Just another Sola @ KAU site

Building back better education- the learner in fore front

The pandemic came fast and unexpected, the digitalization of education was there but accelerated in a process no one could imagine would happen. Soon we were all digitalized  to work and daily life continued online. 

Education was digitalized by tech-people not teachers. It enabled commercial at power to enter education. Tech people are served by chaos in education, then they receive more work. Teach people are driven by market economy, teachers do not want to be driven by economy but educational needs.

To talk about digital learning as successful in singular is a problem. What digitalization that serves learning is focus of this course but in practice which technique to use is often focused instead of the learning effect by the tool.  The tunic optimism that has developed in society is a problem to critically view digital tools in education, since the expectations on these tools are generally high. 

                      Digitalization of education can be viewed a huge experiment that assumes the learner can judge the relevance of knowledge in learning situations, while the experience of the digital landscape by the learner is often choices of digital media and entertainment. 

                      Turning this quite skeptical scenario of digitalization of education into something positive I turn to a review study  (Boelens et. al. 2017), that has scrutinized blended learning and found four challenging aspects. We are now facing the time to build back education based on digitalization in a better way than the situation during the pandemic allowed.

Here I will therefore share the four fundamental and crucial elements for building back better education identified in the review study on blended learning, where the learner is in focus supported by digital means and not the other way around. 

1, How do we incorporate flexibility, and which amount of flexibility is desirable for learners? The review study on blended learning showes that the majority of decisions about time and place was set up by the instructor teacher and not the learners themselves, although there were good examples on learners power on organizing synchronous and asynchronous learning. This point is interesting as I found myself very irritated in the beginning of this course  about self-organization in the study group. I thought it was enough information and tasks to make in the course anyway. I now understand the task to decide time, communication platform was a way to adjust to learners, not only the content of the course but also the form of it.

2, How do we stimulate interaction for collaboration to avoid communities of learners working parallel instead of together? The review study points out social interaction becomes more difficult without the physical meetings. The results in review on online courses testified to this fact by few identified interaction arenas. Good examples where courses started up physically and continued  online is shared in the review as a way to stimulate interaction. In the group task on PBL group, topic 4, I share my experience on Storyline and Storytelling with an example that I find stimulate interactions amongst learners online (Henricsson, O., & Claesson, S., 2019).

3, How to facilitating students’ learning processes? Self-regulation skills are required for successful participation in blended learning courses, for example  organization, discipline, time management, skill in using technology to support learning, and self-efficacy to exercise control over your own learning processes. To facilitate these aspects the review of online learning shows that, measure/understand learners prior knowledge gets important, building the community of learning is central to serve as the safe space for learning, clarifying expectations and marks on the course also constitute safe guarding actions necessary to make learners comfortable online, and maybe always in learning I assume? Specific for online learning is thus the tools used and the technology knowledge needed to overcome resistance for collaboration online. The review showed god examples of introductions focusing the technique before the course material. This was also how the ONL course was introduced, with technique, expectations, clarifications and much work to build community of learning, I recognize myself in this challenge.

4, How do we foster an affective learning climate?  Drops out due to all barriers of technique, self-efficiency etc. as reported under point three demands a motivating and affective learning climate online. The review shows examples of how that is done by showing empathy, having a sense of humor, providing encouragements, directing attention to task-relevant aspects, and attending to students’ individual differences. It is more common to provide tasks that require mental effort, and build in variation in courses than appraising or dealing with emotions. Individualized activities in the online environment, such as a blog to share additional resources about topics of the course are a way to attributing and judging the individual learner. This is used in the ONL course but I miss the appraising and emotional contributions that can lead a long way in motivation.

Boelens, R., De Wever, B., & Voet, M. (2017). Four key challenges to the design of blended learning: A systematic literature review

Henricsson, O., & Claesson, S. (2019). Everyday Storytelling as Teaching: Indian Teachers’ Experiences of Telling Stories in Teaching. Storytelling, Self, Society15(2), 246-269.

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