This is the last week of the ONL181 course. Our task is to summarize what we have learned and how it may affect our internship. Therefore, I have asked myself what I’m taking with me and how I think it will change my educational approach in blended learning.
The first thing I want to highlight is our experience and reflection about group work and collaboration and that it needs good scaffolding. When designing a course it is important to create a clear structure, for example using topics with tasks and deadlines as in ONL. In this course we got scenarios and we should together identify and solve problems. It gave us a clear task and also a good reason to communicate and collaborate. Forslund Frykedal (2008) emphasizes the importance of designing the task to the group so that participants need to interact with each other. I noticed how our work in the group changed from dividing the work into more collaborative and joint decisions. The fact that each topic was designed in a similar way helps us to find our common way of working and collaborating. Because each scenario deepened the course content, we were also driven forward.
Another part of the course’s scaffolding that helped us a lot was that for each topic, we should choose a topic leader and co-leader. It reduced the social negotiation that is often found in group work, which both takes time and energy from learning. We scheduled two meetings a week as synchronous video meetings and it made it easier to get to know each other and gave the collaboration a good foundation to stand on.
The ONL181 course has been a good example of course design that provides the basis for group work where participants can create a collective ambition and goals, aligned personal goals, open communication and mutual commitment.
Group work is also something I reflected a lot over during the course. We assume that everyone can work in a group. But group work is an advanced skill that needs training and support with reflection and analysis. Group work develops intellectual and social skills such as linguistic communication, problem solving, democratic thinking and ability to collaborate. These abilities are so important that a lot of time should be devoted to learning a good way of creating the conditions for group work. This is an area I want to learn more about in my profession.
The last thing I want to highlight also has with groups to do. In the ONL181 course, participants have come from different countries and contexts. In my group we brought experiences from eg. Sweden, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Switzerland and South Africa. It has been very helpful to us because we have been given different perspectives and contextual conditions and thus reflecting more nuanced. According to Forslund Frykedal (2008) heterogeneous groups are a better foundation for developing subject knowledge. So let us see diversity as a strength!
I can recommend ONL to anyone who wants to develop in blended learning!
Forslund Frykedal, K. 2008, Elevers tillvägagångssätt vid grupparbete – om ambitionsnivå och interaktionsmönster i samarbetssituationer