Trying to define my expertise in fslt13

I was very eager to begin my participation in fslt13 week 0. I wrote two blog posts and commented on some forums. I enjoyed the first sessions. Then came a pause: I began to think about my expertise. What could I give in order to help or support my co-learners?

It was easier to recognize what I cannot offer: I do not know the British universities and their assessments or grades. Most of our expert participants live in UK, Oxford, London etc. They know these practices, so I may leave this side to them. I also recognized the difference between fslt13 and my way to act as an online teacher. I did not use any strict schedules or small groups. I gave the freedom to participate when the students wanted, when the time was suitable for them. I even gave the freedom to select their topics. Some people did their assignments at the beginning of their studies, some at the end. Every assignment was very personal and I did not care about the style or correctness of their texts. The diversity was great and I used to be a flexible 24/7 teacher. I cannot wait that this is the case in fslt13, this course is more normal or usual: topic of the week is clear and there are deadlines.

I have to find my expertise on a general level. I have participated so many different MOOCs that I know the process. My former blog posts based on my former experiences. I know that some chaos, uncertainty and disorientation belong to the orientation phase of MOOCs. But I began to ask myself on week 1 that who wants this knowledge of mine? I read again the arrival lounge discussions and found many different expectations.

One group of students aimed to learn to teach better, new skills and techniques. Some wanted to learn more from higher education and enhance their competitiveness. – I used to work in teacher education but teaching is contextualized and depends on the culture. So I am not sure how I could help these people in their career building.

Another group of students wants to learn more about online learning or about MOOCs and the technologies used in them. Here I recognized many questions which I was interested in myself: the engagement, cultural effects, teaching philosophy and style. Some students told that this is their first MOOC and they want to live it through . That got me to think that what makes a MOOC? Is it the openness and the freedom to choose the tools? This fslt can be performed by following guides and deadlines and working alone just like whatever university course, is this?

The diversity of expectations and very heterogeneous students are considered as a richness in open online courses. I have a hunch that this is true in fslt13 and our students will learn quite different skills and knowledge depending on their different orientations.

We have many experienced moocers which already know online learning very well. Our list of expert participants could be much longer than it is (about 22 of 133 = registered in Moodle today). But it is not important how our roles are defined. I believe that this experimentation to use expert participants, as described in this blog of MazWaite, this will produce us some new knowledge. This is a post about my process of losing my expertise and redefining it in this context. I had to define what I am not to understand what I am. Sometimes I wish I were more simple (simpler does not sound right, I am not sure..)

Now I am going to follow Icehockey, Finland against Sweden, our favorite enemy.

4 thoughts on “Trying to define my expertise in fslt13

  1. Hi Heli – this is a great post. You have given us so much to think about.

    You raise the issue of coming from a different culture and educational tradition and question whether you have anything to offer in FSLT13.

    For me, one of the values of MOOCs, is diversity. Yes FSLT13 does have defined tasks, deadlines and a linear structure, as you would expect in a traditional HE course, but what is different is that it is ‘open’ and therefore the participant group is more diverse with the potential for offering a whole range of alternative perspectives.

    Whilst you might not be able to relate to the specifics of FSLT13, such as assessment, coming as it does from the British HE system, it is your alternative perspectives that are so important for this MOOC. Finland is recognised around the world as having an education system we could aspire too – so we can learn from you and the way you did things when teaching in Finland. It doesn’t mean that things will change here in terms of our education system, but you never know how your alternative perspective could affect an individual academic’s thinking. So if you would do things differently, then I for one would love to learn more about how and what this would involve.

    Finally, I think that basic philosophies transcend cultures and local differences. So, for example, I don’t think it matters whether we are British, Finnish, American, German or from another country and culture, to appreciate the work of Stephen Brookfield, Donald Schon, John Dewey and other learning theorists who have been mentioned in the Moodle forums.

    So, I for one, would love to learn more from your many years experience of teaching in Finland 🙂


  2. Thanks Jenny,
    you said just those words which I needed to hear. Perhaps I have to write a blog post about openness, open or opening education ..

  3. Heli, thank you for your blog post. I always enjoy reading your reflections so much. I agree very difficult to define expertise but if I were asked to indicate a good example of reflective writing I would point people in your direction for sure. ( & Jenny of course).

    Thank you.


  4. Hi Heli,
    As new teachers it might be time for the “students” in FSLT to begin absorbing some of what it means to be a teacher in the in the world of many different professions and sensibilities. I just started reading a report “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture” and am caught by the democratic nature of the term Participatory Culture and how it might mean there is no inside or outside to education or fixed definition of what a student is or might require.

    I too am not sure what it means to be an “expert” in FSLT and it might be wise to ask the students–only it can’t look like a test or we might scare them away:-)


Comments are closed.