Looking back

Looking back to my first month in our LET studies, I could summarize it as having done lots and lots of team work and trying out multible Web2.0 tools. There has been more of this than traditional lectures which I had been used to in my previous studies back in the 90’s. On our Introduction to Learning and Educational Technology -course we have been reading many different articles (about CSCL and educational technology, for example), discussing them in groups, and finally producing presentations together, usually with some software on a tablet. On our ICT workshop we have been working in pairs and trying out different Web2.0 tools together, the teacher being there to help us in any tricky situation where we might need help. So we are not merely taught the facts and figures about collaborative learning and computer-supported collaborative learning, we are doing it in practise.

at computer class

Image from Creative Commons: Richard Astley-Clemas, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On our ICT workshop the approach to learning about educational technology has been such that we have quite literally started a quest to explore different tools with little intervention from the teacher’s side. First the quest seemed almost daunting, but now that I think of it, this is probably a better way to learn compared to if the teacher had given us lectures about the different software. So, working in collaboration we learn gradually to use the tools, and hopefully proceed in our learning to be able to use them in a pedagogically meaningful way. Learn to use, and then use to learn!

On the other day I was reading the strategy of Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE), “Education and Training 2020”. I was strugg by the grand visions set there, as for example:

“Finland will become the leading developer of learning culture in the world. Learning and teaching will emphasise collaborative approaches, involvement and interaction, combined with building knowledge and competence. Everyone will be guaranteed equal opportunities to process and produce information and to make efficient use of information and communications technology in support of learning.

 Electronic learning materials and diverse learning environments will form a key part of learning and teaching. Determined solutions will guide development of digital infrastructures and digital skills at all levels of education.”

I could not help thinking that are these more pipe dreams, or can this become a reality. There’s a whole lot of work to be done, that’s for sure. But if I were to choose a country where I could imagine this becoming true, it most likely would be Finland. Or what do you thing about this: I just heard that the city of Vantaa in Finland has decided to give tablets (altogether 16.000 pieces) to each student in the city’s schools, and the schools are also gradually moving away from books to digital learning material. Every student has a tablet of their own, and can use them at school, so (unfortunately, in my mind) they are not able to take them home. Anyhow, I’m impressed how progressive this is, and happy that all children there are given an equal chance to use technology for learning. One student in Vantaa commented that “now that we have tablets and the net in our use, the whole world is our learning environment”. He put it pretty well, didn’t he. (You can find the article here in Finnish.)

Picture from Creative Commons: lumaxart, CC BY-SA 2.0

Image from Creative Commons: lumaxart, CC BY-SA 2.0

A few words still about collaborative learning. I mentioned the 21st century skills, the 4C’s: Communication (sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions), Collaboration (working together to reach a goal), Critical thinking (looking at problems in new ways), and Creativity (trying new approaches to get things done) in my previous post, and I have still been thinking about these, how vital these skills are for young people to obtain and to use in the future in their working life. If I was a teacher I would probably make use of collaborative learning a lot because in my mind in collaborative learning you get to practise exactly these skills. Also, bringing educational technology into the play gives a change for the students to, well, as the boy in Vantaa said “have the whole world as a learning environment”.

 One note still about collaborative learning, a personal note about something I’ve noticed: I find myself constantly observing, regulating and reflecting. I observe the learning environment, my own emotions and motivation, other student’s behavior and emotions, the teachers’ agenda and perhaps even the hidden agenda (by hidden agenda I mean the things the teacher possibly wants us to learn, but does not say that to us directly when  giving a task for us to do). I keep wondering, in the group tasks especially, about what does the teacher want us to learn, what I’m hoping to learn, what do I end up learning, and what do the others learn. I’m hoping to understand these things better when our course about Self-regulated learning starts.


About kaipihla

A student in Learning, Education and Technology Master's degree program in University of Oulu, Finland.
This entry was posted in Learning and Educational Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Looking back

  1. Hello, Kaisa. This is Daniel, from LET. I decided to give comments on your blog as part of our assignment.

    I want to start by saying that it is very friendly to the eye, and structured coherently and simply in such a way that reading it is a breeze. That is not precisely an easy trait in blogging, so hats off to you in that regard. Your tone and narrative are quite relaxed but concise, setting your opinions clearly appart from the theoretical bases for your argumentation. You provide enough referencing for the average reader to be able to deepen into subjects related to what you touch, without introducing excessive unnecessary information. Likewise, images selected reflect a traditionally academic form of writing, but without leaving aside the eye candy to it, making it appealing to readers. I particularly liked the entry related to 21st century skills,regarding how you introduced an expert point of view (Kirschner´s), and then proceed to presenting your own perspective on it, no matter how divergent it is. This leads to a wider understanding by the audience and a more strongly built opinion.

    Regarding course contents, most of the topics are included and given enough coverage for the reader to be able to form an accurate perception of them. Interesting enough, there are some parallel topics also touched, building a broader view on the points you want to touch on.

    In terms of discussion, it is ok, clearly introducing the perspectives of authors and experts, and briefly going over your own. I might say that there could be a deeper discussion if perhaps only a handful of topics are selected and dwelled on (of course, this will probably be the case with all of our blogs!). But then again, you introduce at least some discussion for most of the topics introduced, making it very complete.

    Your use of references is ok, addressing the core readings and some alternate sources as well. Of course, I understand about your past not related to pedagogy, so it is just natural that you do not include a number of scientific articles on the field. On a side note, perhaps some intra-text references might be needed, especially when heavy content is drawn verbatim from specific authors.

    Finally, and as I said before, the blog follows a clear, coherent structure, enabling the reader to keep track of core concepts being treated.

    Overall, it is a very attractive blog where there is a clear sense of progression related to your learning in the program (which is the purpose of it). It would be cool to see a bit more of discussion about topics of your interest. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading it, and I remembered clearly stuff we studied together.


    • kaipihla says:

      Hi Daniel,
      and thanks for your comments on my blog, I really appreciate it.:)

      I think you are quite right in what you say, so I agree 🙂 Given my background, I still feel like a novice in learning and educational technology, who is trying to digest all the information and issues we have dealt with in the courses so far. The blog has been a way for me to organise my thought about those issues, and explain them to both (and mostly) myself and the possible reader. As the studies progress and my knowledge starts to build up, I’m hoping to go deeper into discussing, even critically, about the topics dealt with in the courses.

      However, I’m glad to hear that the blog is in a way nice and easy to read – that has been the objective, though writing the blog has not been “a breeze” 😀 It has been hard work, and each post has required a lot of thought. But now that I have gotten into blogging, I really see the benefit of it as part of our learning, and I’m glad to continue with it during the next courses as well.

      Cheers! – Kaisa


  2. armanlet says:

    Hello Kaisa! I read all the posts of you blog, and want to give some comments as a part of our assignment. In your first portfolio assignment, one sentence attracted me a lot. In your first sentence of fourth paragraph, you wrote that “Lately I have been thinking about the issues of how employees in working life gather a lot of information and skills that they may not be totally aware of themselves, and therefore might not be able to use the full potential that they have in themselves”. I think, it is “Knowledge Management”, that is required to manage the knowledge, skills and experiences of the employee. If you have interest in it, I can help you giving you some papers related to knowledge management. In your second portfolio assignment, you pointed out the current research trends in learning sciences. You also described about 21st century learning, learning environments, and how technology can support in these areas. You gave the example of your 7 years old daughter, who is very smart in using different types of technological tools. That actually showed that you can relate your studies with your practical life, the most effective way of learning. You are thinking about the issues related to your studies critically.
    In your third portfolio assignment, you described computer-supported collaborative learning, and personal learning environment. You embedded an image to describe the tools used in PLE, which is self-explanatory. Finally, your latest post “Looking back” is really wonderful. I like your writing and presenting skill. You highlighted many important points related to Learning and educational technology in an organized and logical way. Your writing and presentation is of high quality, but I think, probably you did not complete your blogging tasks yet. I think, the different posts of your blog would be visible as separate posts, and there would be separate categories of posts for separate courses, or purposes. Waiting for your final portfolio assignment. Wish you best of luck.


    • kaipihla says:

      Hi Arman,
      thank you for commenting my blog. 🙂

      I have tried to find a way to separate my different posts more clearly on the first page, but it seems that the “theme” from WordPress I have chosen as the basis of my blog isn’t really flexible in that regard. Otherwise I like the theme, so I have not changed it, although I did look at other free theme options available in WordPress. However, I implemented Category-widget in my blog, so I can categorise my posts related to different courses.

      I would be very interested in reading about knowledge management, so if you have some articles or other you would like to recommend, I would be happy to take a look. Thanks so much for your help!

      – Kaisa


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