Minute: Al-Jarf (2004)

I read an interesting study by Al-Jarf (2004) entitled, “Examining the effects of web based learning on struggling EFL college writers”. The study examined if there were significant differences in the achievement of struggling EFL students in traditional classrooms, depending on text book only, to struggling EFL students in traditional classrooms and web based instruction. 

Both groups of students used the same text book for twelve weeks. After the twelve weeks, the second group of students utilised web based learning such as writing blog posts, stories and poems and posting them to the course discussion board. This quantitative study found that students in the second group performed significantly higher than their traditional classroom only peers. 

Students in the second group engaged in more writing, and exchanged ideas outside the classroom. There was an increase in student-student and student-teacher interactions. 

I found this study interesting as it solidified my understanding of the benefits of NGL in a practical sense. So often I find educators claiming some fantastic intervention, however, it can be hard to back it up. This paper gave me a greater understanding of the research underpinning both NGL and its benefits along with some other studies that have showed areas of weakness using NGL. 

As a student in the course, I find collaborating with peers helpful in my understanding of the course content, in a similar way the students in this study collaborated with each other to gain a greater understanding of writing conventions. 



Train tracks of learning


As I attempt to be a “good learner” of sewing, I frequently find myself facing directional decisions. Which way to go, what advice do I take on board, who is an “authoritative figure” in this instance and who is here for themselves.

For me, this has raised many questions regarding how networks are made and how does information flow.

Siemens (2011) refers to Krebs in his analysis of social networks,

It is usually beneficial to be connected to those who have a good view of what is going on. Information and knowledge is often shared [intentionally or unintentionally] with trusted others, close by. Information leaks and flows, but never too far. Board members who are connected to other highly-aware Board members, have a higher probability of finding out more — but the range is limited.

In his article, Siemens (2011) goes on further to state that these networks have always existed, but now through social networking sites, these networks are very explicit. He looked at ways to qualitatively analyse the how and why information flows through networks. He suggests looking at the individual and the context for which they are posting as to why someone is more likely to be followed. But most importantly, he suggests that it is the message the individual is conveying.

Siemens indicates that relevance and resonance are important factors for knowledge flow.

As a learner of sewing, engaging with various networks of people, I differentiate ‘good advice’ from ‘bad advice’ by how many followers someone has, the scope of their comments, the context the individual finds them-self in, and more importantly, if what they say resonates with my current knowledge and experience and the experience of others in the network.

NGL as a teacher

As I have been involved in NGL, I have been constantly thinking about how this effects my teaching. How do I put this into practice in my classroom. As I teach year 3 students, I have found the concept of using NGL hard to envision. I love this video David posted this week.

I love the simple drawings and the simple idea of each person having ideas that seem “obvious” to us, yet are “amazing” to others. It is such a simple idea, yet it is SO hard in practice. Participating in this course has been great for me, yet INCREDIBLY challenging!

Paul noted he was feeling overwhelmed just completing set tasks. A few of us agreed. Though I find when I complete the set tasks, I don’t want to comment on them publicly or talk about my learning publicly for all to see, as for me, I feel like my thoughts are nothing special. As I read my colleagues blog posts, their insightful analysis and commentary, I feel way out of my depths.

As a student of this course, it has been a steep learning curve. Not only have I found out about NGL, but I’ve also learnt a lot about myself. I’ve learned that whilst I find blogging helpful for my learning. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t want people to see me struggling with ideas, or trying to piece things together.

One theorist I have grown to admire is Paulo Freire. Gordon (2009) reflects on his work and states,

“Freire ([1970] 1994) argues that knowledge is attained when people come together to exchange ideas, articulate their problems from their own perspectives, and construct meanings that make sense to them. It is a process of inquiry and creation, an active and restless process that human beings undertake to make sense of themselves, the world, and the relationship between the two” (p.55).

Hmm, he always hits the nail on the head!

But if I find NGL hard, how will my students cope? Will they thrive? Will they hate it? Will they understand for the first time perhaps, how knowledge works, and take home a deep understanding of learning that they can take with them for life?

Will keep reading!

Gordon, M. (2009) Toward a pragmatic discourse of constructivism: Reflections on lessons from practice. EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 45: 39–58, 2009. DOI: 10.1080/00131940802546894

Sewing Community!

So, it’s been a while. I’m sorry. I have been busy “engaging” with a group of people I never really thought I’d find myself engaging with. 


Threddit. Part of Reddit. 

At first this group of sewers were overwhelming. They talked a different language. Liked different things. Found huge interest and fulfilment in things I never knew even existed! 


But I have learnt so much. 

As a ‘learner’, I have found this engagement overwhelming. I think it’s because I don’t have the passion that these avid sewers possess. They are highly motivated, hugely invested (both time and money), and particularly passionate about all things sewing. I, unfortunately lack all these three things. My motivation at the moment, is to one day hem some of my son’s pants before he outgrows it. I work nearly full time at the moment, and have three little boys between 5-2 years old. Between these two things, plus two uni subjects, I feel I have nearly no time at all to learn this new skill. I also learnt through the forum that my machine “is simply just not quality enough to produce good things”…hmmm, that was a dampener. 

So, in summary, things learnt: 

My machine is crap

I have no passion to learn how to sew

No time to learn how to do it properly

I need to have my online dictionary ready to understand any comments they make. 


Some positive things I have learnt, is that lots of people find sewing hard. One lovely person linked to this article stating 10 things they wish they knew when they started sewing. This was encouraging. Learning is not something that happens immediately just because you decide you want to do it. It’s a struggle. It takes time and perseverance. 

So, back to it I go. 



Like Learning to Ride a Bike

Course six of my Masters, and I have Mendeley, Feedly, Diigo and of course this blog all set up ready to go! Hooray! Go Me!!

Then nothing…

more nothing…

a bit of procrastination (or make that a lot of procrastination)…

a bit of Facebook 

…and a bit more Facebook (it’s important to utilise social networking in NGL! lol)

Mind you, I had completed all of the readings, however, I had no idea how to utilise these tools to participate fully in the course.

After a few more hours of experimenting with the apps required for this course, I finally feel as if “I have crossed the threshold”.

I feel in this instance, it is similar to learning to ride a bike. 

I watched my three year old son do this recently.

One try, one fall. Another try, another fall. Yet finally, after numerous attempts, something clicks, and he’s got it!  

After this experience of “finally getting it” Which I also talked about here, I re-read Kligyte (2009) and his exploration of the “Threshold Concept”.

He characterised the Threshold concept in relation to NGL as:

Troublesome; alien, incoherent or counter-intuitive.

Discursive; incorporates an enhanced and extended use of language 

Irreversible; is transformative and changes the way in which the discipline is viewed

Luminality; involves messy journeys back and forth the terrain

Integrative; reveals connections among different aspects that previously did not seem to be related.


I feel like I can attest to each of these characteristics. 

In using the tools for NGL I found I spent countless hours moving back and forth across messy, complex terrains. I tried to post on one site, failed. Tried to post again, this time getting a little further, but failed. Each time, I’d gain a little ground. 

Discursive: I found the terminology and metalanguage hard to grasp. After reading many articles full of NGL jargon, but at this stage in my learning, not participating in NGL, I was unable to contextualise the meanings.  I feel there is still so much to learn, however, as I participate as part of a community of learners, I feel the meanings will come. 

Irreversible: I am so grateful for this one!!! I am so glad that now I have learnt that NGL is not as much knowing, as knowing how, where and who. 

I guess it’s like riding a bike; you can never “unlearn”.

So i guess it is here; I shall pick up my bike and get on with it 🙂




Ah ha!: as a student


Finally! A light bulb moment! It’s taken a while to get a hold of all the various apps and tools in this course. 

David Jones made a comment on my blog about how perhaps the purpose of NGL is less about me knowing the “content” well enough to make a blog post about it, as it is about knowing where to find the knowledge, the knowledge connections and networks. He quoted Siemens (2006):


“Know where” is replacing “know what” and “know how”. The rapid, continual knowledge flow cannot be contained and held in the human mind. To survive, we extend ourselves through our networks: computers, humans, databases, and still unfolding new tools. (p. 93)

I see now 🙂 

As a student in this course, I’ve spent countless hours pouring over articles trying to grasp the “content” of NGL rather than engaging in NGL, which will teach me SO much more through immersion in it. 

Perhaps I need to get over my longing to “have it all together before I post” and just post ideas, observations and summaries of articles, that in community we can address together?