Twelve weeks of online meetings are behind me now. What is the outcome? Here are some key terms: many discussions, different thoughts, different ideas, different solutions, new perspectives, new digital tools, more confidence in the digital world, not alone in the digital world and its challenges, meeting new colleagues (unfortunately only online), development in the skills of teaching, …

Digital media offer many opportunities both to improve the own teaching and to involve students more intensively in the online lecture. If one is able to “play” with the digital tools (blogs, meme, patlet, coggle, google drive, zoom, prezi => just to name a few) and use it according to the particular teaching situation, there is certainly a chance that learners will be better taken along. So far I assumed the typical teaching situation that as a teacher, I give a talk to the students in my online lecture and then discuss it with the students. Now, with the things I have learned during ONL, I can create this teaching / learning situation much more varied, making it easier for everyone involved.

I could not determine a direct influence on my practical work so far, because I did not have an online course during my ONL time. But what I can say is that I reflect much more about digital media and implementing into my teaching activities. In the past, for myself digital media in teaching only consisted of the platform I communicate with my students (zoom, adobe, skype, …). Now I start thinking about how I can create my online lectures (next year in May / June I have the next one). A structure based on / comparable with my experiences during ONL would be perfect. I do not know whether that is really feasible on that high level. I tend to build the next online course “simple and safe” and install elements that I’ve become familiar with. For example, splitting the whole group into several small online rooms to facilitate group work. Or in a collaborative sense, out on a goal / aim by the use of a common presentation tool (prezi, coggle, …). I have many ideas (and also ideals) in my head, I hope I can continuously develop my online skills.

As I mentioned earlier, the use of digital technology in teaching is an incredible gain, but you have to keep the technology under control. In other words, both the specific properties of a digital tool must be known, but also the certainty that the tool is usable. We once had the problem in our group that a free version of a tool had some limitations. Thus, this tool then fell out for our group work. Ultimately, this “problem” was more of a win, as we were once again shown that you must be safe in dealing with it. Another important question is to what extent can I use digital media to my students? Not all students have a sufficient technical understanding, this must be taken into account in the planning of an online course. Detailed instructions (e.g. pdf) or links to corresponding explanatory videos are helpful. At the beginning of an online course the teacher should focus on this, in addition to the socialization of the participants with each other.

How to implement all the impressions, experiences and knowledges? Good question. Certainly, there is no clear answer. For myself I think I should try to prepare my next online course with the premise of only implementing a few new digital things. But handle these things very well and be able to “play” with them and motivate students to work online. Better than too much digital things and have the risk that in the teaching situation not everything works well and so it tends to have a demotivating effect on the students.

It would be exciting and hopefully fruitful to introduce my colleagues to the digital possibilities in teaching. Not everyone will be ready to open his/her mind, because it would be necessary to leave comfortable zones to have progress. But it would be an interesting challenge.

So, tonight I will have a nice glas of red wine and enjoy the advent time. Cheers to my fantastic group PBL 8.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” (Phil Jackson, NBA coach)

Topic 5: Lessons learnt – future practice