As for my thoughts about using technology to enhance learning/teaching in my own context in the future – since I enrolled in ONL201, I have used a few new tools in my own student groups, such as conducting regular polls, using a padlet for quick comments, and making a video recording via zoom together with a co-author, in which we informally summarize our joint study and accompany the video summary with some PPT slides for a student group of mine. The preparation was minimal in relation to the output (the video summary was appreciated!). Thanks to this experience, I started my own YouTube channel (!) and in a recently submitted grant proposal, under the heading “dissemination”, I mention that the proposed project will use video summaries of all new studies (that the project will yield) and these summaries will be made publicly available via YouTube. (Let’s pray the grant proposal reviewers will like that part of the dissemination plan!) I never would have gotten the idea without participating in this course.
For the development of eLearning in my own line of work, I will definitely use more of the tools I have tried in this course. Some tools have been more useful than others. For example, the online mind-mapping tool we tried out one week was too messy to work with, while an online tool for creating board games was super easy to use. I have never been particularly afraid of trying out new tools, and now I am even less afraid, so I will probably just move on. A bit more skilled (yay!).
My Topic 1 blog was written under a heading phrased as a question: “Risk of DPOD, anyone?” With the acronym, I was referring to ‘Digital Participation OverDose’. I still feel that that there is a lot of DIGITAL these days, but I do not mind becoming more digital, as long as I can still go out in the woods at home! I am sure that we will all rely on technology a lot in the future for, for example, for 1-hour meetings… Instead of 7 people all traveling by train to a large city to meet for an hour or two, we might as well sort those matters out over a meeting in zoom, skipping all the traveling… I hope that we can all become better at having physical meetings when a physical meeting is the best and desired format. At the same time, I hope we will feel more confident about online solutions when they are the option.
My Topic 2 was called Open Learning and Lurking Trolls. Lesson learned: Lock your zoom room. For Topic 3, I wrote about “Currents and Contagions” and the post dealt with positive effects from collaborative learning experiences. I will treasure some memorable moments from our PBL-group. Then, for Topic 4, I chose to write about Emotional Presence. Successful teaching is a lot about relations (and, as a consequence, emotions). Salmon’s (2013) Five Stage Model describes ways in which online teachers can scaffold for learners in online courses and I liked that model and found it useful for describing the work conducted in my own PBL-group. In the last week of the course, for Topic 5, we should create a summarizing meme. Our group created several memes and one of them, which happens to be the one I liked the most, received some critical comments from other participants in the ONL201 course (e.g., “This is pretty sexist unfortunately”). We created a meme based on classic “distracted boyfriend” image… Perhaps we should have understood beforehand that some would react negatively, but I guess we have to take the good with the bad. It lead to some discussion on the padlet: good! We were all fine with the meme in the group (and understood the obvious irony of the meme) and we laughed a lot when we made it, so for me it serves as a good summary of ONL201 and our group work.
Salmon, G. (2013). The Five Stage Model. [Homepage] http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html