Open Networked Learning Course (ONL212), Connecting Week: Patience and Honesty

I didn’t expect to encounter such feelings of strangeness during the first ‘connecting week’ of ONL212. We had two group meetings this week. There are nine members in my group including two facilitators. Two group members (including myself) are from Singapore and others are from Europe (Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Italy).

Our group assignment for this week: 1. Discuss and adopt group collaboration guidelines; 2. Prepare something as a group “to present [our] group to the wider ONL community in any way you like”.

I kid you not. No other instructions. Just prepare a presentation of our group “in any way you like”. We had two group meetings. Both started off slow with most of us (me definitely) groping in the dark.

It was difficult being patient and present throughout all the uncertainty and unfamiliarity I was feeling.

It seems we are to complete a task as a group for each topic of the course. At some point in our group meeting, I asked our facilitator when we would know the exact group tasks. He explained that each task would only be “revealed” at the start of each topic. Wow! I had to stop myself from asking for more details.

I felt a bit better after reading the blog post of my groupmate Sven, where he openly shares about his discomfort. Reading his blog post also made me think about the importance of honesty. Being honest with myself and others about my discomfort and impatience is difficult. As an educator and a student, I am used to courses with detailed topic descriptions, assessment methods, and reading lists all set out in advance. After experiencing the strange interestingness of my first group meeting, I tried to find some anchor by going through the recommended course readings for this week.

In their paper on problem-based learning, Kek and Huijser explain:

“The ability to quickly get accustomed to change or ‘way of being’ might also be seen as adaptive expertise, a term coined by Hatano and Inagaki (1984) to contrast it with routine expertise. They posited that expertise comprises, at its base, both subject-level knowledge, and the ability to perform efficiently and effectively in familiar situations. However, when an individual encounters a novel or unfamiliar situation, i.e. the task, method or desired results are not known in advance, the individual with routine expertise struggles. By contrast, adaptive expertise would allow for that individual to easily overcome the constraining effects of novelty and unfamiliarity, both on an affective and cognitive level, and this in turn would allow sufficient flexibility to respond appropriately (Schwartz, Bransford, & Sears, 2005).”

“In other words, in the age of supercomplexity, human beings function in complex ecosystems that are characterized by various intersecting layers, which impact on each other. To function successfully in such ecosystems requires knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions, and as we argue, a particular way-of-being that allows people to deal in productive and creative ways with uncertainty.”

One of our adopted lime caterpillars. Our first adopted lime caterpillar baby emerged from its chrysalis a few days ago. Thanks to Michy and Onique for facilitating the adoptions. Photo courtesy of Veronique Tan.

I like their reference to a new “way of being”, though this also means unlearning old ways of being. I reminded myself of this throughout our second group meeting which ended with some jokes, smiles, and laughs. We also managed to agree on the presentation we would make, and most importantly, we agreed on having fun.

5 thoughts on “Open Networked Learning Course (ONL212), Connecting Week: Patience and Honesty”

  1. It is an uncomfortable experience to be a student and also when the course is based on collaboration and investigation rather than being fed the answers by a teacher. A very reflective post and a good start to your blog. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the course later on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your feelings about your first week on ONL. It really is another way of working, I found it both challenging and very interesting. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.


  3. That feeling of discomfort can either make it or break it for some learners. Happy to see that you’ve taken it all in your stride and have made peace with that. Things can only get better from here. Looking forward to you reflections!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Given the scenario, the assignment might be: Find the “problem” the group should be concerned with over the next 2 weeks, formulate questions and try to find answers, and/or describe the process.
    Unfamiliar? Yes, you’re probably not the only one. But the group will find a mode of working together.


    1. Hi Miriam, thanks for your comment. This blog post was before Topic 1. We didn’t have a scenario yet. We were just deciding on collaboration rules and presenting ourselves as a group. It was a reflection on Connecting Week. But yes, this blog post on unfamiliarity is probably also applicable to Topic 1. Will be sharing my thoughts on Topic 1 soon.


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