White Rim Trail in Utah

I teach online a lot. In fact, I am teaching online now- a non majors general biology lab course. Students do some hands-on labs at home, and they also complete virtual lab experiments and simulations, watch videos, write lab reports, and post and comment on discussion boards. So being at the same time a student in the ONL191 course is quite interesting.

There are students who reach out a week before class starts with concerns or questions. There are those who never email or say anything on the live sessions. Some will write long and detailed emails. Others prefer to text (I have a google number for this). Once in a while there will be a student who wants to talk or have a face to face online meeting. Just yesterday I had an online meeting with a student who is on a Navy ship somewhere far away to clarify a technical issue. It was strange and at the same time touching to connect in spite of the distance.

So I am looking at myself now, starting the ONL191 course. How do I behave? I am eager and also a bit worried. It is ok now, but come April, I will be attending a conference and traveling. So I want to do as much as possible now that I still have some bandwidth. My main focus will be problem-based learning (PBL).

Although I did my doctoral studies in Linkoping University, I never practiced PBL. By the time I spoke enough Swedish to teach, my time was almost over. So one of the aspects that really interests me in the course is getting more acquainted with it. Here in the USA I have met PBL people- they tend to be more in medical and dental schools.

The ONL191 course has plenty of references listed, and I have downloaded a few of them already, but first thing I do is try to connect with existing knowledge. This is, in fact, the third step in Gagne’s 9 events of instruction: Stimulate previous knowledge.

Went into my Mendeley library folder of teaching articles, and searched for PBL. Few articles popped up, one of them a review I have used before, D’Avanzo’s article on changes in biology education since the publication of the groundbreaking Vision and Change report in 2011. The article gives a nice introductions to PBL, and the points to a network to coordinate the case study and PBL networks for biology. The website, however, seems quite inactive since 2012, so I do not know what happened there.

And this is it for tonight. More PBL reading coming tomorrow, this time more updated!


  • D’Avanzo, C. (2013). Post-vision and change: do we know how to change? CBE Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 373–82.
  • Gagne, R. (1985). The Conditions of Learning (4th Ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.