Photo credit: Dominic Sansotta on Unsplash.com

ONL PBL group work has given me so much more than I could imagine or hope to give back in return, even though that was my original motivation for joining — sharing my experience as a teacher and instructional design student with my PBL group. I’d have to say that the most salient learning for me has been in the power of the high functioning collaborative work group. One aspect of the high functioning group that will stay with me is the way that group members can and do support each other in learning; in our group this went to the next level where somehow we also had the intellectual freedom to determine our investigative work. If we wanted to pursue a question within a topic on our own… we were free to do this. If we preferred to explore as part of a group, others willingly collaborated.

The photo below expresses this experience for me because as a high introvert, I need to pull back and consider my thoughts alone before I can easily express them to others, especially in a group setting. I loved being able to cut my own vegetables (so to speak) and bring them to the PBL group feast of exploration. It was the experience working with our co-facilitators Annika, Grant, Gregor and Thashmee, and group members Anya, Jo, Katarina, Saad and Stefan that made the twice a week group meeting such a joyful connection. rich learning experience and also provided the flexibility and freedom to make the FiSH document not only viable but highly valuable.

photo credit: Jeff Siepman on Unsplash

Enhanced Learning and Technology – Learning through ONL and using different tools for each Topic helped me become even more comfortable trying out new tools and deciding if they’re something that I think my students could benefit from… in most cases, I’d say absolutely based on my experience with them. What I loved about exploring technology this way (within the PBL group and usually almost all fairly novice) is that we went from what first seemed like embarrassing blunders to a point where we could openly shout out ” I made a mistake… help! ” and laugh about it after.

Because I teach adult and K-12 language learners, I’m sensitive to affective filters and how these affect student learning. To put it simply when the affective filter is high students may experience feelings of stress, anxiety and self-consciousness which might impede success in learning. When the filter is low students are more comfortable taking risks and making mistakes; they experience empowerment to interact more with others, often leading to increased language acquisition. I’m aware that in this PBL group I was more comfortable trying out new things and making mistakes than I have ever been in a group setting before.

Photo Credit: Nadya Spetnitskaya on Unsplash

ONL has and will continue to influence my practice in a particularly significant way: usually my approach is to try out new technology and learning experiences in isolation — in other words, try to foresee any glitches and potential kinks and work everything out in advance so that I’m (mostly!) certain all will go smoothly in the learning setting. As one might imagine, this is intensive and even tiring at times. It’s also a defense mechanism that I use to guard against feeling vulnerable when I’m teaching — not wanting to make mistakes and risk embarrassment. What I’ve learned in the ONL experience is that the mistake-making and wading through the unknowns and glitches together made for the most memorable learning. Who knew?! And… what a delightful discovery I’ve made here in ONL with this great group of people.

photo credit: Ranier Bleek on Unsplash

I’m taking away lots from ONL PBL Group Work and hope that other also learned a bit from me as well. My wish is that the path with and through this ONL PBL experience leads me back to this fine group of people once more.

ONL and Metacognitive Learning

photo credit: Luis Alfonso Orellana on Unsplash

I’ve been fortunate to join and work with a great group in the open online course called Open Networked Learning (ONL). We are joining from Brazil, Finland, Germany, South Africa, Sweden and the US. Some are Open Learners; others have university affiliations.

For the past two weeks, my ONL group (the Eleveners) has been exploring Online Participation and Digital Literacies. We began our focus by generating questions of interest in a shared document and then narrowing down to what pushed us to dig deeper.

When we came together and shared our collective learning we used Padlet to compile our questions and findings, and then summarized key points. It felt exciting and satisfying to see our inquiry come to life on the Padlet and emerge as something new – like a fabric created by the group from individual threads of inquiry; the threads are strong and vibrant.   

Working with this group helped me see how my work as a student (learner) and collaborator with this ONL group are deeply tied. My colleague Anya and I investigated how to make the learning environment welcoming and open to new students and researched strategies that build this. When we met and talked about what we’d learned and how to represent it to the rest of the group and their findings she helped me realize that my experience as a student (providing required weekly feedback to my professor on positive and challenging elements of the course) connects with learning on the ONL group. She also helped me notice that this is an especially rich and valuable type of metacognition that occurs when a student researches and reflects how to create a safe and open environment and finds real time, real life examples at hand.

ONL Learning

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash

The ONL entries are related to the Online Learning Network.

ONL began in 2012 with the work Lars Uhlin of Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and Chrissi Nerantzi of Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and Maria Kvarnstöm also of Karolinska Institutet.

This fall I’m excited to be a part of the Open Network Learning (OLN). My understanding of ONL as a new Open Leaner is that this is a way for educational developers to network outside of their university community — nationally and internationally. 

ONL also accepts Open Learners outside of the participating universities which include Karolinska Institutet, Lund University, Linnaeus University and Karlstad University and others outside of Sweden.

Something about me – I am an instructional designer and teacher. My background includes deep and broad education experience in both curriculum and course development, and instruction. Currently, I’m pursuing an M.Ed. in Instructional Design at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, in the United States.

Teaching and the Body

When teaching, I often think about the physical aspect of how teachers and learners begin the experience. From the very moment students enter the space there are overt and subtle messages about how this experience will unfold. This is also true with online learning as well. The instructor defines many aspects of the learning space; the learning space is inclusive or not, accessible or not. Continue reading “Teaching and the Body”

Code Switching

three women laughing together in a circle
Photo credit: Priscilla du Preezn on Unsplash

Code switching is just a fancy way to talk about the way we use language – one or more – ways of speaking and choice of words to connect and fit in. 

When I was kid I grew up in a very poor neighborhood with the kind of address that when you declare it, evokes knowing glances and assumptions I didn’t bother addressing.

This National Public Radio (United States Public Radio) blog post explains code switching using video of former US President Barack Obama in a US burger restaurant, American actress and singer Beyoncé playing pool and a young boy seamlessly switching between three languages and gives the reader and listener a sense of just how powerful and fluid code switching can be.


We recently completed a peer feedback assignment in a University of Massachusetts at Boston Instructional Design course that I’m taking this semster. As I completed a review, I noticed the highly polished and professional voice that one of my classmates used in her narration. When I mentioned this to her she told me, “oh yes, even my kids tell me that they know when Mommy is using her special professional voice when they listen”.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we regularly code switch- some more than others. How and when do you code switch? How has your ability to do this benefitted you professionally?

Connie Malamed’s “10 Qualities of the Ideal Instructional Designer” as a guide.

Connie Malamed maintains a comprehensive, well organized and informative site called the eLearning Coach. I recently found this article and used this list of ten qualities to consider these qualities in relation to teaching and also determine how one might develop these qualities where needed. Three of the qualities stood out to me as a good foundation to explore.

Connie focuses on eLearning development but when I reviewed the list I saw that many of the qualities are universal in instructional design and training.

Continue reading “Connie Malamed’s “10 Qualities of the Ideal Instructional Designer” as a guide.”

Teaching Parents of English Language Learners

During the spring and summer I teach parents of English language learners in Massachusetts public schools. This is one part of my work that I enjoy immensely. I have complete freedom to determine curriculum and content and prefer to facilitate a discussion around topics rather than teach. Typically, twelve to eighteen parents attend and often bring their children. Some of the programs are on school nights and some children come to the program to guide parents with limited English.

Continue reading “Teaching Parents of English Language Learners”