Open Learning – sharing and openess

What openness means for my own practice

My grandfather and grandmother were born in the 1890s. They grew up during the industrialization period, and experiences an enormous technological development for example telephone and television. As children of poor farmers were opportunity for schooling limited. Grandma told me that she had been privileged to go to school for 5 years, even if it meant a long walk through the woods.

My son, born in 1982, grew up with TV, Internet, home computer, computer games and mobile. He has been in school for 16 years. Since the 1990s, we have been in process of transformation from an industrial society to an information- and knowledge society. Information technology and data development have taken place extremely quickly during this period. More and more young people are undergoing university and college education compared with before. In working life, there is continuous development of skills and lifelong learning, Digital technology and internet have become indispensable both in everyday life and at work.

During my years as a teacher, there has been a pedagogical development, from traditional campus didactic classroom teaching, that students now are more active in their own knowledge acquisition. In Sweden during the 2000s, the Net University worked with the development of IT-supported teaching and exchange of experience between higher education institutions. Web-based learning platforms and distance learning meant that teaching took place independently of time and space, and people living in sparsely populated areas was given the opportunity to obtain an education. Today, distance learning is very common in university education, both courses and programs.  

The online teaching has led to the development of information and communications technology (ICT) as well as educational materials in form of recorded lectures and other digital materials with texts and sounds. The teachers’ material has copyright, and means that it is the teacher who decides whether the teaching material should posted on the learning platform. Sharing materials benefits both other teachers and students. With no material shared, there is no teaching/education. On the other hand, it is important that the person who created the material can continue to assess the quality, if the material needs to be revise, or removed from the learning platform.   

Educational materials in form of media, books, scientific articles and reports, and published with open licenses and free to download from internet are very useful in teaching. The term Open Educational resources (OER) describes publicly accessible materials and resources for any user to use, re-mix, improve and redistribute under some licenses. One of these licenses is Creative Commons licenses. Taking part in other people´s, material, both teachers and students, contributes to collaborative learning. This will continue to develop the educational paradigm in the future (Bates 2019; Weller 2014).

Personally, I still have a lot to learn before I feel ready to share my teaching material in accordance with OER and Creative Commons licenses. However, my Grandma would probably been happy that I still contribute with distance education and try to develop the distance pedagogy for my students.

Online participation & Digital literacy

Who am I when it comes to digital literacy?

Well, I do not belong to generation Z, adolescents that were born in the 90s, and grew up with the internet. My digital experience began in 2003 when I, as a teacher, started using a digital platform called First Class for distance education. For educational purposes, I have also used the platform It´s learning, and now it is Canvas. The digital communication tool with colleagues and students has primarily been e-mail or Skype. A few years ago, I got Facebook and Instagram accounts for social contact with my friends. That is why I consider myself a digital immigrant in the digital places.

During the 2000s, the TH-program was among the first programs at my university that had distance education, and sometimes I lacked opportunities for technical solutions, such as tools for teaching and exams at a distance. About 10 years ago, a pedagogical development began at the university. Teachers were encouraged to use both synchronous and asynchronous pedagogy so called “blended learning”.

Digital development is very fast, and I think my university is at the forefront when it comes to online pedagogy. Therefore, when restarting the TH-program, it was an easy decision to make that teaching still should be distance learning. I also decided that I needed to study online pedagogy to increase my digital knowledge and digital skills.

Right now, I consider myself more of a visitor than a resident on the internet. New digital tools that I have started to learn are how to write a blog and tweet chat as well as digital tools like Coggle and Miro. This means I am in the bottom of the pyramid of Online participation “I have tried” but is far away from the top of the pyramid there I can call myself “I am an online participator and have a digital identity”.

Problem based learning

Problem based learning (PBL) is a student centered approach to learning where the student’s learning is based on reality based situations. The students collects information about a specific problem, discuss it togheter and then solvs the task together. The basic pedagogical idea is that it is learning and the learner who is in focus. In PBL, the student is responsible for his own learning. Nerantzi & Uhlin (2012) has developed a FISh model that can be used in collaboration with other students to structure the learning process.

In dental hygienist program, the pedagogy always has been based on active learning where the students have been involved in their own learning in different ways. The students have had access to digital lectures and course litterature. In their study groups, they have discussed specific issues or reality-based patient cases wich then was presented to other students in writing and orally and disscussed in seminars. We teachers have not called this PBL but I belive that the pedagogical way of thinking is about the same.