Lessons learnt

Looking back on the past two months, I would say that my experience of the course has been a very positive one, with a few exceptions.

The first thing that was crucial to me is how the course has led me to perceive digital literacy as a continuum of behaviours (White and Le Cornu, 2011). It was also eye opening to see that a person’s online learning skills aren’t necessarily proportional to their ICT proficiency. This will affect the way I design my future online courses as I won’t assume my students automatically know what they are supposed to do and why. A dialogue is necessary to ensure that those in need get the appropriate support and guidance. Encouraging studends to use a self-evaluation tool might be a good start (University of Exeter).

The second important aspect on which I would like to comment is social interaction and its role in student engagement. I’ve already discussed this in my previous posts as well as in some of PBL13’s group works but I feel the need to point out one important detail: I believe that I wouldn’t have completed the course if it weren’t for the kind of relationship that the weekly Zoom meeting allowed me to develop with my group mates. Moreover, I don’t think the larger Google+ community has played a truly significant role in my learning experience. In fact, there are some indications that “the social interaction afforded by a social networking environment [is] short-lived, individual-centred and casual” and that “a high level of cognitive engagement [is] not demonstrated” (Jie Lu & Daniel Churchill, 2014). I suspect some personal and cultural factors also come into play but couldn’t find any research on that.

Finally, I’ve come to realise how my own frustration towards the lack of regular and personalised feedback during this course must reflect my own students’ experience in some of my courses. With the current developments in my university leading to a higher number of participants in online courses, I will need to find adequate solutions, which will require further research. One possibility is of course the implementation of peer feedback, which proves beneficial for both the recipient and the provider (Van Popta, Kral, Camp, Martens and Simons, 2016), but I also really like the idea of dialogical written feedback (Nicol, 2010) as I find it makes sense for language learning. In addition, I’m going to explore the possibilities offered by the concept of feedforward. It is hardly a novel idea in classroom, face-to-face, teaching, but I feel it is often left aside when it comes to online teaching even though getting the students to “develop a clear sense of expectations and standards” (Baker and Zuvela, 2012) is crucial to ensure engagement and retention.

I would like to thank everyone involved in the course for this invaluable experience and if you just stumbled upon this blog randomly, I encourage you to check out the Open Network Learning website for further information.