ONL 212 Reflections- Lazarus Fotoh

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Reflection 5: Final thoughts and the future

After several weeks of learning collaboratively in the PBL group, the course has finally come to an end. The ride was demanding, time-consuming, and required considerable effort. Nevertheless, the knowledge and experience obtained are invaluable and priceless. The activities and discussions were generally well organized. I admired the level of engagement and diversity of the groups. As I complete the course, I ask myself the following questions:

 What did I learn? 

What did I like most about the course?

What aspects of the course I would use in my future teaching?

Before dying to reflect on what I learned, I should note that I started this course with a traditional pedagogy mindset and I am leaving with a progressive or revolutionary pedagogy mindset. A major takeaway for me is online learning can be fun, engaging, interactive, and connect people. The activities in my PBL group were hands-on learning tools for me to understand how I can use an unconventional but effective approach to acquiring knowledge. I use the term unconventional only to mean it is an approach different from the traditional approach. What I appreciate the most about the course is the potentials of open learning, sharing knowledge, collaborative and network learning, and how these modes of learning can be effectively applied using a blended or hybrid setting which requires digital literacies. I liked the last topic particularly Elmore’s four learning modes teachers can assume. I hope to move from the hierarchical individual to the hierarchical collective quadrant for my teaching, while the distributed collective quadrant will be ideal for my research work. 

I intend to use some aspects of ONL and the problem-based learning concept in my courses. Some colleagues equally welcomed the idea of incorporating some aspects of ONL in their courses. Concerning aspects of the course I admired, I liked the idea of facilitating students’ transition from digital visitors to digital residents by achieving the requisite digital literacies regarding particular digital tools relevant for their learning. Also, I liked the idea of open learning in general. I have already started incorporating aspects of ONL in my courses. For example, I have included some lectures from YouTube and other sources as part of the course literature. I have also begun sharing my recorded lectures on an open platform for other students to use their learning.  I equally plan on developing a collaborative learning approach for my seminar courses by designing assignments that make use of the FISh model and that emphasize group over individual goals. I equally plan to introduce some form of blended learning. However, I am sceptical about incorporating hybrid learning since I tried it before, and it was demanding and required more attention for both students in class and online. Overall, through this course, I experienced the possibility of having fruitful, engaging, and fun online learning experiences.  

Reflection 4: Blended learning and hybrid learning: Teachers’ support to students

In this reflection, I will be focusing on the potential support teachers can provide to students to facilitate blended and hybrid learning. It is worth mentioning that blended learning provides an alternate approach to engage students via various learning experiences particularly for students with difficulties learning in a physical classroom. This mode of learning shifts the role of a teacher from a knowledge provider to a mentor or a coach.  It also enables teachers to facilitate students learning in flexible and innovative ways (Edgenuity 2017). Before diving into the recommendations, It is imperative to address the questions: 

1)What is blending learning? 

2) What is hybrid learning?

3) How does blended learning differ from hybrid learning? 

Garrison and Kanuka (2004, p.96) define blended learning as “the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences”. Some scholars view blended learning as using online learning to supplement in-class learning with the main emphasis on both teachers and students being physically present in class (ViewSonic 2021). On the other hand, hybrid learning is a form of synchronous learning that entails using both online and in-person learning done simultaneously (ViewSonic 2021). Therefore, hybrid learning is another form of synchronous learning that mainly occurs remotely and physically. In differentiating blended learning from hybrid learning, it is worth mentioning that blended learning is tactical (it describes a practice) meanwhile, hybrid learning is strategic (it is a methodological approach) (ViewSonic 2021). From my understanding, blended learning entails exposing students to varied teaching typologies. I find the concept of blended learning fascinating because of the diverse nature of tools that can be utilised to engage students.

My recommendations on the potential support teachers can offer students to facilitate blended and hybrid learning are based on my personal experiences and observations during the Coronavirus pandemic.  At this point, it is worth mentioning that strong online and blended learning requires an engaged and thoughtful teacher who seeks to leverage both online and in-class learning to optimise the unique learning styles of students (Edgenuity 2017). 

Foremost, good communication with students and between students in in-person and the online space is key to promoting effective learning. The teacher needs to encourage good communication by creating informal and formal platforms that enable students to communicate with peers and the teacher regarding their learning development processes since teachers often have to deal with a culturally diverse classroom. Furthermore, the teacher should encourage students to develop the appropriate technological skills to feel comfortable in the online space. In this way, students will easily transition from digital visitors to digital residents (White and Le Cornu 2011). Once students feel comfortable with the platform, the teacher needs to consider the following to provide effective online and blended learning: 

  • Guide students in selecting the relevant content necessary for learning from broad resources available online 
  • Develop frequent online tutorials to address students’ queries and needs 
  • Use user-friendly tools to communicate course material online
  • Continuously monitor individual students learning experience (progress) and customise learning materials to suit the individual needs of students. 

In a nutshell, the teacher’s overall responsibility in online and blended learning includes accelerating communication, facilitating, connecting, providing feedback, and helping students in the learning process.  This generally requires that the teacher assumes the role of a facilitator, communicator, motivator, instigator, co-learner, and guide.


Edgenuity (2017). The Role of the Teacher in a Blended Learning Classroom.  Availabe at :

Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education.Internet and Higher Education, 7, 95–105. 

ViewSonic (2021). What is Hybrid Learning? Available at:

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First monday.

Reflection 3: Collaborative Learning

In this reflection, I chose to focus on a practical case of online collaborative learning in my problem-based learning (PBL) group. Before attending this module, we mainly used the networked-based perspective in the PBL group. However, since attending the module on collaborative learning, we have adopted more of a collaborative learning approach than a networked approach. At this point, it is important to make a distinction between collaborative and networked learning. Laal and Ghodsi (2011) define collaborative learning as a teaching and learning approach that entails groups of students (learners) working together to solve a problem, to complete a task, or to create a product. Whereas, networked learning is an approach in which both information and communication technologies are used to connect learners and teachers between learning communities and resources (Goodyear et al. 1998).  To facilitate our group discussion, we implemented the five-stage- model of Salmon et al. (2010) in our PBL group. This model requires five self-explanatory processes that encompass; access and motivation, online socialisation, information exchange, knowledge construction, and development. Through this model, we have been able to develop our knowledge and achieve group tasks through sharing resources, knowledge, and experiences in a reciprocal collaborative manner. In our PBL group, we have worked to support each other through cooperation and to collaboratively come up with solutions to common teaching and learning problems.

I now plan to incorporate this concept of collaborative learning in my teaching and learning activities, particularly for group activities. First, I intend to restructure the learning objectives of my courses to emphasize achieving common goals within groups that benefit every student. Second, I believe establishing ground rules that enable students to feel a sense of belonging and that encourage them to participate effectively is an important step towards achieving collaborative learning. Also, I believe creating the opportunity for students to take the lead during group discussions is a necessary step towards achieving collaborative learning. I will further ensure that group activities are designed to facilitate engagement and enhance students’ contribution towards problem-solving.  Additionally, practical examples such as; designing group tasks that encourage group success over individual success (no individual can succeed without the group) are important towards realising collaborative learning. I believe the five-stage model is a valuable tool to effectively accomplish collaborative learning in the digital space, particularly now during the Coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, I would endeavour to incorporate the five stages that include; access and motivation, online socialisation, information exchange, knowledge construction, and development (Salmon et al. 2010).

I see my role as a teacher as crucial in fostering collaborative learning among students and in encouraging learning in communities. I plan to schedule time with the various groups to listen to their complaints and provide feedback such that the students feel comfortable learning in a community. I believe these simple steps can make a difference in students’ overall learning process with the benefit of enhancing the quality of teaching and learning.


Goodyear, P., Hodgson, V., & Steeples, C. (1998). Student experiences of networked learning in higher education. Research proposal to JISC: Lancaster.

Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. M. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia-social and behavioral sciences31, 486-490

Salmon, G., Nie, M., & Edirisingha, P. (2010). Developing a five-stage model of learning in Second Life. Educational Research52(2), 169-182.

Reflection 2: A reflection on openness in your own teaching practice

Upon completing two weeks of intense discussion and deliberation within my PBL group and upon reading the blogpost of other participants on open learning from a sharing and openness perspective, I decided to self-evaluate how my teaching practices contributed to open education.  I asked myself three fundamental questions;

1) What is openness?

2) What constitutes openness?

3) What are the limits of openness? 

I realised openness transcends the limited interpretation of sharing education resources but equally encompasses; open teaching, open learning, open scholarship, open data, open assessment, open pedagogy, and open source (Pulker and Kukulska-Hulme 2020). Therefore, openness is a rather very broad concept from a pedagogical perspective. Before proceeding into my reflection, I should underscore that before enrolling for this course and before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, I mainly adopted the traditional in-person approach to teaching. However, with the outbreak of the pandemic, like other teachers, I was forced to engage in some form of open education by recording my lectures and having lectures on zoom.  However, the discussions in my PBL group on this issue have so far provided me with enhanced incites on how to effectively engage in openly sharing my teaching material. 

 I plan to engage in open education by sharing educational resources. Supposedly, every teacher’s goal is to ensure that students understand the content of the educational material. In light of this, I realised a tone of easy-to-understand educational materials that students can use in my courses. Therefore, I plan to incorporate such materials into my courses as well as share some of my lectures and teaching practices on complex issues that students face. In these lectures that uncover a potentially suitable teaching practice, both my students and I collaboratively deal with these complexities. I believe these educational resources will be relevant to students facing these complexities. Also, teachers will benefit from knowledge on a potentially suitable teaching approach that deals with these complexities. It is worth mentioning that open sharing of teaching practices is often touted as an important tool to empowering teachers enabling them to benefit from the best ideas from other colleagues (Cape Town Open Education Declaration 2007). An important aspect I find relevant to my work is to reuse and adapt OER materials for my teaching activities. The reuse of such OER materials has the potential benefit of resulting in new open education practices (Pulker and Kukulska-Hulme 2020). I believe the potentials of such openness may result in more diverse and inclusive learning where students play an active role in their studies. 

However, to effectively engage in these open educational practices, as Conole and Ehlers (2010) recommend, I would require a conducive environment to openness, support and empowerment from my institution in the form of conducive institutional policies that encourages innovative pedagogical methods, relevant for my own lifelong learning.


Cape Town Open Education Declaration. (2007). Cape Town open education declaration: Unlocking the promise of open educational resources

Conole, G., & Ehlers, U-D. (2010).Open educational practices: Unleashing the power of OER [Paper presentation]. UNESCO Workshop on OER in Windhoek, Namibia.

Pulker, H., & Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2020). Openness re-examined: teachers’ practices with open educa- tional resources in online language teaching. Distance Education, 41(2), 216–229. 

Reflection 1: Digital literacy and identify in my personal and professional life

I find it interesting and imperative to reflect on my digital literacy, identity, and digital footprint as life has become increasingly interwoven with digital tools and services. First, I would like to underscore that my use of digital tools and the extent of my digital literacy has been largely influenced my personality traits and perception of these tools. In a study on how personality affects social media use, Seidman (2013) underscores that the personality trait of extraversion is associated with the frequent use of these digital tools. While agreeableness and neuroticism are good predictors of belongingness that accelerates behaviours and motivations to use digital platforms. Furthermore, conscientious individuals were more likely to be cautious in self-presentation online. In summary, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism are linked to the tendency to express one’s actual self through these digital platforms. Relating these findings to my digital literacy/identity and footprint online, I have always drawn a fine line between my personal and professional use of these digital tools.

Using White and Cornu’s (201) analogy of visitors and residents, I consider myself to be a resident regarding my personal use of digital technology, and a visitor regarding my professional use of these digital platforms.  I am a resident from a personal perspective in the digital space because I delightfully spend a great proportion of my free time daily interacting and sharing information with a cluster of family members and friends. As White and Cornu (2011) underscore residents, feel happy and comfortable belonging to the online space where they feel free to express opinions and build relationships. This feeling resonates with my personal use of digital media resulting from my adoption of an extraversion personality trait.  Furthermore, I have adopted agreeableness and neuroticism towards using these platforms that have accelerated my use of these platforms. Aside from the personality trait issues, I also believe the less regulatory nature of these personal digital platforms and my advanced digital literacies competence has resulted in my huge digital footprint in these digital platforms. In contrast, I am a visitor when using these digital platforms in teaching-related activities. My visitor status has mainly resulted from my adoption of the conscientious perspective that has resulted in me being cautious in what I share in the digital space. My consciousness has mainly been driven by uncertainties regarding the use of these digital platforms that have been a major roadblock towards my use of them in my teaching activities.  Waller et al. (2020) highlight some uncertainties that constrain the use of digital technologies in teaching such as; the need for systemic changes, a lack of organisational structures and systems that promote quality education, the complexity of some of these systems. These factors have partially influenced my visitor status in the digital space. To mitigate these issues, I believe institutions (universities) generally need to provide support through training and providing user-friendly platforms that enable teachers to transition from being digital visitors to digital residents. Also, I believe there is a need for me as an individual to change my attitude and personality towards my professional use of these tools by adopting extraversion and agreeableness, and neuroticism traits that would accelerate my organisational digital presence.


Seidman, G. (2013). Self-presentation and belonging on Facebook: How personality influences social media use and motivations. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 402–407.

Waller, R. E., Garretson, C. J., Lemoine, P. A., & Richardson, M. D. (2020). Examining technology uncertainties in global higher education. International Journal of Education Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(3), 24-32 

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).

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