Learning reflection ONL 152

Learning reflection ONL 152

I think I learned a lot of useful new matter. Still overkilled and in need for a sys reboot I try now to sort out how to get going forward.

I see a lot of interesting new tools. I will evaluate them and eventually expand my toolbox.

I see a lot of new concepts, mostly based on socialising participants into learning. One extreme point would be to gather the students, present LO and tools, and asking them what path they want to chose.

In doing this I see a need for instructions and support in organising, in particular to acertain that the learning is done in chunks that are easily chewed by each one.

I notice that when I in a smaller context incorporate  some new learnings in my present F2F teaching (eg. a digital chat), there is this internal resistance, and I must ask myself if I dare challenge myself and my students with this big unknown territory… It’s feels like making my first tweet the other week!

I’m not sure I really favour this totally open concept which was a major part. Having wrote several textbooks I wonder who will be motivated to do such an extrawork in the future if you don’t get paid? Hmm. So, I must look more into what CC can do for me.

It was a great pleasure to meet all this people on the course, from KI and all those from far away. Thank you!


Six scaffolding techniques in designing digital learning environments

We had a lot of reading and videos to do in the ONL 152 Topic 6 week. Someway, this blogpost from Rebbeca Alber on 6 scaffolding strategies came up (1). At a first glance it looked less relevant, with children and F2F teaching in focus. I decided to dedicate this blogpost to see if it is possible to convert some of her “currency” into a digital setting for adult participants.

  1. Show and Tell

The Fish Bowl uses a small group of students in the inner circle that do the activity in front of the large group. This modelling can be done stepwise. It’s a good idea to have a finished product at hand as a model.

This activity can transform digitally into a session with Adobe Connect where you show your full audience an example of the “finished product”, e.g. a reflection paper on designing learning environments. Then you ask a group to discuss their view on the content of such a paper, while the larger community are listening in. Finally the larger group is split into smaller groups, each discussing how they want such paper to look like. Eventually the first small group could act as facilitators.

  • I think this is a strategy that can be used for complex matters and when you have many participants.
  1. Tap into prior knowledge

Support students to share their own ideas about the content and how it connect to their lives. Then use this as a framework when you launch the classroom teaching.

Digitally I see this transforming into a general discussion before the actual teaching start. A chat can be formed under different headlines relating to the lecture. The chat can be done just before a webinar, e.g. open the webinar for the chat one hour before. It can also work on a separate channel, like G+, Twitter or any messenger service.

  • I believe this is a good way to connect the participants to the teaching.
  1. Give time to talk

Articulating your learning with others is important, and structured talking can be done by think-pair-share, turn-and-talk, triad-teams, and other techniques.

Digitally you can post questions or topics for learners to reflect on in a social platform, like fb or G+, or use other channels as mentioned above. This can also be done in group discussions.  Inviting learners to write a Learning Journal, or a Learning Blog are variants of this theme.

  • The digital environment can be challenging for “visitors”, and there is a need of a basic digital literacy for participants.
  1. Pre-teach vocabulary

Alber proposes to identify words that will come up in the next lesson, and “frontload” them. Not by listing them and ask for their explanation, but rather by visualizing them in photos, symbols or drawings that the students know about. Discussions on the meanings can also be done before the dictionaries are introduced.

In a digital context this can be transferred to present the participants with a list of “common” words or concepts that are to be reviewed in the next lesson, and give them time to discuss these in smaller groups, before the actual teaching starts. In the ONL152 course this could have corresponded to loading the “cases” or the FISH document with new concepts and glossary, with a starting discussion at group level as a recommended initial activity.

  • I think frontloading is a central concept. It is really a flipped classroom, and one major way of taking advantage of the digital learning possibilities.
  1. Use visual aids

Graphics, charts and pictures can serve as scaffolding tools, and may be used to present ideas, sequence and cause, and hereby they guide the students learning so the knowledge can be applied.

In web-based learning many visual aids are available for presentation. Not only the tools, but also how the pictures are used matters. For this reason there is now even a new job title established, the Instructional Designer.

  • I think this is one of the major contributions digital learning can provide, to apply ”events” that support participants different learning styles.
  1. Pause, ask question, pause, and review

Pick up an idea or concept from the teaching material, pause (provide think time), ask a question, new pause for thinking, and then review the answers. This need preparation of the questions in advance, so that they are strategic and open-ended. Activate the passive by asking them to review the answers given (“give the gist”).

This is a strategy for providing information in chewable pieces. In a digital setting this technique can be used as a way of organizing the material, and even propose a way for those learners who are less skilled in organizing material, e.g. by asking questions. This means, as an example, that recommend reading from text books should have pages to read listed, and not list the whole book, unless the reference is clearly to a Textbook. A question for the teachers could be if everything really should be sorted, or if the groups could be left alone with their own decisions for organizing the material.

  • I think this is a smart way of supporting the learners.
  1. Alber, R. 6 scaffolding strategies to use with your students. Edutopia May 24, 2011 and January 24, 2015.  http://www.edutopia.org/blog/scaffolding-lessons-six-strategies-rebecca-alber

Come together


Open resources need structure, and contained resources like any LMS (learning management system) needs opening up. In both cases the teacher need training in both contexts to support all types of students. In the Cofa web and pdf (1) these different digital learning contexts are visualized. The ONL can be exemplified with WordPress, Twitter, and others, while LMS can be exemplified by Moodle, PingPong, and others. Benefits with LMS are: centralized, authentication (login needed), tracking, collating (measure for tracking to reach a grade), teach support, and copyright. Benefits with LMS are: familiarity, easy to use, constant upgrading, free, external guests are allowed, collaboration, and privacy settings. As an academic teacher I can ask myself to what degree I can issue legal credits in an ONL system, or how to achieve a fast system adaptation with a closed tool.  I think you have to sort out which system can work best for your particular needs, and probably combine them from that point. You can call this blended resources (2).

There are some tools in the open context that needs presentation in this context. E-badges are a standard to verify learning (3), which are issued to recognize that you have learned something (you “earn” it). Badges can be applied to establish what learning objectives you have achieved, and be part of your academic grading, thus translated into traditional credits… The other aspect is the guerilla-learning (4). This means that many youtubers put up an instruction video (e.g. Paul the Plumber learn you how to rinse your pipes) with no involvement of training professionals. There are many more youtubers that can be used for training purposes, and even your students can produce learning material as part of their studies. The idea is that is hasn’t to be produced as top-of-the-line video, but it’s good to put it into a learning context. If you bring along a lot of these youtubers in a particular area and provide them a format, you can actually do a MOOC…

In my own web-learning today we do not use badges or guerilla-learning. The thought of combining these into our structured LMS (PingPong) as additional resources is tempting. By scanning youtube for one of my courses I recently found hundreds of links, which completely explains a statistical problem. I chose a few which can provide the teaching we need. We need a statistician now only for follow-up and FAQ, a competence resource.


  1. Learning management system or the open web?Cofa Videos, Learning to teach online UNSW. Karin Watson (2014).
  2. http://elearningindustry.com/4-best-blended-learning-resources-drive-engagement
  3. http://openbadges.org/
  4. http://elearningindustry.com/what-is-guerilla-elearning

MobiFlex – learning and living


Mobi Flex living and learning

The largest revolution going on around us is the transfer to mobile tech. This enables digital residency, and instant learning. Getting to understand this in a feasible way, without getting out of the comfort zone, is the key element for both learning and teaching. And living. This channel can provide most qualities needed for a diversity in learning styles (my comments):

(reference: http://www.learning-styles-online.com/)

There are many devices to support this residency. El-Hussein et al explores this in more detail. Here devices are categorised into communication (phone, email, SMS), organisation (diary, address, to-do lists, e-book reader), information (news channels, references, direction, browser, GCP), or relaxation (camera, video, movie player, games, e-books, music). This division can be challenged, but works as a grid to categorise different channels into a mobile and/or flexible living  and/or learning.

(reference: El-Hussein, M. O. M., & Cronje, J. C. (2010). Defining Mobile Learning in the Higher Education Landscape. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3), 12–21.)

The motivation can be described by different models. The four pillows model includes place, connection, immediacy and activity. The internal motivation works here from chaos to flexibility, but need digital literacy. You need therefore to supply the students’ ability to focus, within the pillows. This can be achieved by guidelines and transparency, support, interaction and visible quality assurance. My PBL group discusses this in detail in our Topic 4 presentation, found here:


One of my conclusions is that student motivation  is based on several functional systems, as presented by Huang et al 2010. These includes knowledge sharing attitude,  system quality, information quality and service quality. This is a research model that enables an evaluation of the collaborative service satisfaction, to my understanding an important denominator of functional systems in motivation.

(reference: Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., & Hsiao, I. Y. T. (2010). Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3), 78–92.)

To achieve an efficient learning, it has to be realised that both asynchronous and synchronous learning have benefits in terms of cognitive or personal aspects, both also influencing on internal motivation.

This was described by Stefan Hrastinski in Asynchronous and Synchronous E-Learning. Educause Quarterly, No.4 (2008) 51-55. A  more detailed view on the when, why and how to use Asynchronous or Synchronous E-learning was presented in the same paper.

(reference:  Stefan Hrastinski in Asynchronous and Synchronous E-Learning. Educause Quarterly, No.4 (2008) 51-55.)


As a personal reflection on the course so far, I think I beginning to understand how my future web based learning could be planned, designed, executed and followed-up. However, I still feel I have a long way to go.

Motivation and frustration – on collaborative learning



I my F2F classes, most students are not driven by learning, but by passing the exam. This means that they are only willing to supply interaction and communication, if they find it worthwhile. In most group works there are always a few who only “hang-on” to the group, letting the others do the work. So first thing is to get them motivated.

The paper by Capdeferro and Romero (2012) (1) discusses frustration as a marker for learning difficulties in on-line group work. The perception of an asymmetric collaboration among the teammates was identified by the students as the most important source of frustration.


Groups are given tasks, and you want them to report. Engagement, defined as “student-faculty interaction, peer-to-peer collaboration and active learning” has been positively related to the quality of the learning experience. This may therefore be the opposite of frustration. To reach this state, according to Brindley et al (2), specific pedagogical benefits of collaborative learning must include: Development of critical thinking skills, Co-creation of knowledge and meaning, Reflection, and Transformative learning. Another related area, connectivism (Siemens, 2005) recognizes that in the online learning environment, seeking and constructing knowledge is most often accomplished through interaction and dialogue. Siemens (2002) also notes that learner-learner interactions in an e-learning course can be viewed as a four stage continuum:

Communication People ‘talking,’ discussing

Collaboration People sharing ideas and working together (occasionally sharing resources) in a loose environment

Cooperation People doing things together, but each with his or her own purpose

Community People striving for a common purpose

Social context

Wenger writes (3) that history of learning becomes an informal and dynamic social structure among the participants, and this is what a community of practice is. – This is definitely another scientific area for me, as I have great difficulties understanding the context in this paper. When she writes that participation and reification represent two intertwined but distinct lines of memory, I’m lost… The concept of community of practice was not born in the systems theory tradition. It has its roots in attempts to develop accounts of the social nature of human learning inspired by anthropology and social theory (Lave, 1988; Bourdieu, 1977; Giddens, 1984; Foucault, 1980; Vygostsky, 1978). –

So, learning has to be put into a social context.

Brindley et al comes up with a very hands-on listing based on a case from their teaching:

Transparency of expectations

Clear instructions

Appropriateness of task for group work


Motivation for participation embedded in course design

Readiness of learners for group work

Timing of group formation

Respect for the autonomy of learners

Monitoring and feedback

Sufficient time for the task


  • Capdeferro, N., & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences?. The International review of research in open and distance learning, 13(2), 26-44.
  • 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) .
  • Wenger, E. (2010). Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In Social learning systems and communities of practice(pp. 179-198). Springer London,

Tweetchat in the evening


Fun, but difficult to master. I did all mistakes, misspellings, too many characters, am I tweeting all world, our ONL152 community, or only Alastair?

But luckily I realised I will never know if I don’t try. I made the whole chat on my mobile, which was a challenge. Opening Tweetdeck after the chat was over, revealed much more tweets, several people that were not shown on my display, and new threads to follow.

And more, people were putting up links to new tools on our common G+ (the videolinks), and the topics on the chat were important ones. I liked it, and will try again.

Digital Pierre


The confusion that starts the digital literacy process may evoke anger among the students. Their frustration might be expressed as blaming the teachers. However, if the teachers are available, that should be enough to support guidance. The learning must take place within the students, and as a teacher you cannot baby feed them. So, even if they ask, you can’t give too detailed instructions. If the teachers were providing everything upfront, the students would not integrate it in their learning. So, I think it is OK the give wide instructions, and let everyone find their own way. Pending that teachers are available for their questions.

Feedback is a major courtesy, and may provide new perspectives. Therefore it should be given as ”Two stars and a wished” that I formulated in my former posting. The focus now is to understand why a person is holding back.  I think the main reason is – fear. Of not fitting in, or to show yourself. In this sense these attributes includes: confusion (first experience), anger (vs. the teachers and originating from the confusion), and fear to show your identity in this new and unchartered setting. This fear was also discussed in my former blog, but also by Sanisha in her blog.

Adaptation from the JISC guide (https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-digital-literacies), leads me into four major categories of reflection:

  1. Communicate – actively participate in digital networks for learning and research
  2. Confident – manage my online identity
  3. Creative – critically read and creatively produce communication in a range of media
  4. Critical evaluation – of content, platform, editors, and the technological platform

I think the platform is very important. For example; there are great differences between different LMS (learning management systems). As we now head for an open network learning system, it need to catch all core elements.  I prefer to put this into the context provided by Sara in her webinar, which is the fourth category above.

As a last reflection I think it is too easy to be anonymous on the net. Civilisation is something we have created in common, based on voluntarily and legal codes for behavior. Creative Commons is an example of such context of mutual understanding and respect. The net where people are unidentified I think is a threat. This means that the clue to overcome this downside, is by being identified in all your net doings. This means you need to manage your personal and digital identity differently.