I admit, I did not exactly know what I was signing up for in this course. The title “Open networked learning” sounded somehow different and useful to prepare me a bit better for online teaching…and it would give me the credit I needed in my teaching CV.

Even though I felt a bit lost and totally out of my comfort zone the first few weeks, the goal became clearer later. This course and especially my PBL5 group was growing on me! I knew the PBL concept from previous teaching, and how vital the interaction in the group between students (and their tutor) is to ensure deep learning and successful outcomes.  I realized the importance here in the beginning was to bond and build a relationship within your PBL group which would set the pace and quality of collaboration for the following weeks. 

What came a bit as a surprise to me is that 6 “random” people 😏 from different backgrounds (technically speaking with different professional languages) put together in a virtual room were functioning well as a PBL group, being creative and fun, identifying problems and learning needs, collaborate, communicate effectively, and take active roles in solving problems.

We somehow managed to make it personal and commit, learning new tools together, being proud of our common accomplishments and stand up for each other in periods of difficulty, and all of that without having physically met. That I have not expected.

For me it was not so much about the scenarios/problems, but how we managed to solve them and present them to the community. A completely new way of working and clearly a game-changer for me was the smooth transition and good balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication and collaboration. By being 100% remote in this course we had to put in place tools, workflows, and norms for asynchronous communication…asynchronous meaning that we send messages via e.g. Discord without expecting an immediate response. It gave us back control over when to communicate with our teammates. 

Our synchronous – or real-time – communication via regular zoom meetings twice per week was used to re-connect, discuss and identify work tasks, take crucial decisions and speed up the collaboration, not to be productive… A purely synchronous way of working does not really make sense anyhow, as real-time communication generally makes it hard to focus, drains your mental resources, and makes it more challenging to make meaningful progress on work.

 Instead, we went back to the asynchronousway of working by using Canva design, which gave each teammate time to think through a particular problem or idea and provide more thoughtful responses in their own pace. What really pushed commitment and the proud feeling of team effort in the end of each topic was the real-time recording of the asynchronously generated Canva presentation in a synchronous zoom-meeting with voices from all teammates!

Topic 5: Most important things that I have learnt through my engagement in the ONL221 course…