As a learner, NGL was useful (but not in the way I expected)

For one component of the course Networked and Global Learning (NGL), we were required to learn something using NGL. There were certain tasks set and we blogged about our journey using NGL as a learner, as a student of NGL and how NGL may be useful in our teaching. I had made certain assumptions about what NGL was, how it could be used and how it would work as I attempted to learn how to sew. However, like Katerena, I was unaware of how to really utilise the internet for learning in a transformational way.

Networked and Global Learning (NGL) has not been particularly useful for me in my attempt to learn how to sew using NGL. As I stated in this initial post, I am not a sewer, nor do I really enjoy sewing. This, I feel is my downfall, as I have realised motivation and time are major factors for success. However, I have learnt that there are certain ‘essential conditions’ for successful learning using NGL through my apparent lack of these conditions.

As learners in a global knowledge economy, individuals have become responsible for their own learning. Jonassen (2003) in Downs (2014) argues that Networked learning is more than just banking. Learning does not occur by people being filled with knowledge as they sit, passively accepting information into their heads. Instead, Jonassen summarises:

“Meaningful learning occurs with knowledge construction, not reproduction; conversation, not reception; articulation, not repetition; collaboration, not competition; and reflection, not prescription “(Jonassen et al., 2003)

The process described by Jonassen (2003) is an active process, where the individual must be motivated to learn, self directed, able to navigate successfully through vast quantities of information and make connections with the knowledge and then apply them in practice.

At the heart of this theory of learning is connectivism. Here, Downes (2007) argues that “knowledge is distributed across a network of connections and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks” (NP).

In learning to sew using connectivism, I attempted to find connections and networks that would allow me to make sense of sewing and produce a skirt. I utilised a network through Reddit called Threadit I found this a helpful starting point, however, I failed to find the connections. I was overwhelmed at the wealth of information, as I attempted to read every post and create pictures in my mind of the people I was attempting to connect with. On reflection, I reaslised I was too concerned with the end product rather than the process that I failed to see the connections and networks that would lead me to the final product. A helpful point in reflecting on my mistakes is made by Downes (2007). He states that “(connectionist networks) is not built (like a mode) it is grown like a plant.” I wanted the tree when I had only planted the seed. Lack of motivation and time saw me attempt to skip the growing phase. Seimans describes it well. He states:

The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today. A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses. Siemans (2005) 

The Threshold Concept as described in Kilgyte (2010) effectively summarises my struggle to implement NGL effectively to its fullest capacity in order to fulfill my goal. He described networked learning as being a type of “portal that leads to a new onotogical destination, and if fully understood and embraced, transforms the way learning is understood, teaching is practiced, and in fact, the way a life is lived”.

Kilgyte (2010) discusses the features of the threshold concept in relation to NGL. He states that before you cross the threshold, networked learning is Troublesome; alien and counter intuitive. As one who teaches in outcome based education, who is goal orientated rather than mastery, the notion that the connections made within a network are more important that the content itself feels counter-intuitive. Secondly, he described the journey as discursive. The language used in Netorked learning takes time. I made the mistake of not adhering to particular “rules” in a forum by the question I asked. It took quite some time for me to figure out why no-one was responding to my post. Finally, I read the etiquette rules, and made sense of where I was going wrong. Thirdly, he describes this time as liminal, I spent quite some time feeling like I was moving forwards and backwards, never gaining any ground, as I felt my way through both using the specifics of the technologies and the intricacies of the apps.

Once I got through this phase of liminatliy, I realised that it changed the way I approached my learning of sewing using NGL. I no longer just sought to make a skirt, but learnt I needed to build networks, explore the surroundings and familiarize and make myself comfortable. Here my Personal knowledge Mastery (Jarche 2014) routine came in to place.

I learnt I needed a way to seek the knowledge. I used Google, forums and YouTube as major ways to gain knowledge. However, the wealth of knowledge can be overwhelming. Here is where I used Sense. I reflected on information, synthesized and experimented, taking what was useful and implementing it. Finally, I shared what I learnt, the mistakes I made in my experimentation and my following ideas. Goodyear (2002) states;

Knowledge is constructed by the knower. People can help each other in the activities of knowledge construction. Thus, we can speak of collaborative knowledge construction or of the co-construction of knowledge. (Goodyear, 2002, p. 55)

The learning as a result of journeying through the threshold now permeates other aspects of my life. I now make use of networks and connections. I test knowledge and ideas in my community of practice. I feel that what I have learnt is irreversible and transformative. I may not have found NGL useful for learning to sew, but as connectivists remind us, the know-how and know-what has been replaced with know-where (Siemans 2005).

References

Downes (2007) What connectivism is. Accessed 9 September 2014 from http://halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/what-connectivism-is.html

Downs (2014) The Challenges (and future) or networked learning. Lecture notes September 5, 2014 retrieved 9 September 2014 from http://www.slideshare.net/Downes/2014-09-05-the-challenges-and-future-of-networked

Goodyear, P. (2002). Psychological foundations for networked learning. In C. Jones (Ed.), Networked learning: Perspectives and issues (pp. 49–76). London: Springer.

Jarche, H. (2014). The seek > sense > share framework [Web log post]. Retrieved 30 September, 2014, from http://www.jarche.com/2014/02/the-seek-sense-share-framework/

Jonassen, D., Howland, J., Moore, J. & Marra, R. M. (2003). Learning to solve problems with technology: A constructivist perspective (2nd ed.). Prentice Hall.

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference. Retrieved 12 September, 2014, from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Siemans (2005)Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. 2005 Accessed 20 September 2014 from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

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