Monday, May 22, 2017

Lessons learnt and future

Most important things that I have learnt through engagement in the ONL course and why?

The ONL course practically showed the power of open network learning. First, the course taught us how to address the change of diversity participants. The course included a collection of tools and gave opportunities to use them within the course and to create individuals learning environments. I would like to highlight the most important lesson learned from the ONL171 course. It is a comment posted by Alastair Creelman on one of my posts saying; “Context is the king, not the content.” I recalled my experience as a teacher who taught content (including tools) with paying little attention to the context. As a teacher, I shared much content with students but later realized that only a few of them are useful in the long ru.      After, following the ONL course, I realized that teacher’s role should focus on the context rather introducing content. All the assignment we did as a group and individuals helped me to understand the importance of the context.

The video posted above explain the concepts of content and context although it  is not directly related with teaching and learning.

The influence of ONL on my practice 
I learned how to design a teaching and learning environment that promote cooperation and collaboration.  It is important to select tools to match the context. Tools should be simple and address the issue of student’s diversity. The selection of tools should concern the openness and networking.

My thoughts about using technology to enhance learning/teaching in my context?
There is no structured formula to use technology for teaching and learning. The use of technology should concern the expected learning outcomes but should flexible according to the student’s expectations and abilities. The technology should have introduced as a tool that students can use for creating personal learning networks.

What are I am going to do as a result of involvement in ONL? Why?

As a member of a teaching panel first I have to share my experience and thoughts with others. It may be difficult to implement a change since I am a member of teaching panel who is teaching only for a group of students. 

My suggestions (activities and/or in general) for development of eLearning in your own teaching or context? 

I will try to use the community of inquiry (CoI) as a framework for designing my courses. The CoI framework will help to change my role from sage on the stage to guide on the side mode. Information and communication tools (especially open and networking) can be used to  create Cognitive, Teaching and Social presence. The implementation of CoI requires the use of e-learning tools. Therefore,  a blended learning environment will be used as a strategy to implement the CoI.


Thanks for reading! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Blended learning design for Thesis supervision

Possibilities for developing an online and blended learning design for Thesis supervision.

I am studying about developing information systems to support the thesis supervision. The thesis is a unique course and as an integral part of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs. A Student should select a research problem or project as an entry requirement. Then, department assigns a supervisor to assist the student. A supervisor helps to the student, but the student is responsible for the plan and implements the research or project. 

I studded thesis supervision process in few Sri Lankan management undergraduate degree programs. I will share my reflections based on the data collected from interviews, focus group discussions and documents.

The findings suggest that good supervisor-student communication is crucial to the supervision process       (Heinze & Heinze, 2009). According to my observations, face-to-face meetings between students and supervisors mainly use as a method of supervising during the thesis course. In current practice, the main issue is the difficulty of meeting students and supervisors in face-to-face meetings. Many students follow internships or work and therefore rarely meet their supervisors. As a result of lack of face-to-face interactions, many supervisors are not satisfied with the thesis, raise quality issues, delays to complete the thesis, and students are getting stress during deadlines.

Face-to-face meetings more appropriate for supervising, but in general, only a few (5 to 10) face-to-face meetings have conducted (based on my interviews). In between face-to-face meetings, students continue the thesis activities, but they have a lack of opportunity to communicate with supervisors. Sometimes, students want to get feedback, but they have to wait until they meet the supervisor next time or should arrange an extra meeting. Also, supervisors don’t know what students do until they meet the students. In general, a supervisor supervises few students and give same advice and repeat same instructions.  There are many ways students can interact, share their experiences and contribute each other. But, there is no formal interactions among students those who are following thesis as a course.

There is a possibility of using blended learning design to address issues in the current practice. In addition to face-to-face meetings, the thesis course can use information technology as a tool to create an online supervision environment that benefits both students and supervisors.

How to provide better support and scaffolding to students in online and blended learning environments.

There are studies that suggest blended learning as a supporting tool for thesis supervision(K√§llkvist, Gomez, Andersson, & Lush, 2009) (Heinze & Heinze, 2009)(Aghaee, Hansson, Tedre, & Drougge, 2014)(Aghaee, Larsson, & Hansson, 2012)(Karunaratne, Hansson, & Aghaee, 2017).  Using a blended learning design students can get a better support from supervisors and interact with peers. Then can meet supervisor face-to-face when they complete a milestone. In-between face-to-face meetings they can get feedbacks from supervisors via online tools. Also, they can interact with other students and get a peer support.  The online system will reduce the work load of the supervisors (for example, sharing common guidelines, instructions, etc.) and may lead to developing quality resources. Also, such a system record report and discussions between students and supervisors and may help to avoid misunderstands and easily follow what they have discussed.

Opportunities for further development in this area

I already studied many tools that can be used to facilitate thesis supervision. But, ONL171 course gave me an insight of how practically use them. For example, tools we used to do group works such as Google docs, chat tools etc. Students can use google documents to share their writings. Google apps can be used to create a more productive learning environment. Both students and supervisors can use chat options, comments and other collaborative tools to give and get feedbacks. A closed group can create for peers and students can share their experiences and resources.   A Blog tool can be used to visible student’s activities and motivate students.
In addition to the standalone tools, ONL171 explored the Community of inquiry(Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013) as a valuable framework to redesign the thesis course. In future, I intend to conduct a detail investigation of how to develop cognitive, social and teaching presence in thesis course.   

Aghaee, N., Hansson, H., Tedre, M., & Drougge, U. (2014). Learners ’ perceptions on the structure and usefulness of e-resources for the thesis courses. The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning – EURODL, 17(1), 154–171.
Aghaee, N., Larsson, U., & Hansson, H. (2012). Improving the Thesis Process. The 35th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia - IRIS2012. Retrieved from
Heinze, A., & Heinze, B. (2009). Blended e-learning skeleton of conversation: Improving formative assessment in undergraduate dissertation supervision. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(2), 294–305.
K√§llkvist, M., Gomez, S., Andersson, H., & Lush, D. (2009). Personalised virtual learning spaces to support undergraduates in producing research reports: Two case studies. Internet and Higher Education, 12(1), 35–44.
Karunaratne, T., Hansson, H., & Aghaee, N. (2017). The effect of multiple change processes on quality and completion rate of theses: a longitudinal study. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 1–18.
Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in Blended Learning Environments: Creating and Sustaining Communities of Inquiry. Athabasca University Press. Retrieved from

Lessons learnt and future

Most important things that I have learnt through engagement in the ONL course and why? The ONL course practically showed the power of o...