The end – What happened?

Looking back on the last few weeks on the ONL202 course I do have a smile on my face. I feel that I have learned a lot, and I realize I still have a lot to learn. It will never end. But I can do it one step at a time and I will probably meet some wonderful people on the way, like I did during this journey.

The most important thing I will take with me is that I really can learn new scary things online… in English! 🙂 I now know some new digital tools and a I thought a bit more about pedagogy, about openness and about being insecure. I also learned that there are some really great, friendly, openminded, wonderful people out there to meet and get to know.

How will this change my everyday-life? Well, I am going to use the new digital skills a lot and I am going to be more aware and open to online education. I will definitely put my “student glasses” on when I want to inform about something or have an introduction course or some group collaboration online or offline, because now I remember how it was to be a student and how it felt to come to a new situation, a new surrounding feeling insecure and a bit lonely and scared.

I definitely will not try to move my practise on campus totally online because I still do believe that we need face-to-face communication but I am not afraid to try new things online and getting in touch with some new brilliant people out there. I also remembered to be thankful for our wonderful, free, open education in Finland. How privileged am I not, living in this country with equal opportunities!!!

In the beginning I thought that this will be a lot of work and I will become really stressed out. And indeed, it was quite a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. I have enjoyed my time with my wonderful PBL-group. We have had so many laughs and so many good moments. I admire you because you are kind, open, talented and fun. Thank you Kristina, Kathrin, Patricia, Erica, Ting, Mats, Gregor and Anna! ❤ You are the best and I am sure we will meet again!

Social presence in an educational and clinical world

Continuing on this trip in the world of modern pedagogy in times when you have to adapt and adjust yourself to the new digital environment, we “bumped” into the community of inquiry (CoI) framework during the ONL course. Since I had never heard of it before and I got interested and wanted to look into it. What does it really mean? What are we talking about?

CoI refers to Garrison, Anderson and Archer’s (2000) model for online learning. They think that meaningful learning can occur when teachers and students form a community of inquiry. The community is based on interaction between students and teachers and can be divided into three (or four) components or presences: 1) social presence (that might include emotional presence or not), 2) cognitive presence and 3) teaching presence.

We dug further into the concept of the different presences and as i was reading about social presence I found that there are a lot of similarities between building trust in my present job as a clinical psychologist and what was presented in the COI theory (setting climate and supporting discourse). The difficult question is how to build an environment that will make people want to work together in a way that matters and will have an effect on their thinking or feeling.

One aspect of social presence was also the ability of people to present themselves as real people. That is the ability to be authentic and true. Some results also indicated that when you feel secure enough to be yourself, you also learn more and you gain more. So working with students, one of the most important thing is to make the student feel secure and safe, so the student can trust you and trust that the collaboration will work and lead somewhere. In the long run we would like to perhaps feel better, resolve some issues, be able to reveal our actual feelings and thoughts about ourselves and our situation, be more creative and open.

Of course there are some differences between these to worlds. In educational surroundings, online or offline, it is okay to be personal but maybe not private when working together and building a good, social environment. In a psychological or clinical world it is absolutely okay to be personal and private, at least for the student. But the feeling of safety will in both worlds make you relax, it will help you think outside the box, it will help you to try on new things and make mistakes without feeling too bad or devastated. In the best of worlds it also will make you accept yourself and others, whatever it means.

But building this kind of environment takes time. To build the trust, respectfully and without pressure we need to plan and sacrifice enough time in the beginning of the relationship, the groupwork or course. Maybe it does not feel necessary but it will pay off. We do not have a lot of time, not in education and unfortunately not in clinical work. We always have too much work and too many projects going on. We do not take time to chit-chat or to tell personal or funny stories to get to know each other (as colleagues, teachers, counsellors). We are often too busy with content and achieving. I think content is important but I think we need to focus a bit more on context to prepare our students for the content.

Social presence will do just that, in a respectful, inspiring and loving way.

Collaboration – is it worth it?

The last two weeks we have been thinking, debating, researching about communication and collaboration in the ONL202 course. What is collaboration in the classroom and does it differ from collaboration online? How do we collaborate in our working team, with colleagues and friends? How does our PLN (personal learning network) look like?

I have heard so many students telling me that they hate collaboration and group work because it is so unfair. Someone will do almost all the work and someone will not do anything – and it ends up with everybody getting the same grade anyway. Some students are more ambitious and some just want to get through the course. Someone is more demanding and controlling and someone only follows the leader if there is one. Quite few have experienced well functioning collaboration or group work.

I can remember that I was not that in to collaboration when I was a student, because I wanted to do things my own way, in my own tempo. I did not want to compromise that much. I did not see the benefits with collaboration. I thought I could do better on my own. Nowadays I know that that is not true. I need other people to learn more.

Research is showing that collaboration will be beneficial for you in several ways. Kay Oddone stressed the fact that social learning is happening every time when you interact with others. It might be formal or informal and it can happen in communities or networks. Maybe we do not reflect upon it enough? I think that the most important thing is that you can expand your way of thinking when discussing and sharing thoughts and experience with others. Together you can co-create and make something new. There is so much you can learn. Not only content-wise but also about social skills, respect and understanding. Skills we definitely need in a growing world with broad international networks and different cultures.

Patrick Lencioni has written about what kind of virtues we need to be able to work together. He says we need to be humble and listen to others. To be humble is not about thinking less of yourself but to think of yourself less, he says. We also need to be hungry. We might have to do a bit more than just what is required of us, not meaning that we have to be workaholics though. The third virtue that is required is that we need to be socially smart. We need to know how to communicate with other people. These three virtues together is something to strive for. We might not be as strong in every field but we can work on the one that is not that easy for us. Because if we do not pay attention to all of these, we might not be a very good team player, Lencioni says. We do need to be good team players to be able to collaborate successfully.

In our PBL group we have a very fine way of communicating. We actually do learn together, we do trust each other and share our knowledge and the “burdens” together. How did it happen? We noticed that we had a lot of time to get to know each other in the beginning, during the reflection week. We laughed about having to introduce ourselves so many times. We shared our insecurity and doubts. We supported each other when someone had a hard time doing something. During the past week we have become a well functioning group online. I knew it was possible offline, but online?

Yes it works and it has been a wonderful week of collaboration. It takes time and trust in the beginning but it is definitely pays off and my personal learning network (PLN) has now expanded, and I am learning from and together with a wonderful group of nice, experienced and smart people.

Openness in education and in life

What kind of person are you? The one who openly share everything in your life, where personal and professional and private smoothly melt together in a life story and is said out loud without hesitation? Or are you the type that do not want to tell other people what you think and feel and maybe you keep everything separate in nice, organised life columns? Or are you something in between? Maybe you have been told to be careful to share things. Maybe you have been told that someone can misuse it somehow. Maybe you have own experience of being fooled or maybe someone always stole your ideas in school or at work when you said them out loud?

What ever circumstances you come from, I am certain that your past somehow forms your point of view when you look at openness and sharing.

During these two weeks we have been discussing and learning about openness, mainly the benefits with openness, but also some challenges. Many of us in our PBL-group started with a bit of scepticism towards openness and sharing. What does it mean? Am I good enough to put myself and my material out there, where anyone can do whatever they please with it or interpret it as they want to?

But what is my own path and thoughts when it comes to openness and sharing? How will my own background and experience effect my mindset?

Last year I worked as a teacher and started a new program in psychology for students who would like to study psychology at a university in the future. Since it had not been done before at this school, I had to start from scratch with all the material, searching for books, articles, making assignments and trying to make funny, interesting lessons :). It was I great year and I enjoyed it very much even though it was time consuming and hard.

When the year was over, and I returned to my old job, I handed over all the material to the new teacher. I never once reflected that I perhaps should not share it. Why? It was not because I am a more open or a better person than anyone else. It was because I had nothing to loose by doing so and the new teacher had everything to win on getting a ground to start from. He could continue the work and develop it and make it better. I was not afraid that he would misuse it or make me look bad. In my situation I had nothing to loose. Not my job, not my salary, not my time – the work has was already been done, not my credibility – i knew the material was not perfect in any way.

Is there something you can loose by sharing? Perhaps, but I certainly know that there is a lot more to gain. We could build a more equal world where people do not have to invent the wheel over and over again. A world where more people can access information and get an education even though they can not afford it. A world where people can create new ideas for the good of our environment and mankind when they can share and continue other peoples work.

I have gotten my education for free and I am really lucky to live in a country where education is possible, valued and free for everyone, no matter background or economical status. Sharing feels almost like an obligation, a “thank you” for the things i have received. So sharing is not hard for me. But this is certainly not the situation for all around the world. I think I understand the risks but I still think that it is worth it. At least for those of us who have got so many opportunities in life and received so much. Maybe it is time to give something back by sharing and giving. Maybe we can share our time, our material, our research or why not our courses? The world might be a better place if we do. Who knows?

Am I digitally literate???

What does it actually mean to be digitally literate? I have to start there because I noticed that I have been using the words during the last two weeks without actually defining them. So, I am sorry, but I did just what the students would do. I went looking for answers on wikipedia :).

According to wikipedia Digital literacy refers to an “individual’s ability to find, evaluate, and compose clear information through writing and other media on various digital platforms.”

Digital literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy, and instead builds upon and expands the skills that form the foundation of traditional forms of literacy. Digital literacy should be considered to be a part of the path to knowledge.”

Our task during these two weeks was to explore our own digital world and David White introduced us to the terms visitors and residents in the digital world and added a personal and institutional dimension. We were asked to think about what different digital tools we use and in what way we are using these tools. Are we sharing personal thoughts there? Are we communicating or just hanging around on different platforms?

I noticed that I actually use a lot of tools and I use them in very different ways. And the way I use them is changing all the time. I also realized that I would like to be more literate. I am still me, wanting to explore new things all the time, but the problem I sometimes face is that I only know a few things about a lot of tools and I do not have the depth that I would benefit from in my professional life.

In our group we were heading for chaos in the beginning. How can we, without further instructions explore the fear, uncertainty and maybe also resistance towards digital tools? We took a very practical path and decided to just go for it and take one step further. In a safe environment together with some really nice, warm and funny co-workers and tutors we found out that we do not have to be perfect, we can start were we are, we do learn all the time and becoming more literate and fluent. We have a lot to learn from each other and co-working is an excellent way to take on new tasks.

The most memorable thing I will take with me from these two weeks is the answer of David White (when I was blogchatting for the first time ever!!!): “I find that all the best digital literacies turn out to be general literacies in digital contexts.”

So do I find, do I evaluate and compose clear information through writing and other media on various digital platforms? Yes I do to some extent. And after two weeks of learning, even more so! Taking small steps.

Getting started

Well, what can I say…
I am always excited to learn something new even though I am not sure what I am getting myself into 🙂
The following weeks you can follow my journey through the open network learning course 2020.

My expectations are high and I think I am going to learn a lot but I am also a bit nervous. It feels like I am starting from scratch. Will I be able to do everything, will I have enough time, will I understand everything?

This week is all about getting to know each other. Participants from all over the world. That is a good place to start!