Networked and Global Learning has been useful for me as a student

As a student studying Networked and Global Learning, I have found that I have learnt so much more through this course than a majority of the other courses I have studied. Networked and Global Learning (NGL) has challenged my understanding of the uses for technology, the importance of community, and the benefits of blogging.

Initially, I found the course very difficult. I struggled with the technology and “keeping up to date”. There were a range of new tools to learn, and even now, I feel like I have so much more to learn from these tools and how to integrate them effectively into my study. I found Mendeley and Feedly amazing to use. They allowed me to effectively use my PKM routine in an efficient way. Diigo however, I feel I have not yet mastered. I still feel afraid of the unknown in this area. It has taken me a while to cross the threshold (Kilgyte 2009) in learning these technologies. I find them somewhat counter-intuitive and confronting. However, as Kilgyte (2009) explains, they can never be ‘unlearnt’.

Another issue I had as a student in this course initially, was I had no PKM routine. I dove into the course in a similar way I have other courses, reading everything and engaging with the literature of the field. This became an impossible task. I was concerned with “knowing”. David kindly pointed out that perhaps the purpose of NGL is less about me knowing the “content” well enough to write about it, but instead it is knowing where to find the knowledge, knowledge connections and networks. Siemans (2006) states:

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)

It was at this point I engaged in a Seek, Sense, Share framework as outlined by Jarche ( 2014) I began seeking relevant information and literature, sensing what was important at that time, and the sharing a response to that knowledge.

Whilst there have been significantly less required readings for this course, as set by the course examiner, I feel I have been reading constantly. However, the difference between a traditional course and this course, is the outcome of the reading. Previously, I have read to fulfill requirements. I have read to understand the topic and to make reference to the paper in assignments in a menial way. Downes (2014) states, Instruction does not equate to learning. This is the fundamental fly in the ointment of instructional design, and the epistemological failing of learning management systems and most MOOC platforms” (Downes 2014)

This course however, due to the nature of NGL, I find myself constantly reading and engaging in reflective practice. Osterman and Kottkamp (1993) describe reflective practice as being “neither a solitary nor a relaxed meditative process.” Instead they describe reflective practices as being a “challenging, demanding and …trying process that is most successful as a collaborative effort” (p.2). They argue that it is because of one’s “deeply ingrained nature of behavioural patterns” that requires a collaborative effort to develop a critical perspective of behaviour (p.6). I believe this has been a strong benefit of learning through NGL. Blogging has allowed me to read literature sourced from my colleagues and myself, reflect upon that literature, compare it with other literature and engage in meaningful dialogue with each other.

In this way, generative themes have arisen within the course participants. Wallace (2002) states that it is through discourse and reflection that generative themes arise. These generative themes are an aspect of critical pedagogy which “views the ideal aims of education as emancipatory” (Wallace 2002 p6). Teachers engage the students in conversations where teacher and learner generate content together based on shared and individual experiences. Shore (1992) reflects on how using generative themes, he and his students together developed the curriculum and the assessment for the study. Thus, empowering the student to contribute in a meaningful way to their learning. “Generative themes grow out of student culture and express problematic conditions in daily life that are useful for generating critical discussion.” (Shore 1992 p55). Dave Cormier (2008) places generative themes into a networked and global learning context. He states:

“Curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself and the subject of its learning”. (Cormier, 2008) 

This has certainly been true of this course. The curriculum, whilst still being structured, has followed the needs of the course participants, engaging us in every part of the journey. Through the use of social benchmarking, assessment as been somewhat negotiated and tailored “reconstructing” itself based on the course participants. It is this structured and controlled spontaneity that has excited me in this learning journey.

As a student in this course I have gained a great sense of community. Even though I feel I have not contributed or responded to posts as frequently as other students have, I still feel like a community of learners has been established. Diversity is imperative as we seek to learn from each other within NGL. As the course has progressed it has been evident where each student’s strengths and passions lie. In this way, I have learnt who knows what and that I can engage with these people and make connections. Brown and Duguid (2000) state:

“…knowledge usually entails a knower. That is, where people treat information as independent and more-or-less self-sufficient, they seem more inclined to associate knowledge with someone. In general, it sounds right to ask, “Where is the information?” but odd to ask, “Where is the knowledge?” as if knowledge normally lay around waiting to be picked up. It seems more reasonable to ask, “Who knows that?” (Brown & Duguid, 2000, pp. 119–120)

As a student of Networked and Global Learning, I have come to learn that the process of learning is just as important as the output, and due to the nature of NGL, one cannot simply know everything, we need to find the connections, journeying and finding community to know where the Knowledge lies and engage with each other in a sometimes messy exchange of ideas to formulate our understandings.

REFERENCES

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The social life of information. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Cormier, D (2008) Rhizomatic education: community as curriculum. Journal of Online Education Accessed 30 September 2014 from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2008/06/03/rhizomatic-education-community-as-curriculum/

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

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/

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

Osterman, K. F., & Kottkamp, R. B. (1993). Reflective practice for educators: Improving schooling through professional development. Newbury Park, Calif: Corwin Press.

Shore, I (1992) Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change, by Ira Shor, 1992 (London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 286

Wallace, S. W., (2002) Freire and first grade: in pursuit of generative themes. Unpublished dissertation presented to the College of Graduate studies of Georgia Southern University. Retrieved 29 Dec 2013 from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/docview/305480154

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