My ONL journey

Hi world!

In this final blog post I would like to share my thoughts on the ONL journey I have undertaken this semester.

During one of our last meetings in this PBL constellation, we were asked to express what expectations we had before the course started/ at the beginning of it. I personally had none: I had read a bit about the course before I signed up and did not have any expectations regarding it as I like to keep an open mind.

To my surprise, it turned out to be one of the best courses I have taken in the field of pedagogical development, that was both challenging and inspiring at the same time. Firstly, I think that this course provided us with an amazing platform where we could share our thoughts, ideas and concerns freely in a rare and unique environment, where we are all established professionals from different areas, that do not compete with each other. I found it rather refreshing as even though we always had representatives from different disciplines in the courses that I had previously undertaken, we never got to know each other on such a deep level. This was really a perfect example of a safe trust-based environment for collaborative learning, that we had been discussing in Topic 3, and it was amazing for me to see that such a collaboration is not something ephemeral, but it is actually possible to have it IRL! For me, who is usually quite sceptical, it was a real eye opener! Secondly, I have learned a lot both topics and perspectives wise. I felt really inspired throughout the course as the discussions that we had, where different opinions were shared, have broadened my horizons, prompting me to either rethink the approaches, adopted by me before, or to embrace completely new ideas that I have never even pondered about. OE, Creative Commons Licenses, Collaborative Learning, ‘Silent Learners’ are the topics that have caught my attention in particular. Thirdly, the beauty of this course is in its spill-over effects or practical applicability. There are many useful tools and recommendations, that I got to know about during the ONL course, but the most important thing about them is that they can be easily incorporated in one’s teaching and drastically enrich one’s experience both as a teacher and as a learner. I have realised that I can include some suggestions even now and I know that they will definitely enhance the learning process and encourage the students to embark on their learning journey with, hopefully, more enthusiasm and joy.

Thank you for your attention! Looking forward to reading your comments:)

Some thoughts on asynchronous learning activities

Hi world!

During the sessions, devoted to Topic 4, we have been discussing design for online and blended learning. First, I need to provide a disclaimer: due to a high workload I did not participate in our meetings to the extent I would have wanted to. However, this experience prompted me to think about asynchronous learning activities in the context of online and blended teaching in depth, the aspect, that I am going to discuss in this blog post.

In our PBL group, we have been focusing on figuring out what is required from us, the teachers, to enable the students to succeed in blended learning activities. Once this prompt was asked to ChatGPT, we got 7 key points, namely: clear expectations, effective communication, guidance on digital tools, personalized support, regular feedback, monitoring and tracking progress and flexibility and adaptability.

While thinking about ensuring successful and fruitful participation in asynchronous learning activities, several thoughts came up to my mind. Firstly, the courses, involving online or blended asynchronous learning activities, should include a compulsory introductory module on digital tools, where the basics of digital literacy, necessary for the course, are to be explained. The second step is to ensure that students understand what is expected from them and, what is more, have an incentive to carry out these activities. The last point goes hand in hand with monitoring/tracking – I think a possible approach in this regard could be introducing some gamification/interaction elements that could encourage the students to go through the online elements of the educational process. I myself have recently undertaken a very productive 1-hour online course on the use of a digital tool, that included a couple of lectures and short quizzes to them, a successful completion of which resulted in getting a cute ‘certificate’. This course, that I found both informative and entertaining, represented a great example of online teaching, whose simplified elements could definitely be implemented in online courses in my field of expertise. Construing asynchronous elements of the course in such a way could also take off some pressure, that stems from the necessity to ensure effective communication with the students and providing them with regular feedback. Even though I find effective communication, personalized support and regular feedback to be vital components of teaching, I think it is also important to be aware of the reasonable limitations that accompany our teaching conditions – while it is possible to guarantee effective communication in a group, consisting of 20 students, it is extremely difficult to do that in a class that is comprised of 160 students and where the budget covers the employment of only one teacher for this particular element of the course.

What are, to your mind, the essential elements for creating functional asynchronous learning activities? Looking forward to reading your ideas and comments on that!

What are the key ingredients for ensuring a successful collaboration amongst students?

Hi world!

During the sessions, devoted to Topic 3, we have been discussing fostering collaborative learning among students. As a result of our fruitful discussions, a lot of fascinating aspects, relating to this topic, were revealed. At the end of Topic 3 I began to puzzle myself over a question “What are the key ingredients for ensuring a successful collaboration amongst students?”. Here are my reflections on this question and it would be great to get to know yours!

Firstly, it is essential to convey to the students a message about the benefits of a genuine collaboration. One of our participants (kudos to Kash!) has beautifully described it as a working mode that allows one to produce a better result than the one one could achieve working on one’s own. I thought that it was a refreshing idea that could be pitched to our extremely ambitious and highly individualistic law students. It could probably take way some pressure from our individualistic approach to learning in higher education as well. Secondly, it is imperative that a safe learning environment is created. I consider it to be a key to a successful collaboration, but I also find it to be the most difficult component to put into practice. In order to create a safe learning environment, one needs to build trust among the participants and that takes time. To be honest, I do not think that one can establish this trust-based environment within the timeline that our 2-month courses provide. A solution to that would be creating such an environment throughout the whole Bachelor or Master program as their respective 3 and 2 year length would allow for that. That, however, would also require all the teaching staff at the programs to be on board. Moreover, building trust requires active involvement of teachers in arranging team-building, extra curriculum activities, that might be problematic in the context of our tight schedule and high workload, so this aspect needs to be investigated thoroughly. And lastly, it is vital to ensure inclusiveness of students by engaging them in different types of activities, so that both the students, that prefer active participation in learning, and so-called ‘silent learners’ would find the learning process comfortable and accommodating. Our discussion on the concept of ‘silent learners’ was a real eye opener for me as I realised that I unconsciously expect the students to actively engage in the learning activities as this is the mode of learning that I have endorsed myself. I hope that from now on though I will incorporate more learning activities that would suit ‘silent students’ better:)

So, what are the key ingredients for ensuring a successful collaboration amongst students in your opinion? Will be happy to read your comments!

“It’s beyond my control”: the feasibility of the protection of IP rights in the context of OE

Hi world!

During the past two weeks we have been discussing sharing and openness in the context of open learning. As a result of our fruitful discussions, a lot of fascinating aspects, relating to this topic, were revealed, but in my post here I would like to focus on a particular concern that I have in the context of OE and OER. A disclaimer: I am a lawyer, that has recently come to a realisation that most of my concerns usually stem from my professional background, something that I did not reflect much upon before.

The first and the foremost concern that I have is the feasibility of the protection of IP rights in the context of OE. While I was watching a video and a recording of the workshop on Creative Commons Licenses that perfectly explained how one can share the results of one’s work and determine how one’s work can be used by others, I could not help thinking about the legal practicalities of such a sharing tool, especially when it comes to its enforcement.

Let’s imagine a situation, where you create your work and state clearly that your work is not for commercial use. Then you realize that there is a lecturer at a tiny private institution in another jurisdiction (country) who actively uses your work in their teaching. The problem is that students can only be enrolled at this tiny private institution on a commercial basis, namely, they pay for their education there. That in its turn means that your work is used for commercial purposes against your expressly stated wishes and, of course, you do not get any royalties, associated with its use. If that happens, you can attempt to sue a violator for violating your IP rights (see, for instance, a couple of cases regarding violation of non-commercial use of Creative Commons Licenses, enlisted on their own Creative Common legal database,, but this route would be too tiresome, cumbersome and under the enlisted circumstances unreasonable, to be blunt. So, in the end you are left in a situation where your work is misused and there is little that you can actually do about. I personally find this aspect particularly disturbing as I cannot see how one’s IP rights can be protected in such a situation and that in its turn discourages me from actively using this tool.

What are your thoughts in this regard?

Finally.. My reflections on Topic 1:)

Hi world!

Finally have I had a chance to sit down and write my reflections regarding Topic 1, where we discussed online participation and digital literacies. The videos and the webinar with Dave White were extremely insightful as they prompted me to ponder about my digital presence in a theoretical and more structured way. Having drawn a matrix of my digital presence, I have realized that it actually reflects my consciously made choices, even though I have not thought about them in such an organised way.

I clearly separate the use of digital platforms for personal or professional purposes and try not to mix them up as this distinction also helps me to draw a line between my personal and professional life in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Several years ago I stopped actively using social media in my personal life as I found it exhausting to make posts online all the time and completely lost interest in exposing my private life to the world. Moreover, I have always had security concerns about sharing my life events with the people I do not know so that choice was a logical conclusion I came to after a couple of years of exploring the functionality of social media. So when it comes to my personal use of digital tools, I purposefully prefer a ‘visitor’ mode as I am not interested in leaving any social trace in that regard. When it comes to my institutional/professional use of digital space, however, I prefer to be a ‘resident’ and try to actively use the platforms, that I prefer, to ‘promote’ my research and spread the word about research activities that I am part of. I intentionally chose this mode of participation online approximately two years ago as I have realised that as a researcher one needs to actively show the world what one is actually doing, while being silent about your academic endeavours will not do you or the world any good. It happens quite often that there is a lot of interesting research going on within one’s own institution and we do not know what our colleagues are doing/what great opportunities for collaboration/getting and giving advice etc there are within an arm’s reach. I personally think that it is a pity that a lot of potential is lost due to lack of proper communication to both academia and general public and try to combat this issue by ensuring that my research profile is visible and accessible online.

Stay tuned!:)

Hello world!

Hi everyone, interested in Open Networked Learning ! This is my first post and I just hope that I did everything correctly:)

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