Journey’s End? Far From It!

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A world of Lord of the Rings…” by Dirk Förster is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.”
 ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

So I have been reflecting a fair bit as we complete ONL171, and this quote really struck a chord. Even as the course draws to an end, the adventure itself (in networked and open learning) has only just begun; having had the opportunity to participate in the course and been introduced to such rich material, the least I can do is carry on exploring and learning, and share stories of my “learning adventures” in this space, so to speak.

So what treasures have I managed to amass along this ONL171 journey? To address this, I will take key points from the infographic that my wonderful PBL1 group members  and I put together for this concluding topic:

  • Topic I: Online Participation & Digital Literacies. We were introduced to the concept of digital identities, and I gained a better understanding of what my own digital identity was, especially its fluid nature and how it could be situated on various points of the digital resident-visitor continuum (White & Le Cornu, 2011), depending on our online habits and needs at any particular time. I also learnt about digital literacies  and the various models which attempt to encapsulate it (Tyner, 1998; Wheeler, 2010). More than just being adept at posting on one’s Facebook page, having digital literacy was also about being equipped with a litany of skills (social media and transliteracy skills) and habits (maintaining privacy, being able to create/organise/share and reuse/repurpose content) which you may otherwise not need in a purely brick-and-mortar world.
  • Topic 2: Cultivating Openness in Learning. As we progressed onwards into the course, we learnt about the various approaches and attitudes towards openness, and how the reciprocal nature of open learning can enrich both educators and learners. Yet. even as we gain from the “gift economy”-like benefits of open education resources, we also discussed and considered the ethics surrounding the sharing of information. More importantly, we also discussed the habits/skills that students require in order to thrive in an massive and open learning environment, and the necessity of putting in clear scaffolding strategies, including feedback, counselling and opportunities for peer learning (Bates, 2015).
  • Topic 3: Learning in Communities & Collaborative Learning. This topic marked a turning point for me, where as a PBL group, we discussed the terms “collaborative learning” and “cooperative learning”, in particular their similarities and differences. One of the things I deeply appreciate about being in PBL1 is that as a group, we never shied away from tackling our topics/scenarios head-on and in a very united fashion. In this case, we took an honest look at the way in which we had done collaborative learning thus far, specifically for the collaborative documents we worked on for the first two topics. We concluded that what we were doing was more “cooperative” (i.e. work individually and bring our individual inputs together) than “collaborative” (i.e. work together all the way on a task), and that in many ways we were still hemmed in by a sense of politeness which prevented us from being brave enough to edit each other’s input. It also made us realise that “trust and member-comfort level [are] foundational ingredients for effective teamwork and collaboration” (Anderson, 2008). As such, we tried to work more collaboratively for the presentation (editing each other’s input on the Prezi document) and even on the minutes of subsequent meetings. It was instrumental in helping me better understand how such social and community-oriented learning can help learners “gain experience in collaboration and develop important skills in critical thinking, reflection, and co-construction of knowledge” (Brindley, Walti, & Blaschke, 2009).
  • Topic 4: Design for Online & Blended Learning. At this final stop, we looked at blended learning, and the many theories that inform its application, from Gilly Salmon’s (2013) 5-Stage Model to the Community of Inquiry framework. I found both Salmon’s model and the CoI to be especially powerful, the former’s 5-stage model almost mirroring my own experiences in being part of a collaborative group of learners, and the CoI because I can see the three presences cited (social, cognitive, and teaching) are at play at various points as we journeyed together as a group on this course.

Ultimately, I feel like I’ve learnt so much and have been so enriched from attending this course, yet it has also opened up more questions, and also made me aware of just how I little I actually know or understand when it comes to online learning. As such, I think the journey is far from over, there’s still so much of the adventure that I need to continue on in order to “carry on with the story”, as Tolkien puts it.

Next Time: Deciding on Next Steps…

References

Anderson, T. (2008). Teaching in an online learning context. In The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 343-395). Athabasca university press. Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120146.

Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning. Contact North: Contact North Research Associates. Retrieved from http://contactnorth.ca/teachinginadigitalage/.

Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M. & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271.

Tyner, K. (1998).  Literacy in a Digital World: Teaching and Learning in the Age of Information. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Wheeler, S. (2010, November 24). Digital literacy 3: Crossing the divide. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/2010/11/crossing-divide.html.

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3171/3049

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One thought on “Journey’s End? Far From It!

  1. Beautifully summarized! And how right you are about the never-ending story. Apart from having amassed quite a bit of knowledge, but still realizing how little we know about all these matters, my own thoughts are now towards dispersion locally: where do I take the insights I have gained over the past few months and how can I put them to use in a wider context at my own workplace? The jury is still out on that.

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