In this presentation, we are presenting an international open online course for educational developers and higher education teachers in which we developed, among other things, an open, student-centred digital learning environment, based on the target group and learning goals. The course Open Networked Learning (ONL) is an open online course developed in collaboration between educational developers at institutions in multiple countries across the globe and has been running since 2014. ONL is offered as a course for teachers at partner universities at more than 12 universities in Sweden, Finland, Germany and South Africa, but is also open for open learners interested in learning innovation. The use of flexible, open, collaborative, technology-enabled learning as a delivery method provides a built-in mentorship model of teaching in similar learning environments (Hmelo-Silver, 2012). Participants of ONL learn about, experience, and reflect on what collaborative networked learning can mean for their own teaching practice and context. The design places learners in heterogeneous online problem-based learning (PBL) groups (Barrett and Cashman, 2010), thus creating interdisciplinary and multicultural groups.
A pedagogy of care is integrated in the course in several ways. Firstly, as this course introduces participants to open education, the digital learning environment provides a balance between openness on the one hand and a certain level of privacy for PBL groups on the other. This is done as working in the open requires this negotiation between openness and privacy constantly (Cronin, 2017). Secondly, each PBL group has two facilitators to their disposal, making sure that the innovative course design is not too overwhelming for participants and that enough scaffolding is provided (Ludwig-Hardman and Dunlap, 2003). These facilitators (facilitator and co-facilitator) are former course participants with some returning only to continue to be part of the ONL learning community. The facilitator’s role is not to be a teacher but to help participants to help themselves. The co-facilitator’s role is that of a mentor, someone who has recently taken the course and understands how the participants feel. Especially in the beginning of the course, the facilitators main focus is on establishing caring relations (Noddings, 2005).
The development process of the digital learning environment and lessons learned for other courses will also be discussed and should provide valuable insights for teachers, educational developers and other stakeholders with an interest in technologies and methodologies supporting future lifelong learning and staff development.
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Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2012). International Perspectives on Problem-based Learning: Contexts, Cultures, Challenges, and Adaptations. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 6(1).
Noddings, N., (2005). Caring in Education. InFed.org. Available at: http://infed.org/mobi/caring-in-education/ [Accessed 02/02/2020].
Open Networked Learning (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.opennetworkedlearning.se/ [Accessed 08/12/2019].
Ludwig-Hardman, S., & Dunlap, J. C. (2003). Learner support services for online students: Scaffolding for success. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 4(1).