What are the most important things that you have learnt through your engagement in the ONL course? Why?
During the course, I have developed towards being more patient and more open. During the first frustrating weeks, I needed to cope with the situation that the course experience had not launched as I envisioned (I had so many other things to do, I found some of the first meetings chaotic and hectic, I felt there were lots of expectations towards me but I felt I lacked support, etc. – see my post on Week 2). I needed to decide whether I wanted this course or not, and why. Finally, I decided I stay because the topics looked interesting to me and I started feeling good in my PBL group.
I have also developed my interaction skills in a new group. Building collaboration with randomly grouped new people, and meeting them only virtually has been quite an exceptional experience to me. I think Zoom and WhatsApp worked very well as means of communication, I have enjoyed being part of this group. I will miss my PBL members, I think 🙂
Obviously, I have developed in using some digital tools, and I have extended and systematized my theoretical and practical knowledge, as I targeted. Concerning technical tools, there was not much completely new to me: I have seen Prezis in several conferences, my students submit assignments which are created in Coggle, so maybe only iCloud Keynote was the only tool I had no idea about before (see our submission on Topic 1).
I felt the most enthusiastic about our Prezi on Openness and Sharing (and, mysteriously, I happened to have quite a lot of time to work on that…). I read a lot of pieces of literature and built quite complex ideas concerning opening up a closed course which is one of my work challenges at the moment (you can read my related post here). With my colleagues, I will also present the topic at a conference on teacher education (title of our poster: Everyday Creativity: Lessons Learnt from Transforming an In-Service Teacher Education Course to Open Educational Resource, authors: Tamás Péter Szabó, Gomathy Soundararaj and Tea Kangasvieri), so the course has also contributed to my academic research.
I also found it very useful to elaborate on the practical challenges and some solutions of collaboration. I worked especially on the subtopic of forming groups because that’s what I feel the most challenging in my everyday teaching, especially if I work with groups of exchange students where fluctuation of members is pretty fast. I think our PBL Coggle presentation is a good one as it summarizes main entry point from which to think about collaboration. Coggle has not been the most perfect tool, though, especially not the free version which has some shortcomings in visualizing data. However, we still decided to use the same tool for our Topic 4 presentation as well, which was about design principles and good practices of online and blended learning. I especially learnt a lot about supporting purposeful inquiry and tutoring groups to reach resolution of the problem they are working on (see my post on the topic).
How will your learning influence your practice?
I think my online and blended teaching practices will be more diverse. I got some hints and tricks from the literature and from group discussions, and will try them out (e.g. I’ll organize virtual office hours and, in general, will emphasize more that I’m available for students outside of the f2f meeting hours as well).
With the help of reflection, I also feel that some of my practices got confirmed; e.g. the importance of organizing online discussions and combined online & f2f reading circles. I think I will search for more information in professional blogs and initiate even more conversation with my colleagues about practicalities and online work organization issues. Usually we speak about content and organizing the f2f sessions, but not much about digital presence or diverse tasks in the learning platform. This semester, I have used my lunch breaks for PBL meetings (thanks to the flexibility and high quality of Zoom mobile app!), and I found the conversations quite inspiring. I think I could invite more colleagues to f2f lunches as well to discuss such issues. There is also a digital tutor service at our university, but I’ve never contacted them. Maybe it’s time to do so!
What are your thoughts about using technology to enhance learning/teaching in your own context?
Well, I’ve written a lot about it in my blog , the most explicitly maybe on Week 3 and Week 4. I think digital technologies are important, we need them, it’s our reality to use them as much as possible, they make it possible to bridge huge geographical distances and make asynchronous work easier, so they in general enhance flexibility. However, I have sensed an uncritical celebration of digital tools from which I’d refrain:
Quite often, it is taken for granted that we need to use IT wherever and whenever to transform interaction but interaction can actually follow quite similar patterns with or without technology, as my own research also shows. I think IT tools provide certain good opportunities but we shouldn’t rely on them too much or blindly. I quite often use ‘offline’ discussions and crafting (gluing, cutting, drawing, etc.) in my university teaching because I found embodied multi-sensory learning can be enhanced by such methods as well. (Quote from my post on Week 3)
In my context (language education), I mainly use digital technology to enhance reading assignments (e.g. reading circles). I also present digital tools to students who then prepare videos and digital stories to summarize their group projects. Collaborative working platforms such as Google services are chosen nowadays rather spontaneously by students.
What are you going to do as a result of your involvement in ONL? Why?
I will spread the word, so I’ll encourage colleagues to take part in ONL. In our PBL, we also discussed that we could still run our WhatsApp group after the termination of this course to exchange ideas. I’m also considering joining the ONL Alumni group to maintain connections with the community, and gain inspiration. Further, as I presented above, I’ll more intensively discuss questions of digital pedagogy at my university and in my professional networks.
What suggestions do you have (activities and/or in general) for development of eLearning in your own teaching or context?
If we receive funding, my colleagues and I would work on a new Erasmus+ project enhancing virtual exchange. It means that students take courses partner universities, but they don’t travel there. It saves time, money, and it is also more environment friendly (lower carbon footprint of education). In the planned project, I’d be part of a working group thinking about how such an exchange would become multilingual (i.e., not English only) and what contents & activities could be developed for language education.
Another option is to join an initiative of my colleague Judit Háhn, who is a specialist in using video conferencing in education, which has a good potential e.g. in language education as well as in promoting intercultural dialogue. Actually, it was Judit who first encouraged me to pre-register to ONL, so thank you, Judit! 🙂
Since I work on the topic of interaction in various (physical) learning environments, I’m interested in virtual collaboration between schools where students could make representations of learning environments (e.g. with 360 degree cameras) and could invite students from other schools to explore such environments (e.g. with VR glasses), and reflect on them. I could use such practices in my Learning environments enhancing student-involving interaction course which has been quite popular and well attended by students from various countries and continents. The course applies a comparative angle (we compare school environments from various education systems and environments created for different age groups and study subjects), so student-made digital representations would open up new possibilities for discussion. Now we read papers and students present photos and report on learning environments in their home countries, but this digital or virtual extension would add an interesting layer of experience.
Most likely further ideas will come to my mind, but I think these three would already keep me quite busy on top of other tasks I have 🙂
Thank you, ONL191 team and PBL13 for an inspiring learning experience!