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

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