These first two weeks of ONL202 have been inspiring, fun, invigorating – and just something different. Although I knew this journey would be anything but ordinary and I had an idea of what to expect, I am surprised by how invested in it we already are. And this is just the beginning.

Who am I in the digital era? The first topic introduced to us included online participation and digital literacies, which invited use to mull over in depth how we perceive ourselves and our roles in the digital world. Whenever (inter)acting in an online environment, it is important to acknowledge the fact that we are not there alone and that we leave behind traces. Our digital consuming habits (i.e. how, when, where, with whom and to what extent we communicate online) lead to a detectable, digital footprint, which makes our online identity more or less available to others. Although we can choose how social and (in)visible to be in different digital spaces, we cannot avoid leaving traces altogether nor is there a way to hide from digitalization. Therefore, the question of how digitally “literate” and knowledgeable of our footprint we really are is probably now more significant than ever. Whereas I consider myself quite literate in some of the platforms and spaces I regularly employ (such as Zoom, work email, WhatsApp), meaning that I can understand the norms, expectations and practices and critically evaluate what I see/hear, other places where I identify as a resident make me feel less confident (see White & Le Cornu, 2011). In my view, being digitally literate does not only mean having acquired a set of knowledge or skills, but it is also about the ability to adapt to the continuously fluctuating environments and foresee the consequences of one’s actions. In the end, it is within the lines of those actions where our online identities emerge and are constantly (re)negotiated – by us and other users of (collaborative) digital tools and media.

From a bottom-up interactional perspective, social presence and online identities are (re)constructed every time we choose to interact with others online, which highlights the significance of in situ awareness (i.e. understanding of how others might perceive individual actions, then and there, and act upon them).

I tend to consciously think about my own footprint and keep personal and professional spheres of my life separate. This has a bearing on my digital consumption and ways to communicate in diverse media. I use Twitter for professional networking, Instagram for keeping in contact and sharing content (usually images that depict nice moments) with friends, MS Teams for work calls, Zoom for teaching (and now learning). Whereas I am not inherently skeptical when it comes to “being out there” and sharing something with others online, having a clear boundary between what’s (too) personal/private/professional and what’s not makes networking and building online presence easier. In the end, an important aspect of being online is also about getting to know other people and let they know something about you. For this, having the rules cleared out (at least for yourself) helps.

How can we ensure students the support they need? One of the key themes that emerged in our PBL group’s discussions was student engagement and support during the digital era, and especially during the pandemic. What we (teachers, educators, parents of adolescents) seem to share are similar experiences but also mutual concerns. How can we keep students invested in their learning process outside the traditional classroom setting and without seeing them? How can we get them connect with us and each other; how can we help them form a community for learning? Although there are some theoretical foundations that point to the benefits of implementing collaborative learning methods, we must still carefully consider our practical solutions. What might have worked well in the past when there was no global crisis going on does not necessarily work so well this year. Ultimately, what is right now required from all of us in the educational sphere is patience, empathy and adaptability. In addition, I am personally drawn by the approaches of problem-based learning, connectivist perspective (e.g. Downing, 2005; Garcia et al., 2014) and David White’s general notion that we should perhaps reconsider how we perceive teaching and shift from “gate-keeping knowledge to connecting with others”. Already at this point, I can see how ONL202 will open my eyes for new possibilities and endeavors that I wish to explore even further in my own teaching.

According to some studies, one effective tool to engage the students, enhance their self-regulation and promote community building amongst the group is learning blogs (Garcia et al., 2014). Have you ever tried them in your teaching? If so, please leave a comment – I am sure that many of us would like to hear about your experiences 🙂


Downes, S. (2005). An introduction to connective knowledge [online].

Garcia, E., I. Elbeltagi, M. Brown & K. Dungay (2014). The implications of a connectivist learning blog model and the changing role of teaching and learning. British Journal of Education Technology, 46(4), 877-894.

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday , 16(9).

The beginning