My reflection on online participation and digital literacies

Author: Jan S. Akmal (

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in open networked learning. This course has been hailed as extraordinary by the facilitators. Already living up to its reputation in the first topic, I have started to experience the glimpse of the extra knowledge transcending the ordinary approach to teaching.

Upon reading the scenario presented in topic 1, I could envision myself booting up into this course containing a plethora of digital tools. Here, I must thank my group, in particular the facilitators in keeping me up-to-speed. The scenario represented a good testament to potential experiences that students undergo through different modes of learning in courses within their curricula. Employing the FiSh model (Nerantzi and Uhlin, 2012) collaboratively within my group assisted in collecting and structuring our thoughts and learning process. I found the Visitors and Residents concept (White & Le Cornu, 2011) introduced in the webinar to be a very interesting and effective method of structuring our presence on the web. Not favoring one mode of engagement over the other, the dynamic nature of the concept was particularly appealing in which an individual can be in multiple regimes using even identical platforms. As opposed to being strictly platform specific as one may be inclined to perceive, context and motivation predominate. To focus on our problem context, we created a problem statement and intervened through creating three focus areas — transition from visitors to residents, structural approaches to amplify online participation engagement and sharing, and finally creating online safe spaces. The readership is directed to PBL Group 1 Topic 1 for our main findings.

My group dynamics were smooth, which assisted the evolving behavior of our collaborative inquiry. Consistent feedback from the facilitators ensured that we were moving in the right direction. Though I have been somewhat familiar with problem-based learning, Savin-Baden (2014) added a whole new dimension by classifying problem-based learning approaches according to problem type, form of interaction, knowledge focus, form of facilitation, focus of assessment, and learning emphasis. Following the breakdown, collaborative distributed problem-based learning would potentially be a good fit here. I found author’s arguments of mapping problem-based learning according to theories and activities for new conceptualization of curriculum with pedagogical underpinning as opposed to technology determinism to be highly insightful. The seven elements of digital literacies (Northumbria University on behalf of Jisc., 2014) broadened my understanding of digital behaviors, practices, and identities supported by diverse and evolving technologies. Surprisingly, the landing page for “Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide” in the ONL232 course is hosted on the waybackmachine — an internet archiving portal that stores pages that may not even exist at contemporary times. This has served as invaluable in my past experiences.


Nerantzi, C. and Uhlin, L. (2013). Flexible, Distance and Online Learning (FDOL) FDOL131 – Design.

Northumbria University on behalf of Jisc. (2014, October 11). Developing digital literacies—Jisc infoNet.

Savin-Baden, M. (2014). Using Problem-Based Learning: New Constellations for the 21st Century. The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 25(3 & 4), 197–219.

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday.


Sharon Lau says:

While you acknowledge the myriad of tools and platforms available, what stands out is your emphasis on the underlying principles and conceptual frameworks guiding our digital engagement. It’s evident that you’ve dived deep into the materials and engaged critically with the topic. I particularly appreciated your mention of Savin-Baden’s take on problem-based learning and the seven elements of digital literacies. It’s a refreshing reminder that tools are just facilitators; it’s our approach and understanding that truly define our online experiences. Thanks for sharing, Jan.

Hi Jan, thank you for this insightful reflection. 🙂
I also think that the visitor – residence model is really helpful to map oneself in the digital world. It would be also interesting to see if after this course there is a shift or we would draw the map differently. I am curious about that.

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