Looking back, looking forward.

Participating in the international conferences, we do not only present our research results but also want to get new ideas, become inspired and create new networks for collaboration.

Similarly, taking courses in university pedagogy I always hope to discover something new, e.g. interesting digital tools, effective approaches to explaining statistical concepts or improving communication with students, etc. Taking part in ONL course, I once more convinced myself that success of the educational process depends on the degree how well learner’s expectations match course requirements and learning outcomes. This influences learner’s engagement, work planning and learner’s general attitude to the course. The role of moderators is of utmost importance even for experience learners. One needs special skills to catch doubts in group discussions, lead group work in the proper direction towards learning goals of the course while allowing for flexibility in preparation of the final “product”.  Another interesting issue was open learning and teaching resources. Helping students to orient in the jungle of lecture notes, videos, databases, graphical tools, software for making presentations, teacher can create stimulating learning environment and facilitate students’ study process. Teacher’s enthusiasm and positive attitude towards innovations in education is also important for students.

Improving my own skills and abilities of online learner, I feel more confident in my visions and plans concerning moving toward blended learning design in my teaching. There is no doubt that digital literacy is one of the main components in education, and Statistics is not an exception. Already today, our students are exposed to using various software for data analysis. I could use modern technology to improve my teaching when demonstrating various difficult statistical concepts, e.g. through simulation applets, record my comments as a compliment to written feedback.

Further, I see a great potential of utilizing Zoom-environment for implementing blended block model in my courses in order to enhance students’ collaborative skills and facilitate students’ learning when working with new statistical methods.

New digital tools which I could explore during ONL course are very interesting and can make teaching, learning and communication much more efficient. Hence, I am going to implement some of them, e.g. padlet, as communication tool with students.

Padlet with students’ questions before and after lecture could help to discover and directly address “threshold concepts” (Myer and Land, 2003) and ”troublesome knowledge” since understanding of threshold concepts provides a deeper insight into the discipline and enhance students’ learning.

Is there promising future for eLearning in statistics education? The answer is definitely YES.

The PhD education suffers today from lack of students for PhD courses, narrow specialization of teachers at the departments and key competences spread over the whole country. Cooperation between universities can certaily lead to development of high quality online courses, improve the communication among PhD students and teachers at different universities, stimulate new collaborations and joint work. Modernization of undergraduate statistics education using new technologies is very timely if thinking about changes in the higher education, e.g. requirement of new skills and applied knowledge, and the society. Teachers must dare to be active online, improve own digital literacy, engage students and colleagues! Great things almost always start small: individual teacher can initiate work with eLearning in own courses, further engaging colleagues to implement digital tools in educational programm, etc.



Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge 1: linkages to the ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines. In Improving student learning—ten years on. C. Rust (Ed), OCSLD, Oxford.


Be online or not to be?

Trends and changes in many disciplines call for new statistical methods to take care about a huge amount of data with quite complex structures and of different quality. This in turn requires many different skills besides statistical competence from today’s statisticians for successful collaboration with professionals at the authorities, companies and industries, e.g. strategic thinking and digital literacy.

Nowadays, my own teaching is fully conducted in the face-to-face form. There are various reasons for it, institutional as well as personal, e.g. traditions, habits, lack of time, regulations, etc.

Contemporary technologies offer new possibilities not only for research but also for teaching. Digital tools like various applets for simulations facilitate understanding of difficult statistical concepts and methods, video materials of high quality, open resources with available data strengthen students’ engagement in the learning process and enhance study results. Are there possibilities to create online and blended learning designs for statistics education which could be appealing for students?

It seems to be old fashioned not to use online design in statistics education. I see a large potential to use the structure of ONL course with zoom meetings, blogging and collaborative work in statistics education, especially concerning development of practical skills in data analysis and report writing. Salmon’s five-stage model (Salmon, 2013) is of a great help to properly structure an online course or a course with blended design.

Zoom-environment can help teacher to be more efficient. Already now I can think to implement blended block model (Cleveland-Innes & Wilton, 2018; Hannon & Macken, 2014) for my courses. Such a BB-model is a combination of three components: (1) intensive face-to-face sessions (lectures), (2) weekly online tutorial for activities and interaction (computer labs) and (3) online resources.

All my courses have BB-structure except online tutorials which are face-to-face meetings (computer sessions) today. Courses with computer labs devoted to data analysis using new statistical methods fit very well for implementation of blended learning design. The instructor prepares computer lab instructions and provides necessary information in advance (available for students online), and then organizes the group work and monitors it during the computer lab using Zoom-environment. Here, physical presence and room size restrictions disappear ( a standard computer class can today fit max 30 students).

Computer lab can be then started with some problem-based example where new statistical methods could be applied and explanation of some technical details. Later, students could work (e.g. 30 min) with data and discuss the results. Students will prepare a written (and possibly even oral) presentation of their group work and individually reflect on their work via blogs and peer-reviews. Implicit presence of the instructor could stimulate students’ independent work on the problem, at the same time (e.g. via chat or short talks) the instructor can help students to overcome some technical difficulties and facilitate the process of data analysis (e.g. guidelines during the data analysis process).

In general, there are many possibilities foe eLearning development in my own teaching. For example, PhD education suffering from a small amount of students available for PhD courses (oneor two new PhD students per year), could gain a lot if one goes over to online teaching using blended learning designs. Since face-to-face teacher-student and student-student communication are of utmost importance (Cleveland-Innes, 2018) also in PhD education, online teaching would be excellent complement.

Recenly, I learned about using recording of feedback for students. This is another possibility to facilitate students’ learning and improve the communication between teacher and students, since it is naive to believe that students Always understand teacher’s written feedback as teacher meant it.

Going blended” is about more than just technology—it’s about rethinking instruction and effectively managing innovation over time.-M. Horn and H. Staker, education experts.



Cleveland-Innes M. & Wilton D. (2018). Guide to Blended Learning. Burnaby: Commonwealth of Learning.

Cleveland-Innes, M. (2018) Community of Inquiry and Teaching Presence: Facilitation in online and blended learning. Presentation slides from ONL181 webinar.

Hannon J. & Macken C. (2014). Blended and online curriculum design toolkit. La Trobe

Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model. [Homepage] http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

Collaborative learning: myth, dream, utopia or reality?

Nowadays, to learn together with coursemates using different forms and tools, including digital, has become an integral part of student centered education. Collaborative learning is often an essential part of online education.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

Online courses offer a lot of opportunities to use contemporary teaching methods and realize pedagogical ideas aiming to enhance student’s learning. There is no doubt that teaching and learning happen in a very social environment where interaction plays an important role.
For my courses I would like to create an effective collaborative learning (CL) environment. Can I find a good example of collaboration? Can I collaborate myself? Where? When? How?

Being student I was exposed only to face-to-face interaction with teachers and other students. We were often sitting together with group-mates trying to understand lecture material and solving exercises, i.e. our learning happened in a highly developed social learning environment. Was it enough for a successful CL? Could we collaborate and acquire knowledge online in the same way? Kearsley (2000) points out that people have little training in how to successfully interact/work with others, and social environment of online-activities are quite different from face-to-face interactions.

Participating in ONL191, I see that this course is a good example of CL and opportunity to gain experience in collaboration.

During this course we are going through the 5-stage model which was developed by Prof G. Salmon (Salmon, 2013) and is a useful tool to design online courses, experiencing all the challenges at each stage. Of course, we are all experienced learners and highly motivated 🙂 Yet, there are a lot of things we learned: new digital tools for communication and making presentations, new pedagogical stuff and a lot of new concepts. I personally discovered a whole world of e-learning that has been very appealing for me for a while but I didn’t dare to start my jorney alone.

Is it easy for me to manage ONL191? 🙂 Looking at the Iceberg of illusion, I recognize myself fighting in the Deep Dark … The most difficult is to keep self-discipline! But we are a wonderful team of entusiastic learners with skilled moderators, and we can construct jointly the knowledge! So, we are at Stage 5 now… Soon it is time float to the surface!!!



Kearsley (2000). Online Education: Learning and teaching in cyberspace. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Salmon, G. (2013). E-tivities: The key to active online learning (2nd ed.). London and New York: Routledge.

Knowledge, learning and openness

Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

Dalai Lama (1357-1419)

The idea of openness and sharing knowledge is not a new phenomenon. In ancient Athens, philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) presented their ideas and initiated discussions about life, soul, God and society in direct conversations with their students and city inhabitants: “The truth is born in
argument” (Russian saying). The air of openness and thirst for knowledge had prevailed among young people over the centuries.

There is no doubt that digital revolution gave impetus/rise to development digital tools and various networks which in their turn had impact/influenced on all aspects of research and education (e.g. teaching, examination, administration). Free, open education has been offered before, but there have always been constraints both physical and geographical: only limited number of people could attend courses/lectures, the necessary information could be acquired from books, journals and mail correspondence. Open online courses are available to everyone with an internet connection, and MOOCs are a good example of a new practice in education using networking and digital context (Weller & Anderson, 2013).

It is quite exciting to speculate about openness in general and what it means for my own practice. Cormier (2013) outlines four important issues relevant for openness in education. As teacher, I like to share knowledge and experiences with my students, independently how many of them are participating in the course, ten or hundred.
It is of utmost importance to create stimulating and positive learning environment, engage students in their learning during a whole educational process helping them to develop responsibility for self-education. Yet, digital tools, open learning environments, various apps for demonstration of different phenomena (concepts) offer a great help for teachers and students to achieve their goals. Online communication, when properly organized, can strengthen the contact between teacher and students, and among students. Today, I am using a “closed-form” online system for communication with students attending the course. The only problem to open it to broader audience is the risk of increase in demand for various types of feedback. I hope to learn from the colleagues how one can organize online communication in a smart and effective way, and definitely to improve my competence in using openly licensed resources. The ONL-course is my second experience of participating in an online course, and I can surely use this experience for my teaching: our group discussions, effective collaboration, feedback, flexibility, encouragement, support, advice, positive attitude, courage to learn and try new things.

The need to expand access to higher education became something many governments recognized (Weller, 2014). The availability of high-quality teaching material and good learning experience/practice make online-approach to education very appealing. Are MOOCs representing nowadays a complicated challenge and/or a great opportunity? What are implications of different open course and MOOC formats? For me, this is a great opportunity to learn and organize my teaching in the most effective way using various digital tools and available technologies. It would be interesting to discuss with students the issues, visions, expectations and their experiences with open courses. It is quite timely to start dialog and discussion many important issues about contemporary forms of education with colleagues, university leadership, etc. For example, Can open education, fully or partly online based, replace the traditional forms of education? Is open = free? Who should pay for administration, feedback, maintenance? How to guarantee the quality of students’ learning? Who should assess student’s individual study results concerning the learning outcomes? What about continuity in education? How to help students to acquire systematically knowledge, skills and experiences?


So many ideas, questions, doubts… I better stop here and continue working on myself to become more open…
P.S. Education and knowledge without hard work do not necessarily guarantee success, and imprudence, indiscipline and emotional impulsivity contribute to failure.– Dr Chia Thye Poh


Learning, digital literacy and digital skills

How difficult could it be taking an online course? “It depends”, you say, and I agree and wonder further what is the most challenging for online learning:  learner’s personality, learner’s digital or general skills, co-learners’ personalities and skills, teacher related factors, etc. What is the difference between sitting and discussing various topics face-to-face with your studymates or having online meetings/chats/forums with them? Is it really time-consuming to learn online compared to spending hours in the library or working with paper-based materials?

Nowadays, students are supposed to extensively use available digital tools and various digital skills in their study process. We provide them with eMaterials, links to different digital sources & applets, expecting to improve their learning. Yet the question is Why the millennials (Generation Y) equipped with the latest digital facilities often lack digital literacy? Why digital skills are not good enough?

When teaching Statistics, we emphasize the importance of statistical literacy: a person’s ability to be an effective data consumer, e.g., to interpret, critically evaluate, and communicate about statistical information and messages (Gal, 2002). Though, the statistics education often focuses on the procedural and computational aspects of statistics rather than on developing conceptual understanding (Shaughnessy, 2007).
Digital literacy (DL) is also about understanding, for example to understand how to make Google search effective for a specific purpose and being able to evaluate the adequacy and authenticity of the search results. Digital skills (DS) is about knowing, for example how to use Google search (Pewhairangi, 2016).

During ONL course I hope to get a number of new digital skills that I can use in my teaching in order to help students to become statistically and digitally literate 🙂 The latter is quite challenging task, since improving the digital literacy is multifaceted problem which can be context dependent and lack a universal solution.

According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself (Megginson, 1963). So, ONL191 offers us a wonderful opportunity not only to
acquiring various digital skills but also to approach the Millennials (Generation Y) using contemporary digital tools in order to arouse their curiosity for subject (in my case Statistics) and make digital literacy relevant to them.




1. Gal, Iddo. (2002). Adults’ Statistical Literacy: Meanings, Components,
Responsibilities, International Statistical Review, 70 (1), 1-25.

2. Megginson, L.C. (1963). Lessons from Europe for American Business, Southwestern Social Science Quarterly, 44 (1), 3-13.

3. Sally Pewhairangi (2016). “Digital Skills Are Not the Same as Digital
Literacy”. Blog post. 8 February 2016 – 3:13pm. 

4. Shaughnessy, J. M. (2007). Research on statistics learning and reasoning. In F.
K. Lester Jr (Ed.), Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and
Learning (pp. 957-1009).
Reston: The National Council of Teachers of

Första blogginlägget

Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki


Though it is a part of the ONL-course, I feel that it is a proper time for me to take on a challenge to start blogging… Being a university teacher in Statistics I see a lot of changes in the academic world and outside it, e.g. globalization, internationalization, technology development, which influece the teaching and learning processes at the university. How can we meet those changes and make teaching and learning even more effective and efficient? What are the best ways to share our expertise and experiences with our colleagues and students?  I hope to find out many interesting and useful things during the course by sharing and discussing my ideas with course participants!