This is the last post in the online network learning (ONL) study program and I will reflect on the course and the learning experience during it.
Coming from a different country the learning/teaching strategies are significantly differnet from the swedish system. In Germany the lectures are seen as a “teazer” and real knolege has to be found in the literature. There is also no specific text book that follows the course. This and the fact that this was my first touch with PBL learning formed a part of my learning experiences. As was the help I needed to render other members of my Pbl group to help them overcome the initial struggle. This really showed the differences in digital literacy. There is a gap in what techniques we would like to use and which we actually have time and the opportunity to use.
My team and I are regulary using the whole suite of google products to prepare and perform experiments. The true realtime interactivity makes this the ideal tool for group work. Despite this I discovered a few more tools during the course. The other suggested tools like padlet and coggle were new to me and it is nice to get pushed into using these novel opportunities. Prezi and other alternative presentation tools I had played with in the past but never used for any serious production. With the limited storage and forced clowd usage in the free versions I struggled to use them for serious production. With ignited interest in this kind of presenting I found a possible alternative in a plugin for inkscape and will strive to use this for future presentations.
Very positive was the direct contact to our facilitator (Lotta). Due to little activity in you Pbl group discussions she provided a significant part of the input and her engagement and dedication has to be highlighted.
A very good part of this course was the exposure to large online learning platforms with its related challenges and solutions. In retrospect the things that stuck in my mind were the technical trick on how to generate content for the course. So how to make an effective online lecture using screen recording or even “recorded paper” techniques. The way how different styles like longer or shorter modules affect the efficiency of the lecture and using the experience of “veterans”. From the concept I personally learned the most of the lectures with a more practical orientation. If this course should be repeated I would recommmend a stronger focus on those sections. Especially with this in mind I would recommend that a strong push from the training teach is made to unify the systems used in Lund and make the training in their usage part of the course. Currently we have more then 8 systems in use (that i used and I heard that 25 are in circulation). I haven’t found any that didn’t contain a significant amount of bugs. Usage of a well established open source system would/could improve this situation. Also make their usage wider spread. This also would have a significant impact on the administration of students and contents. The usage of such a closed system will have additional benefits with respect to copyright questions for teaching and training material.
Due to the differnet interests in the group we struggled to reach the state of a clear discussion. Here some more focused tasks might have been helpful. The problems were very free designed. This could just have been the lack of training in these kind of tasks. Most of our PBL group that were active came from the natural science section. I think the method is very useful during face to face meetings and during meetings with a larger group on hangout. We however rarely reached the critical limit during the hangouts. Despite or maybe because of this the intensity in the discussion was strongly variying with the topic. The most fruitfull debates we had about the questions of open or closed access to the materials combined with the question of copyright. I was happy to see that there is actually a clear and comprehensive ruling on this, which enables us to use copyrighted material for lectures without having to ask for permission all the time if the material is only provided to a limited public. With this in mind a closed online learning platform would be very nice. This could also handle the formal requirements for courses and be used in safety training and keeping track of the progress, reducing the workload from non teaching/researching tasks. This might enable a more flexible use of motivation and rewarding schemes too.
During the course I had the possibility to exchange ideas and tricks in one by one conversations. Also here it was realtively clear that the more practical related and clearly defined the tasks were the more discussion and depth was reached during the conversations. The topics here often turned about the very practical problem of motivation and reward of students. One thing i found very intersting is that despite that it appeared very very differnt from the system used in Germany it is essentially the same. But the communication is very different. If a task is seen as mandatory or voluntary.
All in all there were a few very interesting moments in the course and for me the fact that i coudl schedule it freely after my time (I’m a lot on travel) was enabling. I would motivate further courses in this style, with PBL designed for online courses in a style that does not require a presence. I learned a number of interesting new tools and techniques and would like to thank the organizers for this experience.