Lessons learned



Topic 5: Lessons learned

Ten weeks of ONL studies are behind, and it is time to wrap up some final thoughts. Ten weeks seems both like a short, but at the same time, long period of time.  Perhaps this could accord to my thoughts and feelings about my own learning process: it seems like I am still just in the beginning, but at the same time it feels like I at this point know much more about digital skills than I did when starting this course.

From the start, I have been fascinated by the ONL-design, and the way we have been introduced to the subject as a whole: from central principles and premises to topics about content and pedagogical aspects when planning for digital solutions in education.

We have been working with problem based learning as a pedagogical tool, and I think we also have been using another important pedagogical approach: learning by doing. We have been trying out digital tools that I knew little about at the same time that we were learning of different ways of understanding and deal with digital concepts.  Martha Cleveland referred to John Dewey in her webinar (4.5.2017), saying that Dewey was convinced that education had failed, trying to get students to learn solutions rather than investigate the problems and engage in inquiry for themselves. Well, in our course it has been a lot about investigation! The course has also been a good reminder about how it can feel being in the role of a student: happiness over new findings and learnings, frustration when not getting things right, feeling of poor own understanding, but also proudness for managing to finish the course.

My PBL-group was of big value for getting to the end of the course. It is fascinating that it was possible to find a common way of working and communicate, even though we were complete strangers and came from very different backgrounds. The group found a functional way of working quite soon, and I think many factors made this possible. The facilitators´ role for setting the mood as well as monitoring and keeping us on the right track when we from times to times struggled with our topics and made things too difficult was important. I think it was meaningful that we as a group managed to agree on an appropriate level of ambition to our work, and this was also allowed to vary over time.  Being content with a good enough- attitude was in my opinion a critical factor: The result was as good as it was possible in that situation, with the premises we had at hand.

The fact that we were obliged to function as co-leaders was perhaps one thing that helped to succeed with this, even though it felt difficult at start. The co-leaders took more responsibility for the process of the current topic and for getting the work done. This helped the group to stay in a working mode but also helped when other workloads affected with the time and energy available to put in the PBL-group. Co-leadership as a strategy also made it more manageable to deal with the fact that the participants´ level of mastery varied a lot. I think that this could otherwise be a critical issue for collaboration, when the differences in the group members´ level of mastery are too big, causing frustration for both “the master and the novice”.

Another factor of importance was that it was easy to get in touch with meaningful sources- you just followed the ONL platform, attended the webinar and check out suggested reading – everything handed out on a plate! And of course, got familiar with the other groups´ presentations and blogs – here also friendly but firmly pushed to do so from the course arrangers…

So, to summarize:  it feels like I have a lot more theoretical and practical tools in my toolbox after the course.  How to understand and develop digital literacy, factors to take into consideration when dealing with issues about openness and sharing in digital settings, models and tools when heading from a traditional physical classroom to more blended surroundings. And last but not least, learn about the process and try out tools in practice from the student´s point of view in the PBL-group.  Even trying out a blog like this – quite an interesting way to take one step further from the comfort zone of writing private learning diaries..!  Many thanks to both my PBL-group 2 and the organizers of this ONL- course!

Design for online and blended learning




The forth topic for our PBL-work: Design for online and blended learning.

According to the ONL website the aim for this topic was to discuss and reflect around what constitutes good support and well-designed learning environments. The PBL-groups were provided with information on three different pedagogical – and blended learning models: The SALMON Five Stage Model, Community of Inquiry (COI) and Constructive Alignment. (https://opennetworkedlearning.wordpress.com/.)

These models turned out to be quite useful. The COI-model on one hand helped me to understand the bigger picture and different dimensions – social presence, cognitive presence and teaching presence- that are essential to think about and take into consider when planning and designing blended learning courses. (http://www.aupress.ca/books/120229/ebook/01_Vaughan_et_al_2013-Teaching_in_Blended_Learning_Environments.pdf)

The Design Elements from The Five Stage Model (access and motivation, online socialization, information exchange, knowledge construction and development) on the other hand helped to understand the process of the group and what issues you need to work with to help the group to succeed.

Our PBL-group worked with great energy with this topic, finally designing a five week course using blended learning elements.  The groups work was a great help for me during this topic when I did not have enough time or the strength to dig too deep into the sources. In the end of these two weeks I still think I learned a lot about the topic. Perhaps this could also works as an example of the power of the group, when the group can accept that probably all the member´s input for different reasons may vary from week to week, even though it is also important that all members have accepted the workload in the long run is shared in an equal way. (https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17ldtF0J5w_nBt5kL2fZ25zsXilscseN2Hdhivpzrm2o/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g1d75a2242a_0_53).


When reflecting on my own current practice and possibilities to develop online and blended designs I can note that I as a lecturer so far haven´t tried out any of these designs. Still, there is a clear demand for more digital elements in the education from the University´s point of view.  After attending this ONL-course, I am also much more keen on trying out digital elements and especially blended designs in the courses. At this point I know more of some critical elements in order to get started. I also think it is a critical issue that there were several of us from the same University so that we can support, push each other and also plan together  when implementing  blended learning designs in the education.



Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model. [Homepage] http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

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”. PDF available here.

ONL 171 Group 2: Rationale for Approach to Topic 4: Design for Online and Blended Learning. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17ldtF0J5w_nBt5kL2fZ25zsXilscseN2Hdhivpzrm2o/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g1d75a2242a_0_0



Learning in communities – networked & collaborative learning

Topic 3:  Learning in communities – networked & collaborative learning


Networked and collaborative learning was the theme for our third task.  Brindley, Blaschke and Walti (2009) sum up ten critical aspects that I really can recognize, partly from my own learning experiences, and partly from functioning as facilitator in different learning surroundings, mostly in face-to-face settings.

These are:

  • Transparency of expectations: the purpose of collaboration and expectations are made very clear in the beginning
  • Clear instructions for the group task, timelines and usability of the desired product are clearly described in detail so the student can focus on collaborating to share ideas and the workload rather than leaving them to spend a great deal of time trying to clarify the task and develop common understanding of it
  • Appropriateness of the task for group work
  • Meaning-making and relevance: the task is appropriate and you get an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the course to a real life situation
  • Motivation for participation embedded in the course design
  • Readiness of learners for the group work. Students have sufficient mastery of the subject matter to reflect on how to apply their knowledge in particular context, including their own work settings
  • Timing of group formation: allow time for a sense of collaboration to develop amongst the members before the task is assigned
  • Respect of the autonomy of learners: learners have their freedom to form their own groups based on shared interests, possibilities to makes own choices and decisions
  • Monitoring and feedback: respectful and timely feedback to keep the group on right course
  • Sufficient time for the task


My experiences from collaborative learning in an online-setting so far confirm these points as critical factors. In this kind of setting I feel that the group itself is even more important to take into consideration. The size of the group should be not too small and not too big. The participants backgrounds and level of mastery should not be too similar but also not too different in order to get the group going. Too big differences in these matters are likely to cause frustrations, both for “the more competent” and for “the novice”. The support and engagement from peers and facilitator are furthermore important issues that help you to get your tasks ready and you to stay motivated. Finally, I really enjoyed Alec Couros webinar (22.3.2017), and will remember his strategy when starting a new group process: try to create a feeling that it is possible and fun to achieve something together. You could want to do some smaller and most of all a fun task to for this purpose.  I really loved the example with the lip-sync singing!



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)


How to eat an elephant?





Reflections about topic 2 openness and sharing

The old fairy tale “Alice in Wonderland” came as a spontaneous association to me when I started this ONL-course, and I mentioned this association when I started my blog. The digital word felt like a strange world with its own logic which is difficult to understand. As the course continued I have come across other participants’ blogs where the same story is referred to when describing own feelings and lesson learnt.

I think this is an interesting finding referring to our discussed topic. You have a thought or association, somebody else has the same idea, or gets inspired from a thought you left somewhere, and uses it further as a tool for own processing. What a nice way of sharing !

During these two weeks we have discussed different perspectives according to the theme, especially about openness in education,  and especially the idea about building a collaborative network and shared expertise is a powerful and  a very intriguing thought.(Open education and the future, Short TED-talk by David Wiley)

If nothing else, I think I have learned more about the complexity of it all during these two weeks. I have learned about benefits and challenges (our PBL-group 2), but also about things like different shades of openness as presented in Alastair Creelman introduction   (open source, open access, open data, open innovation open educational resources). The complexity of it all also means that baby steps are needed, or if using the elephant metaphor- one bit at a time.

The association of eating an elephant perhaps works also when I continue the work to figure out what openness and sharing means for and in my own practice. I need to keep up the work little by little, take it slow and get to know and feel safe in the scenery I want to attend. I also need to remember that even using other´s material is fun and easy, it should also include responsible acting. The things I learned about Creative Commons and the search for CC material helps to give credit to those who should be given the credit for their work. And of course, also to remember when I want to share something I have produced – to be clear with own opinion about matters concerning reuse, remix, revise and redistribute.(Webinar with Theresa Kinnon.)

“Education is a matter of sharing, step by step”: As a final reflection, I find it interesting how the organizers in the beginning of this process took the participants figuratively speaking by the hand, started by showing the setting, now continuing with explaining concepts like open educational resources, and issues about copyright and sharing culture, in other words pointing at ground rules you need to know and think about. Soon it is time for the next bite!

Alastair Creelman’s introduction to openness in education: https://connect.sunet.se/p8oagfudxl5/launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

Open education and the future, Short TED-talk by David Wiley (https://www.youtube.com/watch)

Webinar with Teresa Mac Kinnon 7.3.2017 (https://connect.sunet.se/p4w69agso07/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

Wiley, D., & Green, C. (2012). Why openness in education. Game changers: Education and information technologies, 81-89.)Garrison et al., 1999, 2001; Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005

Digital literacies



Learning blog / reflection

The question “Me as an individual in the digital age” isn´t a question I have spent very much time investigating before this course. I have, of course, felt there is this digital world that I know too little of. This knowledge causes some anxiety: what skills do I need to know to keep up with the changing settings- but also curiosity: with better digital skills I will be able to do so many more things in so many different ways.

Digital literacy was first of all an interesting word to get acquainted with, and opened up new ways for me to understand the phenome. From thinking about digital skills as “you either have them or you don´t have them at all” to a more fruitful understand of digital skills as a combination of “know how” (rich set of tools) and “fluency” (level of mastery). (Sara Mörtsell, OPL webinar 21.2.2017.)

When I started to build my frame to understand the phenome digital literacy, useful key words were digital behaviors, practices and identities. Another important lesson was that skills in behaviors, practices and identities are not definitive or static. You will need a rich set of skills and tools, because digital skills changes over time, and they are also contextual: required skills do not automatically transfer from one context to another. (Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide.) It not just about becoming digitally literate, it is also a question about staying digitally literate.

Beetham and Sharpe (2010) describe digital literacy as a development process, where we acquire a language and become increasingly proficient with it over time. They visualize the process with a “pyramid model”, where the starting point is about access and awareness. (“I have”). Next level is more about skills (“I can”). The third step (“I do”) deals with practices, whereas the fourth step is about identity and fluency (I am).

When I think of my own current level of digital literacy using this pyramid model, both in my personal and professional life, I think I am still at the starting point: still getting more aware of possibilities and how to get access to different tools and skills (“I have”). But I also think that I will be much closer to level two (“I can”) when I have finished this course (ONL).

The individual´s own motivation is an important issue to take into consideration in this developmental process- how the individuals can be motivated to develop new skills and practices in different situations, and to how promote changes in individual skills from lower to higher level. (Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide.) At this point I find that the ONL setting, including the PBL-group, helps me to get more interested, more curious and hopefully also support me not to fail too much when trying out new tools.   I can totally approve the importance of one´s own motivation in this learning process. I think it is important that we participants, to some extent, have the possibility to decide about our own “best possible level of ambition”, although we also have common tasks and responsibilities in our PBL-groups which will push us ahead. It seems to me that a good mix of these two factors, together with a supporting setting, functions as effective keys for keeping up motivation and immerse one´s own learning process.
Sara Mörtsell, OPL webinar 21.2.2017 (https://opennetworkedlearning.wordpress.com/onl171-course-activities/topic-1-online-participation-and-digital-literacies/event-webinar-with-sara-mortsell/)

Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide (https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-digital-literacies

PBL Group 2: The DNA of the fish template (https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1dBKJuy_sCRa4s2UaKB9KsHWJOfTSdFeyiGi7bA6qurk/pub?start=true&loop=true&delayms=15000&slide=id.p)




First blog post

First day of ONL 171 behind! A strange and peculiar world appears… The logic in Alice´s world was one of it´s own kind, let´s see what kind of logic the world of ONL brings! And if I, as a learner, can get a grip of things in this strange world. A lot of new tools and a lot of new content to take in.

Anyway, first webinar, first PBL-group and now first blog done – I think this will be enough for one day!!


Alice in Wonderland with White Rabbit1


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