An interview with an ONL162 learner

In my last blogpost for the ONL course I have conducted an interview with the ONL learner Ida – Ida has interviewed Ida. Well, eh, that is actually me interviewing myself. The intention of the interview was to let Ida summarize the knowledge she has achieved during the course and reflect a bit on how she intent to use that in her future teaching.

stairs-838112_960_720Creative Commons, Pixabay

Interviewer Ida: What are the most important things that you have learnt through your engagement in the ONL course?

Interviewee Ida: It is a bit difficult to say what the most important thing is. I learnt so much, and the new knowledge in combination has been important. However, to mention a couple of things, to get a new a positive experience from working in a group with collaborative tasks was important to me. Further, how to use creative commons and were to find material I can use in teaching and research was very useful. And of course, all the new tools for presenting, teaching, learning was significant. Not least, how our course facilitator, Anne Whaits, practiced her role is something I learnt a lot from.

Interviewer Ida: Why is that Ida? Why do you find these things you just mentioned so useful?

Interviewee Ida: First, the experience with group work, and how to make it into such a positive experience will not only be useful for me when I use collaborative work in teaching, but also when I myself have to cooperate with other researchers and teachers. I think the students will be able to achieve better results, and in a much more enjoyable learning situation. Second, all the new tools I got accustomed to, and the how to use creative commons correctly will be of vast importance for me, again, both in my teaching activities and for me research and in regard to presentation of research results. Using our course facilitator as a role model and adopting her interactions with us as learner, which I found very useful, will also be a good experience for my own students I think.

Interviewer Ida: Ok, I understand, that sounded most achieving for you. Can you however be a bit more precise? How will your learning influence your practice?

Interviewee Ida: I think I answered partly to that question above. I can however elaborate somewhat on the answer. I will be a more active facilitator for my online students, and also, when appropriate, try to change the traditional teacher role into more of a facilitator role. I will only use material with CC license. I will also be a more active facilitator and structure the group work for campus students better. I have new knowledge about many tools that I will teach my students. Or, maybe they already know all the tools, being part of the citizens of internet generation.

Interviewer Ida: Yes, that is right. Maybe the students have a lot to teach you about this. So, what are your thoughts about using technology to enhance teaching in your own context?

Interviewee Ida: That is where the world is going. It is no getting away from that.



Interviewer Ida: So this interview is coming to an end. As a last question Ida, do you have any suggestions for development of the ONL course? 

Interviewee Ida: I think the course was very well structured and generally good. I do however have one suggestion for improvement. When the course finished we, in my ONL group, got an e-gift from our facilitator. That was a “Symbaloo webmix gallery”, another one of all the tools we have got to know during the course. In this e-tool our facilitator had collected links to all our collaborative and individual works, in addition to useful links that we have used and learned about during the course. Everything orderly collected at one place. That was a great and most useful gift that will be very useful for me when trying to put all of the things we learned into practice, and for refreshing what I have learnt. However, if I had this tool at the beginning of the course, I think the course would have appeared less chaotic to me and easier to follow. I had a hard time just to follow all my own new tools, such as the blog, the e-mail, the google+ for my group and for the whole community, the google drive, and the course’s webpage. I had to use a separate browser only to try to be able to collect all of these things and try to keep an overview. To have this overview tool and be able to add things to it as we went along would have helped greatly during the course.

Interviewer Ida: I can fully understand that Ida, and hope that this will be something the course facilitator can think about for the next course. Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Ida. I wish you good look in your future teaching, and hope that what you have learned at the ONL will be rewarding for you and your students.

Interviewee Ida: It surely will! I am looking forward to integrate my new knowledge in my future teaching.


Scaffolding good online learning environments

Teaching presence is immensely important scaffolding a good learning environment and educational experience for the students, following a community of inquiry framework (CoI). According to CoI teachers should facilitate acquisition of knowledge through the design and organization, facilitation of discourses, and through direct instructions (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison, 2013).

community_of_inquiry_model-svgCommunity of Inquiry (CC, Wikimedia Commons)

I am at the moment a course instructor for an online internship course at master’s level. Our students at this master course are from all over the world and their internship placements are throughout Europe and the USA. At this particular course there are only seven students. They all have very different internship placements, are from different countries with varying academic culture, and have different experiences. Their learning environments are individual, and their tasks are individual. Consequently, effort should have been taken in order to secure a well-functioning learning community for the students in order to enhance their educational experience. I have not worked on making a community for these students. After taking the ONL course I realize how much that could have been added to their learning experiences by considering a few steps. Taking an onset in Salmon’s five stage model this could have been achieved through the five steps of  working with 1) Access and motivation; 2) Online socialization; 3) Information exchange; 4) Knowledge construction; 5) Development. The students have started, and been kept, in stage four knowledge construction throughout the whole course. One can maybe say that not paying more attention to the construction of the course and the learning community is an easy way out – less work for the teacher. This is, however, not necessarily the case, as the student will have tons of questions and would need much personal attention throughout the course. This could have been avoided by making clearer criteria and building a course where they could also have drawn on resources from each other, through the first, second and third steps of Salmon’s model.

Teaching presence is immensely important scaffolding a good learning environment and educational experience for the students, following a community of inquiry framework (CoI). According to CoI teachers should facilitate acquisition of knowledge through the design and organization, facilitation of discourses, and through direct instructions (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison, 2013). Particularly the facilitation of discourse has been lacking. Putting more thought into this through the whole construction of the course, by for example using the steps in an Addie model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) could have provided better result, and a more enjoyable learning process for both the learners and the teachers.

We have ended our online master program, and turned it into a campus program instead. Some of the reasons for that was the very poor results and high rate of drop-off among the students. The program costed a lot, took many resources, without satisfactory results. I am glad we turned it into a campus based course, as it is much nicer to have this direct contact with the students. However, I think that we could have saved some of the online parts, integrated it, and with implementing the new knowledge I have gained through this ONL course I think that we could have been capable of achieved better results.

Overcoming the negative stigma attached to group work


CCO, Public Domain, Pixabay, geralt 

Well, I got to admit it, I hate group work, and I realized I am not the only one. When I was a student, it never worked, and I felt the process and the result as being unfair. When my students have to do group work today I feel sorry for them. Last year, some of the really good students ended up with lower grades than they had achieved earlier in the course, and they were angry. They hated group work too.

With this course, the ONL, I have actually gained a new experience. Until this third part of the course, the learning in communities, I had not really realized that the whole course is based on group work. The reason I haven’t thought about it, I guess, is that everything has been so smooth. I had to ask myself why this group work has been so different then my earlier experiences.

When I read Anderson (2008), I realized that the ONL course is doing everything right, everything according to the book, this book. They follow all Anderson’s good advices on how to, not only make group work function, but also how this form of learning can actually be more rewarding than other forms of learning.

Anderson focuses on the teaching presence; on how to design and organize the learning experience; devising and implementing activities to encourage discourse between all participant and content of the course; and how to add expertise through direct instructions. Some examples on how this can be utilized is to:

“change the design role of many teachers from content creation to customization, application, and contextualization of learning sequences“

“mix right between opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous interaction and group and independent study activities”

“the teacher regularly reads and responds to student contributions and concerns, and constantly searches for ways to support understanding in the individual student, and the development of the learning community as a whole”

I also realized that some of my earlier bad experiences were due to my only experience with one of the two models for group work Anderson presents, the independent study model, while the ONL course is using the community of learning model.

Anderson is also very well aware of the possibility of the enormous time effort it might take if one is to do everything correct, and is very clear that the task of creating an online course with group work “should not be a life-consuming one!” He provide sound suggestions on how it is possible to both create a good course and doing it within the limited hours teachers get for teaching.

I have gained some important insights from this part of the course, which I will take with me next time I have to, not force but encourage, my students to do group work. This module of the ONL course was somewhat different than the others; the main learning media was text, not videos. I think that was most helpful, it is more thorough and it can be used as a source to go back to at the point I need good advice to restructure own teaching.

Topic 2, open learning – Sharing makes the world go round

Openness is generosity – expertise and expression of expertise can be given without being given away (David Wiley)

collective-thinkingCC0 Public Domain, Pixabay, geralt

Open Educational resources (OER) are possible because the users are both producers and consumers. Besides the moral and practical obligation (to share if you want to use) teachers can also gain from sharing teaching material. On a webinar by Alastair Creelman it is discussed how peer-review is introduced in the field of education through the use of OER. By publishing teaching material openly one can receive feedback and reviews from all over the world. You contribute to the open educational resources at the same time as improving your own teaching by worldwide peer-review.

I think most academics by now are familiar with what publication in open access journals are. What OER and other forms of open resources on the web are, though, is not that common I believe, and it is certainly not a walk in the park to use these resources. It is much to learn about responsible sharing and using. One needs to know what one can use and not, in which ways, and how to use correct references when using open resources, and one have to learn and think about how own material can be used, maybe misused, by others before sharing, and find the right way of publishing and labeling it. Further, one should evaluate how this can actually be used as part of teaching and contribute to learning.

To me, the module two of the ONL course was truly informative. Not only did I learn about the world of open information, new tools for sharing information, and relevant ideas on how to use it in teaching, but also about the fundamental ideal of sharing on the net, which I found particularly intriguing. It is a collectivistic way of thinking about knowledge and resources and the sharing of it, which is an important reminder in our individualistic society. As Wiley underlines, it creates a win-win situation where you can give expertise without giving it away. It is an ethical obligation to share your knowledge as an academic. The open resources enables you do that in new ways, and distribute it worldwide, to be used for free, quite effortlessly when you have attained the main principles of it.

ONL162 – topic one reflections: Chaos

Chaos: how my digital litteracy is at the moment

Where are all the other people, what am I supposed to do, how can I follow all the chats, which chats should I follow, which tools am I supposed to use, is something happening on other tools or sites that I don’t have or understand how to use? What is going on? There are so many things I don’t understand. Information overload! For example on webinar people will write in the chat “@ida”. Why, what does this mean? It seems like everyone knows what this means except me. So far I feel that my digital literacy are limited to what JISC guide (2014) refer to as information literacy, learning skills and ICT literacy, meaning that I am a visitor, I am mostly a user, not a producer of digital content.

This is pretty much my feelings after the first weeks of the ONL-course on digital literacy. Besides from that I am a really sceptic in regard to social media in the first place, I don’t even have a Facebook account. Yes, indeed, I am a visitor at the web unlike a resident, a distinction used by White (2014) to explained people’s engagement with the web. My relationship to the web is what Mörtsell in a Webinar termed traditional, in contrast to non-traditional, meaning that it can help me to do the things I do in my daily life with some easier tools, rather than changing my activities and ways of communicating. I “understand the Web as akin to a unity garden tool shed” (White and Le Cornu, 2011), taking the tools I need to achieve my goal, and go somewhere else to use them, both on the personal and the institutional spectrum (White 2014). I send letters digitally, instead of physically, I read articles and books digitally rather than in a binder, I look up information at google rather than using the encyclopedia, I read the newspaper online instead of on paper, and I book my flights, hotels, concert etc. online instead of taking that phone call. The internet has not really changed my habits, or innovated how I communicate or react with the world socially or professionally, I rather do as I always have done, only with a new set of tools located inside the computer.

Getting beyond this attitude, behavior and skepticism will be a challenge for me. What do I need all these tools for, can I learn how to master them, and how can I keep my private life intact while at the same time using these tools? I think I want to stay a visitor, but on the way picking up tools that will enlighten my visits. I might sound negative, while I am at the moment probably most confused.


White, David (2014): Visitors and residents (part 1 and 2) and

White, David and Le Cornu, Alison (2011): “Visitors and Residents: A New Typology for Online Engagement” in, First Monday, Vol. 16, no. 9.

Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide. Available here