Topic 5: Lessons learnt

Now at last, this is my final blog. During this ONL course.

Hopefully I will continue doing several more in the future.

As a teacher you are supposed to give the students up-to-date knowledge, guide them for their future working life, give them support and encourage them. This, and sometimes much more.

The students, on the other hand, have expectations on you as an educator/instructor. That includes considerable skills, positive and encouraging spirit, constructive corrections, modern technology and scientific learning. Probably even more.

I am not especially technically skilled. I don’t even have facebook. Signing up for this course was a big challenge for me. The aim was set high, but my fears were even greater. Not just because I was technically illiterate, but maybe even more the fear of leaving digital footprints online. The knowledge of malicious people and the illegal activity that makes people restrain from engaging online.

Despite all those fears, here I am doing my fifth blog with a smile on my face. I have learned a lot about digital literacy, webinars and blogs. I have connected with people in my PBL group that helped me to see things from different points of view and learned how to collaborate with different tasks online without having met them face-to-face. I have revised my view on openness and sharing; what it means in today’s modern digital society with learners all over the world having a job as well as studying. Advantages with MOOC. Reflections on learning communities and collaborative learning have challenged my mind. Different pedagogical approaches have been presented for me, as well as models for design online and blended learning. I especially enjoyed Martha Cleveland-Innes webinar. Different tools for presentation have been used in our PBL group. I even volunteered to be topic leader for one of the topics, which is an achievement.

As an unexpected outcome, the impact of this course came quicker than I thought. I was on staff appraisal at KI with my employer, mentioning briefly at the end of the conversation about this course. She was impressed I did it in my spare time, also postulating it must have been difficult. We discussed some of the lessons learned and the benefit of incorporating it in KI’s new pedagogical platform in the future. She also initiated the enquiring about presenting some of the learned outcomes to our department.

I would like to finish up with some words from Abigail Adams:

“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardour and diligence”.

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Topic 4: How do we keep our students engaged?

Bildresultat för studenter i gammal skolsal

How do we keep our students engaged?

That is one of the most frequently asked questions from a teacher’s point of view.

There might be different outcomes a teacher wants from a course, but we all want students who are interested, who feel inspired and have a great learning outcome.

So what is the trick?

There has been loads of material written about that. I would like to bring up only a few points of view that have helped me to grasp the subject better.

One of the key points in solving this mystery lies within understanding the culture we live in. How the world and the community is changing. What can we expect from the society in the future?  How will it be constructed? How will we communicate?

There are some basic principles regarding education, as Vaughan indicates (Vaughan et al, 2013), referring to the work of Chickering and Gamson (1987): seven principles of higher education. Traditional principles that have worked for two decades.

The fact is, as M.Cleveland-Innes points out in her webinar, that we live in a society with a massive technological revolution. The access of internet and computers are greatly facilitated. There is also a globalization, explosion of information from different sources and the demands for accountability grows. All this puts the pressure for change on the universities today. Also the typical students differ. The learners are adults, who might have jobs and families at the same time as they’re studying, compared to the previous late-teen students with no experience in the working life. In addition to different outsets of their lives as students, they also might have different expectations of the courses, in the light of already having a work experience and different backgrounds.

So how do we combine all these new challenges?

One of the key words seems to be “flexible”, according to M.Cleveland-Innes. This includes learning, design of diverse studies, ways of studying, curriculum, admission, delivery and so on. She also gives seven principles of blended online learning, which stresses on both social and cognitive presence. Those are guidelines that are significant to achieve if we want to success. In an online blended learning the aim is to get the students to participate more and more so they become more engaged. If there’s collaborative learning, they are more active and the outcome is better. Our role is to find activities that help them feel more secure in their groups so that the discussions are more fruitful and  to trigger more inquiry on the subject. Those are just a few remarks.

Finally, there’s always a question: have we succeeded to teach them? Are we content with the outcome from the students? Are the students content with their outcome? A good way to evaluate that is an assessment: both from the teachers and from the students themselves.

 References:

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

2.      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D2g5dygSEc&feature=youtu.be

Topic 3

As a student, I used to do most of my learning on my own. In my (previous) experience that was the easiest and most efficient way. Learning in groups was considered not so futile, in my mind.

Today the society is changing towards a more digitalized world. With it the knowledge and education is evolving and becoming shared in the network environment, more and more. This provides opportunities to connect and collaborate with a lot of other people than those you meet in “real life”, face to face. This is the exciting part. Lately I have changed my opinion about learning.

There are several pedagogical benefits of collaborative learning:  development of critical thinking skills, co-creation of knowledge and meaning, reflection and transformative learning (Brindley et.al 2009)

As a teacher, getting people to collaborate in a class can be difficult. Getting them to collaborate online might be even trickier. If the students never have met face to face, then you got a challenge. Problems like agreeing on a special time for the meetings, connection problems, documents online disappearing,  dependence on the group for the final task, members of the group that do not contribute and so on. But the benefits weigh up: different people come up with different solutions, which can result in several various possibilities for the answer. Students have the support from other students to work with the questions.  The result of the task might be much more complex and broader.

The more the learner works in collaborative manner, the more complex interactive skills are they raising. Brindley mentions four stages: communication, collaboration, cooperation and community (Brindley et.al 2009).  The final will probably not be achieved in a single e-learning course, but is a goal to strive for. The thing is, collaboration can help students increase more complex skills. They also improve their skills in managing problems in different situations with different people. They give the student tools to widen their ability to solve different questions.  But it also commends the teacher to be specific about certain things.

The teacher needs to be very specific with the instructions and expectations. They need to have enough time to solve the task. And finally, but most importantly, there’s got to be a clear constructive feedback from the teacher. That is a prevailing and important issue for all students. In our daily lives we can relate to that even as employees.

 

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).

REFLECTIONS TOPIC 2

These two weeks I’ve been scrutinising different pros and cons concerning openness and education. On one hand copyright and regulation gives the teacher the possibility to earn the credit for the time they’ve spent on setting up all the work. They might also be afraid that their work could be misused or placed in an unfavourable light.
On the other hand, if misused, how to pursue the violators? Probably takes a huge budget. The material of interest also has an up-to-date interest. If the application for license is too complex or takes too long, the data loses its relevancy. Kay O discusses several interesting points of view in the webinar for topic 2, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=398&v=YJJDKnF5CVg
Sometimes we write an article and the delay is so long. A lot of things have changed. The new findings might make it irrelevant when it’s finally published.
When it comes to education, my first thought was, as a loyal employee, that the natural thing would be to have some extent of regulation, toward the university/educational organizer. Not totally open, because the employer has the right to receive the credit for the work they’ve done, the time, the material and so on. But not totally copyright either: is it ethical to keep important knowledge, which could benefit a lot of people, in order to profit from it? The ethical points could be discussed for a long time, from both sides.
What led me to an epiphany was David Wiley’s short TED talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb0syrgsH6M
He talked about teaching material that is freely shared. If there is no sharing, there is no education.
Who do you consider to be a successful educator? It’s the people who share most thoroughly with the most students. Instantly, two very skilled lecturers in my university came to my mind. Both of them with huge experience and great knowledge. One of them open, always ready to share his experience and knowledge, to teach students, generous in giving away his material. The other one, also with great skills, excellent lecturer but with no interest in sharing any of his material. He claimed all the time he’s spent of putting his vast and exceptional material together, revising it, must be worth something, preferably that he should have the credit for it in some way. Not willing to share. Guess which one is the most anticipated.

Also I’ve had the opportunity to consider different challenges today regarding sharing online courses and the pedagogy formation. The effect of new media and technology gives us incredible opportunities for openness, education and sharing. Like for instance the MOOC courses. Kahan writes about different types of participant behaviours, http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/3087
Less than 0.5% of the participants were found to be engaged in the course, but did not achieve a certificate.
There’s a vastly increased capacity to share education. The more open we are, the better the education will be.

Reflections Topic 1

When I first discovered this online course, I was not sure what outcome would be expected of it. I see myself as a person of limited digital experience and not so digitally literate. I have used Skype for private communication. At my department in KI we have a web-based platform for students, but that’s about the only tools I have used. Well, for the exception of Adobe Connect Pro a couple of times, when I participated in an online distance pedagogical course GHPD 2015. This course included several new tools like Google+,  Google drive, Twitter and an own blog. Those are all instruments and aids that were unknown to me. So when I got the scenario for “Topic 1”, I could definitely identify myself with that person.

The next big challenge getting in touch with my PBL group, finding a time for the first webinar and making it all work technically. The first webinar, with all it’s technical problems concerning time schedule, connection, sound and so on was a good example of a range of issues that needs to be considered in the digital world.

The person in the first scenario felt a bit doubtful about separating professional life from professional life. Maybe also about the security of the web-based world? One facilitative factor might be to be more engaged and active on the web. With more experience comes the knowledge of how to share without getting too personal.

In my research for different sources and references I found Doug Belshaw “The essential elements of digital literacies”. I’d like to focus on some interesting points he shares, that made me understand much better how to approach and understand it better. He declares that the way to develop digital literacies is to focus on peoples interests and try to get their intrinsic motivation to get the digital literacies for themselves. He found eight essential elements of digital literacies: cultural, cognitive, constructive, communicative, civic, critical, creative and confident

I found another intriguing referens on the web-site http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy-fundamentals/digital-literacy-fundamentals a model that illustrates many interrelated elements that fall under the digital literacy umbrella. According to the author, the competencies for digital literacy can be classified into three main principles: use. understand and create.

Digital Citizenship is “character education” in a networked world, which is an essential part of active citizenship in the 21st century. To nurture digital literacy in the classroom includes the need to:

  • provide students with authentic learning opportunities that are enhanced through technological tools
  • position teachers as facilitators and co-learners, instead of “drill and kill” experts;
  • focus teacher training on how to use technology to enhance learning and meet curricular outcomes; and
  • create reasonable policies and less restrictive filters in schools so that teachers can better help students develop and exercise good judgement

These are some new inputs about the digital world I’ve discovered. I’m intrigued to continue to learn more…