Topic 5: Reflections on ONL: Balancing Tradition and Innovation in Teaching

Being part of the ONL course has been really eye-opening for me. When I signed up for ONL 241, I was hoping to shake things up a bit and find some new ideas. I felt like I was in a bit of a rut at work. In Topic 1, we talked a lot about how anxiety affects teaching and learning. It was interesting to see that it’s not just me—lots of teachers and students feel the same way. One thing we all agreed on was that we could use more training in digital tools and online teaching. The pandemic didn’t help either, with everyone scrambling to find quick fixes. But being in ONL has been great because it’s given us a chance to really dig into these issues and come up with some creative solutions.

Looking back on my experience in ONL, I’ve realized how important it is to strike a balance between goal-oriented teaching and collaborative learning, especially after diving into Topic 3. Growing up in Sweden, where teamwork is a big deal, I naturally leaned towards a more collective teaching style. But being part of ONL has made me rethink that a bit. While teamwork has its perks, I’ve been reminded of that it’s crucial to take into account individual learning styles and have clear goals for assessment. This has pushed me to rethink how I teach and find ways to blend both collaborative and goal-oriented approaches more clearly. I’m more focused on creating learning spaces where everyone feels included and supported, no matter their learning style.

The part of the course that really opened my eyes though was Topic 2. We dove into openness in education and Open Educational Resources (OER), which made me see just how crucial accessibility and inclusion are in making education fairer. It got me thinking deeply and led me to rethink my perspective. Before this, I naturally knew about open-access resources and the unequal access to education worldwide, but the course gave me a fresh perspective and made me question my old ideas.

The conversations and tasks in Topic 2 shed light on the different aspects of openness in education, showing how it can help level the playing field and empower learners from all walks of life. Exploring Open Educational Resources (OER) was a real eye-opener for me. It made me realize the importance of making educational materials available to everyone, regardless of where they are, how much money they have, or their educational background. This new understanding has inspired me to bring more open educational practices into my teaching. I’ll try to create a more inclusive learning space by using OER in my teaching materials and embracing open teaching methods. My goal is to give more people access to education and help them succeed academically, not just to my students, but to the world.

All in all, Topic 2 really changed my perspective on openness in education and motivated me to take real steps toward making education more accessible and inclusive in my own teaching. It made me rethink how I teach and reminded me to focus on creating environments where everyone feels welcome and valued, regardless of their background.

Besides the course material, what really stood out for me was the experience in PBL Group 2. I’ve never been in such a well-coordinated and enriching collaborative environment before. Our teamwork was seamless, and our PBL sessions were both productive and fun. Almost everyone showed up for every meeting – it felt like it mattered to all of us to connect and contribute. I’m really happy about how well we all clicked and plan to stay in touch even after the course wraps up.

Based on what I’ve learned in ONL, I’m planning to make changes to my teaching approach. The fast adoption of technology, some driven by Covid, has changed how we teach and learn, making online education more common. But in the midst of all this change, I’m reminded how crucial it is to hold onto the personal touch in teaching and to keep those human connections alive. I want to be more open to new ideas and technologies, while still keeping that human touch. I’ll be focusing on creating a more collaborative and inclusive classroom, where everyone’s voice is heard and at the same time see what I can do when it comes to the work towards opening up to the world. Thank you, ONL!

Topic 4. Mastering the Blend: Navigating AI Integration in Education

In 2015, I was hired as a lecturer in Swedish and Danish at UCLA. UCLA had long struggled with low enrollment in courses for less commonly taught languages and needed to find ways to reach more students. I was employed to open up the classroom at UCLA to all students within the University of California system. The goal was to have live lessons at UCLA with students on screens from all over California – blended synchronous classes. In building this, my team and I worked extensively with the Community of Inquiry framework. We placed a lot of emphasis on having a logical structure using a clear LMS (Canvas) (Cognitive Presence), regular lessons several times a week (Teacher Presence), and strategies to make all students feel part of the same group (Social Presence). We worked on the room layout so that the screen where distance students were located would be naturally placed around the table to include them in the classroom. We positioned the camera so that it was directed from the screen so that all students felt they had eye contact and were truly looking at each other. We worked a lot on sound and internet connectivity to ensure there would be no delay in conversation – all to create a completely natural environment for all students where everyone felt included on equal terms.

I have thought a lot about that time while working on topic 4. So much has happened and so much development has taken place since then. First, we had Covid, which forced everyone to learn how to use the tools we were trying to teach students to use in 2015, and suddenly it was not strange or difficult to have lessons via Zoom or Teams, and it was obvious for all teachers to use the university’s LMS in a logical and clear way (well, most of them at least). Then came AI and became a natural part of everyone’s life. If we had started the course redesign at UCLA now instead of in 2015, it feels like it would have been a walk in the park. So many obstacles are gone, and students and teachers are much more accustomed to working online and blended.

During the work on topic 4 in my PBL group, we have focused a lot on the integration of Gen AI into teaching and on how to balance its use, without losing focus on the Community of Inquiry framework. There are many factors that need to come together to create a good learning environment. From all I have read about the area and from the experience I have of using this in my own teaching, there is one thing that stands out as the most important one regarding this balance: Preserving humanistic teaching approaches and prioritizing human connections are essential for a balanced approach to AI integration in education.



Cleveland-Innes, M. & Wilton, D. (2018):

Nufer, Sean (2003), blogpost:

Topic 3: Balancing Act: Navigating Goal-Oriented and Collaborative Approaches in Education

Reading the texts and participating in the group meetings during Topic 3 has been somewhat of a journey for me. I’ve had to rethink a lot about my own approach to learning. I’ve read that many teachers tend to reuse the teaching style of their own teachers (Bernstein 2000). A teacher who had teachers with a goal-oriented approach during their own schooling will likely tend to use this approach themselves. I spent a large part of my schooling in 1980s Sweden. Much of my education consisted of group work. I didn’t receive grades until eighth grade. A great deal of my schooling had a collaborative approach, albeit without much focus on process and development. I have vivid memories of some students doing all the work and many others going through the entire schooling as freeloaders.

Now that I am a teacher myself, I am torn when it comes to the different approaches. I believe it is important to have a collaborative approach and for students to develop and learn beyond goals and deadlines. I don’t think it’s fair for everything to be about grades and measurable results, but there aren’t really any courses that allow for this type of learning 100%. Grades must be assigned, individual assessment must be made, and there must be clear and measurable goals for the course. All goals should be clearly stated in the course syllabus, all grades should clearly describe how they are given, how they are measured, and what is required. But I also don’t want to repeat my own schooling experience and the injustice of the group being responsible for work that only a few had done.

In my PBL group, we joked that it was funny that I, as a Swede, was the moderator for this topic: Swedes are known to be typical collaborators and really like the collaborative approach in all situations. It’s not wrong, hahaha. It’s truly a society permeated by these thoughts. However, it’s not always easy to make it work in a learning situation and for all students. I guess it’s all about balance. There must be a balance between goal-oriented and collaborative-oriented approaches and when to use them. And one must carefully consider which parts of the course align with what. And one must carefully consider how to assess the students. If you have these things in mind when planning your course, I believe you have a greater chance of success.



Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: theory, research, critique. Oxford; Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Ringer, M, Gordeon, R. & Vandenbussche, B. (2022). Ogniting the collective spark: The relevance of thinking together. IN: The collective spark: Igniting thinking in groups, teams and the wider world. (pp 8–21). Grafische Cel.

Cultivating Open Minds: Unveiling the Power of Education and Democracy

Working with topic 2 has definitely been an eye-opener for me. As I wrote in my previous blog post, I entered this course with quite a bit of confidence and the belief that I had a pretty good grasp of the subject matter. In our group work, we chose to focus on the definition of openness – there were several different definitions depending on the type of educator and the type of institution they worked in. Within the realm of openness, we decided to delve into OER, Open Educational Resources. The biggest takeaway for me from this work is how vital openness in education is for democracy. Here we are in Sweden with our super-fast internet connection and our university education funded by taxpayer money, and we may think that openness isn’t so great for the quality of education or for our brand, or because we can’t control dissemination, or because we might make money by selling our courses, or…

That education is something everyone is entitled to and something we can all help facilitate is a given. I have realized that I need to make more effort in this regard. There is a lot that can be done to open up more at universities. It’s so easy to start from oneself and one’s own circumstances, but if everyone strives for inclusion and accessibility, we will have a much fairer situation.

I was very uninformed about things like Creative Commons before starting topic 2, but with the help of my group members, I now know much more about both the advantages and disadvantages of this. I will definitely delve much deeper into the subject and see what it could mean for me in the future.

Overall, the work in my group and with topic 2 has been very rewarding, and I have learned a lot, both about myself and about openness in education in general.

Digital Renaissance: From Anxiety to Adventure in Education’s New Frontier

Even though I may be the most experienced at my workplace when it comes to working with online courses and digital tools, I have still embarked on ONL 241. I signed up for the course because I felt I needed inspiration and started to feel a bit stuck in my thinking and in my approach to work. It was truly the right choice! We have completed topic 1, and it has been a great journey.

I am part of a PBL group with a lot of energy and incredibly nice people. We come from different parts of the world and have completely different experiences of the digital world connected to teaching and students. During our first work, we talked a lot about anxiety in various forms, both how it is present in teachers, students, and at an institutional level. We delved into what the problems consisted of and concluded that they existed at different levels depending on whether the problem was experienced by students, teachers, or the institution. However, we could all agree that a common denominator for everyone was the feeling that there was not enough training when it came to digital tools, creating online courses, and living as a teacher or student in the digital world. We could also agree that there was a lack of continued support for both teachers and students.

We were all forced into various digital solutions during Covid, so more or less everyone associated with universities has a lot of experience. But all the solutions that emerged during that period came quickly and were often makeshift. There was no time to do anything properly, and there were no opportunities to delve into different ways of working. When the more acute situation with Covid was over, everyone felt so relieved to return to the usual way of working. I get the feeling at my workplace that anything related to digitalization is associated with the difficult years during Covid, and it is difficult to implement new technology because of these negative feelings.

During topic 1, our group has truly had the opportunity to explore our fears but also the incredibly many solutions available. I look forward to continuing to work within this course and continue exploring different aspects of digitalization in relation to teaching.