Lessons Learned

It was in early February 2017 when the ONL171 course was announced to the Academic Developers team of CDTL. I was keen to participate the course because I wanted collaborate with people around the world and to learn about the practices other Universities are doing on blended learning. I am happy to say that I have achieved those goals. There were plenty of opportunities and challenges along the way, but I guess this is part of the learning journey. I enjoyed working with my peers and facilitators from PBL2. Having a friendly environment helped a lot. It was less threatening to ask questions when one is unsure about certain things, the persons leading the topic were organized, efficient and open to suggestions/new ideas from the group and the members were really supportive of each other to carry out the tasks. Our group has totally different time zones, but everyone was so flexible and motivated when it comes to meetings and discussions. I think the influence of people around me mattered and pushed my motivation and confidence to stay on. (Thank you guys!) I realized that our group have transformed from being cooperative to more collaborative over time. By allowing each group to share their work in the Google + Community provides that opportunity to see things from multiple perspectives – to consider alternatives and reflect on our own ideas and practices. I think this is the beauty of collaboration and what makes the learning authentic.

To all my PBL 2 friends – Angelo Agujo, Dominique Nupen, Duarte Miguel, Nikolaos Christidis, Eivor Söderström, Jeanette Choy, Maria Kvarnström, Raheel Lakhani; my learning buddies Angelo, Shin Dee, Jeanette, Kiru- thanks for your support and patience. It’s been truly a pleasure and a learning experience working with all. Let’s keep in touch!


Applying SAMR model to design a blended learning activity

In topic 4, we were introduced to three pedagogical frameworks to design blended learning. These include the Gilly’s Five Stage model, Communities of Inquiry and Constructive Alignment. Now that we are reaching almost the end of the course, I realized that as a learner, all these frameworks were embedded into the tasks that we are doing in the ONL171 course, particularly the Gilly’s SALMON Five Stage model. In addition to these three frameworks, I thought of sharing with you the SAMR model and suggest how it can be adopted to discuss a scenario and carry out a presentation for a small group.

To explain briefly, SAMR stands for Substitution-Augmentation-Modification-Redefinition model. This technological framework was designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura to help educators integrate technology into teaching and learning. The model aims to enable educators to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences that lead to high levels of achievement for learners and meet learning outcomes.

The 4 Levels of SAMR Technology Integration:


By Lefflerd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Below is a basic example of how the SAMR model can be adopted to discuss a scenario and carry out a presentation for a small group:

Level Description Example
Substitution Technology acts a direct tool substitute, with no functional change. The idea of this activity is to brainstorm ideas on how to solve the scenario provided for each topic in the ONL course. This process, when done with a direct technology substitute with no functional improvement, could be addressed by having basic synchronous text chat for discussion.
Augmentation Technology acts a direct tool substitute, with functional change. The exchanging of ideas could be augmented by having a video chat like Zoom/Adobe Connect/Skype/Google Hangouts instead of just a text chat. The delivery of message is more effective and efficient as participants can see each other’s facial expressions and unspoken cues. The facilitator or the people leading the group can give immediate feedback  if there are clarifications needed or if the group is going off the topic.
Modification Technology allows for significant task redesign. To allow for significant task redesign, participants can work collaboratively on a shared document/presentation in Google Drive while still discussing the scenario in the video chat simultaneously. While this is possible to send this through email, it will rather be difficult to keep track of the revisions each time somebody updates the document.
Redefinition Technology allows for the creation of new tasks that was previously inconceivable. Participants share their group presentation into the Google + to gather feedback from the community. This creates an opportunity to learn from one another, get another person’s different point of view and build personal network learning.

As for individual reflections, each member can record 2-3 learning points for each topic in Flipgrid ( As Flipgrid has limit response time, participants need to exercise critical thinking and be concise with their sharing.

Other examples of using SAMR:


Each user may have different interpretation and different ways of adopting this framework. More importantly, we need to reflect on our teaching practices – what we do, why we do it, and how it helps students’ learning. By thinking about the different levels, we can focus on designing a digital learning experiences that will help improve student learning outcomes.



Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model.

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press. Chapter 1 “Conceptual framework”.

John Biggs. Constructive Alignment.

Ruben R. Puentedura (2010). SAMR and TPCK: Intro to Advanced Practice.

Ruben R. Puentedura (2013). The SAMR Model: Six Exemplars.

Introduction to the SAMR model video

Putting Activities Through the SAMR Exercise

10 ways to reach SAMR’s redefinition level


Open Learning- Sharing and Resources

Topic 2 introduced us to the benefits and challenges of openness in education and learning. In this post, I reflected on the questions our group has addressed:

  1. What does it mean to be open?
  2. Why should I be open?
  3. How open do I want to be?
  4. How can educators be informed about open resources?

David Wiley defined open educational resources (OER) in his TED talk as teaching materials that are freely shared and come with permissions. He explained the 4R Framework as follows:

  1. Reuse – the right to reuse the content in its unaltered form;
  2. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself;
  3. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other content to create something new;
  4. Redistribute – the right to make and share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others

The readings by David Wiley, Bates and the sharing by Alastair Creelman, Teresa MacKinnon and some of the PBL group presentations helped me to think about how to address questions 2-4. Listed below are some the takeaways I learned from this topic:

  • Take advantage of educational materials that are already available instead of reproducing the same content. This way, we can make good use of the class time to engage students for deeper learning.
  • Making content accessible does not necessarily equate to being open.
  • Always obtain permission from the owner/author before using any content online and make sure to provide correct attribution when crediting a source.


  • Open learning can be present in different context:
    • Knowledge sharing
    • Sharing resources (images, videos, codes, music, slides, academic papers, recipe, etc)
    • Sharing your expertise with colleagues through consultation
    • Peer review- students can provide feedback on how to improve their work be it a presentation or a paper
    • Actively participating in discussions, blogs, social media platform
    • Contributing to a Wiki
    • Project collaboration
    • Peer mentoring
    • Forming communities of practice
  • Build a collaborative culture and sharing.
  • “Education is a matter of sharing, and the open educational resources approach is designed specifically to enable extremely efficient and affordable sharing.” – Wiley, D., & Green, C. (2012).
  • Resources can become “best in class” with through community engagement and development.


Wiley, David and Green, Cable (2012) “Why openness in education?,” Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies, Educause, pp. 81-89, [online] Available from: /Chapter6WhyOpennessinEducation/249773

UNESCO Paris OER Declaration 2012.

Open, education and the future Short TED-talk by David Wiley

Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning.

Reflections on Collaborative Learning & Personal Learning Network

In this topic, we learned more about learning in communities, networking and collaboration. Alec Couros shared different ideas and examples how collaborative learning took place in his course and provided tips on building personal network learning. This topic caught my attention because the ideas shared were relevant, practical and straight to the point. It made me reflect on my own experience as a participant/learner in ONL171 course.

Personal Learning Network (PLN) is described as one aspect of PLE where the individual has a group of people within his or her virtual professional network, and the relationship with each is based upon a common interest, collaborative project or research. Communication and connections are made via social media platforms such as Google + Community, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs, etc. to help us form connections, grow our knowledge base and develop ourselves professionally through continual learning. It is based on the theory of connectivism, a learning theory conceptualized by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. The idea of connectivism is that the learner connects with nodes within a network, and subsequently develops knowledge and experience through this series of connections. (Siemens, G. & Downes, S., 2005)

Just like here in ONL171 course, a Google + Community has been set-up to gather all the participants together. This is a place where we all connect. We meet new people, check relevant information about the course, attending webinars, access resources and share our new ideas to the entire community. Within this community, we formed subgroups which we refer as PBL groups, consisting of 6-8 members where we discuss about specific scenarios for each topic in the course, guided by our facilitators. Each member take turns to lead a topic and the tasks are shared and distributed among the team. The PBL group meet twice a week on average to discuss how to go about solving the case scenario following the FISh model (Nerantzi and Uhlin, 2012). We also maintain a personal blog to reflect about our own learning. All these information are being shared in the Google + Community to gather feedback and learn from one another.  

Developing a PLN requires a huge commitment of time and energy, but I would say that the rewards are abundant. I learned a lot from each topic with the help of my team members and the support from our facilitators. While it is true that another person maybe more knowledgeable and may come with more experience than us. One should not feel intimidated. Instead, we need keep an open mind and accept that we have more to learn. I still believe that there are many people out there who are willing to share their expertise or at least connect us to the right channels, so take the opportunity to meet new people, make new connections, learn new courses and take new challenges.  

The following links below suggest some ideas on how to start building your PLN:


Siemens, George (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.

Downes, S. (2007). Learning Networks in Practice.

First week reflections

I am a person who likes to explore online tools and see its potential in teaching and learning. I have been running courses on blogs, some of the common Google apps for communication and collaboration, developing e-learning resources, etc., but this is the first time I am experiencing all these as a student. This reminds me of a wonderful advice given by my previous CDTL director, A/P Lakshminarayanan Samavedham, during the e-learning week exercise we had a few years back in NUS. He said sharing your knowledge through workshop is good, but in order to convince your audience that this is the way to go, you need to walk the talk. Going through the entire process allows one to understand the ups and downs the users will experience, and having that experience tells a lot.  This is my inspiration to take up this course in spite of all the worries I have in my head – time, meeting expectations, perceptions, and deliverable. I told myself, I am here to learn and to gain that experience, so I just have to give my best and be brave. (jia-you!)

So, how did the first week go?  I was completely nervous! There were seven of us from my department (CDTL) who joined the course, but we were assigned in different groups. To avoid the web traffic, we decided to sit together as a group during the first webinar. We experienced some delay and sound issues at first, but it went on smoothly afterwards. In general, I would say that the session was informative and engaging. We get to meet the participants from all over the world. We were in different timezone, but everyone made an effort to be there during the session. We were also oriented about the platforms that will be used for the course (Google Plus, ONL171 WordPress blog, PBL community, etc.), where to get the resources, course requirements, and there was a sharing of experiences from the previous batch of ONL course which was encouraging.

The same day, 10pm-11pm, Singapore time, our PBL group met. It was quite rush for me because we had a student activity on campus until 10pm that day and our daughter didn’t want to sleep yet and was very curious about the people we were talking to online. For the very first time, we get to meet our facilitator and groupmates up-close. There were still issues on the connection and sound, but everybody stayed calm, friendly, and supportive. Most of the time, those of us with poor connection were relying on the chat. As a group, we discussed about our first task on self-introduction, which we decided to use Google slides to share a little information about each of us, and shared it to the ONL community. It was nice to see the diversity from each group. Our group also distributed the topics that each of us will facilitate and ground rules. Some of us were a bit hesitant to choose a topic that is unfamiliar and the date that some of us find a bit too close, but we really appreciate the support from all the members and scaffolding provided by the facilitators.

Looking forward to learn more insights from the rest of the groups when we start discussing and sharing on Topic 1: Online participation and digital literacies.


Hello, this is my blog for the Open Network Learning course. This space is intended to write our personal reflection on what we have learned from the course and exchange of ideas. I am very new to the academic development field, so I feel a bit nervous (really!) and excited at the same time as I go through this learning journey.

Looking forward to learning, connecting, and collaborating with all of you. Your comments/suggestions/ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you and happy reading! 🙂