The Importance of Diversity in Learning Communities

puzzle piecesIn topic 3 of our Online Networked Learning Course 181 we discussed our collaboration online in the PBL group. We realized that we still cooperated so far, but that it was not really a collaboration in the sense of a common result where everyone contributed to the whole work. We did our own part and put it together very much like a puzzle with it’s pieces forming some sort of a whole result. During our first two topics we had one person at the end of the cycle to create the presentation.



swirlIn order to change this we decided to change the tool and use one truly collaborative tool like Google Slides where we could work on all  the content at all times. On top of this we started using Trello, a task management group ware for online collaboration. For messaging or posting additional information or content we still used Google+.

The idea was basically that we wanted to get a more homogenuous work, something emerging from our group as a whole. We did have some discussions about how to get there. One idea was not to distribute tasks and then put all the puzzle pieces together but to  z^take on the tasks individually that were compelling, following our own interests and questions. The second step we took was commenting on every contribution so that the slides themselves could be revised.

At the end we rearranged the slides to one presentation.

Still. We stayed on the level where the slides were all someone’s slide.  We did not dare to change the slides themselves but only commented or discussed more until we thought to be done. So my remaining question is as follows: Is there a way to go one step beyond and dissolve authorship in a sense that we would be allowed to change what a group member had written and composed (and dare to do so). Maybe the only rule would be that we all would get out turn and try to improve the presentation in clarity, conciseness and explanatory power and leave what we thought served the content as a whole.

To me the difference between collaboration and cooperation is this: The puzzle is not the result of the group but of their members working together. Putting the pieces to one does not necessarily lead to one homogeneous and fluid new content. Contrarily to this, a real collaborative piece of work would look like a swirl where even different colors are in the end part of the whole figure in which the remaining colors represent the diversity in the group. The next stage would be the brown swirl where all the colors mix up together culminate in one last color owned by the group. When the colors in the image still represent our diversity in the group, a brown or black swirl there would mean the resolution of the individual in the group.

Wer are not there yet. Also I am not sure if the monochrome was the answer or even an ideal outcome. Something I learnt during this course is the importance of diversity in (learning) communities or groups which is supported by research*. You learn from the difference and not from what you already know. This sounds simple maybe, but actually it is complex and sometimes even difficult and hard. I remember that I had moments in my life when I was unable to continue working with a person because we couldn’t consent on how to work together or even what to achieve. Today I am convinced that it was not the persons involved but the fact that we did not try hard enough or that we followed the wrong ideas of how to work together. Accepting diversity is the first step. The next one is to negotiate and agree on rules, procedure and how to communicate. It takes time. And sometimes it hurts. But once you succeed the result is much more satisfying and probably also just better.


*Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M. & Walti, C. (2009). Creating effective collaborative learning groups in an online environmentThe International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3).

Kozar, O. (2010), Towards Better Group Work: Seeing the Difference between Cooperation and Collaboration. English Teaching Forum Nr. 2, p. 16-23.

Literacy for the Digital Age

#ONL181 #topic01

Working with teaching staff and faculty we often think about digital skills in education. But digitalization is not limited to learning and teaching, but to life in general. We all constantly live in a hybrid space where material world is enhanced or even complemented by virtual space. It often is described as augmented reality (or virtual reality, if the material space is explicitly excluded). Surprisingly a considerable number of our teachers still refuse to deal with this digital reality. They are still convinced that the material world is the real world, and the virtual world is unreal. Even though relationships between students and teaching staff find their manifestation in the virtual space, tasks or problem solving are represented or even done online, the virtual element of our environment is often still denied.

When it comes to elearning or blended learning there is scepticism towards new skills and competence to be acquired individually because of the required effort. But anything new to be learned requires effort and time, as our brain has to find a way to incorporate new knowledge and new skills to new competence which often requires some personal experience. Some of my colleagues seem not to be concerned enough that they could be left behind one day soon, and they decide not to deal with digital learning at all. It seems somewhat surprising that some colleagues still think those techniques and skills are required in the future, but not now. The resistance is considerable, as well as the gaps opening up between the different (and heterogeneous) groups of users. Even more surprising is the fact that people seem to reside in different times, different eras: some are still residents of the industrial age even though some are still young, some have arrived or are born in the digital age, shifting even at quite an old age already.

During my research of digital literacy I found several articles or concepts as well as different approaches. First there is already the term that is used for the range of competences and skills summarized by digital literacy. In the German speaking part of Europe media literacy is often considered as a former term for digital literacy – and therefore used as a synonym.
One approach developed by the Austrian Professor of Digital Teaching at Krems, Peter Baumgartner, develops a very broad picture with nine dimensions of digital literacy for teaching. The competences described refer basically to the field of teaching and learning in education, and not to a larger scale of scientific or other professional work or even life in general. As mentioned above the term media literacy used in Baumgartner’s paper is a derivate of the old equation media = bearer of any kind of (digital) content.

In Baumgartners conception, media literacy (synonym of digital literacy) contains the following nine fields:

  • media didactics
  • media education
  • media ethics
  • media design
  • media informatics
  • media communication
  • media critics
  • media theory
  • use of media

all of those fields located in education have to be acquired by both, teachers and students. Thus, teachers and faculty has to be competent and performing in all those fields. It implements all the abilities of the 21st Century skill palette from Critical Thinking (education, ethics, critic, theory), Communication, Creativity (didactics, design, educational media production) and Collaboration (use of digital media). There is the critical approach, the productive aspect, the learning outcomes, as well as knowledge in jurisdiction and ethics.

The broad field of media literacy in general mirrors the extent that our society is concerned by digitalization.

Digital literacy as a general skill

A similar picture of seven elements is pointed out by Jisc organization. Their concept uses newer terminology in my opinion, but the competence fields for a successful development of digital literacy are similar:

digital literacy jisc

Seven elements of digital literacies (Developing digital literacies JISC)


In this concept the term “media literacy” is not used as a synonym for all the “digital literacy” as in Baumgartners conception, but only for one field of use and production of digital media. All the other competences are somehow digitalized general soft skills that are not bound to certain scientific or professional knowledge but describing a personal approach to it that some of us might need. The Jisc layout of digital literacy shows a much broader view and applies to professional life as well as life in general. ICT literacy for instance touches every field of daily life from talking to your relatives, going shopping, voting, paying bills to getting a book in the library. Information literacy is a crucial skill of today’s professional and personal life and not limited to education itself.

To me the fact that digital literacy touch everyone today, young and old people here and there and not only the future generations points out the importance of competence development in the area of digital media and applications today. The digital age has arrived. The future is now.


Baumgartner P., Brandhofer, G., Ebner, M., Gradinger, P., Korte, M. (2015), Medienkompetenz fördern – Lehren und Lernen im digitalen Zeitalter

Developing Digital Literacies, Jisc organization (project 2011-2013)

The Architecture of Open Learning Networks

While we worked on openness in learning during topic 2 I realized that this was something completely different than our still very classroom centered (and therefore teacher centered) and LMS-driven elearning environments. Open Network learning is open in many ways. While a classroom centered LMS is an image of a brick and mortar school, an open network finds rarely an exact material counterpart. Open networks just connect people and content in new ways. We discussed open or openness on a personal, an institutional, a legal and a technical level, but also on an architectural level, where the question is, how material and virtual space create a new hybrid space in wich we all move around constantly.

The hybrid space is a combination of material and virtual space, and we are already in the midst of it. We write an email on our very real computer and send it away to a server for the recipient to get it there. Of course he or she does not go there in person to knock an a door and ask for the email sent to him/her, we enter the virtual space to read what has been delivered. Who is not member of Whatsapp or Trello groups in order to manage day care for the children or manage a family? Who has been in the situation to buy a ticket for a concert and get a digital ticket on your smart phone to be scanned at the door? The situation are many and we all get it: virtual and hybrid space are real!

How does the fact that we are all the time in a hybrid space change our brick and mortar architecture of institutional buildings, or how should it change? Let’s try to have a look into the year 2028, ten years from now:

We don’t need no classrooms anymore where classes are all the same size and the same age, where all the students have to learn the same thing at the same time. Students get topic to work on sometimes with given tasks, sometimes with their own tasks and focuses. Lectures and introductions are in the net everyone knows what to read, watch or listen to to start with work. Team building is a part of students daily business. Whenever they feel the need they meet in open spaces to work on a topic. Then they organize their team work online, discuss rules and go home to work individually or catch up later online, share work in the cloud. The next day they don’t show up, they continue to work together online. When we feel the need of a meeting, they meet. If not, they don’t. Our teachers are our facilitators. We are able to contact them at any time. We trust them to answer our questions or help in other ways, as coaches, as mentors. Once a week we have a meeting online with our professors or mentors where we talk about our work and how to proceed.

In the future all those classroom buildings where spaces have exactly the same size will disappear. The floors of the buildings will be transformed, walls will be teared down. There will be are much smaller spaces for group work, even closed spaces for coaching or counseling with personal coaches and counselors. But there will also be large spaces with diverse subspaces with transition areas to the outside.

At the same time a Wifi access will be part of this new kind of space. The cloud you work in is permanently present and part of that space. But also other individuals are present, reachable, accessible: experts, your professors, mentors, tutors, coaches, counselors… your peers. We’re almost there, but it’s on you to build your own network, much more than ever before. This is what we have to learn at school though, yesterday, today. To be ready today, tomorrow.

The future is now.

More open learning architecture

Edinger, E.-C., Reimer, R. T. D., Thirdspace als hybride Lernumgebung. Die Kombination materieller und virtueller Lernräume. In: Erwachsenenbildung und Raum. Theoretische Perspektiven – professionelles Handeln – Rahmung des Lernens, Reihe: Theorie und Praxis der Erwachsenenbildung, Bielefeld: DIE. S. 205-2016.

Creative Commons Licences

When I publish a video on our server, I am asked, which license I want to attribute to my video. I always hesitate, as I don’t really know which license to choose. I want the videos to be watched, and why not also used by others to explain the same. But I don’t want anybody to sell them (what would not happen because the video is published in a branded environment and not interesting for commercial use) and also the video should not be alterated, neither by our staff nor by others. So which one is the right one?

To decide I watched the video by WatchNow Videomagazine, where the licences are explained:

Following these explanations I decided to use the following licence in the future:

Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag

Someone must refer to my authorship and is not allowed to make money with it.


CC Creative Commons

CC Creative Commons Switzerland

5 Stages by Gilly Salmon

In today’s meeting we discussed a possible topic to develop in our PBL group. One possible topic to go with are instructional design models for online courses, and one of the mentioned models was Gilly Salmon’s 5 Stages-Model. As I used it a few times I’d like to describe it here for those who are curious about it. The model is actually technology based and provides a strong facilitator role. So if you don’t have the necessary digital literacy, it is impossible to facilitate a course. But if sou are a student, it is perfectly fit to improve your digital skills!

When I design a new online course, I first try to get a whole picture of what kind of a course it should be, who is my audience, what learning objectives are in the center, and how content will be delivered. I focus on the nine questions: Who learns what, with whom, why, where, when, how, by which means, of whom? All those questions have to be answered in order to build didactically effective learning environments.
For the design process itself the useful model by the British elearning specialist and professor Gilly Salmon is extremely helpful. She developed the 5 Stage-Model of online learning and teaching more than 15 years ago. In 2004 I started to get involved with elearning myself and needed a straw to figure out how to get started. The idea of learning objectives, target groups, didactics and testing along with all the tools available already seemed overwhelming. Then I read Salmon’s fabulous book »E-Tivities, the Key to Active Online Learning« – and it still influences my work today.
If teacher colleagues ask me, how to get started with online learning I recommend this very good guide either to designing an online course as well as to coaching students through their process. If you get familiar with the model and its elements you will be able to adapt it to new environments and implement new ideas or circumstances, and you will be able to make the changes you need in your specific context. You will learn how to adapt it to your new audience, to new learning objectives or new ways of communication. As a scaffold it helps to figure out the steps you have design.
Salmon suggests that every stage lasts two weeks. I think this depends on your audience how much time they need in order to get ready to move on to the next stage. Some groups are ready in no time to start exchanging information and customize their learning environment, others need more time.
The model suits both, online or blended learning settings.
Lets have a look at the model:

5 Stage Model by Gilly Salmon (2002)

5 Stage Model by Gilly Salmon (2002)

The Stages

Stage 1 – Access and motivation

When we get started to design an online-course we start on stage 1, at the broad bottom of the model. As the title says we deal first with access to the learning content and the LMS we use. As tutors or moderators we have to make sure that every student finds the course and is able to log in. Well, it might sound trivial, but it is not. You might ask: »Aren’t we all used to internet and social media today, in 2016? Well, yes, but still, it is not clear that your students find the virtual ”entrance“ to an online course, so you have to remember delivering the information they need. It is as simple – and as complicated – as that. Make sure that the guidelines are clear, that you provide the right link to the course with the right login information like username and password. Provide guidelines or online helpdesks what to do when students do not understand what to do with the information they got from you.

Now you might ask: »How you know that everyone has logged in successfully and found the first assignment?« Good question! You have to figure out a way to know. One method we used was sort of a connectivity check. It was an assignment the students got in the login information email asking them to find a certain forum and simply say »Hello! I made it! I am here«. Even students with little media literacy will probably be able log in. The assignment has to be this simple, they did not have to be very intelligent in the first place, but friendly. A simple Hello is ok. Anyone can do that.

The second part of this first stage is Motivation as you can see above in the model. Being successful with this very first assignment will already be a great motivation for the students to continue, only because they were successful in the first place. They managed to log in and say hello – and to be welcomed. This is the spark, Salmon talks about in the description of her e-tivities, the spark that leads to action, that makes people want to accomplish something, the little fire of motivation. Now, the assignment Connectivity Check is simple enough, but not boring, because everyone would be able to see who else is enrolled in the course and how they present themselves with their very first posting.

Those assignments, starting with for instance this connectivity check, getting more complex and subject oriented in the ongoing course are the so called e-tivites, a term derived from e- for digital, and activity. It is a digital activity, in a way, pointing out the importance of students activity. Keep your students active is one of the most important imperatives in online teaching and coaching. And your e-tivities are the method – the key – to keep them busy.

Let’s move on. The first posting in the Connectivity Check Forum is not enough to make sure that everyone is on board. Some students might have to get used to log in frequently, others are already used to check out regularly what’s new in the virtual classroom. Easy e-tivities are important for this first group of students. The moderator makes sure the e-tivities are interesting for everyone.

One more thought about motivation. After the connectivity check your students need an personal invitation to the online class. It’s your job to welcome them, in your own way. Use a picture if it feels right, make sure to catch the students rather on an emotional side on order to make them feel comfortable. Content is later.

Stage 2 – Online socialisation

This stage provides also several  simple assignments with tasks for all students, tasks they can fulfill effortlessly, but this time they aim to social exchange. Set students get to know each other. Ask your students to introduce themselves. The e-tivities at this stage can be little social games, like writing down three statements about themselves, one of them being a lie. The others would now find out, what the lie is and what is right. Ask them, to read their classmate’s postings and write an answer to at least two of their peers. A lot of students or also colleagues think that this is a silly little game not worth doing. In my experience this stage is normally very busy, because the assignments are easy and everyone can participate. In the meantime your students get used to access the online-environment o r the virtual classroom frequently. If you think they are beginners have them post another e-tivity with a socially engaging question or task, think of new games, puzzles or riddles that are easily transportable in a virtual environment and suit your audience. Work with images or maps, use an online mind map-tool in order to gather information about the group and keep your students socially engaged and busy. Make sure you always mention exactly what you expect from your audience and what they have to do. Remember: e-tivities are activities.

Stage 3 – Information exchange / Research

Now content and research are king. On this stage learning objectives become the main focus. The students start figure out their interests in the subject, if they do not already have ideas about it. The students formulate their subject to work on, research the topic and get closer to a definite problem. In order to do this, e-tivities on stage 3 are very should bring your students closer to their personal approach. It is also question to find the right material and resources to work with. Make sure your students exchange information and material they find to certain topics and support each other in approaching their problem.

On this stage I also made sure that every student had thought about personal learning objectives, also concerning learning strategy and methods.

In this stage the students collect and discuss learning materials and resources, ask questions about the topic and formulate their own perspectives on problems. In the end of this stage every student should be able to present an outline for their work, showing the approach and methods. I’d like to point out the  importance of peer-feedback on outlines in order to improve them before handing them in, maybe the workload for tutors, moderators or professors can be even reduced.

What media the students use to present their projects is also a question of the course design. To let the students chose their media can boost their motivation.

In a less academic setting the students gather and discuss information in order to prepare stage 4, knowledge construction.

Stage 4 – Knowledge construction

The students for now on their own work. It is important that they point out their individual interest and place it in their own learning biography. Stage 4 resembles a construction site, a working studio. Everyone is at work, some individually, some in groups perhaps, teachers or tutors help and coach. Learners are now in the stage of creation, inventing their own knowledge depending on their backgrounds, interests and experience.

In order to keep your virtual environment busy you can implement milestones and timelines for the students to hand in some assignments related to their work. Have them keep a journal with regular posts about their own work, or let them blog about their thoughts on their own progress. It’s a lot, and normally students don’t like it, because it takes time. But it will be a very useful for improving individual learning.

A help line in form of a forum for questions of any kind is required. If you need to meet up with your students in individual coaching sessions this is the time to do so. Coaching can take place online or face-to-face, depending on the setting of the course.

The results of this stage are linked to the online classroom so that feedback can be provided. It is the advantage of online-learning that work can be exhbited and shared. 

Stage 5 – Development

In this terminal phase new knowledge is transferred in the individual context of the student. It is a very important stage, the new knowledge is now effective.

Now the students reflect their journey, they refer to themselves and on their new achievements described in their journal. Next steps are defined, new questions emerge,  and can be taken to a new cycle back to stage 3 and so on. Also it is time to say thank you for the excellent cooperation, or goodbye to the group splitting up. Often here the atmosphere gets more emotional. The individual baggages are packed with new stuff to be carried out to the world to be verified in the wild, so to speak.

In this stage evaluation must be possible and documented. Thoughts can be aligned on a virtual wall or on a blog with a personal post from all.

The reflection during the whole process, so Salmon, is key to the individual development of effective learning strategies. And it is important  that teachers repeatedly ask questions about learning experiences, having their students think about their learning and discuss those questions. The process should be visible at all times.

Five Stages as a Cycle and E-Tivities as Key Elements

You can think of this model also as a cycle of learning processes. I mean that once you arrive at Stage 5 you can return to stage 3 with a new topic if the group is already familiar with each other, and so on. If the class changes, you can implement some elements of stage 1 and 2 for new students or having regulars to help you with newbies. In this approach it is key to know the purposes of the stages and and design the right e-tivities. It is finally the art to curate the content for those stages with motivating and interesting exchanges. It is the art of online course design finally to design the right e-tivities with a spark in order to keep the students motivated. It is your job to get to know your students and understand what those sparks might be!

Gilly Salmon’s Website

Salmon, G. (2011), E-Moderating – The Key to Teaching and Learning Online, New York (Routledge).

Jörn Loviscach »Digitalisierung der Lehre: zwischen Hype, Notwendigkeit und Befreiung«

Zum Studienjahrauftakt dieses Jahr sprach Jörn Loviscach über seine Erfahrung mit Blended Learning und Flipped Classroom. Seit fast zehn Jahren baut er an seiner enormen Wissensbank an Youtube-Videos, die er für seine Studierenden im Bereich Ingenieur-Mathematik und technische Informatik bereitstellt. In seinem rund halbstündigen Referat spricht er über Erfahrungen und Einschätzungen zu denen er im Laufe der Jahre gelangt ist.

Jörn Loviscachs Referat, Professor an der Fachhochschule Bielefeld, wurde zum Studienjahrauftakt live nach Zürich in unseren Hörsaal eingespielt. 🙂


Website Jörn Loviscach
Loviscach on Youtube

ONL181 Getting started

Home Office

This week our Online Course Open Networked Learning ONL181 entered week 2 »Connecting« with getting to know each other on our group PBL8 on Google+. I still struggle with Google+ as I am quite confused to find new entries and comments on the platform. It’s not that obvious. Also I would like to be able to mark some of the entries, as they are discussions about how to proceed.
Google + is more or less a pin wall in my understanding. Maybe my team colleagues have a different perception of G+.
Documents are stored on Google drive.
Webinars will be held in order to find common ground for our group. Unfortunately I could not participate on our first rendez-vous. Recordning did not work, so I can’t catch up. Tomorrow is my second chance.
Meeting my team mates at 9 am 🙂
I am curious about other experiences here on Google+ and I am looking forward to new ideas and inspiration!

Worhshop Screencasts BFH

Links Beispiele Screencast

Academic Moodle Cooperation AMC
Moodle Terminplaner nutzen
AMC Youtube

Khan Academy
Medecine Heart Anatomy: Meet the Heart

Jörn Loviscach
Brüche auflösen, Definitionsmenge, Youtube

Moodle Tests und Quizzes erstellen mit Moodle 3 (Registrierung nötig) Kurs heute gratis 😉

Neuer Switchtube Channel mit unseren Anleitungen für Dozierende
Notizen zum Workshop

Mastery Model des Inverted Classrooms mit E-Assessments

Jürgen Handke, Professor für Anglistik an der Universität Marburg, stellt in seine Keynote zusammen mit dem Roboter Nao vor, mit dem er in einigen Projekten zur robotergestützen Lehre unterwegs ist. Neben den Einsatzideen von KI und Robotik in der Lehre spricht er aber vor allem über sein Inverted Classroom Model (ICM), welches sich von einfacheren Konzepten abhebt. Während Flipped Classroom oder Inverted Classroom vielerorts als zweiphasiges Modell gedacht wird, bestehend aus Online-Vorbereitungsphase und Präsenzphase zur Vertiefung der Inhalte, schiebt Handke eine weitere Phase dazwischen, nämlich einen formativen Test, durch den die Studierenden nach der eigenen Wissensaneignung vor dem Präsenztermin ihren Level of Mastery evaluieren können. Dieser Test wird durch Online-Assessments z. b. auf der Plattform durchgeführt, so dass die Lehrenden damit auch gleich die nötigen Informationen darüber erhalten, wo die Gruppe vor dem Präsenztermin bezüglich ihres Wissenserwerbs steht. Interessant auch, wie Handke die Rolle der Lehrenden sieht, die ja gerade nicht mehr dozierend vor der Klasse stehen, sondern Lernbegleiter/innen sind, Coaches, die unterstützen und beraten. Dieser Paradigmenwechsel ist nun wirklich nicht neu in der Diskussion um die digitale Lehre, aber sehr schön ist, wie dies hier in aller Konsequenz umgesetzt wird!

Handke hat sein ICM nun so perfektioniert, dass er auch durch die Zahlen den Erfolg seines Systems zeigen kann. Obwohl an Universitäten im Gegensatz zu Schulen keine Präsenzpflicht besteht, besuchen 84% seiner Studierenden die Präsenzveranstaltungen, 90% evaluieren sich selbst mit den Tests.

Die Keynote bietet auch sonst interessante Einblicke in die erfolgreiche Umsetzung des Inverted Classoom Modells, so auch in der Einführung zu Mehrwert von digitaler Lehre im Vergleich zu herkömmlicher Lehre.


Jürgen Handke auf Wikipedia
Keynote Eduhub Days Lugano 2017
Jürgen Handke – Gelingensbedingungen für das ICM (Youtube, 9 Minuten)
Linguistics Online