FDOL 2014


Summative reflection

Looking back on my reflections I realize that even though I have learned a lot, working on the different topics  of digital literacy, online collaboration, open educational practices and so on by reading I believe the overall course experience by itself stands for a large part of fueling my learning  processes.

When we started the course I reflected with the help of the media wheel on the many tools that are available in order to support our learning experiences. From a perspective of digital literacy the course offers challenges not only concerning the amount of tools you might need to develop skills to handle, but also the issues of  understanding the various digital contexts (Belshaw, 2002). That is, when you have understood what it means to create accounts on google plus, joined the various groups, created a blog and written your first blog post there is still the question of how to act and communicate with your peers in not one learning context but many.


The variation of learning activities and the freedom of how to process the content individually and in the group created a sense of flexibility. Anna Nager in our group found a great article on how to divide learning experiences into synchronous and asynchronous eLearning (Hrastinski, 2008). The synchronous activities in the course would be those where you interact with your peers in real time, for instance in the google hangouts or the twitter chats, the asynchronous reading, writing or giving and receiving feedback on the reflections. When taking a course with a  full time job it is easier to plan and work on your own,  but having discussed and shared ideas within the group in real time I agree with Hranski that  the synchronous meetings is a ground for motivation, that from my personal view, many courses could benefit from.

The group activities, for instance discussions and copresenting is of course not only a source of motivation but also the underpinning  for a collaborative learning environment. Exchanging and testing ideas in an easy and relaxed way with the group is part of an iterative learning process that according to Wenger (2000)  can be viewed as a social learning system. Even better if it continues over time  – perhaps the course is a bit too short?  We where just getting started :-).

The topic about supporting learners had some great articles about motivation that was really interesting, but I when I got my hands on the 3E framework (Smyth et al, 2011)  I was stuck! We try to introduce digital tools in meaningful ways and give examples on how to use them in our workshops, but the 3E framework presents an overview with the levels enhanceextend– and empower which means that the various  tools can be introduced according to level of confidence and skills of our teachers.

When reflecting about open educational practices my thoughts where focused on how we best can use and share content along with pedagogical practice developed with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC´s). I have seen examples (Bruff et al, 2013)  of collaborations where teachers of campus based courses picks strategic parts of an online course and integrates them within their local learning context. Very interesting questions arises here around intellectual properties, meaningful integration of content, how to use (or not) the forums in the classroom and also what the role of the teacher becomes.

This FDOL course is a special kind of MOOC where you as a course participant are free to enroll and interact with others in the course without charge. It is also open in the sense that the material and course design with the PBL concept is under a creative common licence.  This opens up wonderful opportunities for learning communities in a very flexible  sense – you can have apply as an individual or as a group, you can use the material over a week with one topic every day (sounds stressful, but fun Neil Withnell ) or use the material in a stand alone manner in your classroom (as  Maria Kvarnström and Lars Uhlin told me about the other day).

Now I will end this very  long reflection by adding that I really have enjoyed working, discussing and learning with you all in this course and hopefully some of you will be back again this fall – see you then!


Belshaw, D. (2012). What is’ digital literacy’? A Pragmatic investigation.Durham thesis, Durham University. Available at Durham E-thesis online : http://ethesis.dur.ac.uk/3446

Bruff, D. O., Fisher, D. H., McEwen, K. E., & Smith, B. E. (2013). Wrapping a MOOC: Student Perceptions of an Experiment in Blended Learning. Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, 9(2). Find it here: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2013/09/wrapping-a-mooc-cft-study-published-in-the-journal-of-online-learning-and-teaching-jolt/

Hrastinski, S. Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. Educause Quarterly. Nr 4, 2008

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. Falmer Pr.

Smyth et al. (2011). Benchmark for the use of technology in modules. Edinburgh Napier University

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246


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Collaborative learning – how does a community of practice start?

After the first couple of weeks we in our group developed a kind of working process. We first worked individually,  processed content such has articles and videos provided or found material of our own. For me this phase meant extracting ideas that either interested me or that answered questions formed from the scenario point of view. Mostly it was the former.

When meeting as a group  in the Google hangout each member had the opportunity to present and give voice to the ideas, test the understanding of concepts and also to receive feedback in form of clarifying questions.  Some of our meetings resulted in a presentation in the form of a PowerPoint or a Prezi, some did not.

For me it is interesting to review the literature on how this kind of iterative learning process  – collaborate learning can be explained. According to Etienne Wenger (2000) a constellation such as our PBL-group can be viewed as a social system.  When we engage with content and ideas first individually and secondly as a group, we have two processes of meaning making  that fuels the learning. One process is participation, this is where we share our ideas and negotiate our understanding through social activities, for instance a discussion. The other process is where we transform our ideas, reification (making into an object) and create our presentations and personal reflections.  The social learning here is the result of these two processes at interplay .



The dual process of meaning making, inspired by Wenger (2000) 

These entwined processes  are repeated  throughout the course within different activities. After writing the reflection we had the opportunity to review  peers writing and respond, and get comments in return  –  as I try to visualise this I see a form of learning spiral (might be completely wrong though :-)).



Learning as a product of a social structure. Inspired by Wenger (2000). 

Wenger explains the continuos experience as an interplay where the groups create a social learning history and that the group can in fact over time create a community of practice.

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a
concern or a passion for something they do and learn how
to do it better as they interact regularly”

(Wenger, 2011)

So then, which teacher would not want their course participants to go beyond course discussions and and see their course  evolve beyond the course boarders into a learning community? It would be very interesting to try to create forums and activities within more courses at the universities that would  enable the same phenomenon that is occurring in the FDOL course  – that is facilitators teaming up as a result of a personal interest, imagine that.



Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246
Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/09-10-27-CoPs-and-systems-v2.01.pdf 

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Open Educational practices: From a flip to a wrap

I’m in a very interesting spot right now.  We are having meetings on how we could do the small blends approach in our pedagogical courses, that is introducing and describing for teachers how they could make teaching more accessible and flexible in small steps with the support of digital tools and the usage of open educational resources. At the same time we are working with other teacher teams on their way of building massive open online courses, the MOOCs.

So, how could these two projects benefit from each other? One small blends approach is making the students work with recorded lectures complemented with quizzes for self tests – and perhaps even forums for discussion, making room for more interactive learning when back in the classroom (you can for instance use TedEd, described in a previous post). This approach is called the flipped classroom (read more here).The MOOCs contain recorded lectures with invideo quizzes for testing your knowledge, often accomplished with more complex assignments like programming or peer-assessed writing tasks. But could you then use content from MOOC´s as the basis for a flipped classroom?

I discovered you can. I found an interesting article (Bruff et al, 2013),  and learned something new. If you are doing a blend with a MOOC it is apparently sometimes called wrapping a MOOC, that is wrapping your course around the MOOC course material.  The term wrapped is coined by Prof. Fisher and comes from machine learning research literature associated with an algorithm that wraps itself around another and extracts the best parts to improve the overall environment.

The blend  described in the article was in a course from  Vanderbilt university wrapping around the Stanford produced Machine Learning MOOC. The students from Vanderbilt signed up for the complete course, which means they worked their way through videos, quizzes and programming assignments.  In the classroom they discussed the videos but the facilitator of the course also introduced other more challenging reading assignments and to them related discussions, and concluded the course with an individual project of their own design.  The students reaction to the project was overall positive, especially using the weekly videos the could watch in their own pace. Another feature that was positive was the ability to change speed, add captions and test yourselves through in video quizzes. The forums of the course, which often play an important part in the standalone online MOOC did not contribute to a social network experience though. Perhaps you really don’t need this if you have your peers in the immediate surrounding? Other courses implementing parts of MOOC´s seems to experience the same phenomenon (Caulfield, 2013).

But can you then use any MOOC for your course in this our time of openness?

There must of course be different rules for using other universities’ course material, depending on the university and what platform the MOOC is published on. For instance if a course is published on Coursera you have a partner exchange programme which I believe means that you can have the previously mentioned collaboration that Vanderbilt and Stanford had. If not, then you as a university will have to choose how open you want be with your material – perhaps publish course or course material on a platform under a creative commons license.

According to Amy Collier in her TedX speak The Brave New World of Online Learning “…openness is at the very core to be accessible to as many people as possible. And the meaning of accessible here being pushed to be reimagined, editable, changeable so that the ideas can continue to grow.” There is a difference here, I think, between a Massive Open Online course  being open to enrollment and being open for the sharing of content. There are uncertainties on how you as a teacher can benefit from the vast repositories that the MOOCs in a way represent. This is an (for me) uncharted territory that definitely needs to be investigated further.


Bruff, D. O., Fisher, D. H., McEwen, K. E., & Smith, B. E. (2013). Wrapping a MOOC: Student Perceptions of an Experiment in Blended Learning. Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, 9(2). Find it here: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2013/09/wrapping-a-mooc-cft-study-published-in-the-journal-of-online-learning-and-teaching-jolt/

Caulfield. M., Collier.A , &  Halawa. S. (2013)  Rethinking Online Community in MOOCs Used for Blended Learning | EDUCAUSE.edu  Find it here: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/rethinking-online-community-moocs-used-blended-learning

The Flipped Classroom FAQ

The Brave New World of Online Learning:  Amy Collier at TEDxStanford



Supporting Learners: Building confidence with the small blend approach

Many support questions I receive are focused on how different tools are used and how they work,  but beyond knowledge and skills  I believe there is also an uncertainty how to engage, act and communicate within the new context the tools bring, which makes me think again about digital literacy, especially the essential elements presented by Belshaw 2012 (p.206 ff). He writes:

” …. I would suggest that the eight essential elements of digital literacies are:  cultural, cognitive, constructive, communicative, confidence, creative, critical, civic.”

Without going into what all of these factors mean, teachers should at least have the confidence part  (when they want or need) to learn a new tool/media/environment to support the designed teaching and learning activities since there are so many factors to consider.  There is the relation between learning outcomes, teaching and learning activities and assessment, perhaps they need to make room for  flexibility in time, space and delivery  and –  and at the same time, in turn supporting students in a proactive way (Simpson 2008)  – perhaps with a different framework based on positive psychology … well…there is a lot to think about 🙂

It is clear that in some situations baby steps are needed to take – or call it  the blends approach (from the 3E Framework design, Smyth et al, 2011).   The framework  focuses on how to implement technology in a meaningful way into a  teaching and learning context . To do this we employ a continuum: Enchance,  Extend and Empower developing practical examples for each level.  The different levels in the continuum are described like this:

Enhance: Adopting technology in simple and effective ways to actively support students and increase their activity and self- responsibility

Extend: Further use of technology that facilitates key aspects of student’s individual and collaborative learning and assessment through increasing their choice and control

Empower: Developed use of technology that requires higher order individual and collaborative learning that reflects how knowledge is created and used in the professional environment

The enhance level here is the minimum implementation, the small blend approach. One example could be within the self-assessment area, adding multiple choice tests online for the students to test their knowledge. Those kinds of tools are easy to operate – try for instance with TedEd (see my last post) or use a  stand-alone quiz engine like proprofs . As for the extended part the teacher can link the self-tests to different sections and include model answers for students.  Last, in the empowering level the learners as a group create the questions themselves. When I read about this I immediately thought of Peerwise which is used  for instance at our faculty of Medicine at Lund University.

Peerwise, a free tool, lets the students formulate multiple choice questions anonymously, relate them to different content modules and tag them with concept tags. They also need to write an explanation for each question. Other students can solve the question, read the explanation and comment. The question and the explanation can both be rated on difficulty and quality and it is also possible for the  students  to improve the explanation.   This kind of tool might be more of a challenge to integrate in a course; it requires you to know how to motivate the learners to use it, how to integrate it in the teaching & learning activities and how to support the students (even though the tool is actually not difficult to use).

In other words, there is a difference between adding a couple of multiple choice questions to the readings and integrating the latter system – and the 3E framework with examples could be a way to support the choices on our workshops. I am drawn to the idea of presenting different levels of meaningful implementation of digital tools/media. The small blends approach could bring confidence assurance and be a knowledge builder for the teacher and at the next level you would still have examples to inspire those who are already involved.

This reminds me of the  epiphany I experienced  decoding the SOLO-taxonomy a couple of years ago, realising that the word understand could be divided into both levels of understanding and significance. Teaching with technology/digital tools and media also means different things for different people (in both a good and bad way) and I think that one way to support our teachers and our students is to give a nuanced overview over possibilities and challenges.

Next week we have a group meeting where we are discussing if and how the 3E framework could inspire some parts of our LATHE course (Learning and Teaching in Higher Education) –  we will see if small blends is the new black for this fall.


Peerwise: http://peerwise.cs.auckland.ac.nz/
Read more about Peerwise here: http://www.peerwise-community.org/publications/
uiz engine: http://www.proprofs.com/
Create a lesson with a TedTalk: http://ed.ted.com/

See interview with Marcus Granmo from Lund University here (only in swedish)


Belshaw, D. (2012). What is’ digital literacy’? A Pragmatic investigation.

Simpson, O. (2008). Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?. Open Learning23(3), 159-170.

Smyth et al. (2011). Benchmark for the use of technology in modules. Edinburgh Napier University


Topic 3: Flexibility – creating affordances for learning experiences

This week has been all about working on the concept of flexible learning. I have read interesting and inspiring visionary ideas about flexibility (Ryan & Tilbury, 2013)  and also a very hands-on article giving examples of how to design and manage your course in order to make it more flexible (De Boer & Collins, 2005) and not the least have had discussions with my PBL-group.

For me one of the most interesting aspects of flexible learning  was when reflecting the choices we make when designing our learning activities. Last week I wrote about the media wheel, which is used to map out how different tools can support the learning experience in different ways in order to create variation in learning activities to help the learner reach intended learning outcomes (inspired by Laurillard 2002).

Pedagogy for choosing different tools as base of the learning experiences is important but not the only reason. We also need consider how to create opportunities to make the learning happen in order to support learners with another first language or a full-time job and family or even perhaps even to make life easier for students that needs to commute every day. Flexibility often refers to flexibility in time, flexibility in space and flexibility in delivery. De Boer & Collin´s article gives an overview and tips how you can plan and manage flexibilities in different ways in your course (se for instance on table 4, p 38 ).

So, how could you improve flexibility, add elements of accessibility and give variation in learning activities in the same time? One suggestion from the article last mentioned  is recording your lecture and making it available online – this way your students can access your lesson from where ever and whenever. As a bonus students can watch, pause and repeat if needed, a way of lightening the cognitive load (Carrol, 2002).  

A popular approach is using the flipped classroom practice where the homework and lecture are reversed (Educause, 2012). Using a recording instead of always lecturing also gives you the opportunity to use that valuable classroom time for student centered activities like discussions or group work.

But, how do you make sure that the students engage with the material before class? One way could perhaps to build a lesson with TedEd, an educational website connected to the Ted Talks. Here you can use educational videos from the Ted talks or select a video from YouTube (your own if you have them uploaded).

To create a lesson you login to TedEd (its free), search for a video and click Flip This Video in order to start working. In an intuitive interface you can then connect multiple choice and open questions with the video, in order for the student to check their understanding. You can post further reading and reflective questions connected to your concepts and – you can also create a discussion forum where your students can answer your questions or, perhaps state questions of their own to prepare for your next session together. You as a teacher invite students to your flipped lecture with a link. As the teacher/owner of the lecture you can follow your students to see their progress. Many of these things can of course be done within the learning platform, but this is an alternative. I am also thinking that perhaps it would be even more interesting to let students make these flips, but that is a different topic 🙂

TedEd Practice Lesson

Example of a lesson created in TedEd by my colleague Marita Ljungqvist which we are using in an upcoming workshop. The image shows the section Think which includes multiple choice questions or open ended answers. In dig deeper you can add links to related material, there is a space for discussion and … finally there is a space for adding your reflection to bring back to class. 

The discussions and readings of this week  has made me think closer to an aspect tightly connected to the learning experience, a practical one that should not be overseen – expanding the opportunities to learn in time, space and pace. All courses does not need to be fully flexible but we could see over elements that could be improved in this perspective – on step at a time.


PS I am including a section about flexible learning in my next workshop.

TedTalks: http://www.ted.com/
TedEd (click on create a lesson to try it out): http://ed.ted.com/
Record your lecture on your own computer (free, just press the record button): http://www.screencast-o-matic.com


Carroll, J. (2002). Suggestions for teaching international students more effectively. Learning and Teaching Briefing Paper Series, Oxford Brooks University.

De Boer, W., & Collis, B. (2005). Becoming more systematic about flexible learning: beyond time and distance. Research in Learning Technology, 13(1).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (7). Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms. EDUCAUSE Creative Commons. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7081.pdf

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. Falmer Pr.

Ryan, A., & Tilbury, D. (2013). Flexible Pedagogies: new pedagogical ideas.


Mapping FDOL Learning Experiences

This first week of the course has been a great learning experience for me. Sure, I work with digital tools and platforms but it is a completely new experience to be part of a course that is  open in both the meaning of participation and usage of tools but also with the PBL-perspective where we as a group decide what we want to learn, how to work and how to present our findings. 

I think it is interesting to reflect on the courses different media categories and how they support our learning experiences. I usually work with the Media wheel, an illustration created with and used in different projects with my colleagues Lotty Larson and Marita Ljungqvist.

This is how we usually explain the visualization: the Media wheel is inspired by Laurillards different media categories for learning, where students learning experience is placed in the centre.  Diana Laurillard argues in her book Rethinking University Teaching (2002) that different kinds of media have different affordances for different kinds of student learning experiences. She lists five different forms of media: Communicative, Adaptive, Interactive, Narrative and Productive media.


For instance Narrative media tell or show the learner something (recorded lectures, ebooks)
Interactive media responds in a limited way (like a quiz)
Adaptive media are changed by what the learner does (simulations, virtual worlds etc)
Communicative media makes it possible to communicate (forums, chat) 
Productive media is media that makes is possible for the learner to create (google drive, wikis etc) 


The second image above  is how the course could be illustrated with the Media Wheel. The narrative media media is for instance the articles and movies we are provided with and the growing repository we are creating on diigo . 

Communicative media: the reason for the many tools within the communicative sector is that the tools support different kinds of communication: asynchronous and synchronous.  Asynchronous media are exemplified with the google plus communities, where you have time add or read a post and reflect before you answer. Twitter works as an information and what-is-happening channel –and as a chat on Wednesdays (can´t wait to join the next one!) The google hangouts are examples of synchronous media, a place where the communication happens instantly. The hangouts supports the PBL-groups discussions and fuels the thinking and collaboration processes.

I have intentionally made the line between the communicative and productive media categories very thin since the communicative process is also very creative and productive. In our PBL group we started to discuss how to present our findings and one suggestion was to create a presentation with tools from google drive. We could, of course also work with infographics with such Canva, create screencasts with screencast-o-matic or a non-liniar presentation with Prezi. The WordPress blog works as the tool for reflecting and writing on your own learning and experiences. 

To map out the activities and the corresponding tools and try to explain the course from a learning experience perspective is part of the learning process for me. The visualization, does give an overview of  the learning experiences afforded to course participants  –  It does not, however show how and if the learner experience is teacher- or learner controlled, what actions are taken to create involvement – where and if feedback and support are provided and how dialogue is ensured. Factors that are important to consider when designing learning activities and structuring learning material. 

Having read Coomey and Stephenson (2001)  I now wonder how  the model could grow  to include the DISC themes and the paradigms. One advantage with the Media wheel is the simplicity, but still – it would be interesting to rethink it´s practice – the next weeks of experience will have to decide! 

Coomey, M., & Stephenson, J. (2001). Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control-according to the research. London: Kogan Page.

Laurillard D (2002) Rethinking university teaching: a framework for the effective use of educational technology (2nd edition) London: Routledge