‘Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’: Lessons Learned: Future Practice

The idea of engaging and collaborating with people from different cultures and countries was met with much trepidation as was the ‘unknown’ of what lay ahead on the course.  I really did not know whether or not I would last.  I was unsure whether or not I would be able to cope with the differing time zones and the expected pace of the course. However just as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz  met many friends who joined her on her journey on that yellow brick road and worked together, with their varying personalities, strengths and knowledge to get to the Emerald City, so too did I in my problem based learning group,  in getting to this point.  These have become people that I really want to remain connected to.

The synchronous social construct, leaning on, learning from and with each member was quite a learning curve for me in so far as experiencing collaborative learning. It was not just about collaborating and building relationships in the learning process but making a commitment to the combined learning of the group.

The course was well scaffolded and brought me to the realisation that I could indeed do the things that I thought I could not do.

It certainly pushed me beyond my comfort zone in exploring online tools that I would have never thought of engaging with such as Canva, Smilebox, Pow -Toon, Coggle.  Prezi is already a tool that I am familiar with.  WordPress!!!!  I cannot believe that I am now a blogger….and enjoying it!

The breakthrough moment of collaborative learning in this blended online course for me was most definitely on Topic 3.  We moved from the somewhat awkward talks on Adobe Connect and individual contributions on the FISH template to a working model of successful ‘integrated ‘collaboration’ on the PADLET that was presented on the ONL community,  and meaningful  in-depth discussion on the topic.  What I found  phenomenal was that although we agreed on some perspectives, we were also given the space to respectfully disagree and reflect upon alternate perspectives.  The willingness to learn, share and teach each other was phenomenal.   This trend continued on remaining topics.

The Google + community itself was a paradigm shift for me.  Just as I am sure that Dorothy was surprised, fascinated and intrigued by the Munchkins in Munchkin land, so too was I perplexed, fascinated and intrigued by the benefit of Google + in both the teaching and learning space.  This particular tool has provoked me to implement a similar model as ONL for the purposes of integrated curriculum evaluation on the modules that I lecture in second semester, specifically Specific Contracts, which students find onerous.  It would be an interesting experiment to assess the extent to which students are willing to collaborate and learn from each other on these platforms more specifically, the skills and knowledge that they would be able to take away from the course.  For me, the success of such an implementation would reflect in the module pass rate and through put rate.  I’m looking forward to taking a step back from being the sole source of students learning to being the facilitator of their own learning.

The benefits of this course have outweighed the disadvantages and stumbling blocks.  It has indeed taken me through the roller coaster experience that students would experience, however it has enabled me:

  • To reflect upon my own teaching practice as legal academic.
  • As a curriculum designer, it has enabled me to reflect upon the development and augmentation of the LLB degree in the blended online space.

I have absolutely loved this course.  I am presenting a paper at the School of Law at the University   of Nottingham’s, Centre for Legal Education Conference 2017 on Technology, legal education and legal practice in June.  I have been quite inspired to include a discussion of my experiences on ONL 171, more so with the amazing PBL 3 group that I have become very fond of.

Consideration should definitely be given to an advanced ONL course that builds upon this one.

Unlike Dorothy, I have no intention of clicking my sequined ruby red shoes thrice, uttering delirious mantras of ‘there’s no place like home’.  Open networked learning is now a comfortable space in which I would like to stay and learn more, whilst enjoying the benefits of my life in the real world…. blended learning at its best!!!


Author: frombabies2lecturehalls with Neetu Chetty

I am the Program Manager of Law at the IIE Varsity College Westville campus, running the School of Law. My research explores augmenting legal education through alternate pedagogies, make it more relevant, bridge building between academia and practice. My blogs draw on my real life experiences, associations and relationships in expressing my reflections. I don't see the world through rose coloured glasses but, I do step back and see the larger picture and consequences of it. I am a mom of 3, and so you will see how I gravitate from the personal to the reflective in my writing. I like being unconventional. Unconventional makes for exciting reading, experiences, strategies and innovations. Enjoy reading my blog!

10 thoughts on “‘Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’: Lessons Learned: Future Practice”

  1. An inspiring post and it’s great to hear that the course has had such a positive outcome. Please consider using this blog to reflect on your teaching and share ideas. Once you build up momentum the blog becomes a living CV. You can link to your publications list, academic profile etc. The Wizard of Oz metaphor is perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Alistair. I think that this course should be taken by all educators who have a real interest and passion for education. A willingness of wanting to evolve as opposed to remaining as relics in the lecture room is a must. KI just has to consider an advanced course that builds upon this one. I would be the first person signing up for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed reading your reflections of the ONL course. And topic 3 was also for our group the stage that true collaboration started, and the stage that our learning became far more enriched. I wish you all the best in building your blended approach to your 2nd semester modules:-)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. REally enjoyed reading your post, Neetu. Of course, topic 3 was really great and I completely agree, it’s where our collaboration kicked into high gear. I hope you will continue your blog in some form, I have really enjoyed reading your reflections. We don’t often get to read colleagues thoughts and considerations about learning but I think it has been a real positive.
    As I mentioned in my post one of the best aspects of the course for me was learning from the other teacher’s in the group.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am really pleased to read that you Neety apparently got so much out of the course. And I think it is fair to say that you did more than your fair share of keeping up the momentum and making sure we stayed on track as a group. Personally, I am somewhat less enthusiastic about the whole topic, as explained in final blog that I will now start writing.
    Enjoyed working with you Neetu, all the best!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think the course came at the right time for me Andreas. I suppose it’s not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but it’s potential to enhance the quality of a degrer qualification and teaching and learning is very promising. I too did grapple with a few things such as resources to run something like this, it’s sustainability, student motivation, assessment strategy and credibility. I think those are the lacunaes to be bridged. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with you Andreas. I look forward to keeping this connection because I love that you challenge me to to reflect .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are an excellent blogger so keep doing that! 😊 I used pbl in an on campus course this spring but I used parts of the method from this course and it seemed to give a good structure to the groups. As @alastaircreelman noted a blog can be a CV, I started my blog last spring when I took this course. Hope to read more from you later on too, wish you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The approaches used on this course can certainly be very effective. The PBL approach is great for encouraging collaboration and promotes deep learning, but, as happens to most human endeavours, once the novelty of the approach wears out one must pull out the proverbial rabbit from the hat to keep students’ interest and motivation up.
    Good luck with your course, and keep on blogging!


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