THE final reflection. Part 1… or the case of the AWOL muse



Writing this is a bit of a weird experience. Unlike the other entries, the thoughts for this one have been floating in my head for quite some time, and whenever I sit to type, the ideas simply stay stuck. Inspiration, where ar’thou? It’s like my muse for writing has just gone AWOL after an exhausting week.

As my awesome ten potatoes know by now, I’m finalizing my PhD, which means I’m amidst the write up of my last article (an empirical study so complex that I’ve been wishing I stuck to quantitative methods), developing the first draft of the thesis – submitted today in the wee hours-, and juggling with other tasks. Among them, organizing two international conferences (due April and July, respectively), preparing two courses for the next term, and, when my husband is away, keeping my 5-yo busy. Yet, amidst this mayhem, I started to look forward to the bi-weekly meetings that gave me a space to do something different, nonetheless connected to most of my current activities. And as the course went by, the content revealed itself as connected to my previous activities too. It was a bizarre feeling to look back and go “aha!” about things I experienced so long ago. Somehow many things that I did ad-hoc back then started to make a different sort of sense.

One of the reflections I wanted to share with my group before my internet played mean was how I usually try to find a “great” and “could be improved” side to every experience I partake of. For ONL, most of my “could be improved” related to the execution rather than the content – and by execution, I mean the amount of time I consumed and, sometimes, the lack of access to recorded material, than the interaction with my group members. I don’t know if interacting with other groups more actively would have changed something but merging with the potatoes certainly took the experience to a different level, and I mean it positively.

Anyway, back to the actual “critical reflection” this entry is requested to be, I’m putting into practice some of the tricks we discussed during the webinar for creative writing, getting started answering the questions, setting pomodoros, and seeing where this takes me to. So, buckle up; this entry is already profiling to be long, so kudos to anyone who manages to go through it, extra points to whoever succeeds to find (and solve) the hidden riddle.

  • What are the most important things you have learned through your engagement in the ONL course? Why?

Starting with the resident-visitor content is a great way to kick off this course. After the first lessons, I was still mulling over how our digital lives are shaped and to what extent we still have control over them. I won’t rant about how I was kind of forced to create a Google Scholar account or keep Linked In when I wanted to steer clear of all social media; the bottom line is that, as an introduction, this is a great eye opener that helps to set the tone for the course, and, in my case, pique my curiosity about where this journey would take us to.

I must reckon that some elements of the course’s first part, particularly the content related to copyright and privacy, were issues I’ve been dealing with for a long time (see pizza entry). As I was reading material for that session, and, bearing in mind my insane to do list, I entreated the thought of dropping out. I mean, nobody asked me to join this course, it is not mandatory for any of my activities, so… why was I adding more load to my ship when I could barely keep it afloat? It was during one of our PBL conversations, when the digital seesaw came to life, that a “click” snapped and made me realize what I chance I’d be missing if leaving at that point. Yes, some things were familiar, but as I realized, my knowledge of them was shallow and pretty narrow. Hence, one of my main takeaways from my engagement in this course, is that there’s always a chance to go deeper, and that to do so, you need to really listen to what others say and take some time to go through the material provided for the course, but also suggested by the facilitators, speakers, and peers. At the tender age of 87, good ol’ Michaelangelo said, “I am still learning,” which pretty much summarizes the most important things I learned in the past weeks. I am sure that a couple of weeks, months from now, more and more things will start falling into place, as right now, I’m still a bit like Alice after getting inside the rabbit hole, and it is difficult to grab on to something before finding something else coming my way.

  • How will your learning influence your practice?

The question is how my learning will NOT influence my practice? Let’s face it, this influence is already happening as I’m finalizing the preparations for the course kicking off the coming January. We’re planning for a hybrid course, with yours truly as the responsible for the online interactions. I am still unsure about how this will work out but, as I corroborated throughout this course, everything will be alright – and even better now that I have more tools and idea of what we can ask the students to do, how the group can interact online as a complement of their in-person interactions, how can I be there while… not being physically there. Wait… why am I saying this out loud? after all, didn’t Dali note that the secret of its influence is that it remained a secret?

  • What are your thoughts about using technology to enhance learning/teaching in your own context?

Technology has been around to enhance my learning pretty much since I started middle school – of course, the level of sophistication that we have today is light years away from the days I was meant to learn how to type and change the ink cartridges of a typewriter, a modern-age form of torture disguised as a vital skill, after all “the typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano when played by a sister or near relation.” (Oscar Wilde) Luckily, that phase lasted less than three months because soon after, I had my own computer at home, and we were meant to learn how to program in Turbo Pascal using wonderful 385 PCs.

The pandemic made me introduce my 3-year old to the world of mobile apps, with the result that she learned how to trace letters and developed many other skills using my iPad. Needless to say, I keep learning how to use technology to both teach and keep learning. Did I mention I’m part of a research group that primarily explores interactive technologies? While I’m not really into the whole programming for VR / AR, wearable development, and playing with creepy headless robots (see Boston Dynamics “spot”, my faculty’s new pet), I do rely on technology for all my interactions with students, colleagues, and my personal research. Let’s not forget I’m based in Germany working for a Finnish university, I sit on the board of an organization based in the US, and, well… it doesn’t make sense to go any further on this, or?

  • What are you going to do as a result of your involvement in ONL? Why?

Good question, why did I invest 127.34 hours (and counting) on this course if I didn’t think I’d get something out of it?

  • What suggestions do you have (activities and/or in general) for the development of eLearning in your own teaching or context?

…to be continued


4 responses to “THE final reflection. Part 1… or the case of the AWOL muse”

  1. First things first, congratulations on getting that first draft done! That is no small feat. The end is in sight, and what a sense of freedom you will feel once things do start falling into place. That isn’t to say you will be any less busy, you’ll just feel like you have control over everything you’re doing.

    I have always been told that if you want something done, you must ask a busy person.

    It has been interesting to go through your reflections and see how they culminate in this final reflection (even though I am reading the incomplete version) – I find myself in agreement with the challenges you raised throughout, and appreciate the insights that you have given. I will check in again for the updates at another stage 🙂

  2. Thank you Ginnie,
    It is always fun to read your posts. They take me on a journey of unspecified destination, but still keep me focused on the aspects lifted. As with all courses I am involved in, ONL gives opportunities to start thinking about things, rather than closing subjects. In an answer in another blog I pointed out that I think ONL is not what you get out of it, but what you make out of it. Your reflexivity regarding how to use whatever is learnt in various contexts, from work to family, warms my heart.

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