How NGL can inform my role as teacher


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.


Adult, Community & Further Education. (2013). 23Things: an introduction to Web2 for people working in Adult Community Education (ACE). Retrieved September 7, 2014 from

Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice. Retrieved September 12, 2014, from .

Clifford, M. (2013). 20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from .

Creative Commons. (2014). About CC. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from

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

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:

Jones, D. (2014). An experiment in Networked & Global Learning. Retrieved October, 2014 from

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold Concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Ascilite 2009 Conference. Retrieved October 16, 2014 from .

O’Keefe, C. (2014). Pushing the Boundaries with Networked Learning. Retrieved October, 2014 from

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


Building on my ideas – the role of the educator in NGL

Construyendo una torre 2 by rahego, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  rahego 

It is already time to add to my earlier post Knowing Learning and Teaching in NGL – getting started. In this post I had discussed the following:

  • 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).

To my earlier thoughts I would like to add that any ICT I implement to redefine the learning in my organisation, will need to be underpinned by an effective and relevant pedagogy. Siemen’s article talks about the changing role of the educator under connectivism – where there is a shift from “instructor or institution-controlled teaching to one of greater control by the learner” and also the call for a new pedagogy to match the latest technological advancements that allow for greater social interaction- a pedagogy of participation (2008).

Siemens defines this participator pedagogy as:

“one that does not fully define all curricular needs in advance of interacting with learners. Learners are able to contribute to existing curricula. The organizational work of faculty members does not comprise the entirety of the course content and does not consist of the sole perspective used to filter content. Multiple perspectives, opinions, and active creation on the part of learners all contribute to the final content of the learner experience. This participatory emphasis is reflective of current ongoing trends with online content creation (OECD, 2007b) and with collective approaches to participatory sensemaking (De Jaegher & Di Paolo, 2007). Activities of learning, interpreting the meaning of trends, and creation of new resources can all be achieved through participatory approaches” (2008).

Siemens argues that one of the reasons educators have refrained from moving to this new pedagogy, is the traditional classroom structure. In my organisation, I am lucky to be able to be flexible and undertake learning activities outside of the traditional classroom structure. This is actually encouraged as having to run training classes in our organisation is an expensive activity. There are costs involved in organising a training presenter, booking meeting rooms and supplying training materials and refreshments for the learners in formal training programs. We are encouraged to work learning into daily activities of staff, that is, facilitate ‘on-the-job’ training.


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

Redefining Learning in my organisation


In the Week 6 readings we are also encouraged to aim towards ‘redefining’ learning in our work contexts. That is, we should try to transform learning through technology. This is a step further than just using technology to ‘substitute’, ‘augment’ or ‘modify’, traditional methods of learning (as outlined in the SAMR model).

In one of my previous posts, I considered using SharePoint as a tool for implementing networked learning in my organisation. One way that this tool can enable learning to be redifined, is through its documents management, wiki and online comments features.

My students are geographically dispersed and we currently do not have a tool established which enables our students to all interact online to review documents easily and share and record their input, in relation to our particular area of work. While a similar activity can be achieved through emails – with staff sending documents to each other with comments in tracked changes – it becomes messy when there are more than a couple of individuals editing the document. The SharePoint enables large groups to share their ideas and provide input into documents in real-time. We have a few hundred students who could be invited to provide feedback on new draft procedures (as discussed in my previous post) to enhance them, and SharePoint is an ICT tool that has the capacity to redefine this learning activity.

Below are some visuals showing ways SharePoint can enable us to redefine out interactions and learning:


Diversity in Learning

Diversity Mask by Spiva Arts, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Spiva Arts 

Professor Chris Dede’s quote about the diversity of learning, as shared in the Week 6 readings, is a good reminder of the need to be flexible in our teaching approaches. As a student I have been grateful that I have not been restricted to certain readings or focus for the course – it has given me an opportunity to focus my learning on an area that is practical and revelant for me. As a teacher, I need to consider this element of choice in the learning for my students. One way would be to ensure the networked learning activity I implement in my learning context is structured to support inquiry-based learning which can enable students to explore problems, ask questions and make discoveries that fulfill their personal curiosities (Drexler, 2010).


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:

How to harness the amazing ideas of others !


Derek Sivers’ you tube video ‘Obvious to you. Amazing to others’ shared on the NGL Diigo really struck a chord with me. After all,  who hasn’t been surprised when someone else has found their idea useful, even we when thought it wasn’t really new or innovative at all?

I have even experienced this as a student of this NGL course, where I have been pleasantly surprised that peers have found some of my blog posts useful…even when I thought my ideas were just run-of-the-mill.

Anyway, in role as a teacher, one of the key questions I need to explore is how this idea can apply to the students in my organisation?

I can certainly see that one of the principles of NGL – connectivitism –  could help to surface some of the knowledge of my students.

After all, connectivism is about forming connections for learning and not simply trying to ‘acquire’ or ‘transmit’ knowledge (Downes, 2011). It’s about sharing your ideas to benefit the whole. This is because, as Steven Downes so nicely put it, “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).

Even though in my work environment, we need our students to ‘acquire’ some knowledge about the new procedures we want to implement in our organisation, by enabling discussion to occur around these procedures, we could open the doors to new and better ideas. In fact, as some of our procedure documents are still being developed, we could make them available on an online collaborative site, like SharePoint, for our students to comment on and critique prior to finalisation. With the input from our staff members (the students) who are working on the ground, their subject matter expertise would be invaluable, and would help gain their buy in as we transition to new practices.

Now that’s an idea!


Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved August 05, 2014, from

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.

Why is Blogging so useful for reflection and learning?


Associate Professor Jill Walker Rettberg has discussed how Blogging is a useful tool for reflection and learning in her paper available in the E-Pedagogy for Teachers in Higher Education Virtual Book – available here .

Some of these reasons she suggests that blogging is helpful for learning and reflection include:

* It helps us to communicate our thoughts more clearly and our thoughts are more carefully considered because we know that it is for an audience

*Blogging makes it easier to practice writing – it is quick and easy to post our thoughts online and respond to external ideas through blogs. Also, because others will read and respond our posts, we are more inclined to better spelling, grammar and punctuation.

*It increases our confidence in writing and learning because we are actually creating and publishing something (higher order learning)

*It enables Peer Review and Reflection – We produce better work and help others do the same through being able to give and receive feedback quickly and easily through Blogs. We are also able then to reflect on, edit and reshape our ideas online.

Walker Rettberg then went on to discuss how she used blogging in her own classes, leading by example, just as David Jones has done throughout this NGL course.

As a student, this paper has provided me with some further theoretical underpinnings for why I have found blogging so useful in this course and why I have benefitted from following our course convenor’s own blog.

It was also great to read another post on the FutureLearningMusings on the same topic and which explores some other aspects of blogging.


Walker Rettberg, J. 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 from