A way forward towards practising the lessons learnt

Near the end of the ONL course, it appeared that I luckily had registered and participated in the course at the best time unwittingly. When I was thinking of enrolling on the course, I was curious to know how an online course would be managed and how we would interact with others from different parts of the world. Yet I did not know that soon I would be involved in designing and implementing an online course myself and that I would have the chance to practise the lessons learnt through the ONL course for real momentarily.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

As part of the ISE project at Karlstad University, my colleague, Agnieszka Kitkowska, is leading the planning, designing, and implementation of an online course for Fall 2022 (week 38 to 48) on consumer privacy that targets working professionals who want to learn more about the topic and who process digital information about consumers. The course consists of four modules (the fourth module is the recap of the lessons learnt through the course). I got invited to collaborate on preparing the course and now I am in the process of preparing materials for the first module which revolve around privacy constructs and definitions, data protection and data protection models, and usable privacy. Besides the asynchronous learning activities that include reading materials and watching (pre-recorded) videos, the course will involve participants in four synchronous seminars related to each module which will also serve as a form of examination of the learning outcomes of the course.

It was an exciting moment when I heard about the opportunity of getting involved in preparing and running the course since I immediately remembered all the sessions I had with my group in the ONL course and I got intrigued by the idea of applying what I learned in practice. However, soon I realized that lots of concepts and methods we learn in theory are too good to be true when we want to apply them in practice. I mean although on paper they seem straightforward and very beneficial for students and instructors, sometimes with a low cost of implementation and not too much of a hassle, in practice you face unforeseen challenges and open questions.

The audience of our course, as mentioned above, is different from other typical online courses. They will be working professionals in the private or public sectors interested in the topic who want to improve their competence for their careers. Their professional and educational backgrounds could be extremely diverse with variations in their digital literacy. To have a more inclusive environment and make sure that everyone would benefit from the course to the extent we expect despite their differences, we will have an introductory session focusing on practicalities, the tools we will use and useful instructions around them, and probably a community building activity so they feel more comfortable for their upcoming seminars to talk, interact, and work with each other. Also, we may utilise the session to learn more about them, their needs, and their expectations of the course. Although we will have a draft plan for each seminar in the course in advance we believe that we need to keep it open and keep some room for changes after we get to know more about our audience. The use cases to be worked with during the seminars, the type of the assignments, and even the time for holding each seminar should be adaptable. Although it means more work for us as instructors in a shorter period to adapt the plan, it is rewarding for the participants.

The balance between asynchronous and synchronous activities in this course is very important and a little bit challenging to achieve. Participants will have time to go through the materials for each module on their own and will take part in a synchronous interactive seminar related to each module for which they receive instructions on how to get prepared. The details of the assignments and how the seminars will be held are under discussion. Nonetheless, what I learned from Topic 3 on collaborative learning and Topic 4 on blended online learning and different tools and activities will play an important role in our planning for the course. Again, what we plan is tentative and will be adapted after we get to know more about our participants and progressively by the feedback we collect during the course.

Further, by this course, we would like to contribute to open education. We plan to have non-disposable assignments for our seminars and use and extend open educational resources, if possible. Finding open resources of good quality that fit our needs and fulfil our purposes is not an easy task. Our pre-recorded videos will be accompanied by a recommended list of reading consisting of open access articles (and books). However, again considering our target group, we believe that delivering content in the form of audio to listen to will be more convenient for them than something they need to read. Due to their busy lives, they may choose to listen to some of the resources when, for example, they are walking, driving, cycling, or public-transferring home. We are looking for related podcast episodes and plan to interview professionals in the field of privacy, both in academia and industry, related to the topics covered in the course.

Always realize that you can get better. Your best work has not been done yet. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Les Brown

For the upcoming months, I will be busy repeatedly referring to the ONL website and all the materials we got to learn and produced together including the final Mirro. Hopefully, with a well-thought-out and flexible plan ready to accommodate changes based on needs and feedback our participants in the course and we as instructors will have a nice experience.

2 thoughts on “A way forward towards practising the lessons learnt”

  1. Hi Farzaneh! I really enjoyed your blog and found many of your experiences enlightening. Thanks!

    I agree with you that finding open resources that are actually good is not an easy task. I think opening our material to other teachers and having a more “open-source” mentality could help us develop better resources since other teachers can contribute, improve or review this material.

    Regarding the audio material, I think this is very much appreciated by my students and I agree with your points. I now try to have some podcast episodes that I share with my students for each lecture.

  2. Hi Farzaneh, I chanced upon your blog while preparing for the ONL Sept 2022 cohort. Thanks for sharing the link of the Miro island. It looks fantastic. Looking fwd to being a participant (from NUS) and part of the ONL community.

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