A long break, the dark winter, Christmas with only half my family, a New Year opening dismally with increased contagion and more restrictions than before. A demagogue, and angry mob – and yet I have a primula blooming on my windowsill.

And I have two projects going at work – nothing makes «going to work» (aka going up to the loft room where I have my computer) more inspiring than having a project to work on.

One of the project is named EVOLVE. It’s not my name, it comes from an EU-funded project on how to create good virtual exchanges. I stumbled on the project in the fall, while I was taking the Open Networked Leaning course referred to in previous posts. While the original EVOLVE project is ended, you can find a curriculum for your own use on its website.

I invited good colleagues from the Netherlands, Germany, Kosovo and Norway to join me in doing this course – and it has been an uphill struggle since then!

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I like to plan things, I love schedules, I am good with deadlines! I set us up on teams, I downloaded the course to canvas, I uploaded articles I thought would be interesting, I made a few demonstrations of how to us apps and I scheduled meetings – that were postponed, postponed and postponed again.

But most of us finally met this week. The faces popped up on teams and we all looked at each other wondering what exactly we were going to talk about. I felt my colleagues looking at me, expecting something from me – after all I was the one who had taken the lead! But I had told them from the start, that we were ALL responsible for the course, all equal stakeholders, no one knew more than anyone else – and obviously, no one knew how to move forward.

And like a little miracle, that is how we started. We talked about social discomfort when you only meet online, about a feeling that maybe everyone is more savvy than «you» at navigating virtual spaces. We talked about frustrations with the apps I had tried to demonstrate. NONE of us get what is so intuitive about Flipgrid. One of my colleagues set out to explore the app and suddenly found himself in a chatroom with a bunch of American teen-age girls. TERRIFYING!

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And as we talked, we realized that we were «doing» the course. By reflecting on our frustration with the whole set up, and our willingness to postpone, we were being students stuck in a virtual classroom that none of us would have chosen if we didn’t have to.

I felt like I had moved from stagnant and frustrated to inquisitive and loose. All of the literature I have read so far on the does and don’ts of virtual teaching say that structure and clear guidelines are a must. I get that, that is what WE wanted. But maybe a little chaos and fumbling works just as well? At any rate – Tonight I feel like I’ve caught I glimpse of the sun in what otherwise has been a dark forest.