When reflecting back on this ONL course during the spring of 2020, it is impossible not to think about the dramatic events in society caused by the Coronavirus and the world wide epidemic with its overall impacts in many areas and the sudden need for online teaching – “emergency remote teaching” rather than designed online course teaching, as someone put it. Strangely enough the sense of being connected to other teachers in different places and countries during this course and being able to follow how everybody coped with sudden change and challenges, served like a red thread and almost had a sense of normalcy to it, since this course was online anyway.
I will never forget that one of my PBL group friends, Osman Kucuk (see his course blog with the wonderful title Learning means happiness), wrote on our group page on the 9th of March, 2020, that he had signed up for this course because he believed online teaching was the “teaching of the future” and he needed to learn more about it. On the 17th of March Swedish universities closed down their campus teaching and went all online. I think many of the participants, including me, had similar motives for signing up and we expected to be able to explore new digital tools in order to design better online courses in the future. But when writing this, we are still teaching and working completely online – it is the technology of now – and we have no idea how long this is going to last.
Perhaps the ongoing crisis helped us to understand one of the key words of the course better, namely networked. This is actually one of my my main insights of the course, which has also been very nicely summarized by another course participant in my group, Lucia, who in her blog post reflected on the fact that the key words “open” and “networked” in this course turned out to be much more important than she had expected – read more on her inspiring blog Lucia’s thoughts while learning @ONL201.
As Lucia states, this course has opened up new teaching sources and showed us not only how to use different technologies, but also how to create interactive course designs with opportunities for sharing thoughts and reflections in new and creative ways. I also very much liked the way this course has given us the opportunities (indeed gently forced us) to collaborate and produce “products”, thereby constantly practising what we are being taught. After having finished the course, we have familiarised ourselves with new tools such as infographs, podcast, goggle sheets, Adobe spark film (a difficult challenge, but so much fun in the end! – see our final video “recipe” here), meme, padlets, and there would be so many more opportunities. The one thing that we did not have to actually learn during the course was how to use Zoom rooms. From the middle of March and onwards we had all probably experienced more “zooming” than all earlier course participants together, for obvious reasons. 🙂 When writing this, I am preparing a working day with at least 3, and probably 4-5 Zoom meetings ….
One thing I personally realised during the course is the fact that all thinkers and teachers have always tried to connect, using whatever technical tools were available. In a Swedish narrative biography on the Renaissance writer and thinker Erasmus of Rotterdam, Gutenberggalaxens nova (2016) by Nina Burton, she states that this prolific and constantly curious writer would have been the greatest blogger in Europe of this time, if he would have had access to today’s blogging opportunities. He wanted to stay constantly connected with friends and readers and so do we. In that sense, I see digital connectedness as a continuation of preceding centuries’ thinking and learning traditions and we will probably see even faster and more efficient tools for exchanging and exploring new thoughts and ideas in the future.
There are probably many reasons why this was a successful learning experience to many of us. One of them was intrinsic motivation caused by external factors as stated initially, I think. But the most important reasons why this is a very good course that I have recommended to several of my colleagues I think are as follow: a) the course is very well planned and has loads of interesting materials that I will continue to explore during quite some time and b) we were connected in our PBL group in a clever and emotionally present way by by our great group facilitator, Alastair Creelman (see his blogs The corridor of uncertainty and Flexspan (the latter one in Swedish and perhaps the only blog on /digital/ education in Sweden?) We discovered the value of digital connectedness by being gradually connected in practice on a smaller scale, realising that this opened up to a whole world of more connections. I also like the idea of stressing the value of creating a personal learning network, which is something I will practice in my own teaching with language teacher students.
It is impossible to summarise all the things I learnt during the course and I really feel this is only the beginning. If I had the time I would re-take the course in order to delve more deeply into the literature and research and learning more from the other participants (see all final tips gathered on the group padlet here), but it is a great gift that the ONL course page is still open and available as a future inspiration learning place. So I would just like to express my thanks to all the course creators and teachers and to all participants! All the best for your future projects and courses and I hope I will meet some of you again.
Burton, Nina: Gutenberggalaxens nova (2016).
Lucia’s blog: Lucia’s thoughts while learning @ONL201
Osman Kucuk’s blog: Learning means happiness