Our team’s summer hatchery topic was to define what motivates students while learning online and what sort of innovative methods of teaching are out there for the RELeCo project. The team was international, consisting of two Finns, one Estonian and one Ethiopian – therefore the working language was English.
This fun and interactive journey started for real with a Kick-off event organized on 8th of June, 2015 during what we got to know each other, heard the viewpoints and some key tips from a working teacher with experience in online teaching, and finally brainstormed around the key terms and assignment that we were given.
From there on, the team met regularly during the summer – both in real life and online, through the help of a Facebook group. We researched papers, books and articles in order to find the theories as well as the most current ways of teaching online besides reviewing online tools that could be used while creating a course. Furthermore, a few teachers and students were questioned on what are the pros and cons of e-learning – a valuable insight to any course designer and teacher. The face-to-face meetings with some of the teachers were especially fruitful, giving us an understanding of how the process of creating and implementing an online course actually works. Two simple truths that we all remember from them are: keep it simple! And give students options to choose from!
As the fruit of our hard work during the summer, a booklet was produced with tips to the online course designers and teachers. The final presentation of our work took place on 21st of August and with that, the summer research hatchery ended and we sadly parted our ways.
It definitely helped to focus our work when we got an assignment that had grown out of a real need – the need to understand how to create an appealing, motivating and at the same time innovative online course as part of the RELeCo project. It definitely pushed us to work together towards the deadlines and we understood the necessity of our work – all this information is necessary and will most likely be tried out in practice. The benchmarking of different virtual learning platforms and online tools was also interesting and gave us a real insight into how it is to create an online course from scratch.
All in all, we got to practice project management skills, cross-cultural communication skills and research skill and to actually implement them as a part of a real life project. There is no better learning experience than that!
Text & picture: Kristiina Paju