Monthly Archives: December 2014

Concluding week – future perspectives

The ONL course has (according to my current opinion) fostered an understanding of online learning in it´s higher definition from simple pdf downloads. At least at my programme many teacher would place equal signs beetween e-learning and the use of an LMS full of word processor documents and powerpoint type of files. In my own use I have previously added instructional videos and interactive flash media. As the ONL course has continued It has become more and more apparent that there is much more than that to be utilized. I had made some hurting and crippled attempts in setting up AdobeConnect meetings before this course but was so frustrated by tons of technical issues that I gave up – until now when I have learnt how to schedule and set up Google+ video hangouts (a small step for man – a giant leap for me). I have also learnt to appreciate the value of short instructional videos at a higher level than before. A pretty well packed toolbox has also been presented and a few of those have been very inspiring – diigoo probably most and padlet but many more as well.

I sense that the ONL course will have a major impact on my teaching in the future especially in terms of providing student groups the opportinity to meet with the facilitator online outside of campus. Escpecially handy for periods of extended self study and for the convenience of campus students unable to attend class. Also I might try out some of the collaboration tools prezis and padlets for student use. Need to figure out easy ways to integrate those into our Moodle structure. Im also more inclined to use Mahara as an online portfolio tool for my students to allow students to more easily select materials for presentation against summative assessment and also to provide a way to accommodate an online portfolio across individual Moodle courses.

I’ve always been very keen on using technology in my teaching and the ONL course has offered me some new tweaks that I hadn’t payed any attention to earlier. Most of all I’ve seen the major possibility to use collaborative tools – indeed very interesting.

A specific short term goal is to power up our Moodle page with some better instruments for collaboration – a paddle link maybe Google+ and hangout additions and much more. It would be especially interesting to try out a full scale online sub-course as a replacement to the current blended learning environment.

When I think back on the ONL course and where I learnt the most I end up in the numerous videos, good readings and interesting asynchronous communications. The synchronous tools, however gave me experience on using the tools but theoretical contents probably not so much. I’m therefore still in the mode of thinking where synchronous tools are for planning learning rather than learning per se.

So, in conclusion, I’ve experienced a very intense, content packed, friendly course that has been a great joyful learning experience despite the fact that, at times, time has not been available. Hope that there will be opportunities for future collaborations with the very relaxed, creative, and wonderful PBL peers.

Supportive learning envoironments

Supportive learning environments are very important. With an increasing diversity of students these environments need to accomodate various needs and various learning styles. This is true for online education, as well as blended learning environments and campus courses. In my perspective running a blended learning module support in the online world has posed some specific problems that I’ve yet to solve. More on that below.

Support could be many things. I would foremost think of support as the availability of on demand feedback in relation to intended outcomes (10.1037/0033-295X.100.3.363).  Online, that could mean immediate automated feedback on online quizes (24003913), a route to a mentor, tutor, facilitator when topics are difficult to understand – could be by means of (e-mail) or instant messaging och video calls. The latter is much more time consuming than predefined quiz feedback. Supplementary to that, at least in blended learning, the physical availability of the teacher is valuable so that students can engage in short face to face meetings either for cognitive support and to reassurance or for support in psychomotor skills training (24458338).

Similar support could also be obtained from peers during video-conferences, discussion forums, chats or by formal student-led teaching. Such support seems to function well for learning both for the student “learner” and the student “teacher” (10.2147/AMEP.S14383).

An entirely different kind of supportive environment relates to support in operating the digital tools necessary for engagement in the learning environment. This includes support in setting up tools in one’s own computer in the initial phase of a course or possible also in the pre-admission phase. This requires that the course organizer or individual facilitator collects enough information about and from the new learner on skills (digital litteracy) as well as providing information on prerequisites. During a course such support could include technical support from facilitators participating in video-meetings, by providing instructional videos or even simple FAQ boards.

A third kind is the support needed for dysfunctional online groups. This requires careful monitoring of activities and I would suppose that efficient routines need to be set up to prevent excess in instructor workload.

Finally support also need to be targeted towards specific individual needs such as vision disorders where specific measures are needed. A good webpage on how this can be done is found on American Foundation for the Blind webpage. Screen readers labelling images and typefont sizes are options among others. Color blinds would have difficulties collaborating on shared documents if color is used to identify individual contributors.

In conclusion a supportive environment is a very multifaceted construct where several pieces of the puzzle need to fall in place.

References

Open educational practices

During the past couple of years I have thought much about openness in terms of my own educational resources. From being very protective having everything behind secure passwords I have gradually open up. The way my students, and myself work before and during group meetings depends on availability of online resources. Since the course list provides options rather than necessities in my teaching other resources are crucial. I have thus come to the conclusion that I can’t justify keeping my material hidden if I’m demanding access to others. So, a few years ago I was approached by the local iTunes-U group who needed material to reach a critical mass on the university level. A lecture series was uploaded in this way. So far, I have not faced a situation were I needed to regret this and it has also made my life as a teacher a bit easier. Students have encouraged me to proceed and now everything in my undergraduate teaching is public.

I have been wondering why there is such a general resistance towards this culture of open resources and there are several reasons, in my own domain of medicine, that may be important.

[table]

, Argument, Possible solution

1, Lack of time, Allocation of budget

2, Lack of knowhow, University and/or programme level education

3, Images and resources used are not open resources, Allocation of budget to make own / to find open resources

4, Images of patients may violate legislation, Tricky – photo model contracts for patiens?

5, ‘My material needs to be hidden for pedagogical reasons’ , University and/or programme level education

[/table]

I asked my students to suggest reasons as well and they came to similar alternatives besides the last which probably is a reason only in the head of the teacher. Regardless, they felt it was unacceptable that materials were unaccessible merely because of legislative perspectives patient security (reasons 3 & 4) and that actions need to be taken to resolve this issue. I’m more prone to back up student opinion now than before engaging in the ONL course. The OER Evidence Report 2013-2014 forwarded by Ebba Ossiannilsson provided a reasonable research foundation for continued efforts along this route.

From the experiences of the ONL course so far I see a need for massive education in the use of and creation of open educational resources as well as of online learning pedagogy. I envisage courses and seminars at a faculty and programme level to facilitate the late migration into the new century. Apart from that I also feel that my own teaching is at a major turn at the moment and it’s definitely a feeling i like making it even more fun and challenging to act in undergraduate teaching.