[Topic5] Me before ONL 202, and after ONL 202

At each of four topics in ONL, Digital literacy, Open learning, Learning in communities, and Online & blended learning, the discussion and the webinar were always beyond what I expected to have.

Digital Literacy

For instance, in digital literacy, I realised that I have been just agreeing with people saying ‘students are good with technology. They would feel comfortable with learning online.’ without thinking what it would really mean. From week 1, digital literacy in education does not mean how frequently you are using technology in everyday life. It is more purposeful, like how well would you adopt the technology to maximise learning outcome. This discussion made me look back if I had any assumption in designing the course with with any technology. I will definitely think of this concept and the knowledge that I acquired from this topic when I need to incorporate any technology in teaching and learning.

Open Learning

Open learning concept was something quite new to me too. I had some reservation about open education. But from the discussion and recommended reading, I learnt some aspects of open education. It is not only limited to open my course to public, but open education may mean various level of openness and may include various stake-holders in openness. Therefore, under open education concept, I may consider inviting learners as a co-creator of the course, or inviting colleagues to get feedback.

Collaborative learning

From the discussion on Collaborative learning, our PBL indeed learn it collaboratively. At the beginning we realised that we presented various views toward collaborative learning, and we could work for the final product of PBL while collaboration. I used to look at ‘collaborative learning’ as a group work, but from the experience with my PBL group, I learnt that collaboration could happen in many forms. Also, from reading, I learnt to prepare the detailed and specific guideline for collaboration among students.

Blended learning

The Community of Inquiry was the model to consider for Blended learning. It was a really interesting framework to explain my blended course, in how to engage students and promote reflective learning. It was one of my utmost interest in designing an online course recently.

In conclusion, ONL experience helped to explain myself, and to see through new lenses. I used to focus on WHAT and HOW I have to do, but often forgot WHY I have to do it along the way. ONL indeed reminded of WHY and HOW, which I really appreciate.

[Topic4] Blended learning: Changes in my role as faculty

Firstly, I must admit that it was so unexpected to hear the webinar about Community of Inquiry (CoI) as a framework for designing flexible, networked and community-based learning, under ‘Blended learning’. I thought I would hear more directly relevant issues regarding blended learning. But very soon, I realised that it IS important to understand the framework to helicopter-view the entire course as a designer of the course. Dr. Cleveland-Innes mentioned about the faculty role, which I think the most interesting topic to me at the current situation. She shared that “the expanding role of teacher for faculty in higher education can be managed by sharing some pieces of the role with instructional learning designers, web-analysts and learning technology experts.” in the Webinar. Specifically she asked us to share the thoughts on three questions in Padlet.

1. How are you perceiving your role as teacher changing regarding design for learning?

During the Pandemic situation, I found myself spending more time in designing the course and interacting with the students (outside the class), than preparing individual lecture (e.g. reading papers and preparing PPT slides). Meaning, I focus more on the learning process and learners than content delivery. Based on the students feedback on the course, the students appreciate personalised feedback and support more than fluent lecture delivery, particularly during online course. The reason can be explained under the second question.

2. What have you done differently in remote teaching and learning?

Because there was a certain limitation during ‘online LECTURE’ compared to face-to-face lecture, such as lack of chance for learner engagement during lesson itself. Therefore, I looked at other opportunities of learner engagement outside of live lectures. I provided two additional platforms of interaction, one for personal interaction, and the other for community interaction.

1) Reflections in MS Teams: All the students were required to write a weekly reflection on their learning experience according to the guide. The guides are given as below.

[During eLecture]  I learnt and noticed …, I wondered … , I wanted to find out … , So, I did….  

[During Lecture]  I could resolve …, I could find further …, I was not still clear about …. Therefore, I want to …, I want to find out further of … , After the class, I did….  

[Language & Culture] Things I notice about language and culture, with material/Media/Resource:   

Reflections allowed students to monitor their own learning process and identify any issues, and allowed me to provide individual feedback and support to the student. And this is my new role as an educator.

2) Group interaction in MS Teams post: The students shared the questions and some concerns regarding learning in this platform. Also some casual conversation (e.g. sharing YouTube video, K-pop, K-drama….) also went on to make learning Korean more enjoyable. As a result, the students created personal relationship with classmates, and bonded each other.

3. How have you developed a learning community for your students?

It it true that we have created a learning community, but it was NOT really me who developed. I provided a platform to start a learning community, and the STUDENTS developed the community, which was a pretty amazing experience for me. We, including me, never have done such a course and we enjoyed new ways of engagement while learning.

In fact, there were some aspects of online & blended learning that I really liked about, and I hope to bring it back to face-to-face classroom.

[Topic3] What do I learn from collaboration?

‘Learning community’ became one of the major topics that I am pondering as a research and as an educator. Last year, I started a learning community in my faculty for the colleagues who might want to share thoughts on any practices and challenges that we are doing as an educator. Surprisingly, it attracted quite number of colleagues joined every sessions and voluntarily presented their practices. This community is a completely voluntary based and no obligation, yet there were few loyal members and it developed to moved to a bigger platform with the faculty’s support.

From this experience, I learnt that intrinsic motivation is the most important part of a successful learning community. If each of us is all motivated to give and learn within the community, the learning community will become beneficial to all in the community. But it lead me to think how we become intrinsically motivated to become a member of a learning community? Perhaps the community can add value to the person. For my learning community in the faculty, we all knew that we could learn from each other, and before that we all wanted to become a better educator.

Now, this semester, I used MS Teams for the first time in the course. For the past 12 years at my university, National university of Singapore, I have been using LumiNUS, a NUS’ learning management system (LMS). LumiNUS is an amazing platform that allows me to share files, upload pre-recorded e-lectures, create an online forum and online conferences, and manage small groups among the students. However, during a complete online course due to the Pandemic, I felt there is not enough communication channels with, and among students. Therefore I decided to use MS Teams mainly to support more communication.

One major observation by providing more communication channels include that the students formed a learning community in MS Teams. They posted questions and shared their thought about the questions posted. In addition the students posted some of casual stuffs like cartoons and video clips that are related to the course topic. And others reacted to the posts by emoji, or by commenting on them. I found it very interesting since this was an organically grown learning community, on the platform that I, an instructor provided. My take-away is sometimes as an educator, I can just provide a platform to students to start their self-directed activities and I just stay away and see. In this case, the motivation of students to be active in the learning community was also the same with my experience in a learning community for colleagues. That would be they want to learn from each other and rely on each other. After all, learning would be a social activity, that leads us to share and collaborate.

[Topic 2] Co-creation in Open education

My first impression to ‘Open Education’ was rather sceptical, perhaps due to my personal perception of the word ‘Open Education’. Copy right issue and non-authorised sharing of materials were some of the past experiences in open education for me. However this time, I would like to learn more what ‘Open Education’ really means.

While reading the references and the webinar prepared by Alastair and Kiru, I came to reflect about what educators’ role and responsibilities in the open education context. Educators’ responsibility traditionally covers from creating educational resources (e.g. hard-material like textbook & soft-material like curriculum design and activities) to delivering them to learners in a private space. However, open education aims to share ‘educational resources’ among educators and learners. It makes me think how I can re-define or evolve the role and responsibility of educators in open education, and how I can contribute to the community more meaningfully as educator.

From the discussion during my PBL 11 meetings, I learnt that we can provide constructive feedback to each other and continuously can improve ourselves in developing the educational resources. And we can be agreeable on how we adopt the educational resources originally created by others. To me, this is a matter of culture. Culture in the community, we can mutually agree to respect the copy right and ethics in accessing to others’ work.

Besides, I appreciate that this opportunity to understand open education made me realise that I have encourage my students co-create open resources. A wonderful written work created by one of my students actually inspired me that I could use that piece as a model for future students. I asked that student for a permission to share it open (e.g. for any potential students), and he happily agreed to that. In this activity, my student became a co-creator of open educational resources. The unique learning point from this experience was that learners, not only educators can contribute to sharing educational resources. More importantly, the student who was invited to share his works seemed to improve in his writing in further submissions after the experience of sharing the work. I may speculate that he self-motivated in the performance for potential opportunities of sharing his work again. In consequence of sharing the work, the contributing learners can also get benefited by co-creation of open resources in the education context.

This approach can be applied to the entire class, but I am, at the same time being cautious of unnecessary stress of sharing the works could be seen from some students. After all, open education requires a great deal of courage!

[Topic 1] Digital Literacy, not digital skills

The first topic of ONL202 was DIGITAL LITERACY, that I have not been thinking of much. While exploring the resources recommended by the organisers, I quickly realised that I have misunderstood the term ‘digital literacy’. Here I share what I misunderstood and learnt.

1. Review of ‘Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide’

Accessibility to correct information/resources safely through various online channels/at various online platforms became an important capability to use, because it extends chances to broader information channels. This is how JISC (2014) opened the discussion about digital literacy. Digital literacy is not a concrete concept in how well you can decode the information available online, but it is always in the development because proficient digital literacy is context-based.

For instance, each school at a university may require people different digital skills to be proficient in digital literacy. In business school, students may need to handle numeric information with analysis tools, while students in design school need to be proficient in 3D design digital tools. During the Webinar, I had a chance to learn more about ‘Visitor and Resident’ or ‘Native and Immigrant’ concept in understanding digital literacy. I can see how students feel more natural in utilising digital platforms or technologies in their life. However, it does not mean frequent and proficient using of technology assures an appropriate application of technologies to their learning context. And the context is influential in each person’s digital literacy. Therefore, digital literacy in each community should be differentiated. To do that, it is important for the members of the community can work together to create culture regarding digital literacy. Here are some projects done at few institutions.

Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute project

Developing Faculty Learning Communities at the University of Bath : “These groups came together to develop a rich set of digital literacy statements which describe the attributes of learners, researchers, teachers and professionals within the context of their subject disciplines.”

It makes sense that different types of digital skills and different proficient level of digital literacy required at different disciplines and areas. Learning communities made the statements more relevant to the members of each micro-community, so it became more efficient. In conclusion, when we say ‘digital literacy’ is does not mean how many digital tools you can play with, or how well you can play with those tools. Rather, it means if you understand your digital world well and if you can choose the correct digital tool that support learning most efficiently. 

2. In my context

This semester, I observe my students using technology in learning. I use our university’s internal learning platform, LumiNUS, Zoom and MS Teams as the main communication channels. But each tool serves slightly different purposes. LumiNUS allows me to see all the students’ university related particulars (e.g. matrix number, lecture group, email address) and provide functions such as sending SMS, uploading grades, uploading learning materials. Another advantage of LumiNUS is its familiarity to me and to the students. All of us have been using LumiNUS for some time already (except few year 1 students).

MS Teams is a fantastic platform to create a learning community as well as private communication channel within it. For instance, I receive all the written works via MS Teams, and it allows me to comment and edit within the tool. In the post, students exchange questions and answers freely, which creates a certain culture of learning community. But most of us are using this tool for the first time, so we went through a bit of challenges at the beginning of semester.

Zoom is the tool for live lectures. Thankfully, NUS provided cooperate license to the members of the university and Zoom is connected with LumiNUS, which makes it easy to use. For instance, I can create Zoom meetings within LumiNUS and the students can instantly see their meeting details in LumiNUS.

While I concerned so much in using too many (at least to me!) online tools exclusively this semester, at the beginning of semester I did a small attitude survey towards online platform in learning, particularly Korean language that I am teaching. The question asked was “How does the online mode of course will impact improving Korean (in General, Accuracy, Vocabulary, Comprehension, Writing, Listening, Speaking, Enjoyment)? The outcome was quite surprising to me. The students rated the impact from online mode in learning would be rather neutral (neither positive nor negative) in average. Table 1 demonstrates the rate of each choice by 44 students in an advanced Korean language module at the National University of Singapore.

Table 1. Attitude towards online mode of learning (5 scale rating) by area

Area Extremely positive Somewhat positive Neither positive nor negative Somewhat negative Extremely
General 0% 34% 32% 34% 0% 100%
Accuracy 2% 32% 41% 25% 0% 100%
Vocabulary 11% 34% 52% 2% 0% 100%
Comprehension 5% 41% 32% 23% 0% 100%
Writing 5% 27% 41% 27% 0% 100%
Listening 20% 41% 27% 11% 0% 100%
Speaking 7% 39% 16% 39% 0% 100%
Enjoyment 5% 32% 30% 34% 0% 100%

It was interesting to see the students expected to see a positive impact from online mode on Listening (61%). Although the students expected most negatively (39%) in speaking among all the aspects, still more positive attitude than negative attitude was found (46% vs 39%). From digital literacy perspective, students might perceived their digital literacy quite proficient due to their nativeness in digital world, and are positive in online learning regardless their digital literacy in learning context.

At the end of the semester, the same set of questions will be sent to the students to answer. It would be interesting to see how their attitude might be changed after the completion of the online module. I expect the students would perceive higher proficient digital literacy in learning context, and become more ‘resident‘ in utilising educational tools for learning. But on the other hand, there could be a chance the students realise challenges in learning online due to limited digital literacy in this context.

ONL202: A new way to reflect teaching and learning

At least, to me, participation to ONL202 is a new way to reflect my teaching and learning. Perhaps it is collective, and able to get instant feedback from colleagues all over the world.

To be honest, I cannot articulate tangible objectives of joining ONL202, but it is rather abstract and vague at the moment. My objective then could be clarifying a long-term objective of teaching and learning through this journey.

ONL202 Week 2: “Connecting” starts today!