The End of a Roller Coaster Ride

ONL course was definitely a roller coaster ride for me. I was too scared to get in, but at the same time I had the dire need to get in, too. Then I was too excited and waiting until the ride started. The first round was so exciting and bit confusing, and I was also nervous because I was too new to this experience. Then I managed to enjoy the ride and it was a mixture of adventure, excitement and also anxiety. Then came the end of the ride and it was so soon. I still have that excitement and the joy that I was able to experience this adventure. Of course, I do not want to put an end to this, so the memories will be cherished forever. And our team didn’t want to end that excitement either, we promised to meet every month to break the monotony of life; to talk, to think, to reflect, and to have fun together.

It was a combination of both knowledge and fun. I learnt many things from ONL course. I had never heard of Coggle, but I learnt how to use it here, and we even used it for our team work. And I learnt about Padlet and I even used it in my classes and my students loved it. I even encouraged my students to write blogs and now I am thinking of designing assignments related to blog posts.

It is a known fact that with the rapid development of technology, the term “classroom” may soon be obsolete, and today, Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) has become reasonably promising because of its interactive, social nature (Leow, 2015; Satar & Ozdener, 2008). Electronic discussions also make room for equal participation (Warschauer, 1996). This is why I wanted to join ONL. I wanted to be exposed to the new developments which have taken place inside the classroom.

I had three individual goals. One is to improve my knowledge in digital tools, for my PhD study is about the role of computer mediated corrective feedback on language performance. So, I wanted to explore more on the digital tools that can be used in computer mediated communication. And the second goal was to complete this course to earn a qualification, again a requirement of my PhD programme: to earn credits by completing relevant courses. The third goal was to expand my knowledge on computer mediated learning (as I mentioned earlier) because I agree with what Leow syas: the traditional classroom will soon be obsolete. Our students are techier these days and they are so interested in learning new things. So I believe, if we could use this new technology when teaching, they will be more engaged in the learning process, thus the teaching/learning process will be more effective.

At the end of journey, I believe I could achieve all these goals, and I could earn an extra credit as well: I met my colleagues from various parts of the world who are very open minded. I love the discussions we had so far and look forward to meeting them again.

So, thank you our facilitators, Kiru and Lina for your attempt to make all the discussions effective and enjoyable; and thank you all my teammates for making the past few months so exciting and fun.

Finally, thank you ONL team for creating a remarkable platform for all of us to share knowledge, opinions, reflections and fun!

Thank You

References

Leow, R. P. (2015). The changing L2 classroom, and where do we go from here? Explicit Learning in The L2 classroom (pp. 270-278). New York: Routledge.

Satar H. M.  & Ozdener N. (2008). The Effects of Synchronous CMC on Speaking Proficiency and Anxiety: Text versus VoiceChat. The Modern Language Journal, 92(4), 595-613. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/25173104?seq=1&cid=pdf-reference#references_tab_contents

Warschauer, M. (1996). Comparing face-to-face and electronic discussion in the second language classroom. CALICO Journal, 13(2), 7-26.

The Role of Emotions in Online Collaborative Learning

For the fourth topic, we focused our attention on the emotional determinants for online learning. By this time, our group had already built up a good rapport with each other, so we were able to discuss more openly with each other. But the last two weeks of April was a very disturbing time for me because my country, Sri Lanka was going through a terrible situation. My country was attacked by some ruthless terrorists and more than 200 innocent people were killed. We had never expected something like this! Anyway, the country is now moving forward, trying to rise from the ashes. Thus, my emotions were greatly disturbed during this crisis.  

So, emotions do indeed play a significant role in online collaborative learning processes. At the group discussions, we agreed that there are both positive and negative emotions that affect the success of online collaborative learning: confusion, frustration, boredom, curiosity, interest, eagerness, excitement, shame, guilt, etc. I think, learners usually get confused and frustrated at the beginning mainly due to technical issues and their lack of experiences in online meetings.  Learners feel bored if the topic of discussion is not interesting for them. And, if there is nothing in it for them, they find the discussions boring. But, Daniels & Stupnisky (2012) state that boredom can also result in creativity because it gives time for the learners to think, reflect and relax. Further, it results in learners feeling guilt which leads to action. And anxiety has been found out as the earliest and most commonly studied discrete emotion that disturbs collaborative learning (Daniels & Stupnisky, 2012). Moreover, some studies have found out that enjoyment in collaborative learning does not necessarily result in achievement.

If I talk about me, I was so curious at the beginning because this online discussion forum was new for me and I was so excited about meeting people from almost all parts of the world. There were certain times I felt guilty as well if I was not prepared for the discussion. Sometimes, due to the time constraints, I was unable to read anything on the topic and I was sort of blank when the others were discussing. In such circumstances, to be frank, I was guilty and embarrassed.

So as the strategies to overcome unhealthy emotions, our team agreed that there needs to be a healthy relationship among each other in the group. We also discussed that it would have been better if we had spent more time on getting to know each other. Further, we discussed that it would be better not to use many tools and applications because it could confuse the members and will raise technical issues. But I personally believe that this depends on individual goals. Specially, in a course like ONL, if the learner’s individual goal of joining the course is to get more exposure to digital tools that can be used in teaching/learning process, this approach could demotivate the learner.

And, we did not forget to evaluate ourselves throughout the course; we evaluated and compared our group work with the other groups’ work and that always motivated us to do better the next time. And I think, we always tried to do better than the previous time.

Thus, this ONL course was such a roller coaster ride for all of us. We were moving towards the end of the course, and I would say we really enjoyed our work amidst our busy schedules. This is indeed an amazing experience and thank you ONL 191 team for this beautiful experience.

References

Lia M. Daniels, R. H. S. (2012). Not that different in theory: Discussing the control-value theory of emotions in online learning environments. Internet and Higher Education, 15, 222–226.

Online Collaborative Learning

“Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting”.    
 Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

                                                                                           

I was able to experience this in all our webinars and PBL group meetings. It is such an exciting experience because everyone comes there to learn from each other. Everyone has something to share. I remember, at certain times, we all did not have the same perspective, and it is truly interesting to look at something in some other person’s point of view which you had never even thought of. Another aspect that adds value to this nice collaborative experience is the fact that we all are from different countries; that means different cultures. I was the only one from Sri Lanka and my colleagues were from various parts of the world such as Sweden, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Singapore, etc.

Once I remember, we were discussing the frustrations we had at the beginning in terms of online collaborative learning. For me, I was frustrated the days I was not prepared for the meetings. Also, at the very beginning I did not want to be very open because I did not know the others personally. I was scared that being too open might result in misunderstandings. But later, we sort of discussed openly even our weaknesses because we were able to build up an open and relaxed platform for discussions.

As Johnson et al. (1990) suggests, there are five basic elements in collaborative learning: clearly perceived positive interdependence, considerable interaction, individual accountability and personal responsibility, social skills, and group self-evaluating. I believe our group had these elements, at least to a certain extent. There was freedom for each and every one of us to express ourselves; so, I believe we were able to engage in successful and constructive discussions. We evaluated our work regularly. I admit that there were certain times that I failed in terms of personal responsibility. It was so difficult for me to manage my time; so, there were times I did not attend meetings even without prior notice. And I also understood that almost everyone in our group were so busy, and most of them, I would say, struggled with finding time.

Another study I found on online collaborative learning was Ku et al.’s study (2012) that discusses three collaborative factors based on learners’ perspectives. They are team dynamics, team acquaintance and instructor support. In our PBL group, I believe, all these collaborative factors were involved. We had a dynamic team, very supportive facilitator and co-facilitator, and of course we got acquainted well with each other (though not very much at the very beginning). Therefore, I could say that our group had a very effective learning platform where unhampered participation resulted in learning.

References

Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., Stanne, M.B. & Garibaldi, A. (1990). Impact of group processing on achievement in cooperative groups. J Soc Psycho, 130 (4), pp.507-516.

Ku, H., Tseng, H.W., Akarasriworn, C. (2012). Collaboration factors, teamwork satisfaction, and student attitudes toward online collaborative learning. Computers in Human Behaviour, 29, pp. 922-929.

How to access open creative content?

As David Wiley mentions in his short Ted-talk, openness simply means being generous. Sharing your materials with the others is indeed a nice thing and that is what we have been taught by our adults since our childhood! Isn’t that so? Anyway, as a teacher, I think we all have to be open with our students if our aim is to disseminate knowledge.

Now that’s about openness. But have we ever thought about the openness of creative content. For example, images that we use for our teaching materials or any other work? We are just using any image that we find online, aren’t we? Well, I was, until the ONL course opened up my eyes.

Image repositories are quite common nowadays due to the vast number of pictures that are being taken every minute all around the world. And it is an obvious fact that images play a major role in creating our learning materials or in any other written work in terms of conviction, elaboration and attraction. However, finding the appropriate image from an open source has been a challenge, I believe, mainly due to the unawareness among people of any such open sources. Well, I always wondered how to download and use images on our work legally? This question had been in my mind for a long time until I watched a video that was posted on ONL course page. I was so happy to learn that there are particular websites where we can get such open licensed images.

After learning this, I wanted to expand my knowledge more on this and as usual, I googled. Anyway, even if you don’t know about any specific website for this matter, you can still google open images. There are several ways you could do that. In Google, when you look for an image, under tools, there is an option to check user rights. You may select your option: ‘not filtered by license’, ‘labeled for reuse with modification’, ‘labeled for reuse’, ‘labeled for non-commercial reuse with modification’, and ‘labeled for non-commercial reuse’.  Even in Bing, Flickr, Wikimedia commons and Europeana, you get filtering options. But there is a drawback in these methods because even if we filter the image, it is vital that we go to the website of the selected image to check on the original image to be sure of the image’s CC licencing and user permissions.  Further, OpenClipart and the NounProject which are repositories of clipart and icons respectively are in the public domain (Finding Open Images, 2019).

Moreover, pixabay.com, unsplash.com, morguefile.com and pexels.com are free open licensed repositories which would give you a plethora of quality images.

So, isn’t this an interesting piece of information ? Well, it is for me, and thank you ONL for this!

For more information, you may watch the following video on ‘Creative Commons & Copyright Info’ which was introduced to us by the ONL course:

References:

Open education and the future, Short TED-talk by David Wiley (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb0syrgsH6M)

“Finding Open Images”, Open Educational Resources. (April 30, 2019). Retrieved from https://libguides.uwf.edu/c.php?g=627934&p=4381013

Just started exploring…

The journey has already begun to be a more digitally literate individual! The ONL course has indeed opened up my eyes to the vast knowledge that is out there. And I am fortunate enough to meet scholars from many corners of the world and it is undeniably exciting.

If I talk about me, I am a naïve individual when it comes to technology. I think, I started using my own computer in 2005, but I don’t remember the type of the computer: it was comparatively a big one. And I started using a mobile phone in 2003 or 2004, and it was NOKIA, I remember! (I am not fond of phones at all: I have never bought a phone for myself, for I always receive them as gifts!) Anyway, I started using social media in 2006, I think; and it was Hi5.

Well, David white’s video on ‘visitors and residents-credibility’ was really interesting and that made me watch the part 1 of the video as well. There, he was explaining that digital literacy can be compared to one’s second language: the earlier you start learning the language, the more literate you will be in the language. We can of course see this among the kids of these days. Kids who are born after 1995 (Generation Z) are considered to be born into technology; it is said that on average they use internet minimum three hours a day (Soysal, Çallı, & Coşkun, 2019). However, it should also be noted that increasing digital literacy among psychologically vulnerable young people may result in putting them at a risk if their skills are at a lower level while their usage of internet is intense (Helsper & Smahel, 2019).

However, these days, I believe whether we like it or not, we need to adapt ourselves to the rapidly changing techie life styles. Today, computer mediated communication has become indispensable. We can’t literally survive without technology.

ONL has become an amazing learning platform for me. I knew that we do not have the right to use any picture we can see on internet for our tasks. But I was not aware of the sites like unsplash.com, pixabay.com and pexels.com where pictures could be downloaded without any copyright issues. It was great! And thank you ONL so much for this new knowledge. And I started using padlet in my classroom, and my students enjoyed it so much.

Thus, the journey so far with the ONL team was so exciting, and I look forward to exploring more during this journey!

References

Helsper, E. J., & Smahel, D. (2019). Excessive internet use by young Europeans: psychological vulnerability and digital literacy? Information, Communication & Society, 0(0), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1563203

Soysal, F., Çallı, B. A., & Coşkun, E. (2019). Intra and Intergenerational Digital Divide through ICT Literacy , Information Acquisition Skills , and Internet Utilization Purposes : An Analysis of Gen Z, 8(1), 264–274. https://doi.org/10.18421/TEM81-37

Getting started …

Hi everyone! This is my first experience in blogging and I never thought of starting a blog if not for the course ONL 191. Thank you ONL 191 group for encouraging us to blog! It would be too unfair by the others if I say that my generation is not used to blog, yeah, my friends (not all, though) are very active in blogging. They do write about various things, but I never wanted to start one, maybe I was too busy, or too lazy for that!

Well, I think it is better to introduce myself to you a bit. Unlike the other members in my PBL group, I am still a student: a PhD candidate at the Stockholm University, Sweden. The challenge in my PhD study is that I am doing my studies being in Sri Lanka which is my mother country. Thus, my PhD itself is an example for distance learning. ONL course was recommended to me by my supervisor because we believe that it could give me some exposure to computer mediated communication which would be really important for my study. If I tell you a little bit about my study, it is on computer mediated corrective feedback and these days I am engaged in a study which examines the use of digital tools in the ESL classroom.

I was amazed to see that there are so many digital tools which we can use in the ESL classroom; unfortunately, not all of them are used in the Sri Lankan context. Even I am getting exposed to those only after joining the ONL course.

Most importantly, I also realized that I am in a fantastic group of people from around the world. So, I am looking forward to this amazing online experience and I am so excited about the many things we will learn in this international platform.

Import successful!