As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me

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This post is a summary of my learning ‘as a student’ in the University of Southern Queensland EDU8117 Networked and Global Learning (NLG) course. One of the aims of this course, as outlined by the course convenor, David Jones, is for students to consider transforming our practice using Networked and Global Learning Tools and principles, and reflect on the whether this has been useful (Jones, 2014).

Networked and global learning is based around the theory of Connectivism– the idea that “knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks” (Downes, 2007, para 2; Siemens, 2008). As I discussed in one of my blog posts for the course, in this environment, learning is about forming ‘connections’ rather than just acquiring or transmitting knowledge (Downes, 2007; O’Keefe, 2014). As part of the course, we were encouraged by our convenor to use a range of networked and global learning tools such as – WordPress, Diigo and Feedler – to help guide this process of ‘forming connections’ and to transform our learning (Jones, 2014).

Below are my reflections on how these principles and tools of networked and global learning have been useful for me as a student of the NGL course.

One of the first ways participation in NGL was useful for me, was it has helped to improve the quality of my writing. The students in the course were asked to create a WordPress blog to record and share our leanings each week (Jones, 2014). In one of my posts on WordPress I discuss the work of Associate Professor Jill Walker Rettberg (2009) which looks at why blogging is a useful tool for learning and reflection (O’Keefe, 2014). Some of the reasons she discusses, are that blogging encourages us to communicate our thoughts more clearly, present more thoughtful arguments and carefully edited writing because we are writing to an audience (Walker Rettberg, 2009). This certainly proved to be the case for me. I made sure to carefully consider the content of my posts, and took steps to properly reference material (as I discuss in my post here) and proofread my work, knowing that other members of the class and our course convenor would be reading them (Walker Rettberg, 2009; O’Keefe, 2014). At times, I even used the ‘editing’ feature to update or expand upon my previous posts (O’Keefe, 2014).

The article by Walker Rettberg (2009) also discusses how blogging can encourage reflection and enhance learning through peer review. The comments I received on my post from my peers and the course convenor, improved my learning by helping to reinforce the ideas I have presented and identify gaps in my thinking. Examples of this included comments by David Jones (2014) on my post – ‘A Confused Student: Understanding through the Threshold Concept’ and comments from my peers here and here (O’Keefe, 2014). Reviewing the blogs of my peers, also helped me to think critically about my work and make changes to improve, such as my post on Online Image Credits (Walker Rettberg, 2009; O’Keefe, 2014).

Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is another strategy the class was introduced to in the NGL course, to assist with staying ‘connected in the network era’ (Jarche, 2011; O’Keefe, 2014). This tool helped to guide my participation in the course in relation to seeking and making sense or information and then sharing my learning. In developing this PKM I considered a number of NGL tools and strategies that I could use to make connections with others to enhance my learning. The ‘share’ component of the Personal Knowledge Management plan involved using networking platforms to help others to establish connections with our work. Steven Downes provides a useful explanation of the value of sharing learning, which I discuss on one of my blog posts “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, para 27).

WordPress and Diigo were two tools that I used to review the resources shared by my peers and identity relevant information to inform my work (O’Keefe, 2014). Examples of this include my post ‘How to harness the amazing ideas of others’ and ‘Insightful Post from Global Connection USQ’ (Droney, 2014; O’Keefe, 2014). Mendely, WordPress, Diigo, YouTube, and Twitter were some of the web platforms I used throughout the course to share knowledge and my learning with others to assist them to learn (O’Keefe, 2014). Evidence of this can be seen in the blog posts by Future Learning Musings, Networked, Global and Learning and Insights to improve their own learning (Smythe, 2014; Size, 2014; Liriges, 2014). I discuss my knowledge sharing using Diigo and Mendely in my post ‘Me as a student’ (O’Keefe, 2014).

I also used another online tool Feedly throughout the course to not only keep track of the online activities of other course members, but to operate more effectively in the networked world by enabling filtering of content to manage ‘cognitive overload’ (Brennan, 2013; O’Keefe, 2014). In one of my posts, I refer to an article by Keith Brennan discussing the concept of ‘cognitive overload’ and how this can affect our feelings of self-efficacy, confidence and success with connecting online (Brennan, 2013; O’Keefe, 2014). In another post ‘A confused student: understanding through the threshold concept’ I explore some of the challenges new learners are confronted with when trying to navigate through the networked world, as discussed by Giedre Kligyte (2009), such as the online language and the seemingly messy process of learning and connecting in the networked space (O’Keefe, 2014).

In addition to using Feedly, being able to read how other members of the course have worked through these similar challenges, via their own blogs, also helped to build by confidence and self-efficacy in order to participate effectively in networked and global learning (Brennan, 2013). This is discussed further in this post (O’Keefe, 2014). I was also able to efficiently use NGL to support my learning through actively participating in NGL activities such as creating and using a WordPress Blog, as specified in the course aims and observing the course convenor doing the same (Jones, 2014). Active participation and leading by example, are two effective strategies to support networked learning, which I have discussed in my post ‘Why is Blogging so useful for reflection and learning’ and which is also referred to on the 23 Things website, linked on my blog here (Walker Rettberg, 2009; Adult, Community & Further Education, 2013; O’Keefe, 2014).

From my reflections, it is event that there is value in students participating in Networked and Global Learning activities and that with the right tools and principles, a transformation in learning can be achieved. The next step is to consider how these findings might be useful for teachers intending to transform their student’s learning using NGL principles and tools, and also how individuals could use online social networking tools to enhance their learning. I will attempt to address these matters in my upcoming blog posts.

References
Adult, Community & Further Education. (2013). 23Things: an introduction to Web2 for people working in Adult Community Education (ACE). Retrieved September 7, 2014 from http://23things.acfe.vic.edu.au/

Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice. Retrieved September 12, 2014, from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/in-connectivism-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-a-guide-to-understanding-the-mooc-novice/ .

Downes, S. (2007). What Connectivism is. Retrieved October 3, 2014 from http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-connectivism-is.html

Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved September 13, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

Droney, A. (2014). Global Connection USQ. Retrieved October 27, 2014 from https://globalconnectionusq.wordpress.com/

Jarche, H. (2011). PKM – Personal Knowledge Mastery. Retrieved August 3, 2014 from http://www.jarche.com/pkm/

Jones, D. (2014). An experiment in Networked & Global Learning. Retrieved October, 2014 from https://netgl.wordpress.com/

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold Concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Ascilite 2009 Conference. Retrieved October 16, 2014 from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf .

Liriges, D. (2014). Insights. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from http://debliriges.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/reflections-on-learning-and-clem/

O’Keefe, C. (2014). Pushing the Boundaries with Networked Learning. Retrieved October, 2014 from https://pushingtheboundarieswithnetworkedlearning.wordpress.com/

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Retrieved September 12, 2014 from http://elearnspace.org/Articles/systemic_impact.htm.

Size, P. Networked, Global and Learning. Retrieved October 4, 2014 from http://siblingsofcysticfibrosis.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/clem-and-community/ .

Smythe, E. (2014). Future Learning Musings. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from http://futurelearningmusings.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/connected-learning-and-generative-themes/

Walker Rettberg, J. (2009) Blogging as a Tool for Reflection and Learning. In A. Karin Lars & G. Oline Hole. (Eds.), E-Pedagogy for Teachers in Higher Education. Bergen, Norway: Bergen University College. Retrieved September 12, 2014 from http://www.virclass.net/eped/ep_tmp/files/17842056574abc85cdf304e.pdf

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