For the second week for the ONL course, we had to put ourselves in the shoes of someone joining an online course for the very first time. The perspective of learning is exciting, but that of having to use unfamiliar online technologies is also slightly scary. This scenario was a well-chosen topic for getting into the course, dealing with excitement, expectation, and difficulties.

I personally have little experience with online courses, however I am really eager to learn. I am not really scared, I am sure that most if not all the online tools we will be introduced to during the course will come with the experience of either the course coordinators, or of the other members of my group. Thus the basic ‘how to use rules’ will be shared and should be easy to assimilate. The real challenge to my opinion will be to discover how these tools could work in my own teaching, try and find how specific aspects of each tool can be useful for me, or in contrary too distracting and/or useless. I will need to identify and learn both the benefits and costs of each tool. I am really eager to learn which tools my group members often use and how.

During the first webinar, the course coordinators used ‘Zoom’. This online meeting platform works very much like ‘Skype’, with which I am very familiar as I use it with my collaborators and my family every week. But the more I use Zoom through the ONL course, the more I think it is a lot better than Skype, as it offers more interesting options. For example: all participants can simultaneously use the video and the chat (skype does as well). Thus, when the speaker asks a question, the other members can simply type their answers, which appear on the side for everyone to see. This way we can ‘hear’ everyone quietly. I have however to criticize this feature: when the amount of people joining the meeting is large, the answers can appear at a speed way too fast for me to focus on a particular long answer. I would then recommend to restrict the use of the simultaneous chat feature for yes/no answer, or for random comments during the meeting, rather than for 70 opinions on a topic at a time. If longer answers are expected, then reduce the amount of people joining the meeting, or use breakout rooms option for discussion in smaller group.

The course coordinators showed us that with Zoom you can break large group into small working groups. I actually love this feature, but I am not quite sure yet how it works… I have not been able to set it up myself yet! So if you read this and know how to set it up, please share it below in the comment section. Those breakout rooms are ideal for discussion on particular topics over a given amount of time. Then longer answers can be given by each members and summarize back to the full group. The coordinators also had some question form ready to fill and again although I yet have no idea of how to set this out, I found it really interesting and inspiring. I can see myself using it with my students.

Although the webinars over Zoom are really interesting and seem to work perfectly fine, our weekly meetings using this platform have not been working as well as I was hoping. This is not due to Zoom, but rather to the fact that all the members of our ONL group are not able to join the weekly meetings simultaneously. This course is based on group work, participation and coordination, and although Zoom makes me feel to be in the same room than my colleagues living in Asia, our schedules and busy lives outside the course have not yet allowed us to find a productive dynamics in the group. I, for example, did not contribute much to the workload this week due to a conference and overlapping teaching duties. Next week will be different, and I hope to be more engage with my learning experience within ONL191.

Zoom in the IT world