Week 6 (1): a list of the questions you need to consider as you develop ideas about how your teaching can be informed by NGL


Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

What is my role? How would professional learning opportunities be created?

I am not, strictly speaking, a teacher. My role is to support and advance learning and teaching by working with academic staff. The role I play and tasks I undertake are diverse. Anything that supports or advances learning and teaching is part of my remit. How do I harness NGL as part of this? I think one way is modelling NGL in my practice when undertaking my role. Simon McIntyre’s paper is one example from the literature that acknowledges the benefits of academic staff utilising NGL:

“Breaking away from established institutional infrastructures in order to seek support from a variety of other sources, has the potential to creative (sic) a state of disruptive innovation in educational practice” (McIntyre, 2014, p95)

Undertaking EDU8117 and reflecting on my own use of NGL for my professional practice and learning is certainly a step in the right direction. At the end of this course I anticipate that I will have built upon my pre-existing NGL practice with what I have learnt. However, what appears to be fundamental is that I continue to explore, engage and critically reflect on NGL in my role as teacher.

Modelling NGL can be augmented and supported by facilitating connections and learning opportunties between and amongst academic staff. This may be loosely termed “communities of practice” and may be institutional, cross-institutional, or interdisciplinary.  I see  the facilitation of connections and collaboration amongst academic staff as fundamental to my role as teacher. This facilitation partly includes encouraging academic staff to acknowledge their own practice as worthy of sharing with others and ties in with the theme in the video “Obvious to you, amazing to others” that David shared in Week 6.

What would be the role of the learner?

First and foremost, learners (in my case academic staff) must want to engage with learning or development in relation to NGL, they must be receptive to the opportunities and possibilities it presents. The literature acknowledges the many barriers that exist and McIntyre summarises these very well from the perspective of the digital literacy divide:

“However, as discussed above, the reasons for this digital literacy divide emerging amongst academics in recent years are many and complex: 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. It follows therefore, that some form of professional development is an important element in helping to restore balance in the relationship between technology and education.” (McIntyre, 2014, p94)

Although there are no simple answers to these barriers, NGL offers the possibility of circumventing some of these barriers. Once set up, academics would be able to dip in and out as they could afford to and as they needed to. This might render NGL more appealing than other types of professional learning – just in time, as required and most importantly independent of the institution and institutional constraints.

How do we measure effectiveness and impact?

There is no easy answer to this and it is something I think long and hard about (self preservation is a good motivator!). Here are a few measures I have come up with. These measures would prove most effective if implemented as periodic surveys that capture emerging trends (say annually).

  1. Percentage of academic staff with a Personal Knowledge Network
  2. Percentage of academic staff utilising Web 2.0 or NGL tools to keep up to date with developments in learning and teaching, their discipline areas, and /or research
  3. Percentage of academic staff collaborating with people that they have connected with as a result of engaging with NGL practices
  4. Percentage of academic staff utilising Web 2.0 tools to facilitate or enhance student learning by integrating their usage into courses.
  5. Percentage of academic staff creating content, sharing and/or publishing via their PKM or NGL tools


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

Sivers, D (2011) Obvious to you. Amazing to others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcmI5SSQLmE


Week 8

What do need to still learn about NGL?
How will you learn it?
How did you learn it?

Keep calm and carry on

Keep calm and carry on by Scott Roberts via Flickr

What do I still need to learn about NGL? Loads. Although, thanks to this course I now understand the complexities and challenges involved in utilising NGL for formal education (as teacher) or formal learning (as learner or student). Looking at Assignment 2, it looks like the remainder of the course will help me explore this further and learn more about what I still need to learn. I also think that I am ready to learn more about and  explore the potential solutions that might help address the challenges of NGL.

My context as a teacher is supporting academic staff in Higher education. They have many characteristics but a universal characteristic is how time poor they are and the competing demands placed upon them. As a teacher I need to learn how to harness NGL without alienating learners and this means catering to different requirements and preferences. It also means ensuring that academic staff don’t feel as though they must invest significant time before they get satisfaction. I think what Dede talks about in David’s favourite quote could be very useful here. Learners have different preferences and NGL isn’t for everyone –  it is one way (amongst a number of ways) that learners are able to choose to learn. The upside of NGL in my context is the ability for academics to engage in their own time and at their own pace. Building on this positive, Simon McIntyre  recently published an article that acknowledges that universities are the opposite of agile and that change takes time, even when the need for it is accepted. He suggests academics should be looking outward rather than inward for professional development and that systemic change can come from the bottom up through “disruptive innovaton”. This might be an interesting read for Deb who mentions the challenges of achieving a “paradigm shift in a large institution” and the need for incremental change.

How will I learn it? As a learner and student, I had already adopted NGL as part of my practice on a daily basis prior to taking this course. However since taking EDU8117 I can now see further opportunities for utilising NGL for networking, collaboration and learning. I can also see potential to do this more strategically. My foray into NGL began in an organic and ad hoc fashion, but now I am thinking about it more deliberately. EDU8117 has helped me become more courageous about baring my soul to the global community. So one potential barrier to my effective utilisation of NGL opportunities is now dismantled.


McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education,                               1, 83. http://www.herdsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/HERDSARHE2014v01p83.pdf

Week 7/8: Reflection

A woman thinking.jpg








A woman thinking” by ÁWáOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a bit of hybrid post for Week 7 and 8. I will start by commenting on one of the readings David provided at the end of Week 7 that talk about the challenges of NGL. The one that resonated most was Keith Brennan’s article, In Connectivism, No one can hear you scream.

His comments around self efficacy and cognitive load, although not foreign were very interesting to consider from the viewpoint of NGL. He makes a few valid points around factors that contribute to “failure” in NGL:

“Too high cognitive load, and no assurance, or anxiety relieving measures.”

 “Decentralise the learning process to a degree where clarity and structure require skills you don’t have to access the information you need. “

“Tasks that are too complex with no guidance in how to achieve them.”

Regarding point 2, I would actually go further and argue that for me the problem isn’t so much about the skill I don’t have – but the time. EDU 8117 is a hybrid of connectivism and traditional education and one of the challenges of learning in a decentralised environment is that it requires more time commitment than a centralised and more traditional approach.

Even more interesting and helpful for me was the response to the Brennan article from Stephen Downes on his blog:

“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. And – for that matter – there’s probably a limit to how far you can advance in traditional education as well, because (to my experience) everybody who achieves a high degree of expertise in a field has advanced well beyond the idea that it’s just information and skills and things to learn. Kind of like Dreyfus and Dreyfus said” 

After reading both points of view, I am wondering if perhaps EDU8117 is attempting to reconcile both approaches and philosophies? “…something to be acquired and measured and tested” and “…practiced, lived and experienced”. That might be where my discomfort lies and perhaps also what Keith Brennan is articulating as the challenges of connectivism in his article. I think Stephen Downes is trying to say that true connectivism doesn’t try to do both? I would love to hear other views on this.


Keith Brennan. In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice. 24 July, 2013. Hybrid Pedagogy. http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/in-connectivism-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-a-guide-to-understanding-the-mooc-novice/

Stephen Downes. Connectivism and the primal scream. 25 July, 2013. Half an Hour (Blog). http://halfanhour.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/connectvism-and-primal-scream.html

Week 7: Being critical

Before I start – I am behind. So I am biting the bullet and leapfrogging to week 7 and will then work back and fill in the gaps as much as I can……

I am a fan of Neil Selwyn and wasn’t surprised that this article resonated with me – I had it in my” to read” pile and then saw that David suggested it for Week 7.  Selwyn’s argument for the need to adopt a critical approach is cogent and all too true. Especially if you are prone to excitement about the latest gadget or tool and have a geeky streak (ok I confess!). So when Selwyn suggests that people working in the area of technology and education “appear content to turn their critical faculties down considerably when engaging in their professional work” – I can’t disagree.

As someone working in the field of educational technology , there are lots of questions I ask myself regularly. Some of them are recurring questions. I suspect any critical thinker would be familiar with these. I confess that I haven’t found satisfactory answers yet. There are lots of questions I could ask here but below is just one that troubles me regularly – I stress though that this happens to be the one that came to mind – so not necessarily the most important or pressing question I have.

How will the constant proliferation of tools and platforms that can be used for NGL impact on people in a networked world? For example, there are new tools emerging every day. Tools pack up and disappear e.g. Google Reader. Rarely, some re-emerge – which is how I felt about delicious … For people that aren’t tech savvy – how do they cope with this?  This is not just about knowing how to navigate knowledge – what I am talking about has a consequence. A tool being used by people in a networked world just disappears (with notice and forewarning)? Where does this leave the user accounts, user information, user data, user creations? They say that it will be deleted – but what does “deleted” actually mean? What about the sustainability of these tools? Who pays? There is undoubtedly a cost….Are we heading towards a world where these tools will have to be subscription based to ensure stability? Is the current model of free and premium going to work? Do premium accounts effectively pay the cost of the free accounts? What implications does this have for those with free accounts? Why do sites like WordPress allow people to set up free blogs? Whats in it for them?

In an earlier post, I raise another question: About online identity. It is possible to have an online identity before being aware of the implications…. Working in education, I think we would all ponder this question in relation to students…..

Looking at the posts of fellow learners, I see that Deb acknowledges some personal benefits in the way of an increased understanding of NGL and what sounds like a transformative learning experience. Tracey also asks some very valid questions in her post on this topic. Her comments about literacy particularly resonated with me, as it reiterates the essence one of my earlier posts.

Week 3 Diigo activity reflection: an experiment in self, peer and teacher assessment of your work

So I have just (mostly) completed this activity following Davids instructions in the Week 3 notes.

I have shared and tagged my chosen blog post via the Diigo NGL group page but you can also view the annotated page here: https://diigo.com/023idg

Here are my thoughts:

  • It took me a while to get Diigo to work for me and do what I wanted to do. This is good. As someone that supports university staff, the more I understand and experience this, the better I will be “as teacher”. So experiencing this activity “as student” has great learning opportunities that will improve my practice, philosophy and approach “as teacher”.
  • I wonder about how much personality type plays in self assessment tasks and whether it has an impact on generous vs less generous assessment of oneself…I think having peers and the teacher involved in the process should balance this out.
  • I do like what Diigo can achieve as a tool in terms of sharing, annotation and sticky notes.
  • On the flip side I worry about how much has already been shared via our NGL tools and how I will possibly keep across it all and still get all my reading and tasks completed. I just keep telling myself that I simply cant read everything that everyone has shared. Diigo actually claims to help people overcome information overload – so its ironic that I am viewing it as a source of information overload!
  • I was unable to conduct a peer assessment as the only other items tagged spta were David’s – and I wasnt sure if they counted.
  • Looking forward to a peer assessing my contribution.


Where are you with Assignment 1?

Where are you with Assignment 1?

Activity: Take a look at the criteria for assignment 1. What’s clear? What’s not? What could be better? How are you progressing? What more do you need to do?

Below is an aggregation of comments I have made on the Google Doc for Assignment 1. If you look at the document they are in context, but I thought I would summarise them here as they also provide an answer to the questions above.

  • I really hope that the criteria can be finalised as soon as possible? Success for me requires planning and I can’t plan without certainty.
  • Is there too much emphasis on the textual? Will this limit expression of learning to text based methods?
  • Whilst I understand the need for us to demonstrate presence and engagement, I worry about “number of” being given emphasis here – shouldn’t it be about the quality of posts rather than the number of posts?
  • I cant speak for others – but I have a reasonably demanding full time job and I can only set aside time for this course in blocks. This means I tend to output large amounts of work over the course of a couple of days. Shouldn’t the philosophy of self paced learning, and ubiquity inform the criteria a little here?


Where have you come from?


Reading: Read the “Threshold concept framework” section of Kligyte (2009). In particular the table and its discussion of networked learning as troublesome, discursive, irreversible, liminality and integrative. What in this resonates with you and the last few weeks? Are you still in a “liminal” space? Is the “distributed world of information” appearing any more coherent and sensible? etc, eventually leading to questions of where you are headed?

Troublesome: I think I am stuck on how I will make this work for me in practice. I don’t find it counter-intuitive or alien – but definitely incoherent in terms of how I can make it work with the time and resources I have available.

Irreversible: No problems here. I love that it is transformative and will be with me in some form – forever!

Integrative: I am struggling with this one – only in the sense that I have always tried to keep personal and professional reasonably separate. I think that despite NGL – there are still good reasons for this and this is one where I am not comfortable with the blurring.

Discursive: I am personally quite interested in the area of “new literacies”, “media literacies” and “digital literacies” – there are many names for this. I look forward to developing my network literacy even further and making new discoveries. It can only lead to greater “digital literacies” overall.

Liminality: Yes, yes and yes again. Sounds very very familiar. I like to think of myself as efficient – which is not helpful in this context at all. So go with it Goksu!



Where has NGL come from?

How could this course be improved?
A clearly articulated big picture of this course in terms of expectations and requirements provided at the very beginning would have been greatly beneficial. A roadmap would be a good description of what I mean here.

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. I feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks and readings and tool setup – that I haven’t really been able to concentrate on making meaningful connections. Goodyear talks about access barriers on page 34 in relation to better user interfaces – for me the barrier isn’t about the interfaces but about getting used to “how things work” in this course.   I think what I am saying also ties in a little with Anne’s post for this activity – but I think that the lack of connection might be because there is too much to be done and not enough time to get to know our environment.

Assessment tasks are in development and still unclear. I would love one source of truth for the assessment tasks and a final version that gives some certainty – all in one place.

How could your approach to this course as student be changed?

At this stage, I don’t really have an answer for this one and I am not sure that I will…..

What contradictions appear in the history of NGL?

Something that stood out for me is the Homophily phenomenon. I can actually see how this happens – we are actually doing something similar for the “me as learner” activity – we are looking for people with similar interests. I can also see how this could potentially also contradict the “openness” of NGL through reduced access and creating barriers for some people.

How has NGL changed over the years?

The appearance of mobile devices on the scene – NGL can happen whilst you are “on the move”.

The emergence of Web 2.0 has created a shift from consumption of information and knowledge to production, sharing, curation and repurposing/reusing.

What insights/research appear directly related to you as teacher?

I think the homophily phenomenon mentioned above certainly resonates with me as teacher. I think many academics tend to stick to people in their own disciplinary areas when networking. I am wondering whether opportunities are limited or lost by taking such an approach to NGL?

What connections do you see with what’s in this reading and what you’ve seen before?

The connection that comes to mind is that networking isn’t new,  but NGL is allowing new ways to network. It also confirms that to get the most out of them you need to develop “literacies” to navigate them effectively.

Let’s curate together? A suggestion…

In Week 2 – David asks

How can the participants in this course curate a shared podcast of interesting audio/video presentations and talks?

I don’t know of any Web 2.0 tool that allows collaborative, editable audio and video mashups – maybe someone else can help?

My suggestion would be padlet – which is a visual board where you can add media from a url, a file or an image from a webcam. They are very easy to set up and depending on how public it is – you don’t need accounts to create boards or contribute or curate. It is also very easy to use.

What does everyone think?

Week 2: PKM Routine and TEST framework

I am a visual person so I am started with a rough infographic that maps out a journey or process. There is actually quite a bit of overlap or revisiting that goes on – as you can see below.

Personal Knowledge Management (1)

Seeking, Sensing and Sharing: My personal reflections

Feedly for aggregating content into one place. I have been using an aggregator for many years and I find it invaluable. I used to use Google Reader. This brings up an issue that its important to acknowledge. Sometimes tools disappear – and when they do you have to find an alternative that works for you – inconvenient and usually quite frustrating – it can make a mess of your hard work. I still mourn for Google Reader…..

Google generally is a big part of my knowledge seeking. This is especially so for search and Scholar.

Scoop.it!  is a curation tool that allows me to subscribe to other curators with similar interests and “scoop” what I like into my own account. I find it invaluable for “keeping up” – especially in the ed tech and NGL areas.

Pinterest is great for curating visual content.

A bibliographic management tool is also a crucial part of my life. I use Endnote, have played with Zotero and am happy to explore Mendeley for this course

Twitter is great for making connections with people that have the same interests as you and for learning about topics of interest by following hashtags and people. Although I am not a daily user I couldn’t be without it now…I particularly like that it enforces concise expression.

Tumblr is my blog tool of choice and I mainly use it for sharing information with colleagues – especially post conference information that I might synthesize. I am happy to explore WordPress but I can see that it is quite sophisticated and I recognise the learning curve to come…

bubbl.us is a mindmapping tool. Again, as a visual person I find it very useful for making sense of things and mapping out my thoughts or planning my work. It has sharing functionality which I utilise when working with a group of people.

I have missed Diigo in the table below – this is my first time using it and I can see that it could be very useful. I used to be a delicious user but it was decommissioned and I havent returned since its revival – so looking forward to using Diigo as part of the course. I particularly like that sharable annotations are possible.

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. When I feel inertia hitting me, I keep myself moving by saying “Just do it” aloud!

Below is a table that covers the tools I have discussed above and considers my familiarity and skill levels. I think the wildcards here are environment and task.

test framework


Previous Older Entries

Follow GG's Blog on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: