As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me

There is no doubt that participating in NGL has been useful for me as a student. In fact, it has been painful, thought provoking, frustrating, overwhelming, satisfying, transformative, eye-opening and invaluable. The literature around transformative learning theory confirms that these experiences are part of the process of transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991, Mezirow, 2000, Taylor, 2007). Despite having knowledge of this and experiencing these characteristics of learning many times before, each time it happens I find myself initially surprised by it. Then acceptance kicks in and I begin to feel more comfortable with the discomfort.

What was painful, frustrating, overwhelming?

  • Getting Set Up

Getting set up required greater time and effort than more traditional online courses. Setting up the  required tools took longer than I (and I daresay my fellow students) would have liked. The number of tools involved was also a factor: wordpress, diigo, mendeley, feedly, etc. Another issue was becoming oriented or developing a clear understanding of how things work (the tools, the expectations, the assessment of our work) in this course. Stepping out into “NGL” was both liberating and scary. I would argue that the process of getting set up in the first 2-3 weeks for EDU8117 did cause some ecoshock. (San Jose and Kelleher, 2009).

In another of my blog posts, I argued that “getting set up” was achieved at the expense of more time to dedicate to networking with fellow students :

“Greater scaffolding to allow people to get familiar with the setup process and tools being used – simpler and fewer tasks in the first couple of weeks. I think this would have helped and allowed time for participants to allocate greater time to connecting with each other.”

  • Keeping up

Another issue was around keeping up with the sheer volume of information and I refer to it in my Week 3 and Week 8 posts. Again, despite the fact that I understand that there is more information available than I can consume, I still had personal expectations of “keeping up” with everything that was shared, responding effectively to the posts and thoughts of fellow students and completing the tasks required. The reality is that I didn’t. The benefit is that, through personal experience as a student, I now have a greater appreciation of connectivist theory and Siemens argument that “our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today” (Siemens, 2005, p. 5).

What was thought provoking, satisfying, transformative, eye-opening and invaluable?

  • Public Click Pedagogy = Satisfying and invaluable

I certainly made a mess and I certainly made it public. It wasn’t consistent, but for periods of time, I felt connected to fellow students and found myself “mashing” together, interpreting  and building on the thoughts and knowledge of my peers, all of which are characteristics of “public click pedagogy” (Bigum and Rowan,2013; Downes, 2011). This included reflecting on the views and findings of peers, and sharing personal thoughts and discoveries.

  • Online identity = Thought provoking and eye opening

My experiences in EDU8117 raised a number of questions around online identity. According to Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes (2009)  there is a need for research that focuses on “the possible risks and benefits of emergent online identity development”. My personal realisations around online identity and NGL included:

  1. The real possibility that individuals  have an online identity before they are aware of the implications.
  2. The clash of personal and professional identity online
  3. The potential for online identity be used or targeted in ways you didn’t intend or don’t approve of.

According to Selwyn (2015) there is a need to take a critical approach to technology and education. He encourages educators to consider factors such as unintended consequences, implicit agendas and ask “who benefits?”. All of these factors are valid when considering the issue of online identity and its management. Blog posts in week 1, week 3 and week 7, discuss my reflections around online identity and NGL.

  • Being a Networked Student = Invaluable, satisfying and transformative.

In an earlier post I say:

I hope that this course will help me to move from knowing and doing NGL to being NGL and understanding more about how to support others to explore and embrace NGL.

I am not sure that the shift I am looking for is fully complete. I am, however, sure that I have “evolved” along the continuum. It has certainly been a part of my practice for several years now, however I wasn’t so conscious or deliberate as I am now. My ability to recognise more opportunities to strategically utilise NGL for networking, collaboration and learning has also increased. A crucial factor in successfully “being NGL” into the future will be the development of literacies that assist me to navigate NGL as effectively as possible. (See Week 3 and Week 8)

  • Formal vs informal, traditional vs connectivist? = Thought provoking

Can NGL be formal? Can a hybrid of traditional and connectivist approaches be used simultaneously in a course? I argue in one of my posts that until I enrolled in EDU8117, all of my experience with NGL had been informal and that the formality of this course, coupled with the informality of NGL and connectivism was proving a challenge. My views were confirmed after reading a blog post by Stephen Downes (2013) responding to an article by Brennan (2013) where he differentiates between traditional and connectivist learning:

“Indeed, so long as you think of knowledge and learning as something to be acquired and measured and tested – instead of practiced and lived and experienced – you will be dissatisfied with connectivist learning.” (Downes, 2013)

Is EDU8117 attempting to reconcile both approaches and philosophies? Should formal courses be based on a combination of connectivist principles and practices and traditional educational approaches?

As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me. My NGL experiences as a student will contribute to refining and developing my NGL practices into the future. However, I remain unconvinced that NGL can be effectively reconciled with formal educational practices such as semesters, deadlines or formal assessment. I plan to reflect on this question into the future.


Bigum, C., & Rowan, L. (2013). Ladders, Learning and Lessons from Charlie: exploring the potential of public click pedagogy. EdExEd Working Paper Series: Working Paper No. 2.

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

Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and connective knowledge.  Retrieved from

Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the primal scream.  Retrieved from

Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, teaching, and scholarship in a digital age Web 2.0 and classroom research: What path should we take now? Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246-259.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning: ERIC.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series: ERIC.

San Jose, D., & Kelleher, T. (2009). Measuring ecoshock and affective learning: A comparison of student responses to online and face-to-face learning ecologies. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5, 469-476.

Selwyn, N. (2015). Technology and education – why it’s crucial to be critical. In S. Bulfin, Johnson, N. & Bigum, C (Ed.), Critical  perspectives on technology and education New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International journal of instructional technology and distance learning, 2(1), 3-10.

Taylor, E. W. (2007). An update of transformative learning theory: A critical review of the empirical research (1999–2005). International Journal of Lifelong Education, 26(2), 173-191.


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