SharePoint as a collaborative tool


My previous post got me thinking about online collaborative tools for use in my work environment to support networked learning.

SharePoint is a tool used in many organisations and is one that I have seen used effectively to enhance online interactions on key projects or for groups of professions in a ‘professional network’ or community of practice’ environment.  Some brief uses and benefits of this tool are cited here and here.

I hope to delve further into this tool for Assignment 2.

This tool may also be of interest to other course participants in non-traditional education contexts.

Knowing Learning and Teaching in NGL – getting started


In order to frame our thinking about Assignment 2 for the NGL course, our course convenor has suggested we look at the questions proposed by Siemens (2008). David, our convenor, has also suggested we keep this a working document. This is part of the reason I have taken a shine to using the blog format for tracking my learning – the fact that you can easily record, edit or add to your previous thoughts. More on this in my other post

Here are my preliminary thoughts relating to Siemens’ critical questions in relation to Assignment 2 – where we are asked to develop a plan for using NGL to transform our teaching practice:

  • What would be the role of the educator? How would we teach

My role would be to guide my student’s use of NGL tools. Ideally, teach by example (as discussed in my previous post).

  • What would be the role of the learner?
    I would like to see them self-direct their own learning. There is some set procedure documents that I will need to give my students access to. So I would like to put them online (using a secure collaborative tool) for the students then to discuss, ask questions and help each other make sense of these new procedures and how they can apply them to their role at work.
  • How would curriculum be created? Shared?
    In my business context, the “curriculum” is rather the ‘set information our students are required to view and apply to their work practices’. The content of this information is set by our senior management. My role is to share it via an online tool in the best way.

    • How would research be conducted?
      There is some scope for our students to research and share some new ideas as we move forward. However in the first instance the learning focus is largely on rote learning – so that our staff get across the key information required for thier jobs.
  • What would be the role of the university in society? This questions isn’t really relevant in my context. A better question is ‘What is the benefit of this learning activity for society?’ The answer to this is : By enabling our students (government staff) to learn the new procuedures and perform their roles better they will be operating more effectively and efficiently. This will mean our staff will be able to better serve our client group and make better use of tax payers money.
  • What would education “look like”?How would we mark? Accredit? I am hoping that I will see learning occuring through the number of staff ‘hits’ to our online collaborative site, and the number of relevant discussions that occur between the involved students. Assessing learning could also occur through surveys to students a few months down the track, to see how they are going and whether they have effectively moved to the new practices or feedback from their managers, who do regular performance reviews.Reference

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Actas Do Encontro Sobre Web.

Task, Practice and Knowledge Based Communities – Online learning


Riel and Polin’s article ‘Online Learning Communities’ is based around the premise that learning is a social activity and is at the heart of online learning communities – an idea that already holds quite a bit of ground in the educatoin field, as Anne (another NGL course participant) has already discussed.

The article goes on to explore three different types of learning communities – task based, practice based, and knowledge based – which exist together in a learning organisation. Each of these can be supported through technological systems to deliver benefits for both teachers and students, e.g.
• Through supporting interactions via online tools
• By introducing students to professional communities and enabling them to be part of a team
• Through providing students with opportunities to experience handling tools for inquiry
• Helping students to be familiar with and build skills with working in online communities and observe other (expert practitioners) in the field
• Providing practical and expert support networks for teachers

As a student
While reading the paper, I could see examples of each of these communities in the NGL course –
Task-based – the way in which the fellow NGL students are sharing and reviewing blogs to meet the assessment requirements of this uni course
Practice-based – through the links we share and discussions on our blogs about literature in the field of Networked and Global learning. By doing so we building our knowledge as practicioners in the education field.
Knowledge-based – through posting online and recording articles in Diigo and linking to each others’ blogs. We are creating an online repository of information on NGL!

As a teacher
In my role as a teacher I can see value in drawing on each of these three types of communities – task, practice and knowledge based – to support learning in my organisation.
So far I have had some preliminary discussions with staff members and senior management about what sort of learning activities we will need to implement to achieve our aims of transitioning staff to new practices in the coming months. In these discussions we have tossed around the idea of setting up an internal collaborative website for our staff (the students) where we could provide information and training modules for the new practices we are going to implement. On the site staff can read and discuss the modules or new procedures with their peers, and ask each other questions to assist with the change (task-based learning). We were also looking at setting up a ‘library’ section of the collaborative site, where we could keep records of key information about our area of work that staff could draw from into the future (knowledge- based). It was also hoped that the staff would use the collaborative site to upload articles or news about new changes or ideas in the field or to provide mentoring to fellow staff in both the short and long term, to support existing and future staff to improve their practice (practice-based).


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 (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


CQM Toolbox – a practical strategy for networked learning in the business sector


I came across a short article published back in 1997 in Industry Week magazine titled ‘CQM Toolbox’ which looks at learning modules for Senior Executive run by a Centre for Quality Management. The article provides what I consider to be a rather progressive view (in comparison with my personal experience in the workplace) of incorporating networked learning to achieve improved business outcomes. The article discusses a range of networked learning strategies which work alongside traditional workplace training delivery methods of workshops, courses and seminars. These networked activities include user groups, study groups and ‘peer to peer networking roundtables’ which are intended to act as ‘support systems’ for implementing new initiatives, overcoming hurdles and to initiate discussions to develop new ideas and improved ways of doing business!(“CQM Toolbox”, 1997, p.30)

While the article doesn’t specifically refer to networked activities in the online space, I can see that there are opportunities here for my work context (as a teacher). With many of the key Government agencies situated in Canberra, it would be possible to set up some sort of face-to-face cross-agency roundtable, perhaps with videoconferencing to international agencies or using a secure online meeting place (e.g. a Ning). This could be used to assist my section to better implement our current training program and also  as a way to keep across ‘best practice’ approaches in the field, going forward. I suppose this is essentially the same as creating a Professional Learning Network or Community of Practice.

RDECOM launches communities of practice by RDECOM, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  RDECOM 

As a student, I can see this is very much what we are doing here in the NGL course – creating a Community of Practice or Professional Learning Network using WordPress and Diigo as platforms for this – we are using each others posts to spark new ways of doing things or to overcome hurdles (e.g. Paul’s response to one of my earlier posts). Whether I will be able to use these same online tools in my workplace will be at the mercy of our Department IT security team – as it is important that our work discussions remain confidential, something which can be tricky in the online space. Something for me to pursue further down the track.


Clifford, M (2013). 20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network. Retrieved from

CQM toolbox. (1997). Industry Week/IW, 246(13), 30.

University of Southern Queensland. (2013). Communities of Practice. Retrieved from