Upon joining this Open Networked Learning (ONL) course, I was encouraged by my colleague at Karolinska Institutet (KI), who happened to be my ex-teacher as well, Lars Uhlin. I was also intrigued by the wonderful topics of the ONL course: connecting and networking; digital literacy; collaborative learning and communities; flexible and mobile learning; open educational practices; designing learning environments; and the concluding week with the ONL future perspectives. My intention was to experience learning with colleagues from different educational contexts, disciplines, and cultures. Being part of such a network would be a great opportunity to achieve my ambition of connecting my home medical school to the advanced medical education setup particularly at KI. Actually, my expectations were much more exceeded having reached the point where this ONL course is about to finish. Working collaboratively within a flexibly managed problem-based learning (PBL) group online was an amazing chance that hugely impacted on my e-learning experience, where my awareness of the digitalization concept was vastly increased with more tools being thought of for my future use in the educational setup at my home university.
The two most important concepts I gained from participating in this ONL course are collaboration and flexibility. The social aspect of learning is conspicuous, where knowledge is constructed by belonging to certain communities of practice and doing some relevant activities (Illeris, 2009). Here, group members develop the desirable set of attitudes, knowledge, and cooperative skills by collaborative social exchange between them. Evidently, collaborative, cooperative, or social learning is intimately connected to experiential learning, which is a process that occurs in a cycle of experience, reflection, abstracting, and testing the new concepts (Dornan, 2011). Flexibility, as an attribute or capability in both learners and educators, is about enabling choice and responsiveness in the pace, place, and mode of learning, and it is the sine qua non of designing an effective learning environment (Ryan and Tilbury, 2013).
What is the next step, and how would I benefit from my participation in the ONL course? To answer this question, I need to approach the course holistically and ponder on its all topics as a connected unit. My enthusiastic objective is to contribute to the process of transforming our home university to be a learning organization (D’Andrea and Gosling, 2005). To achieve that ambitious goal, an atmosphere of strong collaboration, instead of the already existing competition, within learning communities must be encouraged with a high degree of intimacy among their members. A feasible springboard could be through taking the advantage of the freely available massive open online courses (MOOCs) like ONL that uses Google+, which is a user-friendly platform. This can be an excellent way for building personal learning networks where experiences are conveniently shared, and a bigger repertoire of digital knowledge and skills are readily attained. However, attention must be paid to the context in which the learning activity is taking place particularly for e-learning where the barriers and facilitators have to be carefully tackled (Omer et al., 2015). All in all, several factors including technical difficulties, learner motivation and readiness, organizational support, etc., should be meticulously considered in order to support a good learning environment in my home medical school.
ILLERIS, K. 2009. Contemporary theories of learning: learning theorists … in their own words, New York, Routledge.
DORNAN, T. 2011. Medical education: theory and practice, Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
RYAN, A., & TILBURY, D. (2013). Flexible Pedagogies: new pedagogical ideas.
D’ANDREA, V.-M. & GOSLING, D. 2005. Improving teaching and learning in higher education : a whole institution approach, Maidenhead, UK, Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
OMER, M., Klomsri, T., TEDRE, M., POPOVA, I., KLINGBERG-ALLVIN, M., OSMAN, F. 2015. E-learning Opens Door to the Global Community: Novice Users’ Experiences of E-learning in a Somali University. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 11, No. 2.