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!