I am in a privileged position: I was not under (pandemic) emergency to move my teaching online (mostly due to the fact that I have been teaching on an hourly basis). Thus, I have had time to plan and prepare, or even more — to first educate myself in pedagogies for online and blended learning and teaching. One of such courses that I have recently participated in was the Open Networked Learning (ONL211) — an international open course on e-learning in higher education. My good friend, Dr. Judit Hahn, recommended me this course as she herself completed it earlier.
Since the beginning, I have had rather mixed feelings about it. This was mostly due to the pedagogical approach, on which the course was designed, that is, the problem based learning — approach, which was completely new to me. For each two weeks, following a specific topic related to online education, we were confronted (i.e., eight learners and two facilitators) with a scenario, based on which we created our learning. In addition, once per week there was a lecture or workshop by na expert, organized to support our thinking within the given topic.
At first, I did not like a relatively unstructured way of learning — a learning that each group and each individual learner have had to create. However, the longer the course lasted, the more I have been enjoying being my own facilitator of learning, taking agency with peer-learners in the process. I must admit, I have always been rather skeptical to asynchronous online courses, not really experiencing learning in such contexts. However, my main take-away from the ONL is that learning, indeed, can happen in such format if only the course is well-designed and if learners are sufficiently motivated. Our motivation as learners was high. Thus, I think that as a teacher in online environment, I should even more work on the course design, because I may not always be able to influence students’ motivation.
The topics that I explored during the ONL course helped me to see that there is a lot of potential in online education. Challenging is, however, to come out of one’s comfort zone in order to see this potential and to learn as a teacher. Still, isn’t it that we should constantly develop our skills as teacher and broaden knowledge?