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Topic 5: Lessons learnt – future practice

This picture is from a rehabilitation period at ”Vintersol”, Teneriffa. It was the best rehabilitation I’ve experienced, and I have been thinking a lot about why I felt that way. I have been to other places, some in sunny places and some not, that have been much ”flashier” than ”Vintersol”, but not half as good. I have come to the following conclusions:

  • At ”Vintersol” we were treated as adults and got to take charge of our own rehabilitation, while at other places we were treated more like a bunch of disabled people, where others decided which activities we should attend and set up rules for us to follow.
  • At ”Vintersol” everything was kept simple, focus was on us as participants in the different activities rather than on the setting or attendance.
  • People who came to ”Vintersol” came back over and over again, some as on-site-patients and others as outpatients. It was easy to get to know people who had been there before and could help you get about in the beginning.
  • Somehow, it was natural to turn to other participants in the rehab-program, rather than to the leaders all the time.

Transferred to a learning situation that would be:

  • Trust the students, they are there because they want to learn/get a degree, just give them the opportunity to do so!
  • Keep it simple, focus on the students learning and offer activities that feel relevant for them to reach their goals. No need for flashy media or great-looking materials.
  • Invite senior students to assist in different activities.
  • Encourage collaboration between participants in the course.

Much of that is actually the way ONL162 works and I will really try to use some of it in my future courses. I think the hardest part is the first point; to trust the students to do the job. Maybe that is because the financing situation looks as it does in Sweden – we get about half of the money when a student passes, so maybe we don’t dare to let go and trust our students?  If they fail, we fail.

Other important lessons learnt in this course were the parts about digital literacies and how to find and attribute Creative Commons material. I didn’t know those essential rules, and think it is crucial that we teach our students about them!

Also, I believe that I switched my thinking about developed course materials from belonging to me to belonging to all of us, and I feel much more inclined to share!

Thank you for an interesting and deeply developing course!


  1. Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide. Available here
  2. Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand (2012) Creative Commons guide
  3. Gerestrand, A. (2016) Webinar for ONL162




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Topic 4: Design for online and blended learning

I have several handicaps after a heart failure followed by anoxic brain injury 12 years ago, one of them being that I am unable to filter background sounds from those sounds I want to hear. Therefore it is really fatiguing for me to be in a classroom-setting, so I have developed other ways of teaching.

Presently, I have interactive lectures produced in Adobe Captivate. The students are asked to  prepare for class by going through a lecture. They then come to class and work in groups on specified problem sets. In class they have access to more senior students who can help structure the work, discuss solutions to the problems and answer questions about the course material. The new students can ask me questions through our LMS, anonymously if they wish, and I publish the answer to everyone in the course. They also have discussion threads in the LMS, where they can discuss different aspects of the course.

The problem is that the students mostly show up unprepared for class, and they don’t stay to work on the problems, but rather just take them and go. When it is exam-time, they start listening to the lectures and give the problems a shot, but all to late, so many of them fail, and then they complain that they don’t have a real teacher.

They obviously miss ”Teacher presence” so I will arrange more webinar-type sessions during the course. I will also think about how to shorten the lectures as they now take about an hour each.

Last year, I introduced Socrative in class for tests that yielded points towards the final exam. That is something I definitely will continue with.

I really like the idea of producing knowledge to learn, so I will introduce an activity where the students produce a page about an organic molecule on Wikipedia (inspired by Pia Palm in this course), maybe in a collaborative manner.

This autumn, I met a student who really likes to learn things. He expresses his desire to be at the University just to be able to learn stuff, but finds school activities ”getting in the way of his learning”, which I find very interesting, and also can identify with to some part during this course. So many interesting things to try out, but I have to contribute to a presentation or write a blog post…

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Topic 3: Learning in Communities

Photo: CC0 Public Domain

Bees are a natural example of the efficiency of collaboration, and their learning also takes place in a collaborative manner! The beekeepers role is to provide the best conditions for the bees to build their communities, collect and store pollen and nectar, keep diseases out and care for their new-borns.

The role of the teacher is pretty much the same – to provide the best conditions for the students collaborative learning process by planning the course carefully. The teacher should facilitate the collaboration process by dividing the class into small groups, help to establish a trusting atmosphere, be clear about what is expected, and provide relevant group assignments and feed-back.

My experiences during this topic were mainly the following:

Tweet chats are not for me – I felt like everybody was ”shouting” and nobody listening. I will give it a second chance this week, but my expectations are low.

I am unhappy with KTH:s switch to Canvas as our new learning platform, as I find it hard to control the system and to publish material that I worked very hard to produce in our earlier system. I also tried to use Canvas together with Kaltura (KTH Play) to record a video presentation, which went fine until I wanted to share the presentation on our google drive and the presentation was lost, only the video of me was left. Lots of work for nothing :-(.

Enough moaning: I also had some very nice experiences of the group work, sharing the lead with Stefano. Also, I got a new idea from Pia Palms blog, namely to let the students produce material for Wikipedia as a group assignment – absolutely brilliant I think! Further, I enjoyed the presentations from the other pbl-groups, with great ideas for new tools to use. Especially, I like the RealtimeBoard – a collaborative whiteboard tool that pbl-group 3 used for their presentation – I think I will find good use for that!

Finally, I very much appreciated Martha Cleveland-Innes webinar about learning in online communities. Her discussion about teaching presence got me thinking in new ways about my own blended courses.

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Topic 2: Open Learning – Sharing and Openness

The design of teaching hasn’t changed much even though lectures are being recorded and made accessible on the internet. Lectures are recorded in smaller chunks, but apart from that the main style of teaching is as it has been for a very long time. The basic model of design needs to change if we want to keep up with the demands of a digital age and what the new technologies have to offer. [1]

Learning management systems can be used in ways that break away from the traditional classroom model. I feel ready to try a new approach, using the flipped-classroom-model with pre-recorded interactive lectures with the ScalableLearning model and using the time in class for more advanced discussions and answering questions on a higher level. [2, 3, 4]

I like the idea of competency-based learning, were the teacher identifies specific competencies or skills within the subject. Learners can then work at their own pace, independent of starting point, and choose to  develop just the competencies or skills they feel they need, or can combine a whole set of competencies into a full course, or even a full education. [1]

While working with this topic, I have played around a bit with Canvas, which is going to be the new LMS of KTH, and so far I like it! I find it supporting a more modern way of learning than our present LMS, with ways to collaborate and share.

Moreover, I realised that we need to teach our students about the rules for copying images and other work from the internet, Creative Commons and what the CC-licensings mean. [4] I talked to my coworkers about it and they definitely agree.

I still find it a bit difficult to find my way in this course, but it is getting easier and more fun as the course proceeds! I really enjoy the openness and getting to share the thoughts and ideas of other participants and groups – it’s amazing how differently our brains work when we try to understand the intention of each assignment: obvious when one sees the diversity between different groups presentations on the same topic. 🙂

Finally, there are so many new things I would rather try, than spending time on writing blogposts… 😉


  1. Bates, T. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning
  2. Black-Schaffer, D. (2013) Flipping the Classroom in an Introductory IT Course
  3. Gerestrand, A. (2016) Webinar for ONL162
  4. ScalableLearning (2016) Welcome – ScalableLearning
  5. Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand (2012) Creative Commons guide
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Topic 1: Connecting – Online participation and digital literacies

I have not been able to participate very much during the last two weeks of the course due to other obligations, but my reflections so far include that it is hard to organise and find what I should do, read, concentrate on, and so on. When I have a little time over and want to spend it on the course, I end up just looking around and reading something here and there in a very unorganised fashion – maybe because I am digitally illiterate ;-). When one has a course book, it is so much easier to use a half an hour here or there to read or solve problems and then just pick up where you were at the next occasion. Here, so much happens when you are busy doing something else, and I find it difficult to select what to focus on, and I spend more time than I would like to just looking for stuff.

I am definitely a visitor in the digital age, and feel very uncertain as to if I want to become anything else. I like the instant access to online help when using different tools and I am not really shy, I’m just not comfortable sharing my thoughts with whoever it might be. For collaboration or sharing work I think there are some excellent tools with I am happy to use, but I like to keep my personal life separate from my professional life, for example I don’t want to be friends with my students on Facebook and I don’t want them to know what is going on in my private life, nor do I want to know anything about their personal lives, except if they explicitly decide to share it with me.

I hope that ONL will help me to find new ways to connect with my students online but still in a professional way. So far, I used Moovly [1] to make a short animated film from an interview about starting university with some of my students, and it worked well. I would also like to share another tool called Socrative [2] with you. I use it in my course and it helps to engage the students!

  1. 2016-10-14
  2. 2016-10-14



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Notes to myself

Today, I attended the introductory webinar in the course ONL162.

I did like the use of different views in Adobe Connect and the demonstration of different possibilities to gather thoughts and information from the people following the course.

I did not like all the activity with people saying stuff like ”Hi, good to see you here NN” and so on. I found it hard to focus on the actual content of the course and my own thoughts. I wonder how one can avoid that kind of activity?

New note (161115):

Another thing I definitely will not use is the tweet chat, it was awful I think, with nobody listening and everybody shouting at the same time – not my medium!

What I would like to explore:

  • How to set up a course environment like the one used for this course with everything linked from a head page
  • How to set up an Activity tracker, which I really like a lot!
  • The use of Moovely for making videos – tried and liked it 🙂

More (161115):

  • The idea of letting the students contribute to Wikipedia in a collaborative group assignment.
  • The use of RealtimeBoard for the students group work. (Tried it out for Topic 4, and got a very messy and unclear board as a result, need to evaluate more before using)
  • Scalable Learning-type tools to use with my lectures.


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Here we go

First day of the course and we are getting acquainted with PBL, FISh, blogs, twitter, Google, Adobe… I hope to be able to use parts of what we learn in my own classes to get the students more active and to cooperate with each other in a productive way.