Being an active ONL202 participant has provided me with important insights into digital literacies, open learning, networked collaborative learning, and design for online learning. However, rather than what I learned (the course contents) in this course, how I learned is what I will reflect on in this post. The Problem Based Learning (PBL Group 15) group that we created, as an integral part of ONL202, has been the main drive behind my learning experience. Our learning was facilitated through engaging discussions, collaborative decision making, and problem-oriented focus that took place during our weekly meetings. We discussed, created, produced, and delivered collaboratively.
ONL202 involves weekly course webinars, many PBL group meetings, and multimodal course content. PBL group meetings almost felt like a bridge that connects what we read, watched, and wrote in our own time to the task we were supposed to complete each week. I think the central reason why this course has been so effective, engaging, and fun was due to the continuous collaborative and productive work we have been engaged in as a group. I should say that I had never experienced a long-term collaboration that is as intense as the one in our PBL group. It is clear that I had to dedicate substantial time, which was very difficult given the workload in my full-time job. This was the case for other members of our PBL group too. How could we meet during the evenings every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays then? How could we complete all the individual tasks and group assignments in a timely and well-planned manner? What motivated us? There are two main answers to these questions: we prioritized and we were engaged.
Engagement is a key word here. We did not simply “participate”, “get involved”, “co-operate” and “collaborate”, but we were engaged. This meaningful engagement kept us going until the final task. One of the reasons we have been able to engage this much was due to the selection of topics, which were highly relevant to our current situation. Almost all of us were teaching online lessons and designing online or blended courses. We could easily relate to and apply what we had learned from the course and from each other to our daily teaching practices. Sometimes this involved the use of a collaboration tool like Padlet, and sometimes the benefit was more at a conceptual level. (1) The input from the course webinars, (2) the discussions and the production in the PBL group, and (3) the opportunity to reflect through blog posts created this strong engagement.
I know that I will be using what I learned from this course in the future for designing new courses. Online course design is part of our professional life now, and I am very glad that I was part of the ONL202 group this semester. Our PBL group decided to keep in touch, and there is a possibility that we may even write an article together in the future J We have enjoyed learning together, and we will hopefully continue this collaborative partnership over the years. My humble suggestion for the future ONLers is that they should keep an open eye in this course from the very beginning and make the most out of this course: in order to do this, one needs to prioritise, engage, and collaborate.