As a learner, participation in NGL was useful for me.

me as learner

 

If the purpose of undertaking this NGL course as “learner” was to learn – then I have failed to learn in line with my expectations. I did manage to get set up to learn, I now follow a network of cheesemakers around the world primarily via Twitter. However, I wasn’t able to dedicate the time required to learn about cheesemaking in warm climates. Despite not actually learning as much as I would have liked about my particular topic, I have learned a lot about the challenges and characteristics of using NGL to learn informally. In short, as a learner, participation in NGL has been useful for me. I summarise what I see as successes and failures below and then draw conclusions about my experiences.

Successes

  • I have had the opportunity to further clarify how NGL can work for me as learner. So from this perspective, participation in NGL was useful.
  • I have established the beginnings of a network for learning, primarily via setting up a Twitter account and following people in the field from across the world. The SAMR model which we looked at in Week 6 talks about Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. I do wonder whether being able to set up and readily access an international network at my fingertips is redefinition? (see Week 3)

Failures

  • From other perspectives, I would say the exercise has not been a success in that I haven’t achieved very much in the way of actually learning something. Rather than learning about cheesemaking, I only managed to develop an awareness of cheesemaking networks via Twitter, read posts and explore current themes and trends in cheesemaking.

Observations

  • Information overload is an issue (see Week 3 and Week 8) and developing literacies for NGL may be the answer to managing this. Part of this literacy is an acceptance that you will not keep up.
  • Formal vs Informal. I struggled with the clash I perceived between formal and informal (See Week 6):

“Up until this course, all of the NGL I have practiced has been informal. There were no rules, requirements, assessments – other than my own. I was able to engage as required, lurk when I felt like it and have spurts of massive productivity from time to time. No timelines or deadlines…. The informality of the NGL I have experienced and practiced up until now is clashing with the formality that the current course brings to NGL.”

  • This world is too big! I didn’t know where to start to begin with. The deadlines added further to feeling overwhelmed. (See Week 6 and Week 8).

Conclusions

  • NGL can work for informal learning but requires a time commitment. I can see it working as a long term approach to informal learning I undertake. It takes time to build the appropriate networks that facilitate the learning.
  • I had many of the tools set up already but for different purposes. I have realised that setting up networks takes time and needs to be a part of daily practice and  requires long term commitment to reap the rewards. I reflect on this in Week 2:

“So overall I have a fairly embedded Personal Knowledge Management routine in my daily life. Despite this I will be adapting this routine to a new context and environment and I think this has significant implications. This will mean it takes some time for me to get my head around how this will work in this course.

  • The “distributed world of information” that Kligyte (2009) refers to is now more coherent and sensible, in the sense that I have worked out how NGL can work for me as a learner.
  • Throughout the course I have considered the issue of online identity (Week 1 ). As I was considering “me as learner” and NGL, I realised that my concerns around online identity tend not to apply to my personal learning – I appear to be more concerned around my professional identity. However there is an integrative characteristic (Kligyte, 2009) that could occur between personal and professional that I am not completely comfortable with (Week 3)
  • “My foray into NGL began in an organic and ad hoc fashion, but now I am thinking about it more deliberately.”(Week 8)
  • In Week 6, I reach the conclusion that:

“learners must want to engage with learning or development in relation to NGL, they must be receptive to the opportunities and possibilities it presents.”

McIntyre (2014) identifies a number of barriers to digital literacies development which are relevant here:

“the fast rate of technological change; the inability for large institutions to respond quickly enough in adapting their organisational infrastructures; the failure to properly acknowledge the importance of technological entanglement in core business practice; technology led online initiatives that fail to enable a meaningful translation of existing individual knowledge and teaching practices; lack of support for academics in the development of online learning initiatives; and the lack of recognition of the work required by academics to develop the digital literacies and online teaching competencies.”

I suggest that “NGL offers the possibility of circumventing some of these barriers.” I argue that after the initial setting up, learners could “dip in and out as they could afford to and as they needed to.” I add further that this convenience factor may render it more appealing than other types of professional learning – “just in time, as required and most importantly independent of the institution and institutional constraints.”

  •  NGL provides all learners with an opportunity to engage in learning (Week 8):

“in their own time and at their own pace”

References

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

Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the primal scream.  Retrieved from http://halfanhour.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/connectvism-and-primal-scream.html

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference.

McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 1.

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