måndag 28 november 2016

Topic 5. Course Reflection

"What are the most important things that you have learnt through your engagement in the ONL course? Why?" -Future Practice

I think that I have acquired a lot of good points on learning. In the beginning  of the ONL course I think that the biggest hurdles are to find your way into the first group meetings, and also how to transition from one set of communication strategies that we are used to into the communication strategy used by our PBL-group. From this, I learned two main things regarding how a digital literacy needs to be placed in a context in order to use it successfully.
  • The first thing I learned was that we need to have a defined communication strategy in the beginning of any course. It should not only point to the new means of communication but also describe the expected interaction pattern in that communication channel (the context). I have previously included the communication strategy but not how and when my students should use it. For example: In the introduction email should state clearly that Google Plus is the new means of communication but also that the students should daily monitor their plus account for new posts and also check the comments. That way the students are not only receiving the new tool but also the context on how to use that tool successfully in the course. 
  • The second thing I learned was that digital tools come with baggage in the form of how they are used to fulfill a goal. I call this the tools conventions This means that when a digital tool or platform is introduced in a course that the students have previously used, it does not mean they will be able to use it successfully in my course even if they have tool knowledge. 

The first topic on Digital Literacies was quite nice to reflect on how my digital personal sphere has gradually merged with my institutional work. David White does a good job explaining how to map yourself[1]. For example, my Skype account started in the personal continuum but has gradually been moved to only be used in my work.

Mapping myself on the Digital Visitor and Resident scale.

I have been quite open in my work as a teacher and for many years. But what I learned on openness was more on the importance of sharing responsibly. Something that I'm going to be a bit more careful about is share with a license (for example CC) so that my work is easier to use for others!

I shared some skills with my group

The most fun thing we did in the group was to work on collaboration topic! It was great fun to do some acting. But I have also learned that collaboration requires a lot more than to divide work amongst the members of the group. Acting is a great way to ensure cooperation! I hope to incorporate this in my tutoring soon!

Group 5's presentation on Topic 3. 

In topic four we designed a learning activity using ADDIE! This was also fun and at times quite confusing when it came to cooperating. Suddenly it felt like everyone had separate view on the topic, and it was very nice when we found our way and included a lot of different views. I especially liked reading and listening to the different models on how to design courses and content. I'm thinking of taking the opportunity to learn more about the five stage model from other groups work on the topic.

All in all, this was a fun course with an awesome group of fantastic people. 


[1] White, David, 2011, Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. Online Available: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3171/3049

Topic 4. Design for online and blended learning.

Constructive alignment is about making sure the assessment and teaching reach the learning outcome!
During this topic, we have looked at different models for constructing and evaluating online and blended courses. This was great fun since I did not know about any of them before, but did recognize a lot in them during my studies.

For example, the constructive alignment is about making sure that the learning outcomes as stated in the curriculum are aligned with teaching and learning activities as well as how we assess that students have learned. To me this was nothing new, teaching practical programming on the computer and having programming exams on pen and paper is not a good idea. More interesting to me is that Carolyn Hoessler chooses to start her video on the subject with the following quote by Parker J. Plamer: 
"Our assumption that students are brain-dead leads to pedagogies that deaden their brains". 
I think that is an awesome quote that reflects my impression on many dialogues with colleagues where we teachers complain over that the students lack interest in our subject. Maybe the lack of interest comes from our lack of belief in them?

I have spent many hours trying to make my learning resources more clear in order to avoid getting lots of questions and remarks on them. This is especially true for my assignments, where the assignments started out as short briefly described PBL-open-ended-tasks and then turned into more rigid ten pages with detailed descriptions of everything and some  of my students still asked questions and complained about the assignments. The difference is that now I can say "just read the description". The long detailed descriptions have now become a problem for some of my students.

I did not know at the time but I kind of used the model ADDIE of creating and improving these assignments. I analyzed the problem and used the feedback I got from the students to improve and try to create these "perfect assignment descriptions". In the Analysis phase of ADDIE the designer finds out the necessary steps to carry out the instructional goals but does also incorporate the learners current understanding of the subject. ADDIE also focuses on clarity and to get feedback from the learners to improve the form.

  • A| Analysis
  • D| Design
  • D| Development
  • I| Implementation
  • E|Evaluation

While I still believe in clarity I think I lost something on the way. The ten-page assignments symbolize my lack of belief in the students. Problem is that a small group of the students uses the assignment descriptions as weapons and if they are not bullet proof I get a lot of nonproductive discussions about the details. But taking this course and listening to Gilly Salmons I now believe this might be due to the lack of scaffolding. Perhaps I do not support my students enough through the "easy stuff" like the use of tools, communicating, building groups, providing a welcoming environment to ask questions and how to search for information by themselves. When the students lack these foundational skills they are simply not ready for open-ended tasks. 

However, the long descriptions did do some good: I do now understand how much work it is to do the assignments and how many steps it takes. That is in ADDIE terms I gained the result from the "instructional analysis" and also the "learner analysis" . I believe I should now go back and re-iterate on the assignment since the instructional analysis shows that perhaps the assignments are too big and the learner analysis that the students lacked essential skills. These skills can perhaps be easier acquired in prerequisite courses or I should construct other assignments that must be completed  before the "hard one". 

ADDIE, Five stage model and Constructive alignment all help us to design courses and assignments. Using these I hope to regain the open-ended PBL assignment I once had.

söndag 27 november 2016

Watching ADDIE


  • A| Analysis
  • D| Design
  • D| Development
  • I| Implementation
  • E|Evaluation


Instructional Goals

Find out what the goals are from the client. For example: Make simple pepperoni Pizza, or every type of Pizza

Instructional Analysis

The curriculum designer defines all of the steps necessary to carry out the instructional goals. There are often much more steps than is first thought of. The result is a chart of all steps and in what order they can be carried out in.

Learner Analysis 

What do the learners already know? Do not spend time on things the students already know!

Not only the learners but their context needs to be addressed:  What equipment do they have?

Development of learning Objectives

These are things students should be able to do when the instruction is completed. Be specific and use strong verbs


Design Assessment

It is helpful to know how to test the learning outcomes before designing the learning material. Use the performance objectives to design good assessments. 

Assess in a context as close to the performance setting (the real world usage of the skill/knowledge). 
Write assessment clearly (correct punctuation and grammar). Avoid trying to trick learners by writing complicated or misleading questions.

Choose a Course Format

"The medium by which the course is presented to the learners"
Classroom setting, blended, over the internet etc...

Choose a course format that allows students to practice in a context close to that which they should be assessed in. 

Create an Instructional Strategy

  • Lectures
  • Readings
  • Discussions
  • Projects
  • Worksheets
  • Assessments
  • Activities
(Did watch the other videos too but without making any blog posts about it)

tisdag 15 november 2016

Watching Constructive Alignment

Watching Constructive Alignment

I'm watching the Constructive Alignment video by Carolyn Hoessler.

Constructive Alignments
The video starts by citing Parker J. Plamer "Our assumption that students are brain-dead leads to pedagogies that deaden their brains".  I think that is an awesome quote that reflects my impression on many dialogues with colleagues where we teachers complain over that the students lack interest in our subject. Maybe the lack of interest comes from our lack of belief in them?

Next is that John Biggs (2012) "talks about three levels of teaching" where we as teacher shift our focus when we grow as teachers. We start by focusing on good and bad students onto what we do as teachers and finally to what the student does. This shift is really good since it no longer focuses on the teacher but on how to allow students to be more active. In order to make that shift we need to be interested in who they are and what they bring to the course.
Constructive Alignment

The constructive alignment is about making sure that the learning outcomes as stated in the curriculum are aligned with teaching and learning activities as well as how we assess that students have learned.

I had a hard time following the examples she gave on alignment and misalignment...

The following I asked my group on +

I have a hard time understanding the short examples in the end of the video that are examples of when the Learning outcomes are aligned with the teaching and assessment. I think my lack of understanding comes from me being in a different area and that Carolyn goes through them very quick. Does anyone have a little bit more detailed example of alignment and misalignment that you care to share with me?

Here is an example from my own course, but I'm sort of having a hard time seeing if it is properly aligned or not.
The curriculum objective is that "the students should by themselves and in group be able to plan, document and conduct testing of a software system."
The teaching and learning activies are: "Students read and study examples of test plans, best practices for test plans, and I discuss those in lectures."
The assessment : "1. The students write a test plan document and conduct testing in a group(also a learning activity). 2. Individually peer review test plan document given by other groups according to the best-practices(also a learning activity). The test-plan artifact are graded and the peer reviews are graded.

fredag 11 november 2016

Topic 3. Collaboration and Cooperation

The promise (benefits)

My experiences in Collaborative Learning is mostly based on my work as a teacher. Since many of my students are online students  I try to provide opportunities for them to interact with other students.
 I believe it is good for the students to work together for a number of reasons:
  • Students get an opportunity to build and participate in a Personal Learning Network that benefits them during and perhaps also beyond the course.
  • My own experience is that learning in a group makes studying so much more fun. My most cherished memories from my own study period are intense group discussions.
  • Less work for me as teacher answering same questions over and over again (calming students) since they can ask their friends in their network first.
  • Group work is especially important for online students since studying alone might be very dull.
  • The group may encourage each other to learn deeper since students with high interests share their interest.
  • Students need to development critical thinking skills in order to sort between group opinions[1]. It is also easier to be critical towards authorities (maybe me as ateacher) in a group compared to a single individual, this may encourage different views on the learning material and perhaps I will learn too.
  • Since students need to communicate what they learn and learn what they communicate they are effectively co-creating knowledge and meaning[1]"
  • The very act of explaining a concept to a fellow student is extremely good for achieving a deeper understanding of the concept. A similar situation is when students are forced to state their questions aloud to the group. Who has not asked a question aloud and in the same moment found the answer?
  • Students are encouraged to reflect on the material in order to communicate it reflection[1].
  • Learners become active since they have to communicate, discuss and search for information with their peers[1].
In short:
"In a collaborative learning environment, knowledge is shared or transmitted among learners as they work towards common learning goals" - 
 Blaschke, Brindley and Walti [1]

The drawbacks (problems)

Group work is not without difficulties. Blaschke, Brindley and Walti draws up a list of a few:
  • First who has not heard of an unproductive peer[1] who does not share the load of the group. This may be due to Social loafing (an individual is less productive in a group than alone) but is probably more due to the inherent difficulties of coordinating group work. 
  • Secondly, Blaschke et al points out the trouble of having a difficult peer[1]. In my experience, these students are students that have a hard time when they are faced with other views than their own. But there are also cases of students who do not share the spotlight.  
  • Third problem according to Blaschke et al is that students had "... to carry more than their fair share of workload"[1]. A task designed for a group is often deliberately designed to be too large to do alone. But when students are faced with above stated problems one way forward is to do too much "at least that will show that I did my best". I do not think we should aim for fair division of the work, instead we must make it worth it to cooperate.
  • Finally Blaschke et al points out that students felt it problematic to have"... received a grade that they felt did not reflect their level of contribution to a group project[1]". 

The strategies (solutions)

 Siemens[2], draws up a continuum of involvement from Communication to Community. The ideal case of a learning community is where students discuss, share, work together and also have a common purpose (Se figure below).
Siemens and comes to the conclusion that in most online courses it is not realistic for groups to reach the community or even cooperation part of the continuum. I would say that this is true since building a community takes more time than is normally available during a course. Building a community could, however, be the longtime goal for educational providers such as universities that are giving educational programs with many courses that follow each other. Such a community would greatly benefit students even after a finished education. 
Siemens[2] continuum of involvement

Brindley, Walti and Blaschke[1] draws up a list of best strategies that can be used to increase motivation in group work. Most of the things are very simple and obvious like giving sufficient time to solve the task, having clear instructions, having an appropriate task for group work etc. Other things are designed to make sure the groups form early and also to make sure students have the tools and have mastered the subject to that extent that they can participate in the group. Giving enough flexibility in the tasks is important to make sure students have the freedom to learn what they think is important for them. This freedom must be balanced by the clarity of the task[1]. Finally the groups are also monitored by instructors enabling early interventions when something might go wrong.

Things that we have worked with in our educations is to create spaces where the students are able to meet (both online and real life spaces).

Finally something I try to give the students before a group discussion is a clear communication strategy. I tell my students how to give feedback, how to respond and I try to be present in every group a couple of times to monitor how the students work together. If there is a group that does not seem to work I usually just give them some more communication strategies that might resolve things. Finally I have learned that online groups usually work better if they are small (2-3) students per group.


[1]. Lisa M. Blaschke, Jane E. Brindley and Christine Walti, "Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment", 2009, Online Available
[2]. Siemens, "Interaction, Elearning Course", 2002 Online Available

onsdag 2 november 2016

Topic 2. Openness

Our web programmer study program to which I give my courses has been open for many years. As a result of that (and hopefully the quality of the courses) it is one of the most popular study programs at Linnaeus university. The study program is open in many ways but not fully open since the examination is only given to students registered on the course.

Open to potential students

As a result of openness, the information about the study program is more complete and easily available compared to other educations we provide. This makes it much easier to share information with potential new students and they can themselves search and get a feel for what the courses in the program will contain before even applying. They can listen to recorded lectures, watch lectures live, browse last year's assignments and in some cases take part of course evaluations (depending on course and individual teacher). They cannot however participate in exams and hand in assignments. Since I give courses with rather generic names it is quite common that students apply to a course but has no idea on the course content or if it is a course for them, that way it is really good that they can take part of last years course material to form an informed opinion before committing to the course.

A potential drawback would be that potential students that do not like how the education is conducted might be put off by the open material and decide to do something else instead of enrolling in our courses. Which is a good thing since they do not spend a year or two of their lives on an education they do not want.

Open to slow students

There are always some students that for some reasons do not finish the courses in time, since the material is kept open and available they can use it between courses and hopefully finish the courses next time the course is given. This is actually really good for students that have disabilities.

Open to alumni students

We have also noticed that a lot of our old students return to our courses after the course finished. They do that for several reasons: sometimes to give something back, perhaps giving a guest lecture. Sometimes they come back to check some details they need in their work or in their hobby projects. I have also been contacted by students that read the study material or listen to the lectures to take part of material in courses that was not part of their study program but they felt an interest in but never wanted to commit to. Some old students give the material to their colleagues at work so that they can brush up on subjects. This makes opening up the material as a service to the society.

Open to the public

I have on a handful of occasions been contacted by citizens that have found my material through other means (I guess google) and are grateful for it being there. They are open learners that perhaps have a hard time studying at the speed we give the courses. I try to answer their questions (if time exists) and usually try to motivate them to find and apply to a study program.

Responsible opening and sharing of material

In order to produce open educational resources, I think the following things are important.

  • Do not claim authorship of things that are not yours, try to find the source of your material and give proper credit!
  • The same goes for images, use google advanced search to find public domain images to use instead of stealing, I prefer to make my own and still give credit to the original source of for example diagrams. I try to include a link back to the source page (for example wikipedia)
  • Release your stuff(I write a lot of programming source code) with a license (perhaps MIT or CC) that shows how other can use your material responsibly.
  • Make sure that all students know when and what is going to be shared, if you have cameras in the lecture hall make sure everyone knows about it and how to place themselves outside of the image.
  • Have options for Students that do not want to be seen or heard to ask questions. We use Slack and that is not recorded, and I instead read the questions and answer them.

Opening your material is a powerful statement

It says: 
  • I welcome critique! 
  • I believe in what I do!
  • I think this is important beyond the university