Dear reader,

This will be the final blog post that I write during ONL192. I am supposed to share my thoughts on the ONL-experience, as well as say something about the most important things that I have learnt during this course. As it happens, as I type this, I have just read the final reflection homework that I asked my own students to submit, and I am very touched with what they wrote and very impressed with their work, dedication and commitment. I wish that I could transmit something similar in writing here of my experience being a student this autumn, but I fear my expression will fall short in comparison. Despite some occasional hiccups I am on the whole very happy with what I have learned and with the ONL-experience in general. I have, I think, overall achieved many of my initial learning goals as I am happy to note here in this post.  

The first blog post I wrote, “The beginning,…” was about my baby steps, technical difficulties with Zoom, my curiosity, insecurity and aspiration for open-minded learning. In relation to what I wrote then, I would like to share a short anecdote: I happened to need to have an impromptu Zoom meeting with a local colleague the other day, who is also taking this course now but in a different PBL-group. During our Zoom-meeting, we had to work together on a document and make some changes to it, and for me, after ONL, this method of working now seemed the most natural thing. We worked efficiently and finished the work on time, and Zoom worked beautifully for both of us. This experience I suppose testifies to lessons learnt about using Zoom and online collaboration in general, and I am happy to reflect that I am now more confident when it comes to collaborating using digital tools and could initiate such a method as an alternative to face-to-face collaboration. Now I only need to learn how to set up a Zoom meeting of my own…  

For our first actual topic, Online participation & digital literacies, I wrote the post “Boundaries & engagement.” Here, I reflected on the conflicting roles of the Visitor and the Resident, my digital literacies, and my cautious digital presence. One question now immediately pops to mind – am I a Visitor or a Resident now, when it comes to ONL and the practices on this course? I guess I am more comfortable online now than I was during topic 1, at least, and I am more digitally literate than when I began the course. This is an improvement and I am happy that I am not as awkward anymore when it comes to my online presence. In my post, I wrote that I had felt that I had never enough time to get to learn to use new digital tools, and wanted to learn more. I have achieved that learning goal or need, to a certain degree: I have taken the time during ONL to try to use a few new digital tools, and I am more comfortable with the idea of finding more out there. However, I did not have the time really to learn to use them – I just had the time to taste, as it were, some new palatable digital tools during this course, and now have appetite for more.

The second topic, Open Learning – sharing and openness was challenging for me, and I am still not sure what to say about that one. I will perhaps try to gather some courage and begin to create and share some materials that I will need to create anyway for a few new courses that I will be teaching in the coming years, but at the same time, I am not sure that I could manage that any time soon. This may turn out to be a long-term goal that I will set for myself, a goal inspired by the ONL-experience, but I must stress that this is not a promise. I continue to be skeptical about the inherent conflict in the notion of open education as I discuss in my blog post for topic 2. I need a different set of keys for this one, and will continue to look for that.

Our third topic was Learning in Communities – networked collaborative learning. Topic 3 was mine to lead, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed being the leader of this topic in our lovely PBL-group. Throughout the course, we have embraced each other’s ideas and tried to offer support and suggestions, and although I was a bit stressed about the responsibility, my group supported me in the work and we collaborated in a fruitful manner. Our facilitators have also gently pushed us to the right direction throughout the course, and modeled an effective and sympathetic way of encouraging participants to share and to learn from each other in an online environment. Once again, this experience will help me in the future when I will organize online meetings and have synchoronous online teaching – something that I have been dreading to do ever since I heard the word Zoom.

The fourth topic was Design for online and blended learning. Lessons that I learned include appreciating the value of not only the experience of my colleagues, but also that of my own. Although I had not been familiar with the actual theory behind blended learning, I had nonetheless already implemented it in my teaching and design practices. I am more confident now that I will be able to continue the work of teaching and designing blended or wholly online courses, as I have realised that I already possess many of the necessary skills and tools. Without ONL, this realisation would perhaps have come much later, and I suppose that some of my presences (cognitive, social, teaching, emotional) during teaching and development work might have suffered for it had I not realised this now.

As I also wrote in the FISh-document of our group (Focus, Investigate, Share) for the fifth and final topic Lessons learnt – future practice, ONL has opened my eyes to the possibilities of online learning and the many ways of collaboration. It is too soon to say what the effect on my Personal Learning Networks or PLNs will be, but the concept itself of the PLN has helped me consider ways of widening those, and of more actively seeking for information and inspiration for my teaching from unexpected directions. I will continue to contribute actively to any group work that comes my way, and will preach even more clearly the value of diversity in everything that I do. I will apply the lessons learned to the online or blended courses that I co-develop and -design with my colleagues. I have a clearer idea now about the possibilities and the student perspective during an online course. I want to find new ways to enhance the sense of a shared community in the blended courses that I teach, and ways to strengthen the emotional presence of all involved even further. So, dear reader, perhaps I will start by recording an introductory video of myself for each of the courses that I teach, and add the possibility of a weekly appointment for ad hoc tutoring via Zoom…

hmm…wait a minute…don’t quote me on that!

Thank you for reading. Please protect our planet.

Looking back now…