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The end or a new beginning

It’s time for the final, summarizing blog post in ONL 172, or actually, deadline is well past. I have had no problems posting not so ambitious blog posts during the course, but now when it is time to write the last time I suddenly struggle with writer’s cramp.

It’s been great being part of the course and I learned a lot, especially when it comes to the social and collaborative aspects of networked learning. Online learning doesn’t have to be a lonesome activity, but can involve a lot of discussion and collaboration with people that have never met before. The drawback with this is that the course hasn’t been in as flexible in time as I hoped and presumed when I enrolled.

The parts that I think will affect my teaching most is the topic Design for online and blended learning. There is so much more to do when it comes to building a structure that facilitates the students’ learning. I also learnt a new term: scaffolding!

  • Help students get started with the tools used in the course and be prepared to give technical support
  • Encourage social interaction and allow time for it
  • Start with easier tasks with quite a lot of guidance and gradually move on to more difficult tasks with less guidance
  • Include different kinds of activities in the course (information retrieval, discussion, reflection…)
  • Encourage collaboration and choose tasks where collaboration will improve the result
  • Be present as a teacher/facilitator

I am currently involved in two online courses. One of the is a 7 credits course going on for 10 week on PH D level. The topic is Writing Science and Information literacy. In this course, quite a lot of the teachers’ time is put into giving written feedback on the fourteen (!) individual assignments the students submit. The students are encouraged to ask questions and discuss in a discussion forum, but there is not a lot of activity in these forums. I think this course could benefit from more collaboration between students, and more dialogue both between students and between students and teachers,

The other online course is and small private open course for students at KI on information literacy. The course was developed to reach a larger portion of the students, also those in programs that don’t include these topics in their curriculum. The course is design to work separately, but parts of it can also be used in blended learning. This course don’t offer any possibilities for interaction with other students or teachers at all. Since you do not enroll, but can take the course anytime, it’s challenging to set up a structure for scaffolding in this course. Still, after the ONL course I really think we should try. Teacher presence is equally important in online learning as face-to-face.

My PBL group decided to have an online face-to-face meeting in March, and I hope I can report on some development of the courses then.

About blogging, I think it’s really valuable for my own learning and reflection. I have no problem letting my blog be open, but I am rather uncertain about the value it adds. My feeling is rather that it adds to the information overload. Sharing material on a topic where my expertise is bigger is another thing, example of blog post.

Thanks for a great course to facilitators/organizers and PBL group 4.

Leaning, dancing and collaboration

Kråk by Västergötlands museum on Digitalt museum (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Three topics into the ONL course we have reached the topic networked & collaborative learning, which I find really interesting. Among other things we have been discussing cooperation and collaboration and the difference between them (Brindley,  Blaschke & Walti, 2009; Davidson & Major, 2014).

Despite this I find it hard to write the compulsory blog post. The reason is mainly that there are so many aspects I would want to explore and so much literature I would want to read.

But for now, I will leave this a side and give you a metaphor from my leisure time.

I attend a dance course, and guess what social dancing is all about?

Collaboration of course! Working together with a common goal, being open to each others input and ideas, shared responsibility… One important detail that my dance teacher focused on last time is the balance. She wants us to lean on each other. Not to little, then it is like we are still dance one by one, not to much, because then we put to much weight on the other person we lean on. We should be dependent on each other, but not so dependent that we would fall if the other person moved.

Quite similar to collaboration in a PBL group, right? We should support each other and trust each other enough to be dependent on each other to reach a good result. But we should all stand on our feet, leaning to much on the group would be social loafing, I guess.

(Not my dance group on the picture, but I think they seem to have the perfect leaning)

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).

Davidson, N., & Major, C. H. (2014). Boundary crossings: Cooperative learning, collaborative learning, and problem-based learning. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching25.


Sharing and openness (topic 2)


Unlocked by Sam Stockton on flickr.  (CC BY 2.0)

Making money is not wrong

Many people make their living out of providing different resources for others. Theses resources can be material stuff, but also services, ideas and knowledge. I sometimes see a fundamentalistic tendency in the openness movement, requiring that services and above all ideas and knowledge should always be openly available free of charge. Images and text should be share under creative common licenses and copyright is something unethical.  I do not agree. In my opinion it is perfectly alright to make your living as a author, photographer or why not a professional knitting pattern designer.

Having said this, I think education and publicly funded institutions is a different thing. These resources should be accessible for as many as possible to make the most out of the tax money and to provide equal opportunities. Publicly funded research should be openly accessible.

Free access to information for everyone

I work in a sector with free access to information for everyone as one of the major desired outcomes, libraries. So to some extent, being open is the default situation for me. All resources produced by my library that are intended for a broad audience among the students and researchers are posted on the library website, accessible for everyone.

The Reusability Paradox

When it comes to teaching material intended for a specific student group I often adopt to the context. That means that if I teach in a course at my university and use a presentation this presentation will normally be posted on locked pages in the learning management system.  Often these presentations are really tailored for that specific course with topic specific examples and information on assignments and dates integrated with more general material. The reusibility of them would hence be rather limited. According to Wiley (2004), cited in Weller (2014), this is a general problem with open educational resources called The reusability paradox. To be useful for learning the learning resources need context; the more context they have, the less reusable are they.

A (false) sense of control

In theory I am positive to using open learning resources in my teaching, but in practice, I seldom do. I realise that this paradox is at least part of the explanation. It’s hard to find resources that can fulfil the intended learning outcomes of the course and at the same time fit the needs of the specific student group. Producing your own learning resources gives a feeling of control. Control both over the content and the form. The students will get the right information, in the right form, in the right order and proportions. You could also argue that this feeling of control is false. Students will use all kinds of resources to learn, and not only those I provide,


Weller, M. (2014) The Battle For Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/bam. CC BY 3.0

Watch Now UK (2012, 9 May). Creative Commons & Copyright Info. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/8YkbeycRa2A

Students do collaborate digitally (but not necessarily in the context of formal education)


College WisCEL: students collaborating by Greg Andersson on flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

I couldn’t make to my PBL grous meeting this Friday, but I listening to the recording. One aspect they discussed was students’ lacking  collaboration skills, both digital and face to face. Many of the students have experienced a lot of group work during their way through the educational system (the example came from Sweden, but it seems like the pattern was recognized in other countries too). Most of this group work has been more about dividing the task into different parts, writing a text each and pasting into the same document.

But students do collaborate! I once visited a seminar on student activating methods in teaching, where a theme was getting students to be active and collaborate, In the end, there was a talk by two representatives from the students’s union. They argued that students are active and collaborate a lot in their studying, and the problem is rather that they abandon this behaviour when they enter the classroom, lecture hall or another formal educational setting.

I see this behaviour in my teenage daughter too. The school group work is not performed collaboratively, but when she really wants to learn something she would  collaborate with a few classmates she chose herself in their favourite digital tools.

Students’ (mis)conceptions of scientific publishing in the digital world

Scientific citations by Mike Thelwall, Stefanie Haustein, Vincent Larivière, Cassidy R. Sugimoto (paper). Finn Årup Nielsen (screenshot). [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I have read JISC (2014) and Deakin University (n.d.). What strikes me most when I read them is that we this far only have focused on a few of the elements in my PBL group. We have mostly discussed the elements most closely related to the technology itself, ICT literacy and participation and communication in a digital environment. But I am happy to see that these documents give a broader picture, including for example information literacy and media literacy. I do think that many students have some information and media literacy skills working quite well for their general information needs. They know that they need to distinguish reliable  sources from unreliable ones, and they know what to look for. They are in general also quite confident on these matters. But these skills are not that easy to transfer to the scholarly environment.

I teach information literacy for freshmen  at Karolinska Institutet, a medical university, and I’d like to share a few misconceptions revealed by students’ questions and comments in class.

  • One student explained that he had chosen an article that was a bit older rather than a brand new, since he wanted to information to have been confirmed by others.
  • Another student presumed that articles where removed from the databases when other articles had shown that there results were wrong.
  • My third example is a student asking how the researchers could upload their articles to PubMed, the database we were discussing in the teaching.

These three misconceptions make perfect sense in the digital world outside the scientific publishing. Information on the net is supposed to be updated. In our teaching we often present the scientific publications as more reliable than other publications. Only partly true, I would say. Another aspect to this are the predatory journals than can be tricky to identify.

The third example pinpoints that being the producer and having the possibility to add content yourself is something that is expected on the net.


Deakin University (n.d.). Digital literacy. Retrieved from http://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/38006/digital-literacy.pdf
JISC (2014). Developing digital literacies (2014). Retrieved from https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-digital-literacies










Myself on the visitor/resident scale

Knitting by Lisa Risager on flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I have watched the visitor/residents films with David White, and got a lot of thoughts and reflections about them. Many of them has nothing to do with learning – or maybe they have? – but I’ll share them anyway.

The first thing I did is that I put the different arenas I use tboth to get information and to communicate on the scale visitor/resident and private/work. Some of don’t really allow for communication so maybe they don’t fit in, but I think they give a fuller picture of what I do on the web and electronic devices. A quite interesting pattern, one example is that I spend more time in PubMed than on the intranet of my workplace. If you want to get in contact with me, email, skype för business, facebook and instagram are safer bets than telefone, texting and g-mail. The arena where I am most resident for the time being is probably Ravelry, a knitting community on the web. So if I don’t answer om G+, try Ravlery.

Want to see the presentation of me on the scale? Here it is.

One reflection is that persons being residents/visitors in different arenas is one of the things that hinders communication. Students are supposed to be residents on the learning management system, but often they are not with the consequence that they are not reached by the information their teachers send them. A friend wants to chat with you on their favorite social media, but you read that several days later because you have been busy on other social media. I sometimes shut down my e-mail when I need to concentrate on other things, and my colleagues get pretty upset when I don’t answer my mails for a whole day.

Source: JISC Netskills. Visitors & residents. Part 1. 2014, 10 March. Retrieved from Youtube.