Topic 1 – Connecting and networking

15 February – March 5
During these first important weeks the focus is to familiarize yourself with the online learning spaces and to connect with peers and facilitators. You will be encouraged to share expectations, background knowledge, experiences and practices and begin to build relationships and form groups. Also, you will have the opportunity to learn more about and discuss the meaning of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Open Networked Learning (ONL). You will be encouraged to start creating your own online learning space and post reflections on your learning.

Activities for all learners

First week (15-21 February)

In this course, there are two main areas you have to get to know in order to be able to participate and collaborate fully. Google+ is where all communication takes place and WordPress is the course website. Here is a video on the ONL learning environment:

By the end of this first week, you should have:

Checklist Google

  • Created a Google account including a Google+ profile (see Tools)
  • Gone to the ONL161 community to click “ask to join” – we’ll let you in as soon as possible (community opens 15/2)!
  • When you have been let in, create a post presenting yourself to the other participants
  • Comment on other participants’ presentations
  •  Gone to the Activity Tracking document and read through the introduction. Bookmark this so you can easily find it!
  • For asynchronous collaboration, we use Google Drive – see resources for Google Drive on the Tools page.

Checklist ONL course site

Gone through the following pages on this ONL course site

  • Course activities, overview and topic 1
  • Events
  • Course requirements (on how to participate)
  • Tools
  • Subscribed to updates on the start page in order to be alerted when new course information is available.

We also recommend that you save and organize your links in order to get a better overview and personalize your learning environment.

Learning (b)log

If you are aiming for a certificate you need to write reflective posts within a blog (see How to participate). Write your first introductory blog post for this course (why not a title like “Entering the ONL course”?) about your expectations, hopes, fears, etc. By adding your blog address to the list of ONL learning blogs, you will better your prospects of attracting readers (and getting comments!) from your course mates. Feel free to also publish your first blog post on the ONL161 Community and comment on others’!

Twitter (optional)

We would like to encourage you to use Twitter for the ONL course though it is not required. Create a Twitter account if you don’t have one, and you might want to follow @OpenNetLearn and the other learners (facilitators and participants). Remember to use the hashtag #ONL161 when tweeting!

PBL- work

As this first topic lasts for three weeks, the PBL group tasks are listed stepwise:

Second week (22-28 February)

1. Formation of PBL groups:
During this week PBL groups will be formed. Please join the PBL group you have been assigned as soon as possible,  present yourself and start connecting. For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities. Not part of a group and want to be? Please contact the ONL team.

2. The facilitator for each group will set a time and place for a first synchronous meeting (usually in an assigned room in Adobe Connect). The first meeting is about getting to know each other and discussing how you are going to work together (“setting ground rules”).

3. Introduction to Online and Problem-Based Learning:
Familiarize yourself with PBL and the FISh design in the context of ONL. Please start to have a look at the resources below (readings will continue in this second and third week).

4. Get together to create a presentation of your group to the wider ONL community.
Create a presentation (any format/tool the group prefers) and post in the ONL161 community category “Topic 1”.

Third week (29 February – 6 March )

5. Work with the scenario
After you have agreed on working practices in the group, start working on the scenario according to the FISh-model (information also provided within your group).

6. Share your findings
At the end of this topic share your main findings in a creative way in the ONL161 community category “Topic 1”.


“I have just signed up to do an online course and have no idea where to start? I am excited to be on the course but have no experience of online courses and do not know who else will be there? I had an email from the course organizers that was very reassuring, so at least I know two people. Should I introduce myself? How should I do this? I read that videos would be good but this scares me… Where should I introduce myself? There are various spaces online… When should I do this? Before the start, at the start?… I guess that other participants will be more experienced than me, and probably know each other.”

Suggested readings

Coomey, M., & Stephenson, J. (2001). Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research. Teaching and learning online: Pedagogies for new technologies, 37-52. Available here.

Chernobilsky, E., Nagarajan, A., & Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2005). Problem-based learning online: multiple perspectives on collaborative knowledge construction. In Proceedings of the 2005 conference on Computer support for collaborative learning: learning 2005: the next 10 years! (pp. 53-62). International Society of the Learning Sciences. Available here.

The above suggested readings for this topic are tagged with “ONL161 topic 1 Connecting and networking – suggested resource” in the ONL Diigo group.

Additional resources

ONL diigo group at

Please check this learners’ generated collection and add further resources you find useful and link well with this unit. Remember to use tags and comment on resources shared by others. The suggested tag for resources especially connected to this topic is “ONL161 topic 1 Connecting and networking – additional resource“.


By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

1. familiarize yourself with the online learning spaces, features and tools

2. make first contacts with other participants and facilitators in ONL

3. discuss problem-based, open and collaborative learning in the context of ONL


webinarIntroduction webinar – see event

Tweetchat –  see event

See other events at the  Course overview