Design based research proposal

This Design based research proposal will outline a project researching how a Problem based learning approach to teaching utilised in a postgraduate nursing subject can be supported by networked learning to improve student engagement and understanding of course material based on phase 1 and 2 of Herrington, McKenney, Reeves, & Oliver (2007) design based research approach.

Phase 1:

Background

Online education is an evolving area of education, particularly in the post graduate arena and while it has been around for years increases in technological capabilities and pedagogical advances along with increase technological and broadband capabilities means that the online educational experience can be of high quality and engaging for students even in courses that traditionally are hands on such as medicine and engineering (Universities Australia, 2014).

While technology is providing us with a multitude of tools and resources to enhance our teaching and the student experience, institutions and educators have been a little slow to take up and engage with the tools. For many the perception of e-learning is that you take a PowerPoint or a document and put it online for students to read then perhaps answer some questions. Despite e-learning having been around for about twenty years this is still the experience of many students and it is minimally engaging from the student perspective. Gregory (2001) explores the concept that learners need to be engaged in content and in the process of learning: without the learners’ engagement in the content and process our teaching is fruitless. How do we engage learners in content and the process of learning online?

According to Rounds & Rappaport (2008) as the characteristics of nursing students change, they become older and have more life experience the need to emphasise the adult learning principles beomes increasingly important. There is also a growing need to have effective, lifelong learning skills due to the explosion of knowledge (Rounds & Rappaport, 2008). Adult learning principles are conducive and complement a connectivist and online approach to learning.

Educational Context

This project is taking place in an Australian private education college that offers post graduate certificate level courses to nurses in a variety of specialities. These graduate certificates are accredited by the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) and are delivered at an Australian qualifications framework (AQF) level 8. All courses are delivered nationally via the online medium using Moodle as the learning management system (LMS) platform.

The nature and role of learners in the contemporary healthcare setting is varied due to the variety of roles learners may have, their educational and skill level, intergenerational and cultural diversity as well as past experiences of learning. These all impact on the learners ability and willingness to engage in learning online and provide a constant challenge to educators in facilitating education to this diverse group of professionals.

Statement of Problem

There have been several issues identified that impact not only on my teaching but also on student learning. There are some subjects which have a poor online design and therefore there is minimal student engagement with peers in the online environment. Due to the current setup of the subject there is minimal online engagement with the course material as it is possible for students to download and print the workbook and all activities, there are no activities based in the online environment other than assessment items. There is some internal organisational qualitative evidence that also suggests that students are either not fully engaged with or not understanding the course material, this is evidenced by the types of questions being asked by students, the numbers of students missing or submitting assessments late with the reasons of I didn’t know it was due then or I just missed it/didn’t know it was assessable.

There is also some internal quantitative and qualitative data which would suggest those students are unable to link the theory to practice. This is a particularly important skill in today’s health care environment where practitioners are required to have the ability to understand and implement evidence based practices and therefore the ability to understand and implement evidence based practice is a key graduate outcome for the post graduate nursing courses.

The courses currently use elements of problem based learning through the use of case studies however these are often used as static blurbs to which students formulate an individual response as an assessment piece or they are used to demonstrate the progression of disease and the nursing interventions required at each stage. They are not interactive in nature and they often do not encourage the development of skills required in the workplace such as communication, problem-solving and assessment.

Consultation

Consultation was sought from fellow students in the EDU8117 course and also from colleagues, educators, nurses and instructional designers via my blog on my initial thoughts regarding this proposal. Due to a number of factors written feedback on my thoughts was limited. I received feedback on my blog from fellow students however the few of my peers who provided feedback did so verbally (usually at lunchtime in the tea room). I suspect this is partly due to the workload currently being experienced by many of my colleagues and also the fact that seeing me prompted them to provide the feedback.

I feel that more feedback from peers and also more written feedback would have allowed me to better reflect on the development of the DBR and also strengthen the design of the intervention and the justification for the use of particular tools and strategies.

I found having my DBR reviewed, particularly by my peers at work quite daunting and as such didn’t provide them with any specific questions rather the assignment question and those posed in my blog. Perhaps if I had been more specific regarding what feedback I required then I may have received more feedback.

Another factor which limited the feedback I gained was that many of the nurse educator colleagues I ask to review the DBR were unfamiliar with DBR and therefore were unable to be overly critical; some were also not familiar with networked learning and the principles that underpin it.

I suspect my lack of experience with DBR and my own insecurities have limited my ability to gain critical and useful feedback from peer outside the course.

Feedback from the students within the course prompted me to consider using an approach that was more evidentiary and assisted me in clarifying my question to enable me to research all the issues identified which I felt were linked.

Unfortunately there was significant time between seeking feedback and writing the final proposal which has impacted on my ability to recall specific thought processes that occurred as a result of the feedback.

Research question

How can networked learning, via a problem-based learning approach, enhance engagement with and understanding of course content and materials?

Literature Review

With the increasing popularity of online education there has some shifting in relation to how education and learning is viewed. Traditionally education was viewed from a transmission perspective being that knowledge exists separate to the learner and the expected outcome is that teachers pass on a “common body of knowledge and a way of thinking similar to what is in the text or the teacher.” (Pratt 2001, p. 7), more contemporary perspectives are based on a constructivist philosophy to teaching and learning where knowledge is viewed as something the learner needs to construct in order to understand, predict and control their environment. (Blais 1988. Cited in Creedy, Hornsfall & Hand, 1991, p.728).

Networked and global learning (NGL)  is strongly associated with the connectivist theory that learning occurs through the creation of networks(Murdoch, Socolick, & Murdoch, 2013). Siemens (2005) suggested that knowledge exists in the network as much as, if not more than in the individual and therefore learning is about making connections. That may be making connections with others, with resources or artefacts, with knowledge, connecting the theory with the practice (Albion, 2014). Garcia, Brown, & Elbeltagi, (2013) refer to a connectivist learning networks as being a network of nodes. This network of nodes can consist of individuals, groups, resources, systems or communities, they are highly personal and the responsibility of the individual (Garcia et al., 2013) Another key feature of networks is that it is up to the student to make and choose connections not the teacher therefore placing a greater emphasis on the students role in the learning process. (Garcia et al., 2013)

According to Goodyear, Carvalho, & Dohn, 2014 emergent processes are most important when learning, it is about what students actually do, what they think, feel and say that is critical. This is particularly important when it comes to designing activities for students in a course using a networked approach as a particular tool is not going to guarantee a particular outcome, it is more about the connections that the tool allows the students to make (Goodyear et al., 2014), for example the use of an asynchronous forum within a course will not guarantee that students connect with each other and discuss their ideas, however  well placed activity that encourages them to post their research question and gather peer feedback before completing the literature review assessment  may.

Problem based learning (PBL) is a teaching and learning strategy that encourages students to relate theoretical learning to the practical context, in order to understand what is occurring in a situation, predict what may happen utilising past experience and knowledge in an attempt to control the situation. PBL methodologies are used frequently in contemporary nursing education and have been since the 1980’s (Creedy, Hornsfall & Hand, 1991, p.728) and it encourages synthesis of knowledge and an understanding of the contributions the social context makes to health, illness and treatment. (Creedy, Hornsfall & Hand, 1991, p.728) PBL is currently used in undergraduate, postgraduate and in the work based continuing professional development areas of nursing education. It was intended to develop effective critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills that are essential for nursing however it also fasters independent and self-directed learning skills and builds motivation and questioning abilities that are all key attributes for lifelong learning (Rounds & Rappaport, 2008).

In PBL the learning environment in authentic and based in reality therefore making the learning more meaningful as it creates understanding. Students are required to focus on the relationships of concepts rather than on the concepts themselves. (Magnussen 2008 p 83). Use of the e-learning environment and tools such as simulated environments for PBL also allows for application of knowledge and skills, it enables “learners to become more active participants” (Magnussen 2008 p 84). The utilisation of social interactions within PBL allows for learning to be constructed by individuals as opposed to handed down by experts. (Magnussen 2008 p 83).

Engagement, understanding and motivation are all interdependent on each other when it comes to learning. It is difficult to engage with and understand course material if there is a lack of motivation, be that internal or external motivation. According to Hartnett, St. George, & Dron, (2011) learners are not primarily intrinsically motivated, motivation is complex, multifaceted and sensitive to situational conditions. Therefore no two students are going to be the same and no two cohorts will be the same either therefore it is necessary for teachers to be adaptive and supportive. It is also important to consider these factors when designing activities for students as both intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivation co-exist and are sensitive to situational influences therefore the perceived importance of the activity and  the utility of the activity are just as important as the enjoyment and interest in the activity (Hartnett et al., 2011)

Students are humans and as such we are social people. Nurses will often say that they are much better at just having the conversation than writing it down. Conversation is an important part of learning, it allows us to exchange ideas and information, make our positions known, persuade and motivate others (Klemm, 2002). Within education communication can assist in expediting memorisation, provide and range of information and perspectives that can contribute to a deeper understanding, it can provide a stimulus for creative thought (Klemm, 2002). Conversation within the workplace is the mechanism through which ideas are generated, decisions and plan are made and evaluation occurs (Klemm, 2002). Conversation allows learning to occur within the “real world” and therefore the learning takes on meaning and is more likely to be transformative in nature.

Currently many people see the web as delivering information rather than a place for people to interact with each other to construct meaning, develop understanding and solve problems using information (Klemm, 2002). In online discussions participants need to be participatory rather than viewing the web as a source of information in order to gain the benefits of the discussions

Phase 2: Development of Solutions:

Description for proposed intervention

Using the current Learning Management system (LMS) Moodle and the plug ins available a range of activities are proposed to create engagement and understanding of course material in a post graduate nursing subject that uses aspects of PBL. The intervention aims to increase the amount of PBL and introduce a networked approach to the PBL as opposed to an individual approach to solving problems.

The subject will have a case based scenario within each theme of the subject based on a real world clinical situation. The case scenario will require students to draw on the learning within the theme to make a decision regarding the care of their patient. Each case scenario will begin a week into the theme and run for 3 weeks. Students will be presented with the initial case scenario in week 2 of the theme and via a small group collaborative blog will need to examine the case and come to decisions regarding the patients care. During the case scenario tutorial support will be provided by the teacher. The teacher will add to the scenario at least once a week indicating changes in patient condition that need to be considered and managed just as they would in a real clinical environment. The case studies will be supplemented with clinical notes from other members of the healthcare team, interviews with the patient or relatives via either recorded videos or synchronous discussions. Students will then also be provided with feedback within a week of each case scenario that they can then utilise when completing the next one. This will culminate in the students preparing an individual written case analysis at the end of the semester. Students will however be able to seek peer feedback throughout the final  month of the course on their case analysis through the use of a workshop activity. The peer feedback will be based on the rubric for a case analysis as will the tutor feedback throughout the semester.

Plan for implementation of intervention

Introducing this intervention is going to take significant assistance from content experts to ensure that the case studies are authentic. It is going to take significant instructional design time to set up the various case studies, collaborative blog and any audio-visual and synchronous activities to support the case studies. Significant support may be require by the tutorial staff regarding the case studies and how to manage them, provide feedback etc. as the tutorial staff are content specialists and work remotely.

Students will require clear and explicit guidelines for the activities and performance will need to be monitored to ensure that some students are not disadvantaged through others not participating or monopolising the discussions and decisions.

Feedback will be sought from both students and tutors at the end of semester specifically relating to the activity. Changes to the activity will then be made according to the feedback. Participation data will also be collected.

Conclusion

This DBR has been designed to use networking learning to improve the engagement of students and their understanding of content in a post graduate nursing subject using a PBL approach to teaching. This will occur through the use of tools such as collaborative blogs, workshop activities, synchronous discussions and audio-visual presentations to solve authentic problems they would encounter in the workplace enabling student to practice skills, integrate knowledge in a safe and supported environment.

References

 

Albion, P. (2014). From Creation to Curation: Evolution of an Authentic’Assessment for Learning’Task. In M. Searson & M. Ochoa (Eds.), Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1160–1168). Chesapapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/130926

Creedy, D., Horsfall, J., & Hand, B. (1992). Problem-based learning in nurse education: an Australian view. Journal of advanced nursing, 17,727-733

Garcia, E., Brown, M., & Elbeltagi, I. (2013). Learning Within a Connectivist Educational Collective Blog Model A Case Study of UK Higher Education. The Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 11(3), 253–262.

Gregory, W. (2001). Curriculum pedagogy and teacherly ethos. Pedagogy : Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature Language Composition and Culture, 1 (1), 69-89. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Goodyear, P., Carvalho, L., & Dohn, N. B. (2014). Design for networked learning: framing relations between participants’ activities and the physical setting. In S. Bayne, M. de Laat, T. Ryberg, & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Ninth International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (pp. 137–144). Edinburgh, Scotland. Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/abstracts/pdf/goodyear.pdf

Hartnett, M., St. George, A., & Dron, J. (2011). Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted, and situation-dependent. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(6), 20–38.

Herrington, J., McKenney, S., Reeves, T., & Oliver, R. Design-based research and doctoral students: Guidelines for preparing a dissertation proposal, ECU Publications Pre. 2011 (2007). Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/ecuworks/1612

Klemm, W. (2002). Software issues for applying conversation theory for effective collaboration via the internet. In Publications on on-line collaboration and educational technology (pp. 1-10). Retrieved from http://www.cvm.tamu.edu/wklemm/Files/ConversationTheory.pdf.

Magnussen, L. (2008). Applying the principles of significant learning in the e-learning environment. Journal of Nursing Education. 2008 Feb: 47(2):82-86

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013). Connectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Columbia University Teachers College Educational Technology Conference. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_The_in_formal_cohort_and_its_implications_in_knowledge_construction

Pratt, D. (2001). Good teaching: one size fits all. In J. Ross-Gordon (Ed.), An up-date on teaching theory (pp. 1-11). Retrieved from http://teachingperspectives.com/PDF/goodteaching.pdf. Garcia, E., Brown, M., & Elbeltagi, I. (2013). Learning Within a Connectivist Educational Collective Blog Model A Case Study of UK Higher Education. The Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 11(3), 253–262.

Goodyear, P., Carvalho, L., & Dohn, N. B. (2014). Design for networked learning: framing relations between participants’ activities and the physical setting. In S. Bayne, M. de Laat, T. Ryberg, & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Ninth International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (pp. 137–144). Edinburgh, Scotland. Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/abstracts/pdf/goodyear.pdf

Hartnett, M., St. George, A., & Dron, J. (2011). Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted, and situation-dependent. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(6), 20–38.

Herrington, J., McKenney, S., Reeves, T., & Oliver, R. Design-based research and doctoral students: Guidelines for preparing a dissertation proposal, ECU Publications Pre. 2011 (2007). Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/ecuworks/1612

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013). Connectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Columbia University Teachers College Educational Technology Conference. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_The_in_formal_cohort_and_its_implications_in_knowledge_construction

Rounds, L. R., & Rappaport, B. A. (n.d.). The successful use of problem-based learning in an online nurse practitioner course. Nursing Education Perspectives, 29(1), 12–16.

Universities Australia (2014). Flexible modes of study. Retrieved from https://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/uni-participation-quality/students/Flexible-Modes-of-Study/Flexible-modes-of-study#.VIElHjGUeZ8

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Thoughts around assignment 2.

I have found this assignment a difficult one to get started with, perhaps because there are so many things that I know I could do to improve my teaching and therefore I am having difficulty choosing something to focus my time and energy on. Also while I love the outcomes of research and the implementation of research into practice I find the process involved in formal research difficult, time consuming and something I often struggle to get my head around and interested in.

Having said that (after some stern self talk and an approaching due date) I decided it was time to put something on paper rather than continue to have it swirling around my head and be the topic of numerous conversations with peers.

Some of the issues that are occurring within my teaching are:

  • Minimal student engagement with peers in online post graduate courses
  • Anecdotal evidence from student questions and assessment answers/quality indicates that students are not fully engaging with or understanding the course material
  • Anecdotal evidence also suggests that students are unable to link the theory with practice. In the current health care sector, practitioners are required to be able to justify their clinical practice and clinical decisions with evidence and therefore the ability to link theory with practice is a key graduate outcome.

When I look at these issues I feel that my teaching (or the teaching that I inherited) has a significant impact on student learning therefore changes in my teaching should have significant impact on student learning.

This and several conversations with peers within my organisation considering the issues presented above and potential teaching strategies I have the following potential research questions:

Does the use of Problem-based learning strategies increase student engagement in online post graduate courses?

Do Problem based learning strategies increase student engagement with peers and course content in an online post graduate course?

I have sat on these questions for a couple of days, reread the assessment criteria, reflected on the issues mentioned above and considered the current course structure and realised that these questions are not quite right.

The courses I teach into already have elements of Problem based learning(PBL) incorporated into them through the use of case studies and discussions posing questions or dilemmas that students may encounter and asking them to document how they would respond then discuss this with peers. Perhaps the question is not how PBL can increase engagement but how the principles of networked learning can support learning in a course using a PBL approach. So my current research question is:

How can the principles and tools used in networked learning support learning in a course using a problem based learning approach?

I think the question needs a little more refining so any feedback is much appreciated.

How NGL can inform my role as a teacher.

Networked and global learning (NGL) is a way of providing education using the connectivist learning theory.  The learning theory of Connectivism is based on the premise that learning occurs when learners make connections via a network which is made up of persons and resources(Garcia et al., 2013). According to Seimens in (Garcia et al., 2013) the key principles of conectivism are:

  • “Learning and knowledge can rest in diversity of opinion
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialised nodes or information sources
  • Learning can reside in non human appliances
  • Capacity to know is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning
  • Ability to see connections between thoughts, ideas and concepts is a core skill
  • Currency is the intent of all learning activities
  • Decision making is itself a learning process”

(Garcia et al., 2013)

My experience and learning of NGL and the connectivist principles that underpin pin it have been quite transformational for me as a teacher and I believe will have a significant impact on my teaching practices moving forward. There is something about the appraoch that speaks to me. From very early in my career as a nurse I have been very conscious that I can’t know everything so being discerning about what information is committed to memory enabling me to provide safe, quality care to the patients and families I have contact with and then knowing what my resources are and how to access them for the rest of the information. This philosopy has come with me to my teaching and something I try to impart to my students whenever I can and seems to fit well with NGL.

Of particular interest to me in my role as a teacher are the principles that  learning is a process, capacity to now is more critical then what is currently known, the ability to see connections between thoughts, ideas and concepts and decision making being a learning process. I suspect that part of this may be because these are difficult skills to teach in traditional teaching methods but also they are skills that contribute to the students I teach achieving the graduate outcomes of the courses in which they are participating and also of becoming a life long learner which is increasingly becoming a key component of professional life, regardless of the profession.

To provide some context regarding my teaching, I currently teach nursing in the tertiary education sector to post graduate students. For some courses I am a content expert as well as the co-ordinator and for others I have a basic knowledge and utilise content experts to support the teaching through a tutoring role and I am the course coordinator. All the courses I teach in are fully online, however the more I learn about teaching online the more I believe that the courses are just a dump of the old distance education packages to the online environment with a few forums thrown in.

I am very aware of the dynamic and rapidly changing nature of healthcare and therefore have increasing concern that the courses I teach in are not teaching the skills required in the workplace relating to how to learn and be a life long learner and therefore are not providing students with the skills required to meet some of the graduate outcomes of the course. I feel like students are “spoon feed” and therefore have difficulty when searching for resources or solving complex problems for example. I think incorporating a NGL approach may be of benefit to student learning within the tertiary sector in which I am currently teaching.  A NGL approach would allow students to contextualise their learning to the environment in which they work and challenge their problem solving skills.

The learners or students I deal with all have knowledge and experiences that come with them to the learning environment. In a constructivist view of knowledge  we are encouraged to think of learning as building on existing knowledge (Albion, 2014) therefore I believe that by using a NGL approach to teaching adult and post graduate students we can acknowledge this existing knowledge and build upon it. I want my students learning to be transformational, to have an impact on their practice and ultimately the health and well-being of the patients they are caring for. For this to occur the learning needs to be authentic and based in reality. The challenge for me as a teacher  using a NGL approach is to support students and design activities that guide students to achieve the course learning  outcomes while still providing the flexibility and authenticity that NGL can provide.

NGL learning approaches are based on constructivist principles and according to Downes (2011) in  connectivist courses learners are immersed in a community of practitioners, introduced to what practitioners do and through this immersion they become similar in action,  thought and value to members of that community.(Downes, 2011)

Currently my teaching is very content focused, according to Downes (2011) knowledge is not something we can package neatly into a sentence, it is complicated, distributed, mixed with other ideas, it looks different to different people, it is difficult to express and tacit, it is mutually understood but never articulated(Downes, 2011). Downes goes further to say that when content is the focus we miss the messiness of learning “we learn the words, but not the dance” (Downes, 2011). If this is the casse then my students are learning the words but can’t do the dance so how do I help them do the dance?

In a post titled Reflections on NGL and me as a teacher in my blog I alluded to the fact that teaching my students to do the dance was going to require me to take a measured and staged approach to introducing NGL into my teaching. I am currently looking at increasing the connections students make with each other through the use of blogs, activities that encourage them to network outside of the course and build a professional network then share experiences and knowledge they gain from their external network with their course network. I am also interested to decrease the reliance students have on prescribed reading for their learning, I would like to see students develop resource portfolios and share them with their network. While it would be exciting and challenge my teaching more if I was to use tools external to the LMS for these activities this is not a battle that I would be likely to win at this stage so I feel I will need to stick to tools within the LMS to achieve this. My plan to implement NGL in an incremental and staged way is supported in a study by Kligyte ( 2009b) who states that changes in teaching practices associated with networked learning are not necessarily welcomed by academic staff and can leave them confused and in a state of liminality.

According to Goodyear, Carvalho, & Dohn (2014) the emergent processes are most important, what learners do, say, think and feel is what matters most. Therefore I hope that by  using emergent teaching pedagogy where the learning is interactive, self-directed and knowledge is distributed among  learners, where content is constructed with them (Kawka, Larkin, & Danaher, 2011) will enhance the learning experience. I will need to be mindful and find a balance between the teacher directed content and the student directed content (Kawka et al., 2011). Using this approach encourages the students to share their expert knowledge with the network that is the student cohort.

I would also like to share my experience of teaching using a NGL approach with my colleagues, practice what I preach as such. My hope would be that by sharing my experience I will be able to inspire others to try the approach in their teaching and ultimately have an impact on the teaching culture of the organisation.

Albion, P. (2014). From Creation to Curation: Evolution of an Authentic’Assessment for Learning’Task. In M. Searson & M. Ochoa (Eds.), Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1160–1168). Chesapapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/130926

Bell, A., Zenios, M., & Parchoma, G. (2010a). Undergraduate experiences of coping with networked learning: Difficulties now, possibilities for the future. In L. Dirckinck‐Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. de Laat, D. McConnell, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010 (pp. 904–911). Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2010/abstracts/PDFs/Bell_2.pdf

Bell, A., Zenios, M., & Parchoma, G. (2010b). Undergraduate experiences of coping with networked learning: Difficulties now, possibilities for the future. In L. Dirckinck‐Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. de Laat, D. McConnell, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010 (pp. 904–911). Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2010/abstracts/PDFs/Bell_2.pdf

Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved April 09, 2011, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

Garcia, E., Brown, M., & Elbeltagi, I. (2013). Learning Within a Connectivist Educational Collective Blog Model A Case Study of UK Higher Education. The Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 11(3), 253–262.

Goodyear, P., Carvalho, L., & Dohn, N. B. (2014). Design for networked learning: framing relations between participants’ activities and the physical setting. In S. Bayne, M. de Laat, T. Ryberg, & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Ninth International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (pp. 137–144). Edinburgh, Scotland. Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/abstracts/pdf/goodyear.pdf

Kawka, M., Larkin, K., & Danaher, P. (2011). Emergent learning and interactive media artworks: Parameters of interaction for novice groups. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7), 40–55. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1028

Kligyte, G. (2009a). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference (pp. 540–542). Auckland, NZ. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Kligyte, G. (2009b). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference (pp. 540–542). Auckland, NZ. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013a). Connectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Columbia University Teachers College Educational Technology Conference. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_The_in_formal_cohort_and_its_implications_in_knowledge_construction

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013b). Connectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Columbia University Teachers College Educational Technology Conference. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_The_in_formal_cohort_and_its_implications_in_knowledge_construction

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013c). No TitleConnectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_T

As a learner, participation in NGL was useful for me

Learning via a Networked and Global Learning (NGL) approach had been a little of a revelation for me. In the beginning of my exploration into NGL I was overwhelmed by technology, particularly the tools that would support my learning in this course as mentioned in my post As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me, however it was also one of the things that got me excited as I was craving knowledge about different tools I could use and how they supported learning. My experience prior to the course was limited to the learning management system (LMS) Moodle and while I am computer literate in the sense of being able to navigate around webpages and the internet, use programs such as word, excel and outlook with some degree of proficiency I was new to the world of blogging, feeds, social bookmarking and reference managers. I initially felt that learning how to use these tools was a hurdle I had to get over before I could start learning in the course however I have recognised that through learning in the course I have learnt to use the tools (at least to some extent) and vice versa through using the tools I have learnt about NGL.

According to Bell, Zenios and Parchoma (2010) NGL is characterised by a social process of learning that is underpinned by socio-cultural theories that learning is based on dialogue, the connections and relationships between learners, tutors and resources (Bell, Zenios, & Parchoma, 2010a). NGL is also strongly associated with the connectivist theory that learning occurs through the creation of networks(Murdoch, Socolick, & Murdoch, 2013a)

Due to the nature of NGL I have been able to contextualise the learning to what is relevant to me and therefore the learning has been authentic and I believe transformational as it has had an influence on my practice as a teacher. I will discuss how a little more in my post about How NGL can inform my role as a teacher . The ability for me to contextualise my learning is an important feature in NGL. Part of contextualising my learning came from engaging with and creating a network of people and resources that could support my learning. While my initial network was one that was created for me rather than created by me due the it being constructed as part of a formal course I was able add to this network, personalise it and decide which parts of it were relevant and which were not (Garcia, Brown, & Elbeltagi, 2013), these also changed as the questions or problems changed.

An aspect of NGL that initially had me quite anxious as a learner was the concept that I was putting my thoughts, feelings and ideas out into the big wide world for comment and potentially criticism. Writing it down made it more real than just having a verbal conversation about it with someone. I commented early in the course in my blog the ups and downs that I felt “totally out of my comfort zone” and it was refreshing to know I  wasn’t the only one several of my peers commented that they also felt out of their comfort zone and fearful of posting into a public forum. I found that my experiences as a learner initially were similar to those of students in a study by Bell, Zenios and Parchoma (2010) where students experienced challenges with learning in a networked environment and stated that “revealing their ideas and by default themselves was a initial difficult process” (Bell, Zenios, & Parchoma, 2010b), they also found the use of asynchronous discussions challenging. While this was not the case I did identify with the students in the study when they said they felt they lacked the language abilities required to express themselves adequately to ensure that others understood the experiences, ideas and thoughts they were attempting to articulate through writing (Bell et al., 2010b).

I mentioned in a post titled thoughts on learning early in the course about the fear that comes with learning something as an adult, the fear of getting something wrong or breaking something. Learning is messy and at times unpredictable. A post by David in his blog titled don’t fear perfection, you’ll never reach it resonated with me as it articulates what I have had to do as a learner in NGL. I have had to stop planning, start with where I am and adapt to the changing situation. Bigum and Rowan (2013) as state that we often learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes therefore as a learner is it not better to try and fail then try again that to have success in the first attempt. This concept is supported in a presentation by Derek Sivers titled “why you need to fail”. In the video Derek states that “if your not failing then your not learning”  and that to learn something “effectively you must make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes” (Sivers, 2011), he also in this video says that “mistakes teach better than advanced preparation” (Sivers, 2011). The idea of making mistakes is also alluded to in an article by Katrina Schwartz (2013) where she talks about the benefits of praising the process rather than the intelligence to help in buidling resilence and aid the learning journey.

Initially I also experienced a feeling of drowning courtesy of the volume of information that was becoming available much of it due to the network I was now part of, I had filter failure. It was no longer just me working through a pile of course work provided to me, I was part of a group and we were contributing to each others learning by sharing our own. This fits with the theory that connectivism  is about the distributuion of knowledge outside of the learner (Murdoch, Socolick, & Murdoch, 2013b). (Murdoch, Socolick, & Murdoch, 2013c) also states that a NGL learning environment places a large amount of responsibility on the learner as vast amounts of knowledge need to be stored, retrieved and evaluated.  This being said I had to rethink how I learnt, what my study routines were, how I made sense of things. This was one of the early activities to develop your Personal knowledge management (PKM) routine and while mine was initially very simple and the tools used were limited I feel that it helped initially and that with my increased knowledge about NGL I could extend and enhance that routine.

As a learner I have thoroughly enjoyed learning via NGL. I feel that I have discovered tools and strategies that will support me as a life-long learner. I may not have yet mastered all the content or become an expert in the use of the tools, but I have discovered a new way of documenting my learning, making sense of what I come across and managing all the new information.  I have overcome fears and obstacles and learnt skills that will enable me to continue learning a growing. Kligyte (2009) states that information, media and network literacies are essential skills for academics teaching and researching in today’s environment

As a learner in an NGL course I can say that I have definitely engaged in learning, and I have learnt a lot. Along the way it has been messy and time consuming, mainly due to the ease of getting lost in the learning and following the numerous paths and tangents that pique my interest as opposed to staying focused. As well as knowledge I have gained skills and engaged with people that normally I may not have engaged with but through networking with them they have contributed to my learning.

Bell, A., Zenios, M., & Parchoma, G. (2010a). Undergraduate experiences of coping with networked learning: Difficulties now, possibilities for the future. In L. Dirckinck‐Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. de Laat, D. McConnell, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010 (pp. 904–911). Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2010/abstracts/PDFs/Bell_2.pdf

Bell, A., Zenios, M., & Parchoma, G. (2010b). Undergraduate experiences of coping with networked learning: Difficulties now, possibilities for the future. In L. Dirckinck‐Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. de Laat, D. McConnell, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010 (pp. 904–911). Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2010/abstracts/PDFs/Bell_2.pdf

Do not fear perfection, you’ll never achieve it | The Weblog of (a) David Jones on WordPress.com. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://davidtjones.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/do-not-fear-perfection-youll-never-achieve-it/

Garcia, E., Brown, M., & Elbeltagi, I. (2013). Learning Within a Connectivist Educational Collective Blog Model A Case Study of UK Higher Education. The Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 11(3), 253–262.

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference (pp. 540–542). Auckland, NZ. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013a). Connectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Columbia University Teachers College Educational Technology Conference. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_The_in_formal_cohort_and_its_implications_in_knowledge_construction

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013b). Connectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Columbia University Teachers College Educational Technology Conference. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_The_in_formal_cohort_and_its_implications_in_knowledge_construction

Murdoch, J., Socolick, F., & Murdoch, D. (2013c). No TitleConnectivism:The (in)formal cohort and its’ implications in knowledge construction. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/3606727/Connectivism_T

Schwartz, K. (2013). Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick | MindShift. Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/04/giving-good-praise-to-girls-what-messages-stick/

Why You Need to Fail – by Derek Sivers. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhxcFGuKOys

As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me……

On reflection, my experience as a student in a Networked and Global learning (NGL) has been an interesting journey. I have viewed my role as a student from the perspective of a person enrolled in a formal course of education.  Currently as a student  using a NGL approach to learning about NGL has been useful, however it has not been without it’s adversity. I have found some aspects useful and some not so beneficial, however with time the things that I currently see as having not had much benefit could prove to be very beneficial. At times I found the course to be frustrating, unclear and challenging while at others it has been enlightening, interesting and thought provoking.

In my readings about NGL I discovered that it is based on Connectivist principles and that learning occurs when we make connections and build the bridges. NGL is student or learner driven and therefore it can be less structured than traditional courses. When networking to find answers to the questions I had it was very easy to be distracted from the task at hand by an article or blog post that took me off on another tangent. Often it was still interesting and useful information but it wasn’t answering my initial questions and therefore as a student I feel that it would be difficult for me to list what I had learnt in this course having said that the flexibility of the course did allow me to focus on my context of tertiary education and adult learners as opposed to the context of the course writers experience.

Initially I experienced significant culture shock. I struggled with downloading and understanding the technology that I was asked to use, I was out of my comfort zone and totally overwhelmed. At this time my focus was not on the course material or what I had to learn, my focus was on the technology and the tools I required to participate. Initially for me this created significant anxiety as I was concerned about my ability to master the tools and participate in the course as if I could not participate in the course and complete the required tasks or assessments then I would fail, however there was also significant relief and a sense of achievement when I was able to post my first blog, find the readings in mendeley, save and recover something in Diigo and use feedly to see what was happening in the subject. I thought that once I mastered the technology the rest would be fine but I quickly discovered that was not the case. My thoughts are similar to those of the students in Bell, Zenios & Parchoma  (2010) where students experienced initial problems becoming familiar with the technology, felt unclear regarding the expectations for engagement  and found revealing their thoughts and ideas daunting.

In my post titled me as a student on the 30th July I comment that in previous subjects relating to ICT I would have liked to learn more about the tools that could be used as part of ICT integration into teaching, in this subject I feel that through the use of NGL  I have come some way in doing that, perhaps through the sink and swim method a little due to my need to see if I can work it out before I ask questions. This experience created a great deal of turbulence and adjustment to recreate my study routines and develop a PKM that fitted with the teaching method, my learning preferences and life in general. In this way the course has been transformational for me as a student and I have changed how I manage and assimilate information.

One of the early barriers I found as a student was the use of terminology that I was unfamiliar with and in the first few weeks I found the use of jargon that I wasn’t familiar with very frustrating as I felt that I was unable to progress with the prescribed reading and activities as I just didn’t understand what was being discussed. I had to go and do my own research to make sense of what was happening. One such example of this was the introduction of PKM routines. I now know PKM routines to be Personal Management routines but initially in the course blog I was seeing PKM mentioned and really had no idea what David was talking about. As a student I felt inadequate due to the knowledge that was assumed and I felt I lacked. Perhaps this was an intentional teaching strategy for me to engage with the material and connect with the knowledge about PKM routines by sourcing the answers myself however if I wasn’t tenacious and determined that this subject wouldn’t get the better of me I may not have persevered and persisted, I could have just given up. If NGL is based on constructivist principles of knowledge being something that we construct then as a student I have learnt something by having to construct the knowledge and build bridges.  This also highlighted to me that a NGL approach to learning is not going to be suited to everyone and that to participate in a networked way requires a motivation and desire to learn.

Bigum & Rowan ( 2013) article regarding the exploration of public click technology resonated with me as a student. The article uses the metaphor of Wittgensteins ladder, the concept of missing ladder rungs and that as we learn and move up ladder rungs the bottom ones drop away and that once you have gone up you can’t go back down. This has implications for a student, particularly in a more traditional course were content to be learnt is presented in a lineal way and the content is created by people who are “experts” in their field, how many ladder rungs are missing? What knowledge is assumed and do I have that knowledge? I used the image of a quilt with missing patches in my blog post missing ladder rungs, as I have progressed with NGL I feel like this is perhaps more appropriate as learning is not necessarily linear, it is messy and patchy but eventually all the patches join together and create a quilt.

Downes (2011) states that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections and therefore learning is the ability to construct and manovure within those networks.  Hieck (2013) describes connectivism as:

similar to constructivism–in fact, a learner participating in connectivism would likely do so at times with an constructivist approach. The difference here lies in the central role of relationships and networks in connectivism. Rather than supplemental, they are primary sources.

As a student this resonated with me as my experience has been that the relationships and information within my network have been my main source of information. Again for me learning in this way has been transformational as my experience and the amount I feel I have learnt in this manner has been significant but just as importantly I feel I have been able to contribute to the learning of others which has provided validation of my thoughts and ideas but also given me confidence that I have something to offer.

While the experience of being a student in a course using a NGL approach has been a rollercoaster ride with it’s highs and lows it has been a transformational experience.

Bell, A., Zenios, M., & Parchoma, G. (2010). Undergraduate experiences of coping with networked learning: Difficulties now, possibilities for the future. In L. Dirckinck‐Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. de Laat, D. McConnell, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010 (pp. 904–911). Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2010/abstracts/PDFs/Bell_2.pdf

Bigum, C., & Rowan, L. (2013). Ladders, Learning and Lessons from Charlie: exploring the potential of public click pedagogy (No. 2). Retrieved from http://chrisbigum.com/downloads/LLL-PCP.pdf

Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved April 09, 2011, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

Hieck, T. (2013). The Difference Between Instructivism, Constructivism, And Connectivism –. Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://www.teachthought.com/learning/the-difference-between-instructivism-constructivism-and-connectivism/

A running update

So I have been attempting to learn to run and it has been a bit of a rollacoster and in the spirit of learning it has been messy, but yesterday I had a breakthrough! for the first time in over 3 months I managed to run a full 1km without stopping and just to ensure it wasn’t a fluke I did it a second time during my 4km training session. Now to many people 1km is probably not a big deal but to me it was huge, so much so that I rang my coach (who put together the challenge and it’s training program) to tell her mid training session, it was great to be able to share my excitement. After my run I shared my success with my fellow multistage kilometer-athoners. What was really nice is that I got lots of positive comments and that has had an impact on my confidence and commitment to keep going.

This in conjunction with a couple of other things I have heard and read over the last few days has got me thinking about networked learning and the recent comments about connecting with the knowledge and not necessarily people.

While I agree that networked learning is about connecting with the knowledge in some instances when your learning something new, like me with my running, you need that human connection, it adds to the learning and the experience and the impetus to keep going.

In recent days I saw a post on a facebook group that I joined for mum’s who run and this lady had recently completed an event and she felt she had achieved, she shared this achievement and her experience of running in a tutu on her personal facebook page and she recieved negative comments from some of her friends about posting her running achievements on her page. She posted about this experience and how much of a dampener it was on the running mums page and then received lots of support and others also commented about this happening to them where their friends were not supportive.

Another example I heard recently was from a work colleague who has started competing with her partner and daughter in martial arts. Following her first competition she discovered that her coach had posted a video of her competing on the studios facebook page an tagged her. She said that initially she wasn’t to pleased however she then saw the comments rolling in not only from people at the studio but her friends as well. She commented to me about how much of an impact this had on her confidence and her drive to continue competing but what was more is that her daughter (who had been at the competition) saw the video and the comments and decided that she wanted to give it a go. Following her first competition her video was loaded to facebook by her mum and once again the comments came pouring in from people all over the world. Those comments have provided this child with the courage and commitment to try patterns well above her belt level and persevere through the frustration of learning.

So I guess what I am getting at here through these examples is the power that the human interaction can have in a networked environment to provide that support and encouragement that keeps us going along the process of learning even when we want to give up. That’s not to say that connecting with knowledge in a networked way isn’t important, I just don’t think we should discount the personal, human connection and I would hate to see that ability to connect be lost in our networked and global environments.

MOOC’s in NGL

I was reading a post today by Laura titled Connecting with NGL. In her post she talks about the realisation she has had that connecting with NGL is about connecting with the ideas and/or knowledge of others not necessarily with the people themselves.This is an idea that has been starting to form in my head but I hadn’t quite got to the point that I was able to articulate that concept in relation to me and my experiences with NGL.

There has also in my exploration of NGL been much mentioned about MOOC’s and this morning I came across an article by Monica Bulger that presents an alternative view of MOOC’s. Many people consider MOOC’s to be the future of education and a way to level the playing field for those seeking education. Monica suggests that perhaps instead of recreating classrooms, MOOC’s are an extension of libraries and texts in this age of digital technology. She suggests that the high enrollment rates and low completion rates are due to the sampling and selective engagement that occurs similar to the way we use a contents page in a book and read only the relevant chapters.

This article came to my mind when I was reading Laura’s post as it identified MOOC’s as a way of connecting with knowledge and ideas. I have been developing an interest in MOOC’s and how they contribute to learning, my experience has been that people are either for or against them and one of the biggest reasons I have seen against them is the low completion rates but when you look at it from the perspective Monica presents perhaps they have value in ways we haven’t yet considered. I am definitely looking at them in a different light.