A confused student: Understanding through the Threshold Concept


The short article by Kligyte “Threshold concept : A lens for examining networked learning Case study” provides a useful insight into the challenges that technology can pose and which can discourage people to adopt new technologies in the learning environment.

Kligyte presents five potential barriers for individuals trying to break into the online networked space. These are:

  • Troublesome – the idea that networked learning is too alien, incoherent or counter-initiative and thereby people are reluctant or discouraged to take it up. In my role as a teacher, this is certainly one of the challenges I face. Over the past couple of years I have heard staff (my students) in my organisation commenting that they prefer face to face training with hard copy training manuals, and aren’t overly enthusiastic about suggestions to move online let alone interact with social networking or the like. I’ve heard them say ‘it’s too complicated!”, “why bother changing to a new system[of learning], when we have one that works already”, and “I can’t type very well anyway, I’d be no good with that techno stuff”.
  • Discursive – this relates to the language barrier posed by networked learning. As a new user of social media and network learning tools, it wouldn’t take long to get lost in the online techno-jargon, especially with blogs . This is certainly something I need to keep in mind if I want to explore using blogs as a way to introduce networked learning into my learning context.
  • Irreversible – the idea that networked learning cannot be unlearned.This is very true for me as a student- once I have found an easier way to do something online, I find it hard to do it any other way. E.g. since learning how to research and find quality resources or articles online from across the world, I rarely bother with using hard copy textbooks from libraries anymore – too cumbersome!
  • Integrative – this refers to the connections among different aspects that networked learning reveals. I can certainly relate to this in my role as a teacher. In Week 2 we were asked to make links to a range of different figures on twitter and other sites, who can offer something towards our understanding of networked learning. Through this activity, I connected with a range of individuals like Selena Woodward, who were not necessarily in my field of Organisational learning, but I realised, could still offer perspectives on networked learning in other fields, which would be of value to me as a teacher, and also offer ideas which can be applied to this context. This activity revealed new connections for me!
  • Liminality – this revers to the nature of interactions with networked learning being a messy activity. This has been the biggest challenge for me as a student of the NGL course, and which I suspect is one of the issues among staff in my organisation (my students) which has prevented the effective use of networked learning. From my own experience, it is important to have enough time to practice interacting in the online space to use it comfortably, however we always seem to be under time constraints (especially in the organisation that I work in) which prevent us from being able to master the skills of networked learning as readily as we desire. As a result, I am trying not to cut corners in the early weeks of the NGL course and am making sure to give as much time to activities as I can, to enable me to find my own ‘unique pathway to transformative understanding of networked learning” (Kligyte, pg 541).

4 thoughts on “A confused student: Understanding through the Threshold Concept

  1. Some good reflections here Clare that resonate with what I’ve observed in higher education. The lack of time and the perceived complexity of ICTs acting as roadblocks etc. The perceived complexity – I think – is starting to be addressed as ICTs become both easier to use and more integrated into most (but not all) people’s everyday lives. Of course, the ICTs often available within formal educational organisations (and I imagine other type of organisations) are not always as easy to use.

    Which brings me back to the point about affordances that Goodyear et al mention. That’s this perceived complexity (or ease of use) is dependent on both the individual and their capabilities and the capabilities of the tool

    One person I knew a long time ago mentioned something along the lines of this

    If you want me to change how I do something, it needs to be 200% better than what I do now

    The idea being that this improvement had to be significant and be seen by him (not claimed by you)

    Which connects to the time issue. Often the only way you can get people to see the benefits is for the organisation to give them the time to engage in something that helps develop those skills. Something that’s important to the individuals and the organisation. Libraries have used the 23 things approach as one example


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