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My Successful Experiment

ONL - My Successful Experiment

When I was asked what were the three words that best describe my experience of being an ONL student, I immediately thought of the following: brainstorming, improvising, experimenting.

I had not participated in problem-based learning before this course. So, I was ready to follow the new rules of the new learning format until … I understood that there are no ‘rules’ as such. Yes, you have the schedule, you are supported, you are given suggestions, you receive feedback. But you are free to work with the scenario in your chosen style, investigate in the manner you wish, select digital tools to your group preference etc. And unless you are an experienced PBL learner, you simply improvise and experiment. So, I did.

I experimented with the learning approach to the scenario sometimes relying more on the reading material, sometimes on some additional resources. I experimented with the choice of tools, sometimes trying what other groups tried, sometimes we followed suggestions by someone in our group who knew the tool better, sometimes just experimenting with the tool no one in our PBL used before. I experimented even with leadership: I spontaneously volunteered to co-lead the first topic with the person who I had met 40 minutes earlier and I absolutely enjoyed how we worked together.

The format of the course was great. So many layers that give you a chance to explore the topic from different angles: team work in your PBL, Google + to see what others are doing/thinking, webinars to hear educators from all over the world, the blog for personal reflections.

The variety of tools was a bit overwhelming. I tried to make a record of the tools and their main function. I will definitely try to implement more of them in my future practice.

So, I think this course was an experiement for all of us, a successful one and we eventually chrystallized something beautiful.

Thank you all for the inspiring course and network!

Happy experimenting to everyone and Merry Christmas:)


Photo credit:

Aaron Burden

Published in ONL


  1. How true! In the Wild West Web there are no rules. What you need to have happen will be out there, as will anything unknown, scary and otherwise. Experimentation and critical thinking is the best way forward. Glad to hear you enjoyed the course. Hopefully we can all remember the lessons in our future.

    • admin admin

      Thank you for your comment, Ryan!

  2. Thank you for a nice and optimistic blog post with a useful perspective – I really liked your three words to describe the PBL experience. Will you publish the overview of the different tools on your blog? I am also new to this overwhelming selection of tools and think I could find an overview useful… 😉 Merry Christmas to you as well!

    • admin admin

      Thank you, Nina! Yes, I can surely post the ‘collection’ of tools I made during the course. It’s important to keep also some short description of what the tool is about as it is not always obvious from the tool name, such as for example Screencastomatic :))))) the craziest name for a product I have ever encountered 🙂

  3. Thanks Aliona, nice reflections about the course! You captured the essence of the course perfectly with “brainstorming, improvising, experimenting”. It is fascinating how this kind of fast-paced, yet surprisingly fruitfully self-organizing activity can lead to amazing results in such short time periods (around two weeks per topic). And yes, (almost) no rules make things much more fun. It was interesting to read that you spontaneously volunteered to lead to first topic – so did I 🙂 I would be curious to hear how will you take this further: are you planning to make use of problem-based learning settings with your own students in the future? Good luck with everything – you have clearly learnt a lot beyond the tools – a new way of (online) learning and (online) teaching 🙂

    • admin admin

      Hi Tomi! Thank you for your comment! I will definitely like to try PBL with my students. I especially like the idea of combining this format with multiple other topic-related tasks, like for example PBL+blogging as we had with ONL, possibilities are endless. This variety of tasks makes learning much more engaging.

  4. Diane Pilkinton-Pihko Diane Pilkinton-Pihko

    I very much enjoyed reading your blog, which captures well the experiences in ONL. I identified closely with them, even though this wasn’t my first time to try PBL. It was, however, my first time to try it in an online course. I totally enjoyed the experience! And, like you, I volunteered to be a co-leader for the first topic and very much enjoyed working with a total stranger (the other co-leader)! This course offers extensive opportunities for learning and allows the learner to take control of his/her own experiences. It’s great!

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