My starting point for this «online learning»-journey

In this first blog post, I would like to investigate my own starting point at this very beginning of the course. What are my expectations at the start of this «online learning»-journey?

Two things come to mind:

First, for my part I expect the most valuable aspect of the course will be to have the student’s perspective of online learning. What’s it like to take part in an online course? Is it possible to work well together when we are not going to meet (physically)? How do we work together using digital tools? What obstacles might students face when it comes to online learning? And what are the advantages of online learning compared to traditional face-to-face meetings?

Second, I expect to go outside of my comfort zone!

To me there are several barriers associated with this online learning process:

  • Technology

    • I am one of those persons who get annoyed and helpless when the printer does not work, and I am not confident that I have the basic skills needed to attend an online meeting with both a working microphone and webcam. Where to get technical support when you are «sitting alone»?
  • Digital tools

    • I have never used Adobe Connect nor blogged, I rarely even update my Facebook account. Starting to use such tools constitutes a big change, leaving one in a way more exposed than usual. The blog has the entire world as an audience, meetings in Adobe Connect might be recorded and the webcam shows a close-up of your face – which might leave you with the feeling of «putting yourself out there».
  • Communication

    • My everyday working life is based on face-to-face meetings in Norwegian, so the transition to online meetings in English is perceived as quite huge. I am both curious and jittery when it comes to the communication part. Will we be able to communicate well digitally? What will it be like to follow the conversation with the technical barrier and when so much of the non-verbal communication is not conveyed? How is communication even carried out in a digital environment?

Lessons learned at this point, there might be several obstacles to overcome for students to get started with online learning; ranging from minor challenges (e. g. get the microphone working) to overcoming the threshold of being exposed and worries regarding communication. Teachers planning to introduce online learning might benefit from being aware of these (and other) obstacles.

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11 thoughts on “My starting point for this «online learning»-journey

  1. Diane Pilkinton-Pihko

    Thanks for sharing! Like you, I’m also taking this course as a reminder of what it’s like to be a student working in an online environment. It’s certainly been an awakening – at least I felt pretty overwhelmed in the first week with all the different tools that we need to use in this course. Learning to bookmark the essential pages helped, but still the navigation at times seemed tricky. Anyway, this experience has helped me to realize that I should allot more time to students for leaning the online environment in which they will need to work in the online courses that I’m developing. Having online meetings for getting acquainted is also a nice way to start, if a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible.

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  2. Really intriguing reflexion of your experience of the start of this course! It actually mirrors several of mine fears as well, especially the barriers. In today’s digital society the capability of being digitally literate is becoming more and more important for everyday tasks, including our work. Somehow we need to understand how to communicate our knowledge as teachers and mentors to the students. This is an excellent opportunity for us to consider the obstacles when we put ourselves in their position.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback, Lilijana. I like that you remind us all that the new digital society affects teaching, as well as everyday tasks. The use of digital tools can enhance learning for the students, but also the other aspects of the work (coordinating with colleagues, meetings, planning, co-writing…).

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  3. Geir Haugland

    I wholeheartedly believe that immersing yourself in the relatively new field of online only learning from the perspective of an educator will be most beneficial for you in your career.

    I am beside myself with anticipation; patiently awaiting your next article. Perchance you will dazzle us with a harrowing first-hand account about the importance of regular back-ups? Or maybe you will delve deep into video-chatting technologies, debating the relative merits and disadvantages with each. Personally, I am very interesting in hearing your thoughts on a paid business version of skype vis-a-vis the readily available messenger video chat features, with regards to latency, quality, and stability.

    Or a thorough explanation as to why you chose a name for your blog that is nigh-on ineligible for most search engines. A quick google search, even after I’ve visited this domain, provided this: https://goo.gl/ogpokr

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    1. Thank you for your enthusiastic comment, Geir. Unfortunately, my next blog post will neither dazzle with insight on the importance of back-ups nor video-chatting. It will, however, explain the challenge of knowing where to look when you take part in an online meeting!

      To your last question – I have to admit that I did not even think about making my blog “searchable” on Google. I am still insecure about exposing myself online and I do not have a desire to attract as many readers as possible. Perhaps I still find it challenging to get in a residential/institutional mode? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPOG3iThmRI&feature=youtu.be

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  4. Thanks for posting your feelings about the start of the course. It will interesting to see how your thinking develops over the course related to tech, tools or communication. How do you see this after the first webinar, and after the first week within your PBL course? Your lessons learned were very familiar, indeed it is crucial to understand how students might feel when we as teachers are planning digital courses. Thanks, looking forward to discuss more over the course.

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    1. Thank you for your nice comment, Tomi. The couple of weeks have been an interesting journey to me – I have overcome some barriers and encountered some new ones. Perhaps what has struck me the most is how vital it is to experience online learning first hand. Before the course started I read about online learning, but I really did not have a clue about what it was like until I joined the webinars and connected to my PBL-group. What are your experiences from the first two weeks?

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  5. What an interesting blog – you really red my thoughts. There are lot of challenges in this online course, but hopefully not barriers, like language, technology and even tight timetable. As a teacher it´s good to be in this student role.

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  6. ulf olsson

    Nice blog! And it will be very interesting to follow your journey in a student role, and how you overcome the barriers that you describe. By this first blog post you have taken one step…

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    1. Thanks, Ulf!

      Before the first meeting in the PBL group I was worried that I would not magnate to connect to the online meeting room with a working microphone and webcam. To my great surprise this turned out to be quite easy, and I suddenly found myself present in an online meeting. Of course straight after I had joined the meeting I encountered another challenge with using digital tools, which you can read about in my next blog post.

      But what I belive to be important is that you get take these small steps out in the digital world, and acquire positive experiences along the way (yes, I managed to connect!!!) and gradually overcomes more and more barriers.

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