How NGL can inform my role as teacher

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This blog was established as part of the EDU8117 Networked and Global Learning (NLG) course for the University of Queensland Master of Education qualification. The course participants – all teachers or educators – were instructed to establish a blog as a platform to participate in a networked learning community and learn about networked and global learning (Jones, 2014).

Thus far, on my ‘Pushing the Boundaries with Networked Learning’ blog, I have shown that the principles of, and participation in, networked and global learning (NGL) has been beneficial, in a number of ways, to me both as student and also as a learner (O’Keefe, 2014). This blog will explore my role as a teacher and how my participation and learning in NGL as part of this course, has informed this role.

My role as a teacher, as discussed in my blog post ‘Me as a Teacher’ involves facilitating training in an organisation, to help staff (my students) “to learn and implement new and improved work processes” (O’Keefe, 2014). There have been a number of ways that NGL has helped inform this role, the first of these being that it provides an opportunity to connect with and learn from a community of practitioners (Riel & Polin, 2004).

In my post “Professional Learning Networks – an option for introducing NGL in my organisation” I demonstrate how I have started to establish a professional learning network, by connecting with and sharing with my peers, links to a community of online profiles and websites connected with NGL (O’Keefe, 2014). For example, I discuss the website Mashable which provides new technology news, as well as an article on the blog of Miriam Clifford exploring professional learning networks (Clifford, 2013; O’Keefe, 2014). I linked these sites to the course Diigo, so that other students in the course can access these useful resources (O’Keefe, 2014). I then explore how Clifford’s article, which was drawn from a Harvard study revealing the benefits of professional networks, has helped me understand the value of establishing communities and networks in my own organisation to enhance learning outcomes for my students (Clifford, 2013; O’Keefe, 2014).

In another post on the blog ‘NGL and Life Long Learning’ I also demonstrated how I was able to extend my learning of NGL from the community made up of the NGL course participants. I discuss this in my blog posts ‘NGL and Life Long Learning’ where I learn from one my course peers about life long learning and how this is relevant for my role as a teacher (O’Keefe, 2014).

NGL has also helped to inform some options for assisting my students to participate in, and benefit from, learning communities. In my post ‘Task, Practice and Knowledge Based Communities – Online learning’ I consider an article by Riel and Polin (2004) outlining different types of learning communities – task based, practice based, and knowledge based – which , as a teacher, I can draw on to enhance learning in my organisation. In the blog, I go on to explore how each of these components could be incorporated in my workplace to support my staff to learn (O’Keefe, 2014). For example, I discuss establishing an internal collaborative website for staff, which could include areas for staff to ask each other questions to help their learning (task-based learning), establishing a resource library on the site (knowledge-based learning) as well as an area for staff to share new ideas and information to collaboratively improve practice (practice-based learning) (Riel & Polin, 2004; O’Keefe, 2014).

An exploration of networked and global learning principles and tools has also highlighted some of the challenges and issues that need to be considered by teachers when implementing NGL in their learning contexts. For example, in one of my blog posts, I discuss an article by Keith Brennan which explores the idea of cognitive overload – feelings of confusion and frustration that can occur among new participants in Connectivist learning (Brennan, 2013; O’Keefe, 2014). Similarly, in my post “A confused student: understanding through the threshold concept, I consider five potential barriers students can face in networked learning, as outlined by Giedre Kligyte (2009). These relate to the nature of NGL as being discursive, irreversible, integrated and liminal and in my post, I discuss how these concepts can pose a challenge not only to my students but also to me as a teacher, trying to help others to learn using NGL principles and tools (Kligyte, 2009; O’Keefe). In light of these challenges, I then go on to explore some practical strategies to help adult learners develop skills to better navigate and succeed in this learning environment in my blog post 23Things (Adult, Community & Further Education, 2013; O’Keefe, 2014).

Other challenges for students working in an NGL environment, that I explored in my blog, include the issue of how to credit images online and diversity in learning styles. In ‘Learning about online Image Credits’ I discuss my responsibilities as a teacher to ensure my students have the skills to credit work effectively online without breaching copyright (Creative Commons, 2014; O’Keefe. 2014). In another blog post titled “Diversity in Learning” I consider a quote by Profession Chris Dede (2008) about how students learn in a variety of ways (O’Keefe, 2014). I then discuss how I need to be flexible in my own teaching approach and that through applying appropriate pedagogies, such as inquiry-based learning, I can help ensure my application of NGL in my learning context will effectively meet my students’ learning needs (Drexler, 2010; O’Keefe, 2014).

In addition to posing some challenges to students, NGL can also bring some unexpected benefits. I explore one of these in my blog post “How to harness the amazing ideas of others!” where I consider a You Tube video by Derek Sivers (2011) and an article by Steven Downes (2011), which suggests that while we sometimes consider our ideas to be unexceptional, they can be very useful to others and that there are benefits in sharing these ideas with others (O’Keefe, 2014). I then explore how, as a teacher, Connectivism could help to bring my students’ knowledge and great ideas to the surface (O’Keefe, 2014).

In conclusion, this post has explored some of the benefits and challenges of implementing Networked and Global learning, which I intend to draw on to develop an effective strategy to incorporate NGL in my organisation. However, as the ongoing blog posts from participants in the EDU8117 course seem to show, my reflections have only just scratched the surface of the many possibilities of Networked and Global learning for teachers and students.

Reference

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/ .

Clifford, M. (2013). 20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/ .

Creative Commons. (2014). About CC. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from http://creativecommons.org/about

Dede, C. (2008). Theoretical perspectives influencing the use of information technology in teaching and learning. In J. Voogt & G. Knezek (Eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education (pp. 43–62). New York: Springer.

Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved August 05, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

Drexler, W. (2010). The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 369-385. Retrieved from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/drexler.html

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 .

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

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning, 16–50. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sivers, D. (2011). Obvious to you. Amazing to others. Retrieved September 12, 2014 from https://pushingtheboundarieswithnetworkedlearning.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/how-to-harness-the-amazing-ideas-of-others/.

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