Peer Review

For peer review of this design based research task, the following procedure was followed:

Initially I had a meeting with my Head of School to discuss an outline of my proposition. I emailed it to him, then met with him a week later to discuss issues that he could foresee in the implementation of the DBR. It was decided that an open NGL was not appropriate at this stage in the student’s schooling due to the clientele at our school (we cater for a number of public servants being located in Canberra) and our current lack of infrastructure to support the proposal.

I then spent time writing my DBR. I posted an outline to my wordpress site where Brendan responded to the proposal and suggested including a writing buddy program with older students in the school. I believe this is incredibly helpful, however, at this stage in the processes it is unviable. It is hoped that after two terms of implementation we will be able to include this element into our intervention.

After writing my DBR, I sort feedback from a colleague who lectures in Education to ensure an appropriate use of literature and form was used. He thought my paper achieved what I sort to achieve with just a few revisions. His review can be found here.

These revisions were implemented in my final paper.

Finally, the finished paper was submitted to my Head of School for final review and approval for implementation in the new year. Due to his busy workload, he has still not had time to review the paper.

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DBR Proposal

Blogging as a tool for improving writing for Grade 5 students Design Based Research Project

 Introduction

Over the past few years there has been a large push for schools and teachers to utilise technology within the classroom to support learning. Continued development in technology allows constant access to information at any time from many devices. Additionally, technologies such as “blogs, wikis, online games, social networking technologies, such as Twitter and Facebook, and video and music dissemination technologies such as YouTube (Coiro et al, 2088, p. 5) allow instantaneous online communication with global audiences. The integration of these technologies in every day life has changed what it means to be an active citizen in the 21st Century (Tanti 2012).

Schools have a responsibility to “equip students with the skills to become active members of society”(Tanti 2012 .p 133). Therefore technology and its place within the classroom has become an area of immense interest for educational researchers (Bloch 2007). The implementation of technologies in schools, however, is often neglected (Bauer and Kenton 2005). Teachers cite epistemological beliefs, lack of training and fear of internet predators as major concerns that limit the integration of ICT into their practice (Hixon and Buckenmyer 2009). However, as society becomes more and more heavily reliant on technologies, it has become imperative that teachers and school give students the skills they need to navigate through this global society. One way this can be done is through the use of Networked and Global Learning principles through blogs.

The use of academic blogging in the classroom has been widely researched. Though, predominantly focussed on secondary schools, studies have supported the value of blogs being used for classroom dialogue (Khourey-Brown, 2005), reflection (Killeavy and Molony 2010) and networking and engagement (Tanti 2012).

Engaging students in writing tasks can be challenging for teachers. Often, students cite they “don’t know what to write”, or “writing is boring”. This lack of motivation and engagement in the writing process can be further impeded through the pressures of high stakes standardised testing such as NAPLAN pushing teachers to teach writing in a formulaic way instead of being able to encourage creativity (Miller, 2004).

According to teachers, Year 5 students often feel disengaged and unmotivated in writing lessons. The need to write to particular text types blurs their understanding of text purpose and audience. Motivation for writing wains as their work is only read by themselves and the teacher.

This Design Based Research proposal will explore how blogging can influence writing development for year 5 students.

Research Questions

  1. How can students gain an authentic understanding of audience and purpose through blogging?
  2. How can we increase student engagement in writing through blogging?
  3. How can we teach students writing through process-orientated pedagogies?
  4. How can we teach students metacognitive processes to improve their writing?

 

  1. Literature Review

3.1 Writing and Writing Instruction:

 Dempsey (2014) suggests that teachers often teach students how to write to a text type rather than a purpose. She reflects how statements such as “today we will write a report”, or “let’s write an exposition”, de-motivate students and confuse the purpose of the text. These text types are ways to organise a text, they are not the purpose of the text. Dempsey (2014) attributes students’ lack motivation to having a lack of textual purpose and real audience (p.27). The belief in the importance of writing to an audience is shared by McGrail and Davis (2011). They discuss the importance of primary students to develop and use the “reader-writer relationship and audience expectations” as students make meaning for their readers (p. 416). Further to this, Barritt and Kroll (1978 in McGrail and Davis 2011) also argue that “good writers have a very clear audience and write for it, whereas poor writers lack such awareness, which leads them to focus on the self, losing other peoples’ points of view (McGrail and Davis 2011 p. 416). Hence, writing for an audience through blogging can aid in the identification and awareness of one’s audience.

McNamarra (2008), also states when students are aware of their audience, they focus on their language choices, and look to edit their work, thus advancing their “storytelling and creative writing abilities”.

McGrail and Davis (2011) studied how blogging influenced the writing development of primary school aged students. They sampled students’ pre and post-blogging writing and analysed it in regard to attitude, content, voice, connections and relationships, thinking and exercising agency in a community of bloggers. Researchers found that students were able to “rethink their concepts of writing and its meaning in their lives (p. 415) and found that through blogging, students had a much greater sense if audience and purpose in their writing.

3.2 Social Constructivism

Vygotskian Social Cultural Learning (VSC) argues the notion that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition, and further emphasizes the co-construction of knowledge within a cooperative environment (Vygotsky, 1978). The model suggests that social activities or interactions with others lead to enhanced development (Glick, 2004)

Ammarell (2000) follows that through online blogs, students’ work is public, giving each other the opportunity to read each other’s work and contribute to the development of ideas and texts. Students are therefore given the opportunity to create knowledge as they work together, online, collaboratively to make meaning of a text or idea. This develops high order thinking and critical thinking skills necessary in a global society. Each blog post is an opportunity for analysis, critical thinking, and evaluating arguments by their peers. This engages students further into the learning process than passively listening to a teacher.

Pearson (2010) implemented class blogs to assist in the social generation of knowledge. She found that utilising an online social platform, students were more inclined to participate in discussion around topics and found they developed a greater understanding of the topics. Similarly, Ammarell (2000) found through asynchronous online discussion groups, students actively engaged with each other and the course content, improving their skills in both the subject and their writing, empowering them to articulate their understanding on a particular issue.

Zawlinski (2009) also reflects on the social constructivist nature of blogs as a way for students to develop higher order thinking as the collaboratively “gather information to solve a problem, analyse information, critically evaluate, synthesise across multiple tects and communicate with others” (p. 652). Blogging provides a place for writers to develop and refine ideas. Davies and Merchant (2007) describe this process as “discussion of ideas in embryo” (p170). “Viewed in this way, blog writing is also a place to develop and nourish a community of writers who keep their readers in mind (Davis and McGrail 2009 in McGrail and Davis 2011 p. 416). Blogging facilitates “unique collaborations and relationships” (Miller and Shepherd, 2004). Downes, (2011) furthers this, stating:

“what you’re doing when you share is to create material that other people can learn from. Your sharing creates more content ….People appreciate that, you will probably appreciate the content other people …share with you.” (Downes, 2011)

 3.3 Critical Pedagogy

Mitchel (2014) states:

As children I believe that their experience of being coerced to learn, rather than receiving guidance to develop into who they have the potential to be (which encourages autonomy and responsibility) contributes to feelings of powerlessness. This is particularly so in traditional schooling where learning is scaffolded to such a repetitive degree that the learners’ become dependent on the teacher, leading to passivity, or even worse, to a lack of self-confidence. When one believes that they must rely on authority to tell them what to do, they silence their inner voice and rely of the voices of others

 

Blogging provides a platform for students to have a voice and re-empower them to make connections with their lives and the material we are attempting to teach them to write. Using their cultural capital, students are able to engage with multimodal texts in ways not possible without a blogging platform.

The importance of this voice for student’s ownership of a project is exemplified by Shor (1992). In his book, Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change by Ira Shore (1992), Shore reflects about his first day of teaching a writing class to students who had failed their initial College entry writing exam. They were angry, didn’t want to participate and didn’t feel like they had the agency to participate. Shore asked them an open ended question, “Why did you hate the test?”, “What’s wrong with the test? Why is it unfair?”. After asking these questions, hands flew up everywhere! “The students found their voices, enough to carry us through a ferocious hour, once I found a generative theme” (Shore 1992 p.3). This notion of a “generative theme” is further expounded as Shore goes on to describe how one person’s ideas led to another’s and another’s, culminating in the students (who failed their entry basic writing exam) critiquing University policy and coming up with alternatives. Wallace (2002, NP) furthers this by stating it is through discourse and reflection that “generative themes” arise. Through blogging, students are able to create knowledge and develop their understanding of a topic in a way that empowers and encourages their unique ideas. Students are able to critically evaluate, position theory within their context and recognise the biases and assumptions in learning and learn how to communicate it effectively.

  1. Plan for Implementation

Blogging

The proposed intervention is to set up a class blog using an Edublogs platform, where each student will create their own private blog. Each of the students’ blogs are linked to the private class blog.

All students will be able to see and comment on each other’s blog, however, these blogs will only be able to be seen by those approved by the moderator (teacher).

All comments and posts will be moderated and approved by the teacher.

In the initial stages of the implementation, the students and teachers will discuss appropriate netiquette and create a contractual agreement between teacher, student and parents, to ensure the appropriate blog usage. The IT department and Head of School will review this agreement before implementation. These agreements will need to be signed by the student, the parents and, when the teacher is satisfied that the student completely understands the rules of usage, the teacher. Any violation of these usage agreements will result in tight restrictions upon student usage and, if need be, the student blog will be disabled for a period.

Students will create avatars and usernames that are unique to themselves, utilising only their first names. Surnames, school title, photos of students and any personal details will not be used on the blog. Parents will be notified that if they choose to comment on someone’s blog, they are to identify themselves as “[student’s name] mum” or [username’s] dad” etc.

Students will be encouraged to post reflections, articles, writings, poetry, songs written, photos of their work, music clips, videos, photos…only limited by their imagination and the privacy protocols.

Students will be encouraged to comment on each other’s posts. They should encourage their peers, add content, critically evaluate and give suggestions. Students are encouraged to review and edit their work, continually improving themselves through self and peer evaluation.

The main class blog will showcase particular artefacts, provide stimulus for students to respond too, class news, polls and a general forum.

Twitter

This class blog will be linked to a class twitter account. This will allow students to post concise reflections, ideas, quotes, and photos that will let parents be involved in our classroom. Initially, this Twitter feed will be private, with only supplied parental accounts able to view and comment. It is hoped, after extended use, students will be able to connect to other students over the world through this teacher controlled Twitter account.

Effects on Learning

It is hoped that through this intervention, students will be deeply engaged in the writing process. This intervention allows for learning to occur in an authentic, supportive learning environment.

The planned intervention would allow for the meeting of the following National Curriculum outcomes:

Acely1699
Acela 1504
Acelt1610
Acela1505
Acelt1798
Acely1705
Acely1704
Acely1707

Benefits

With the implementation of the National Curriculum, students are required to engage with each other in collaboration and make meaning of multimodal texts.
Some benefits of this intervention:

  1. Enable greater engagement of parents in the classroom in a way that is accessible for working parents.
    Increase engagement in writing.
    3. Allow opportunities for students to develop ideas collaboratively and develop critical thinking skills.
  2. Process orientated pedagogy over product orientated
  3. Teaches students how to write to an authentic audience
  4. Allows for teaching of metacognitive processes in writing.
  5. Allow students more opportunities to engage in authentic tasks
  6. Allow students to develop multimodal literacies.
  7. Opportunities for students to engage in reflective practice.
  8. Teach students about digital citizenship in an authentic learning environment.

Costs

For the Edublog platform to be used in the way specified, a ‘Pro’ account is recommended at a cost of $39.95 per year. This allows the teacher account, plus free student accounts linked to the teacher account. Utilising the Pro benefits, allows for:

Teacher:

10 GB of space

Write posts and create pages

Customise look

Ad Free and Student Safe

Moderation Controls

Make Site Private Option

140+ Themes

Embeded videos and HTML

Mobile blogging

Visitor statistics

Student Management

Personal email support

Plugins and advanced features

Student Account:

500 Mb space

Write Posts and Create Pages

Customise look

Ad free and student safe

Moderation Controls

Make site Private option

140+ Themes

Embeded videos and HTML

Mobile Blogging

  1. Considerations

Potential issues with intervention:

Security of students:
Students to write blog post and email it to teacher to proof read before submitting it online. Teacher to ensure student has not used names, locations or other identifying features in writing.
Security of blog:
Teacher only to have access to blog, logging student in on secure device for the submitting of writing.
Teacher to engage with head of ICT and IT department to ensure secure practices, including regular password changing.

References

Ammarell, G (2000). Networked news groups as a teaching tool in the social sciences. Teaching Sociology 28, 2. p.153-159.

Bauer, J. & Kenton, J. (2005). Toward Technology Integration in the Schools: Why It Isn’t Happening. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(4), 519-546. Norfolk, VA: SITE.

Davies and Merchant (2007) Looking from the inside out: Academic blogging as new literacy. In C. Lankshear and M Knobel (Eds), A new literacies ampler (p 167-197). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Davis and McGrail (2009) The joy of blogging. Educational Leadership, 66, 6. P.76-77.

Dempsey, Louise. Motivating students for writing [online]. Practically Primary, Vol. 19, No. 3, Oct 2014: 27-28. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=625071470433443;res=IELHSS&gt; ISSN: 1324-5961. [cited 26 Nov 14].

Glick, J. (2004). The history of the development of higher mental function. In R.W.Rieber& D.K Robinson (Eds.) The essential Vygotsky (v-xvi). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.

Hixon, E and Buckenmeyer, J (2009) Computers in the schools. Interdisciplinary Journal of Practice, Theory and Applied Research. 26, 2.

Miller and Shepherd (2004). Blogging as social action: A genre analysis of the weblog. Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community and the Culture of Weblogs. Retrieved 1 December 2014 from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/blogging_as_social_action_a_genre_analysis_of_the_weblog.html

Mitchel A. (2014) Learning to fall and rise in the 21st Century. Life Changing Learning. Retrieved 1 December 2014 from http://lifechanginglearning.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/learning-to-fall-and-rise-in-21st.html

Pearson, F (2010) Real Problems, Virtual Solutions: Engaging Students Online. Teaching Sociology, 38, 3. p. 207-214

http://www.jstor.org/stable/27896530

Shor, I. (1992). Empowering education: Critical teaching for social change. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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

Zawilinski, L (2009) HOT blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. The Reading Teacher. 62, 8. P.650-661. DOI: 10.1598/RT.62.8.3

NGL and my DBR initial ideas

So, for my course in NGL, I need to develop a theory-informed plan for using NGL to transform your teaching practice. To do this I will develop a design-based research (DBR) proposal (essay) that draws on the NGL literature to design and plan a proposed intervention.

I really wanted this DBR to be useful in my context at work, striving for implementation. So, after meeting with my boss, I have come up with this:

Initial thoughts:

Research problem:
Students in year 5 increasingly disengaged from traditional writing. They currently have no way to engage in reflective practice of their learning, nor do they engage in meaningful conversations in which they can construct knowledge. With the implementation of the National Curriculum, students are required to engage with each other in collaboration and make meaning of multimodal texts. This DBR will assess the extent NGL in the way of a class blog and twitter feed will allow students to make use of NGL to further engage them in writing of multimodal texts and encourage collaborative learning.

More info regarding blogging and twitter feed:
Some benefits of this intervention:

1. Enable greater engagement of parents in the classroom in a way that is accessible for working parents.
2. Increase engagement in writing.
3. Allow opportunities for students to develop ideas collaboratively and develop critical thinking skills.
4. Allow students more opportunities to engage in authentic tasks
5. Allow students to develop multimodal literacies
6. Opportunities for students to engage in reflective practice.
7. Teach students about digital citizenship in an authentic learning environment.

The planned intervention would allow for the meeting of the following National Curriculum outcomes:

Acely1699
Acela 1504
Acelt1610
Acela1505
Acelt1798
Acely1705
Acely1704
Acely1707

Potential issues with intervention:
Security of students:
Students to write blog post and email it to teacher to proof read before submitting it online. Teach to ensure student has not used names, locations or other identifying features in writing.
Security of blog:
Teacher only to have access to blog, logging student in on secure device for the submitting of writing.
Teacher to engage with head of ICT and IT department to ensure secure practices, including regular password changing.

Would LOVE some feedback on my initial ideas!

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

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

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

Sewing as a learner

I realise that I haven’t posted much about how my learning to sew using NGL is going.

I suppose this is for a few reasons. The first being guilt. Though I have joined a little online sewing club, and watched copious videos on YouTube, I still feel a little out of my depth.

She’s so lovely! She talks so sweetly, she’s so calm, controlled, and happy. I tried to follow along and after much yelling, cursing and a bit of blood, finally managed to thread my machine.

I have to re-watch this video each time I want to re-thread my machine. Each time, I go through the same painful process.

I’m not a practical person. Anything practical takes sooooo long for me to master, actually, I have never mastered anything practical. I am my father’s daughter. I could read a book about sewing super fast and remember every page, but ask me to do  what that book suggests, is another thing altogether.

But one thing I have learnt, is that it’s not about the end goal, but the process which ensues.

I have also changed my goal to something more attainable.

Here is what I’m making at the moment…

I like this girl better, she’s a little more real and explains everything a little more interestingly! I also like the fact this skirt only takes five minutes. I’m engaged!

Will show some photos tomorrow.