Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Concluding week – ONL future perspectives

By Learning you will teach...by teaching you will learn!

Since most of the participants of ONL151 are academic practitioners, I can say that this course made us realized that by learning we can teach and by teaching we also learn a lot of things. In fact, the course was designed properly that made us experience how to become a student and enhance our teaching skills as well. With the aid of all the digital tools, activities and suggested readings and resources upgrades my own teaching skills.

Well, enrolling in ONL151 is a remarkable experience for me because I was given a chance to work with people whom I do not know personally in the beginning of the course but end up collaborating with them to perform different tasks needed for the course. Working with new acquaintances is a bit difficult but if you will just be cooperative and do your assigned tasks, everything will be alright, not to mention the assistance and support of the facilitators. Honestly, I found it hard to interact in the beginning because I was hesitant to express my ideas and experiences but little by little, I became more comfortable working with other members of my own group.


Thru this collaboration, I can say that I gained a lot of new knowledge especially the Swedish culture, new trends in teaching (teaching pedagogy) and different tools that are very useful in developing and enhancing my teaching resources for online courses. I will definitely use the different tools that were introduced in this course like padlet, coggle, google+, prezi, google hangout etc. to enhance my teaching skills and encourage students to participate in our online learning lessons.  Using Creative Commons is also a good idea that is very useful for setting what rights the owner allows to a user. Technology indeed is a powerful tool to enhance learning/teaching because it encourages people to participate in different activities using different digital tools. For me, it is like "edutainment", you are learning but at the same time you do not feel bored because you are entertained with different features these tools are offering. 

I guess the outline of ONL course is almost perfect, I was glad to learn and use the tools being introduced in this course but I guess the most important is the collaboration, on how the group work together to reflect and make presentation. Though most of us were busy with our own obligations, still we were able to manage to produce an output every week.

I can conclude that the ONL course was almost designed perfectly and for the future perspective in E-learning in general I would like to suggest conducting quality assessment in all important aspects of E-learning implementation from assessing the readiness state of students, teachers, administration and facilities before the implementation of E-learning to the assessment of the result or impact to the all the participants. Sometimes the participants are not aware about the correct practice of E-learning, most of the times they are still adapting the traditional classroom set up of being very dependent to the teacher. They just simply thought of it like a very flexible environment where all you need to know is how to use the internet to gain the knowledge they want. In fact, self-independence is one of the most important attributes of the participants to learn and maximize the use of course resources. On the other hand, the assessment of the impact of it's application is also a good practice to determine if the services being offered are in use.

Last but not the least...I wan to congratulate all the organizers of ONL151 course who made this course possible and interactive. Hope to participate in your future online courses...Lycka till!

References:

http://www.emsb.qc.ca/royalvale/library/index.asp
http://tccl.rit.albany.edu/knilt/index.php/Writing_Instruction_using_Computer-Supported_Collaborative_Learning

Monday, June 15, 2015

Topic 6: Designing Learning Environments

Design is not what it looks but how it works....

from: http://www.evolllution.com/distance_online_learning/massive-open-online-learning-creativity-and-competency/

Of all the topics in this course, I can say that Topic 6: Designing Learning Environments is the most interesting topic for me because designing in general is not an easy task to do, you have to bring out the creativity in you without loosing the real content of what the subject matter is. What more in designing learning environments which is actually the foundation of learning and the encouragement of students to actively participate in the course? But what is a good design or shall we say how can we measure if an online course is properly designed or not? A lot of models and frameworks are available but the question is what fits the most or what is the most effective among them?

I agree with Professor Gilly Salmon on her interview about "Scaffolding for Online Learning" where it necessary to help students gradually engage with online learning, which acts as a design tool and a guide for the student, and the actual framework of how to take part with others to share knowledge. I guess the biggest challenge here is how to design a model or a framework that will encourage students to participate and make them realize that online leaning is all about collaboration with others rather than sitting remotely. 

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, at first I was really hesitant to actively participate since I was ashamed to share my own thoughts because I came from different culture. I was thinking that the others might not like what I am going to say or share to the community or the group. It is a good thing that ONL151 course is designed to encourage participants to express their own selves.  Gradually, I became more comfortable participating in the group chat, meetings, webinars etc. Honestly, the feeling of "belongingness" from the group is one of the factors that made me stay in the course with the support and appreciation of other members and facilitator especially Anne Norling and Alastair Creelman gave me the motivation to pursue the course. 

The 7C's of Learning Design by Gráinne Conole is a useful guide in designing Online course because teachers make design decisions that are pedagogically effective and make appropriate use of digital technologies. In addition, it also helps teachers to make their designs explicit through visualization for them to be shared and discussed with others. 
I think, this will be great help for me to design more structured learning environments and enhance my existing resources as well. With all the suggested models, frameworks and pedagogical patterns being suggested, I can just explore depending on who will be my students and their learning objectives or the skill they need to acquire.

After the theoretical aspect of designing learning environment, I guess the other factor we can consider is our own initiatives as a teacher or shall we say the other side of being a teacher which is the dedication. In Osmond Simpson's paper about "Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?", motivating people is a good thing to do to encourage them to become active learners. I agree on what he stated in his paper that most educators would agree on the central importance of motivation to a learner's success and a learner who is fully motivated will overcome barriers of situation and time, find ways of developing appropriate skills and be able to deal with the stress of study with very little extra external support which results to an independent learner. Base on my own point of view, a regular and personal communication will help to keep students involved. Proper or tactful way of giving feedback based on their assigned tasks or activities will also encourage them to work well and participate.

Well, a lot of techniques are being suggested in designing learning environments that will be useful to the teachers/designers, they just have to fit it on the needs of the learners.




References:

  1. Conole, G. (2015). The 7Cs of Learning Design. Download as PDF (In press).
  2.  Simpson, O. (2008). Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?. Open Learning23(3), 159-170. Available here.
  3. Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (pp 419-439). Athabasca University Press. Available here.






Friday, June 12, 2015

Topic 5: Open Educational Practices

Beyond Open Access...


Oasis in the middle of Sahara Desert - My Sahara desert adventure FEB2011
When I started checking the suggested readings and resources for Topic 5: Open Educational Practices from ONL151 course main site, the term "resilience" from Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013) got my first attention. Aside from it sounds good to my ear :) I guess, resilience in general means the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and I think that is really positive when it comes to education. Perhaps, digital resilience will be a big factor to achieve the life-long learning process since a lot of people are trying to contribute in the innovation of education.
Well, I can say that Open Educational Practices (OEP) is a good and beneficial because it supports the generation and use/resuse of high quality Open Educational Resources (OER) governing policies,promoting advanced pedagogical models and empowering students to become co-contributors of their life long leaning path. Students can actually benefit from different leaning resources to enhance and support different learning techniques. On the other hand, teachers may value online resources to enable them to enrich theirs students learning experience that spending time developing their own resources. 

On my own experience, developing materials is a tedious task since you are not just focusing on the content itself but also the proper structure and design. Most especially I am very careful in using materials available on the web because of the integrity of the data being written and the different policies that I might accidentally disregarded. In fact, I was so happy to know more about "Creative Common" from this course especially those videos that Alastair Creelman shared to the community. Honestly, I am not really familiar with it before though I always see the logos in different resources. I just thought of it like a designing company protecting their rights on their own resources. Surprisingly, I learned more and found it very useful in sharing resources freely and protect the copyrights of my resources to prevent duplication.

I guess one of the challenges of OER/OEP is the level of openness, how open the resources should be? When I was working with my dissertation proposal, I saw a lot of good papers that will be helpful to my studies, however, it will end up like a teaser to subscribe and avail the unlimited resources they have. They will often give you different plans to choose from that will start from being a free member with very limited access to the unlimited accept subscription that will cost you money but you can enjoy all the resources they have. Well, it is disappointing that education nowadays are more on business based that contradicts the idea from being really OPEN. When I was still teaching in Libya, I cannot find ways of enhancing my career so I decided to enroll in Alison.com and other sites offering MOOCS like Udemy, Coursera, Linda etc. and so far I only finished one and until now I was not able to get the certificate yet.

The way I see it, MOOC courses is advisable to ordinary students of shall we say beginners instead it is more favorable to working professionals who wants to enhance their career and broaden their knowledge in their own field of expertise but no time to attend the traditional classroom settings. They can save their own money and time studying wherever it is comfortable for them.

Where should I go from here?

Well, now that I have learned a lot from ONL151 course, I should start enhancing my resources and apply what I have learned and share my presentation in SlideShare, make a video recording of my own lectures and make it available on the web for the students who are interested to learn, completely for free. Perhaps, I should also start adapting different licensing Creative Commons are providing for my resources protection as well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Topic 4: Reflection for Flexible & Mobile Learning

Learning that Matches your Lifestyle....

     picture of my old laptop way back 2009 at Misurata University, Libya with roses given by a student
As an educator, everytime I heard flexible learning I always think of it as learning that matches your lifestyle. Before, we have to adjust and find time to go to school but now it became a business-based that the students are being considered as customer where they can learn with their own free will. 

When I was trying to look for some resources to contribute in our PBL Group discussion about how to design flexible learning to make people happy and comfortable, I found an interesting article that catches my interest  in relation to flexible learning. Though the article is not recently published, I really like the way the author represents her own framework for flexible learning. It is like making the term "flexible learning" easier to understand.

In the article “Growing Knowledge: How to Support Collaborative Learning e-Discussions in Forum Systems” by Eva Rydberg Fåhræus, she compared learning into gardening where she stated that “Gardening is a fruitful metaphor for learning and teaching”. Just as a gardener would be acting foolishly if he were to try to affect the growth of a plant by directly tugging at its roots with his hands from underneath the plant, so is the teacher in contradiction with the essential nature of education if he bends all his efforts at directly influencing the student.(Vygotsky, 1926/1997, p. 49).   So just like gardeners.  sometimes they need to use a stick to support a plant or an automatic irrigation system to create a fertile environment in their gardens, teachers can be helped by information and communication technology (ICT) to create a stimulating and effective learning environment and best way to do that is to implement flexible learning.

flexible learning framework
Since most of the participants in our PBL group 4 are teachers and majority are not yet familiar in implementing flexible learning, the framework that was proposed in this article can be a good start point to familiarize flexible learning. As the author discusses, when we plan for a flexible course, we normally have a group of students who want to learn something, we have the content, and the course is to be arranged within a certain organization. If we do not have the students from the beginning, we normally have an idea about which category of students we aim at. Therefore, the students, the content, and the organization form the prerequisites for the planning of the course. Depending on these prerequisites, we choose a pedagogic approach, and technology to support our work and the learning process.

I believe that flexibile learning lies within a good framework to make it more effective, if and only if the framework is being applied properly. Based on experience I can say that sometimes the word flexible is being abused by the participants of flexible learning that results to non-compliance of requirements on time and causes burden to the teachers. Thru this maybe we can ask, how can we measure flexibility? Until what extent a learning can be flexible? I can say that no matter how good the course plan is or how complete the resources is but if the students are not using it, therefore, still no value is in use. Hmmm....I guess a good question here can be how to implement freedom with bounderies?