Summative reflections and outlook for the future

It is about time to look back at the experiences of the last couple of months. Given that it has been rather an intensive period in my professional and family life, I feel I have made the most of the learning opportunities offered by the course. Above all, I value interactions within my PBL group and I am grateful for the concerted effort, enthusiasm and a sense of commitment, which on many occasions spurred me on to do a bit extra. At the same time, I can only wish we had interacted even more. In practical terms, I have learnt to appreciate forum discussions and have become aware of the overwhelming scope of available tools for asynchronous online collaborative work – some of them have worked better and some have turned out rather cumbersome and thus less effective. As for the synchronous communication via Adobe Connect or Twitter, my original skeptical perception about their functionality has somewhat deepened. Tweetchats, in particular, have very limited value in the context of online learning in my view and I am not going in the foreseeable future to rely on that medium in my professional practice.

With respect to my own development stimulated by educational activities offered throughout the course and the resulting group interactions, I would definitely like to emphasise two aspects in line with earlier thoughts. First of all, I have grown to appreciate the potential of a collaborative learning environment. Splitting workload, sharing information, discussing insights gained within given topics can be an effective way to deepen the familiarity with broad content within relatively short time. On the other hand, lack of critical evaluation, especially mediated by experts in the field but also group members, renders the acquired knowledge rather shallow. The recommended reading has encouraged us to focus on relevant points but still does not help me critically assess web resources on topics I have only limited insight into. In this regard, I am under the impression that PBL as such does not seem the most suitable format for the course. On its own, without the support of other activities except webinars, it may be sufficient for novice in the field to find their feet and get general overview but is unlikely to facilitate thorough and deep exploration. The PBL form adopted in this course required us to face scenarios without really understanding the fundamental issues involved, often without really being familiar with the underlying nomenclature. This top-down approach has obvious limitations.

The second relevant outcome that I would like to comment on in the context of my development boils down to the fact that I have definitely become more familiar or rather aware of the wealth of online tools supporting collaborative work, exchange of ideas and communication in a wide sense. This to great extent I owe to the large ONL community.

As far as my own teaching practice is concerned, I would certainly like to enhance it given my online learning experiences. First of all, I am going to consider different approaches to blended learning with moderate inclusion of pre-recorded lectures or with the support of existing MOOCs. Then, activities in the class are less of the online learning domain, though the ground could be prepared with the support of online collaborative learning tools. I would also like to make an attempt at an assessment scheme or rather an exercise (it is a high-risk initiative) that promotes bottom up contributions to the student evaluation, worked out in small groups with the help of some online platform. With my deep involvement as a teacher, I believe it is possible to make the PBL-like approach more fruitful. Finally, unlike the ideas mentioned above, which have no schedule or any timeline at the moment, I am committed to making the most of the new online Canvas platform to manage KTH courses and support dynamic online interaction with students.

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3 thoughts on “Summative reflections and outlook for the future

  1. Hi Pawel, I felt also that probably it could have been useful to dedicate some of the time to discuss the assigned readings during the group teleconferences. I thought that we didn’t really use that time for very important work together.

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  2. Hi Pawel,
    I definitely agree concerning the tweet chats, I cannot see the meaning of them and found them stressful. I, also, appreciate the learning potential of a collaborative framework, and will use Google+ for student collaboration in my upcoming course. Canvas on the other hand, has been a depressing experience so far and I am upset that KTH made that change without ensuring that everything on Bilda could be moved successfully. It has been nice to work with you!

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  3. I think your comment about the value of online learning tools vs the theory is a valid one. I focused so much more on the theory and the collaboration. I think it is because I knew so much about the tools already that it was not something I was needing from this course, so in the end I was focusing on the aspects that I needed. So if we look at our reflections, it shows what each of us was needing, me with the facilitators, the emotional ‘gaps’, and additional theory, my PBL group members focused on the tools much like yourself, yet we all focused on the value of the collaboration we gained from the course 🙂 I really enjoyed your reflection and your blog posts.

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