This autumn, 2020, meant new challenges in teaching at my (and others’) universities. Restrictions in connection with the ongoing pandemic meant that all, possible, teaching was transferred to be given entirely at a distance and digitally. For me, this meant that the master’s program that I have most of my teaching in, went from being at a distance with campus meetings every 10 weeks to becoming 100% distance. An experience that slowly emerged was that much about the socialization between students that previously took place formally through various arrangements at the campus meetings and informally during these days’ coffee breaks, was now not replaced digitally by a sufficiently well-thought-out arrangement. I should have attended ONL in the spring… When we run seminars and group exercises via Zoom for students in the first year courses, it is clear that we have skipped some important steps (cf. Salmon’s 5 step model) that are needed for students to develop their ability to collaborate and take responsibility for one’s own and contribute to the knowledge development of others in a digital environment. Those who study in the second year and have already made social connections to each other at campus meetings, work much better in similar exercises.
Dare to give a course openly has been another thing that we discussed a lot in our PBL group. There are challenges, not least in terms of the habit as teachers of having a certain level of control over students’ knowledge exchanges with each other, but also a lot of new opportunities. I note that it is a way forward to succeed in doing something of the national learning goal according to the Higher Education Act which reads “show good ability to in both national and international contexts orally and in writing clearly present and discuss their conclusions and the knowledge and arguments that lie as a basis for these in dialogue with different groups… ”. Different groups and international contexts are difficult to achieve within the framework of an educational program, at all or even to a small extent. It is a goal that in comparison with other goals in the law is trained very little. Leaving one of the courses open and designing it according to PBL, with elements of Blog posts, scheduled meetings where digital solutions for post-it notes can be used as an aid in discussions, etc., is an exciting opportunity.
Finally, ONL has above all given me an opportunity to reflect on the balance between my different roles as a teacher, instructor and facilitator – that it looks very different for teaching on campus and distance.