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


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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

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