Various PBL teams sharing their group submissions for peer review.

This week is ONL222’s reflection week, which means we are at the half-way mark of our ONL journey. This was a good chance to catch up on past readings, reflect on what to do with the new knowledge acquired. So, this week’s blog will focus on reflection. To do this, I will recap some of my key learning moments:

1. Preparing for ONL222

In anticipation for this course, I ,dug out whatever I could on ONL. Basically, the more aware I was on what the course entails, the better prepared I would be. Around the same time, I signed up for ,Learning to Learn Online (LTLO) MOOC where I learnt many tips on how to be successful in adjusting from face-to-face to online learning. Of which, being self-directed was only 1 of them.

Borrowing LTLO’s recommendations, I added some context to some of the key factors:

  • Time-management – set aside time to do course work as it is very easy to fall behind. Despite our best efforts we can still fall short. Hence, sequencing of the course materials actually helps learners get back into the game. This is elaborated below under point 5.
  • Communication – if your course (e.g. LTLO, ONL) is completely online, learners who rely solely on written words, need to express themselves correctly and concisely. Fortunately, video recordings and zoom sessions have become mainstream so learners who are not too shy can use video as another way to communicate.
  • Social presence – the lack of physical, visual presence of both the teacher and fellow course mates can cause some initial anxiety. So, participating actively in online discussions and being proactive to know your course mates will help build up the social presence and make your learning experience significantly more enjoyable.
  • Acceptance and patience with technology – some learners will be exposed to new and unfamiliar technology. When the technology does not go according to plan, don’t be frustrated. Just accept that technology is part of the learning process.
  • Peer-to-peer learning – being open to sharing information, experience, and expertise with peers and drawing upon their knowledge and support is characteristic of a learner-centered learning environment.
  • Role of Learner/ Educator – Instructors need to play more of a facilitator role while learners need to learn how to collaborate and learn from each other. So, instead of relying only on the expertise of the instructor, learners can benefit from the diverse experience and expertise of fellow learners.
  • Learning communities – Through course communication and sharing of information and resources, learners can begin to establish connections. The seed from which a learning community can grow. Just 4 weeks in, the resources shared by our ONL222 community are already massive. Freely curated by fellow course mates!
  • Diversity – I enjoy being part of PBL04, where course mates don’t dive into project discussions immediately. Instead, we login a bit earlier just to share about our lives, what’s happening locally and add a snippet of cultural quirks to liven the atmosphere. Be respectful of fellow learners as everyone brings something unique to the learning environment.
  • Responsibility and Self-directed learning – Online learners must become more independent and proactive toward their learning initiatives. Being self-directed helps as no one owes you anything. As seen from the points above, you reap as much as you contribute to the group.

2. Understanding my own learning preferences and digital literacies

This was a great start to ONL222 where we were taught to re-examine how we look at online participation and digital literacies. I got to learn about the Visitor-Resident (VR) Mapping process and applied it to create a ,visual representation of how my engagement with the web has shifted over the years. During which I got to participate in a ,Tweetchat with ONL222 coursemates and David White. Having a synchronous conversation in a rapid fire session was hectic but fun! It gave a huge boost to the social presence.

3. Sharing is Caring

ONL group projects are shared “openly” (course participants only) to promote knowledge sharing and co-creation of new content through building on the work of others. It’s nice to pick and choose which group’s assignment you want to read more about and add comments or questions. My only gripe is that there isn’t a more convenient way to see if anyone responded to the comments.

Perhaps enabling a RSS feed for the comments feature under ,PBL group work page?

Various PBL teams sharing their group submissions for peer review.

4. Open Sharing and Learning

Topic 2’s “Open Learning” was so intriguing that I wrote a rather lengthy ,blog post on “Battle for Open” – one of the recommended readings.

I recently attended a conference in person and enjoyed it immensely. So, I ,blogged about the NTEL 2022 conference and shared about the event via my Facebook account. My FB post was picked up by an old friend, Andy Van Schaak (one of the sharpest minds I know) and I took the opportunity to pick his brain by asking his views on the ,SUTD white paper. He would give such an extensive response and bring about new insights that I missed when reading that paper. To top it off, Andy then shared his own article “,Practical Applications of Learning Science”. One thing led to another and we ended up having a nice exchange of views from post COVID-19 learning to how some of the psychological principles his article shared was possibly applicable to both online and face-to-face learning environments (Schaack, 2022).

Special mention of Andy’s article “,Practical Applications of Learning Science”. I love his clear writing style backed with concrete examples, specific instructions on how to go about doing it. If you have a passion for better instructional design backed by learning science, this is an excellent read. It goes to show that you do not have to add complex technical jargon simply to fluff it up so that it has a higher chance to be picked up by journals (David Wiley, 2022).

It was so coincidental that the week that was focusing on Open Sharing and Learning, I would end up learning a great deal simply by sharing about the NTEL conference and SUTD’s whitepaper via social media. In return, I got back so much more. Give and you shall receive… indeed!

5. Sequencing and right-sizing content

For LTLO & ONL, I feel that the content is sequenced well with just the right amount of content to be covered in every segment. The deliberate design in not releasing all content at once is also a good approach as it slows down the pace to allow other learners (some of whom may be busy due to family/work) to catch up. Through weekly sessions, tweets or discussion forums, learners have different ways to sync up with fellow learners and catch up.

6. Reflecting on Reflection

I ,restarted blogging on 07 May 2022. Since then, I have published 26 blog posts. Topics include Copyright, Open Education, Active Learning, PBL, LifeLong Learning, etc. When I pen down my thoughts on reflection, I ask myself “How can I be more intentional in my writing?”

I am further guided by the following questions:

  • Does the post inject some personality so that readers can learn a little bit about me?
  • Are my attempts at humour, sharing personal stories, too much or too little?
  • Are there things in my post that are worth the time for the reader to spend 4-5 minutes to read it?

All these questions influence how I write. As I learn more about the topic I am sharing, I add links to resources, unfamiliar terms, etc. so that learners are just a click away from clarifying what I was referring to. It’s best never to assume that everyone understands the intent of your writing.

Feedback. I love comments on my posts. Although sparse, each feedback gives me a chance to understand what the reader got out of it. It gives me a boost that there are people who actually read my posts and comments (god bless you)!

To close off this week’s blog post, I leave with even more questions to reflect upon as you go about your own reflection.

a. With Whom should one reflect?

If you are fortunate to have family, friends whom you can talk to and willing to listen to your reflection, lucky you. For the rest of us, do not fret as we still have technology to leverage on. We can reach out to others by sharing our personal reflections via Twitter, blogs, online learning communities – just as I am doing now with this post.

b. How should one reflect?

Reflection can happen at any time. For me, it usually occurs when I am alone with my own thoughts. It does not have to be a quiet place but it has to be done in solitude. The ideas in my head are then penned down somewhere before reaching their final destination – in the form of a blog post.

Somehow the process of putting thoughts onto paper is very different. Try it, and let me know in the comments how reflecting via a written approach (private diary or public blog post) differs from when you simply reflect through thinking about things.

Here’s a tip that works well for me. Scheduling a fixed location and timing for deep reflection and writing solidifies the ideas that were floating in the head prior. It helps me get closure. I do it every Saturday afternoon at a nice café with a hot cup of latte.

c. Ok, reflection (writing) done. What’s next?

Now that you have done the research and shared your reflection, is anything going to change in the way you think, act? What will you do differently with your latest epiphany?

Reflecting on one’s approach to teaching, especially in post COVID-19 context is highly relevant. Change is the only constant, so regular reflection of one’s own teaching approaches and staying updated on the best practices in the field of Technology-Enhanced Learning helps teachers to continue in an iterative cycle of reinventing themselves, learning new knowledge, tools and skills, to make improvements to enhance students’ learning experiences.

As a teacher, we need to challenge ourselves by asking “What should I do differently next time? What data do I have to validate if the changes made were effective? What would students say if they were right here next to me?” (Heick, 2014)

If you made it this far, thank you. Hope to read your comments.

Benedict Chia

05 Nov 2022


Heick, T. (2014). Reflecting on Reflection: A Habit of Mind. Edutopia. ,

Schaack, A. V. (2022). U.S. Navy PALS Handbook. ,

Wiley, D. (2022). What Memes Can Teach Us About Applying Educational Research in Practice. improving learning. ,

Reflecting on Reflection