Some discussion in the fslt13 course has aroused memories in my mind. I want to check my writings at the beginning of my online teaching. I used to write in Finnish, of course, so I try to translate some thoughts and figures now. I was one of the first teacher educators who became interested in online teaching. We got the first learning platform in the year 2000. I began my blog in 2007 and published these figures in it.
I had worked the last 1990’ies in teacher education with up-to-date pedagogy. We had adult students from all professions and we supported them individually. The student built their becoming way to work as a teacher = their theory-in-use. We had flipped the classroom already.
With this pedagogical awareness it was clear to use the same pedagogy in online teaching as well and it was easy. The energy went to learning how to use the first learning platform, it was a big change. I have written in my figure that it took one year to use the first one, and the change to the following learning platform took another. All the technologies must be integrated to the ‘theory-in-use’ and it took over three years. The aim was to build continuous development as online teachers in teacher education – this change of culture takes ten years or more and sometimes it never happens. What is needed to implement this vision, it was the topic of my second figure.
You must be interested in, to have passion to teach online. It was so demanding at the beginning that it was much easier to stop and say that it is not working, students don’t want it, we have no time for so many technological problems. Attitudes changed very slowly and I can still meet all those old prejudices against online teaching.
The most important source of learning to work online is in the action, you have to teach and facilitate online in order to learn from practice. You may get support from literature, research and theories but you cannot assess their value and practicability without acting yourself.
Networks developed from year to year when online teaching became more usual and popular. OnLine Educa Berlin is an important international conference to meet colleagues abroad, a short flight from Helsinki, and we have our Finnish meetings in Aulanko. Many online networks are available every day. The first began in 2007 – before that there were some communities for nerds only, I think.
When I compare these writings in the situation just now, I feel that the development has become faster and it is normal to work by implementing many changes simultaneously. New devices come and go, you try them and leave them. You need networks to learn from others’ experiences. Technologies have become easier to use and follow at the same time when teachers have got better digital literacies. Attitudes have changed so that online teaching is wanted and appreciated because many people have positive experiences about it.
During our fslt course we have had presentations from Jenny Mackness and Sylvia Currie. Jenny’s theme is open academic practice and Sylvia’s theme is building open communities. I can see an analogy from my description of online teaching, how it has developed, and these new areas of opening. Technology has a central role in these new digital openings. Jenny uses the dimension of limited vs extensive use of digital technologies combined to open digital academic vs. closed and lone academic. Read her blog for better descriptions (I am tired in this phase of writing English 🙂 ).
Sylvia’s pondering about building open communities touched my mind too. She asked if the organizational side of development has taken too much time from the intellectual and social sides. Jenny has a good post with links about Sylvia’s presentation.
Who are the best facilitators in all this development? The answer is not the experts who have forgotten the past difficulties. The best facilitators may be the co-learners who have just learned the thing, just succeeded to solve the problem. The experts may tell about their experiences but they may answer to a wrong question, change the question so that it is more interesting. Now I have a feeling that this all is pretty obvious but I hope that I learned something while writing this 🙂