In ONL we learned the Gilly salmon’s Five stage model. The model provides a framework for online learning and facilitation. There are many similarities between the model and how ONL is organized. The following figure briefly describes the model. In the following I will try to fit ONL in the five stage model.
Stage one (Access and motivation)
The getting started week falls in stage one. This week we had our first meeting with the local organizer and participants, in my case it was from Karlstad university. We got a preliminary overview of what ONL is all about. We got to know about the main learning spaces and community spaces used in ONL. The course is largely based on Google drive for collaborative PBL work. We got access information so that we can reach the platform quickly and easily.
In the community space we got our first chance to meet other participants. This was the place to introduce ourselves. Here we first came to know about the huge diversity in terms of backgrounds and geography among the participants. The platform also allowed us to interact with ourselves that was very motivating. Connecting and sharing beyond our geographical and temporal boundaries are a huge opportunity. This course is all about learning that we are all associated and motivated with so it’s quite natural that we see values in the course and we therefore all are motivated and expected to succeed. But I can express one thing after finishing the course, the motivation keep growing over time. At the end of this stage, we were all online (in the platform) and starting to express ourselves.
Stage two (Socialization)
Connecting week mirrors the stage two. This week started with a webinar where we got the chance to see (meet) all participants, facilitators and co-facilitators. We got to know our PBL group, the micro community that would last for a couple of months. Since, none of the participants meet physically, it was quite important to build a form of trust in each other for the success of useful collaboration.
Then we had our first PBL meeting (with the facilitators) where we introduced ourselves briefly. The facilitators provided us access information of various platforms and tools to be used over the course. In our first group meeting we fixed our weekly meeting schedule, we wrote our collaborative working document and determined topic leaders. Different topics would be led by different sets of participants. The facilitators introduced us with a model named FISh (Focus, Investigate, Share) that would be used for individual and group inquiry. We had a group task this week – creating a presentation video where each of us introduced ourselves. The task served one critical purpose – socialization within the group. We got to know ourselves through our online persona, also through the task, we got our first demonstration of the value of working together. The video was also shared with the wider ONL community. To sum up, at the end of this stage we settled our community identity and the basis for future information exchange and knowledge construction.
ONL is based on a number of topics or scenarios. Each PBL group works with the topic in a constructive, collaborative and self-directed way with the guidance from facilitators. For exploring different topics we cycle through the following three stages. The following stages are more productive and constructive for learning purposes.
Stage 3 (Information Exchange)
At this stage, information exchange happened and collaborative tasks were achieved. Each topic came with a scenario description that was short but was enough to initiate action and interaction. We had both synchronous and asynchronous work in this stage. There are a number of suggested readings for each topic that we tried to use to understand the topic asynchronously. The advantage of asynchronous tasks was that everyone could explore the topic at their own pace before hearing the views from others. Each topic also came with webinars and tweet chats that were also a good input in the information exchange. Topic leader presented the topic in the group and then everybody discussed to determine the main question(s) to investigate further – the synchronous part. The focus was documented in the Fish document. At the end of this stage, we came to know how to find and exchange information productively and successfully.
Stage 4 (Knowledge construction)
In stage three we determined the leading question(s) from the topic based on agreement among the participants. In stage four there were more group discussions and debates around the focus question that were useful to promote our critical, creative and practical skills. We used to interact with each other more heavily to do further investigation (judging, evaluating, comparing, assessing) towards our focus. We wrote down our understanding in a collaboration environment using google drive, miro etc. We thrived for more clarification through understanding, opposing, criticizing (debating) each other’s views. Facilitators gave us space for working on the topic scenario but became active when needed. At this stage they allowed us to go ourselves but from time to time they used to summarise where we were, mention something as a stimulus for continuing the discussion, suggest alternatives if we were totally struck.
In this stage we used to build our own knowledge based on previous knowledge (constructivism) and by linking it to personal experience. The topics in ONL were very related to what we do in our professional lives – teaching. The topic enabled us to draw from our own experiences. The new knowledge was always actively built on previous knowledge (constructed from the relevant topic tasks). This step was completed with a join output produced and an individual outcome (like the blog you are currently reading). The joint output was shared to the wider ONL community.
Stage 5 (Development)
In this stage, we used to reflect on our learning process. Based on our collaborative knowledge construction in stage four we created a reflection document describing how we collaborated, our working method, the ICT tools we used and the metacognition (our understanding and control of our own thinking). The document was quite critical for the individual and group level knowledge development. The goal of this stage was to enhance our reflection about online learning. I would like to finish by giving an useful definition of reflection –
Reflection is a form of mental processing – like a form of thinking – that we use to fulfil a purpose or to achieve some anticipated outcome. It is applied to relatively complicated or unstructured ideas for which there is not an obvious solution and is largely based on the further processing of knowledge and understanding and possibly emotions that we already possess.Moon. 1999