How NGL can inform my role as teacher

Development of technologies in recent years has left Educational institutions re-evaluating their role in the education of their students. Students have many technological tools available to them to use at any time. The notion of knowledge, who is in possession of knowledge and where knowledge is located have all been questioned. Networked technologies have given us the ability to connect with other people from all over the world, create, analyse and distribute knowledge at amazing rates (Harley 2008) . Participating in this course on Networked and Global Learning (NGL) has shown me many tools, learning theories and activities that will transform how I teach, what I teach and subsequently how and what my student’s learn. Two particular possibilities for transformative practise in my classroom include the idea of connectivism and the use of blogging.

Connectivism, is not to be confused with constructivism, was first coined by George Siemans (2004)  argues that this form of knowledge and pedagogical practice lies not in one’s ability to construct information, but rather in one’s “ability to construct and traverse those networks” (Downes 2010).  “This implies a pedagogy that a) seeks to describe successful networks (…diversity, autonomy, openness and connectivity) and b) seeks to describe practices that lead to such networks, both in the individual and in society”. (Downes 2007)

Information is constantly changing therefore, one’s knowledge of a subject will change over time as new information is generated. As a teacher of year 3 students who are forced to learn particular information due to the curriculum constraints placed upon schools, just learning the “knowledge” is not enough. This course has shown me, that it is no longer the end point or outcome that is the most important facet of learning. Indeed, I believe it is important. However, through connectivism, arguments are made that it is imperative that students learn how to seek out current information and sense what is important and meaningful (Jarche). “The capacity to know is more critical than what is actually known” (Siemens, 2008, para. 6).  “The ability to make decisions on the basis of information that has been acquired is considered integral to the learning process.” Kop and Hill (2008)

As a teacher, I feel that NGL has changed the way I view my practice and my theories for learning. I believe students need to learn the curriculum, but the methods in which they learn the curriculum need to be adapted so students can thoughtfully navigate the information as knowledge changes.

Through NGL I have discovered this can be easier said than done. An understanding of Kilgyt (2009) Threshold concept framework has brought to my attention issues that will need scaffolding in my classroom to ensure all students are able to learn how to “traverse the networks”. He states that the enhanced and extended use of language is discursive for learners as they learn not only the technology, but the “language, vocabulary and culture of being part of and contributing to the network”. (Wall-Smith 2009 in Kilgyte 2009). I feel, as students deal with the “troublesome, discursive and liminal” environment before the threshold is crossed, great emotional, and technical help will need to be given. The encouraging part of the journey is that Kilgyte (2009) state that once the threshold is crossed it is irreversible. It only needs to be done once, and then the skills, language, and culture will “integrate” into other aspects of their life.

As a way to incorporate this transformative practice in my classes, I feel blogging to be a way in which students can navigate the networks together, form connections with both communities and knowledge, share their new found understandings and reflect upon their learning socially.

In this post, I talked about the work of Emdin (2009), Shore (1992), and Wallace (2002) and their treatment of generative themes. They attain that generative themes allow student to have a voice in their learning.

With blogging, I found these generative themes to come out in conversations, responses and reflections.

One person blogs about something, then someone else takes their idea and furthers it with more literature and soon, so much content is developed, it feels impossible to take it all in. Yet, I feel this is democratic learning at its finest. Students are able to critically evaluate, position theory within their context and recognise the biases and assumptions in learning.” (Smyth blog post 13 September 2014)

I feel this is a way that NGL can transform my teaching. In this post, I reflected on the work by Al-Jarf (2004) where he studies the benefits of blogging on student’s writing. He claims that when students are given a voice, are autonomous, and exchange their ideas outside the classroom, their writing improves. The ideas here, are synonomous with those proposed by Downes (2007) where connectivism is successful where there is diversity, autonomy, openness and connectivity.

In this post, I reflected on this article, it relays some of the benefits of blogging. Including:

The use of blogs helps students become subject matter experts

The use of blogs increases student’s interest and ownership in learning

The use of blogs gives students legitimate chances to participate

The use of blogs provides opportunities for diverse perspectives, both within and outside the classroom. 

The author suggests that in the implementation of blogs, teachers should:

Consider blogging yourself

Spend time visiting other classroom blogs

Model blogging for your students

Make the blogs more public

Explain the reach of blogs to students

Here is where transformational learning happens. According to the SAMR model for technology integration, teachers work towards providing activities that are redefined or transformational using technology. I believe that networked and global learning, using principles of connectivism through blogging are ways that my students will benefit from my study of NGL.

References

Al-Jarf (2004) The effects of web based learning on struggling EFL writers. Foreign Languages Annals. 37, 1, 46-56.

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

Downes (2010) Places to Go: connectivism and connective knowledge. Retrieved 30 September from http://bsili.3csn.org/files/2010/06/Places_to_Go-__Connectivism__Connective_Knowledge.pdf

Emdin, C. (2009) Urban science classrooms and new possibilities: on intersubjectivity and grammar in the third space. Cultural Studies of Science Education. 4:239–254 DOI 10.1007/s11422-008-9162-5

Harley, R (2008) The Fall of the Wall: Beyond walled gardens in higher education. Paper presented at ARC Centre of Excellene for Creative Industries and Innovation International Conference: Creating Value: Between Commerce and Commons, 25-27 June, Brisbane.

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

Kop and Hill (2008) Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 9, 3.

Siemans (2004) Connectivism: a Learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved 30 September from http://www.webcitation.org/5bCzNxTAn

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

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

Wall-Smith, M (2009). Networked Literacies Project. http://newsouthblogs.org/about

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