My cat Disa is a more intrepid explorer than I am. (Photo by me.)
I was off to a rocky start in the course since my perception of and own experience from both studying and teaching online weren’t that positive and, to top it off, I also got the flu and missed several meetings. So far, I haven’t been able to enjoy teaching and learning online very much. My teaching style IRL is focused on building a safe learning space through connection, ease and fun, and I believe in active, experience based and collaborative learning and, to this point, I haven’t been able to build the same kind of safety, ease and fun into my online classes since I don’t get the same feeling of connection when meeting via a screen compared to meeting face to face. So, in this course, I am here to hopefully discover that learning online can be just as rewarding and as much fun as learning IRL. I’ll get back to whether that was the outcome in the last post of the course.

That I have quite a bit of resistance towards online learning is in one way odd, since I’m otherwise very interested in and positive to digital tools and social media. I’ve been on Facebook since 2008 and Twitter since 2009 and have also had several WordPress blogs. I don’t blog anymore, however, since I think that this medium is a bit outdated and that it takes too much time to manage an active blog. I don’t use Twitter anymore either, since around 2010 my experience was that it got inundated with tweets advertising all kinds of commercial offerings, so I lost interest, but I’m still active on Facebook. Also, when I took the self-evaluation test on digital competence offered by the Digital competence framework for educators (DigCompEdu) at the EU Science Hub, I scored at the Expert level even though I answered the questions conservatively. To be honest, I was somewhat surprised having scored that high, but, considering that my mantra when it comes to using digital technology in my teaching is to be very careful not to focus more on the digital tool than on what I want the students to learn, the score made a little more sense. https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/digcompedu/self-assessment

If your score is between 50 and 65, you are an Expert (B2)
This means: You use a range of digital technologies confidently, creatively and critically to enhance your professional activities. You purposefully select digital technologies for particular situations and try to understand the benefits and drawbacks of different digital strategies. You are curious and open to new ideas, knowing that there are many things you have not tried out yet. You use experimentation as a means of expanding, structuring and consolidating your repertoire of strategies. Share your expertise with other academics and continue critically developing your digital strategies to reach the Leader (C1) level.”

But back to ONL191. These first four weeks of the course have been quite chaotic, and it has been a laborious and pretty unpleasant journey trying to figure out how things work, what we are supposed to do, and how to work together in the PBL group. However, things are starting to get somewhat clearer now, even though I still don’t enjoy it. But, since I’m pretty stubborn, I’m hanging in there – learning isn’t always pleasant…

And I have learned. But mostly about my own learning process and not so much about digital literacy. And I think that that is perfect really, because my primary goal with attending this course is to try to learn to enjoy online learning and teaching. As I work as an educational developer, it is very useful to go through the process of taking part in an online course and examine my reactions and feelings during this process, especially because of my earlier experiences since they indicate that I probably have a lot in common with students that don’t end up finishing their online courses. So, reflecting from that perspective, I can now voice what I think I would have needed to feel more positive towards joining the course during these first four weeks.

First of all, I would have benefited from having been told enough times that the early weeks of the course usually feel very chaotic and that this is a part of the learning process of the course. And notice that I wrote enough times – I’m sure this probably was said at least once by both the course leaders and our facilitators in the PBL-group, but that was not enough times for me to be able to really hear it and take it in. And one thing that I don’t think was said, but that I would’ve needed to hear, is why this stage feels so chaotic. I wish we would’ve had a session where we were taken through the first phase of starting to work in a PBL setting. Perhaps we weren’t told this on purpose in order to learn by doing but, for me, that is most often a really frustrating way to learn. I do much better with a clear structure and a clearly stated why since it makes me feel much more at ease when I know what is happening and why. Since I didn’t know this, I struggled, felt frustrated, and considered more than once to leave the course. Also, all this emotional turmoil took a lot of energy – energy that could have gone into the supposedly “real” course work. Instead, what I mostly focused on during these first weeks was finding a strategy to help me stay on in the course that worked for me. And, since I’m still here, I obviously succeeded. 🙂

The strategy I found was to use this course to learn about my own learning process in order to learn, from reflecting on my own learning, how, hopefully, to create better courses and improve my own teaching. If I happen to learn about Open learning networks also, that is great, but that is not my primary focus. And what I’ve started doing, to promote my reflecting on my own learning, is writing a learning log that I update after every PBL group meeting. In the log, I write down how I feel after that day’s meeting, what my thoughts are about our discussions and how we worked together, and how I feel about what we decided was the work to be done before our next meeting, and any other thoughts that I have about, for example, the current topic in relation to my own experience and teaching. I have also decided that I’m going to use this blog mainly to reflect on my experiences during this course from the perspective of being a learner. Perhaps this isn’t really the intended course goal with this blog, but, frankly, I don’t care about that right now since what I feel will be most beneficial for me and my learning in this setting is to use the blog in this way.

First step into the course. Topic 1