To me as an educational technology student, this has been an excellent opportunity. Now I have personally experienced how the top professionals in this field are dealing with remote learning and I have seen their theories immediately in action.
Admittedly, it would have been nice to study on campus, feel the atmosphere inside the historical buildings, sit in a neighborhood café, and talk casually with fellow students between classes. After the disappointment with canceled visa processes and changes in plans to actually move to Cambridge, I have been extremely happy that I could still start these studies, even though they were online.
I started to communicate with my classmates in social media already six months before the courses started so I felt as if we knew each other already before the start of the semester. We have had fun online community events from family gatherings to game nights and presidential election panels. In a short time, we have built an amazing online community of educators to which I am excited to belong to.
"Of course, I needed to take my classmates to a summer cottage and to sauna during the official celebration week of cultures – we just did it virtually."
This year has allowed us to have glimpses into each other's global lives. Being the only student from Finland, I have been delighted to share pieces of my culture too. Of course, I needed to take my classmates to a summer cottage and to sauna during the official celebration week of cultures – we just did it virtually.
As we are located around the world, many courses offer multiple lesson times to cover different time zones. We then do the pre-work for classes asynchronously. In an online world, we have also been able to invite interesting international guest speakers to our meetings without worrying about travel logistics.
Many professors have been efficiently using the benefits of online education. They haven't just held their lectures online, they have transformed the content and the pedagogy too. I have also been amazed by the amount of support the faculty has been offering us in this unusual situation.
I have greatly enjoyed the international teamwork during the courses. My team project topics have varied from designing a parental education app for Chinese moms to prevent postpartum depression to a thorough business plan for a design education concept for the U.S. market. I have also pitched my educational climate change innovation in the Arctic Innovation Lab for the audience located around the Arctic region, my mentor being in Greenland.
One, especially meaningful coursework has been a hands-on educational innovation project with a local youth center in Ethiopia where I collaborated with Plan Finland. The topics of the course related to Education in Uncertainty, which were right on point for the year of global pandemic, I think.
I highly value the great, in-depth discussions in classes about the future of education. Thorough explorations of the opportunities of immersive technologies like XR and AI has helped me to make my final work proposals before the end of the semester on how to solve educational problems and increase equity in education with the state-of-the-art technology.
"Instead of the challenges this year has brought to all of us, we have been focusing on seeing the opportunities we instructional designers have in this transformation."
Instead of the challenges this year has brought to all of us, we have been focusing on seeing the opportunities we instructional designers have in this transformation. I guess in the end, we do learn to change the world. We just needed to start from ourselves and be open for learning online.