Peer review

After conversations around the lunchroom table at school and the reviewing of week nine’s material I decided to base my research for assignment two on the second point I mentioned in my design – based research ideas blog. However, I did change my train of thought a bit and decided to focus on every subject not just Science.

I started researching the project and planning who I could share my ideas with. I settled on sharing my plan with my teacher friend Vanessa an online leaning consultant and the EDU8117 course participants. I asked Vanessa to give me feedback because I knew that she would be honest with me and I thought she would know a little bit about the topic since she writes and consults on online curriculum every day. I decided to share my ideas and plan with fellow EDU8117 students because I believed that they knew a bit about NGL because they had experienced the course material, my blogs and the literature involved with NGL previously.

I wrote my plan but only got through a bit of it before I had to go away for work but shared it on my blog and with Vanessa anyway.  Vanessa gave me some feedback via email – she was harsh but that’s what I wanted. Although she was a bit unsure of what was required and what feedback I needed she provided me with some invaluable advice. Vanessa suggested that I include information on academic writing in my literature review, something that I should have but never considered. This feedback helped me think about the problems students have with academic writing and the help that NGL can give them to overcome this issue. On the plan that I posted on my blog I received comments from Alex and Charmed about the disadvantages of blogging – grammar and spelling difficulties etc. These comments helped me realise what I needed to use blogging for in my intervention. While it was a good tool for practicing writing the best way to use it in my intervention was to help students expand their ideas and connect to other students thinking using connectivism.  I adjusted my intervention to suit my new way of thinking.

Although David’s comment at first scared me a little, it also helped me refine my ideas. It made me realise that I should not be using NGL as a tool to teach academic writing but as a helping hand to enhance the knowledge that students already have on this topic. This feedback also helped me change my main question, cut down on my sub questions and develop my literature review so that it linked to my intervention better. It also made me make my intervention more specific and refined and thus helped me relate it to my context more.

Multilise’s comment helped me realise that I needed to ensure that students were using NGL safely. It gave me ideas on the structure of my intervention and sparked interest in how I could keep students digital footprints private.

All of the comments on my blog shaped my thoughts and writing and overall the feedback I received on this proposal helped me refine and connect my ideas to produce a good intervention that I believe will work when put into practice.

My DBR Proposal

  1. Introduction

Teaching and learning has gone through an extensive change that has influenced the methods of education and learning that we see today. The industrial age of education suggested that the world was made up of discrete components that fitted together like the parts of a machine (Senge, Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, Dutton, & Kleiner, 2012). In this age, schools were run like a ‘factory assembly line’ where repetition and control were the key factors. With new thinking and lots of debate, the industrial era gave way to the knowledge age that suggested that Earth be accepted as a single highly interactive and connected system, pulsing with the creative energy of the universe (Beare, 2006). In the knowledge age schools were concerned with human affairs and educators guided people on how to be effective life managers, effective contributors to society and the environment and effective participants in an increasingly competitive workforce (Whitby, 2007). We are now at the start of the technological era of education where schools link repetitive and creative learning using technological tools to give substances and real life examples so that people can become lifelong learners. The technological era of education is concerned with blended learning and guides learners through knowledge acquisition using networked and global learning. Blended leaning has many meanings and is dependent on the context. However, in general, it combines or mixes modes of web-based technology e.g., the live virtual classroom, self-paced instruction, collaborative learning, streaming video, audio, and text and various pedagogical approaches e.g., constructivism, behaviorism and cognitivism to accomplish an educational goal and optimal learning outcomes (Driscoll, 2002). Blended learning is interactive and because of technological advances and the use of personalised tools it can be accessed at any time. It has lots of advantages, the major one being how it engages students in the use of vast resources that help grow their skill set and knowledge base (Blackboard, 2009).

In all three educational era’s, students have found it hard to write academic reports that show their knowledge and clearly describe their ideas. In the writer’s opinion this is a major educational problem that has not been dealt with well or solved previously but can be addressed in the technological era through participation in blended learning, disguised as Networked and Global Education.

This essay will outline how academic report writing is a problem for high school students today, it will scrutinise research questions related to network and global learning (NGL), it will outline a literature review that will show the importance of NGL and how it can aid students in writing academic reports correctly and finally it will provide a solution in terms of an intervention to the problem previously mentioned i.e. academic report writing.

2. Statement of the problem

High school students come across fictional and creative writing every day, be it in text books, magazines or novels. The purpose of creative writing is to communicate metaphorically, generate images and emotions or to entertain (Johnson, 2003). These days most jobs require people to write factual formal reports or plans that clearly detail ideas that are well researched, constructed and are easy to put into practice. These reports are required to be written using a specific academic structure. Academic writing is very different from that which high school students regularly come across – it is formal, seldom contains dialogue, uses specific structures and is purposefully objective (Johnson, 2003).  It is the duty of an educator to expose high school students to academic texts and to ensure that students know how to write academic reports so that they can communicate their ideas effectively in the workplace, be respected for their clear concise explanations and be remembered for strong effective plans that are easy to set up and use.

Academic report writing is required in a variety of school subjects – Extended Experimental report writing in Science, Technical report writing in Technology, Fieldwork report writing in Humanities and  Financial report writing in Business (to name just a few), thus learning how to master academic writing is very important. In the writer’s experience most high school students know the basics of academic writing and can produce an academic report to some extent; however, sometimes students struggle with communicating their ideas clearly and have difficulty in referencing academic papers and journals accurately.

This design based research proposal aims to use Networked and Global learning to enhance academic report writing among high school students.

3. Research questions

3.1 Main question

How can a student’s ability concerning academic report writing be enhanced through participation in groups, networks and sets?

3.2 Sub questions

  1. How can writing and reading blogs develop academic report writing skills in high school students?
  2. What networks and sets are appropriate and could help with the development of academic report writing skills among high school students?
  3. How can the use of software available on the World Wide Web develop academic report writing skills?

4. Literature review

A major problem that high school students have when writing academic reports is expressing the main point of the report clearly and concisely so that it is easily understood and comprehended by the reader. Participation in reading and writing can help overcome this problem. Anyone can write well and like anything else, you can become a better writer by practicing (Johnson, 2013). Today’s technological world leads us to the World Wide Web which contains lots of devices that can help high school students practice their English written work, as well as assisting them in how they can express their ideas. A search for academic reading and writing on the network ‘Facebook’ reveals lots of educational pages that support a discussion of academic reading and writing. These pages also provide the reader with links to other sites that contribute to successful academic writing and skill building. The network ‘Edmodo’ is an educational network that engages students in academic discussion and allows them, teachers and parents to collaborate in an easy and safe way (Holland & Muilenburg, 2011). Another fantastic resource that technology provides students with these days is the formation of groups and connections via online educational blogs.  If students participate in and write blogs online, not only will their grammar and standard of writing improve, but other participants who are connected to the blog can easily make comments on the writing, their understanding of the specific topic and offer knowledge to help develop the idea or ideas of the writer.  Blogs are the perfect platform to help students to explore ideas, make new friends, challenge one another’s interpretations and place obligations of cooperation and support upon one another (Anderson & Dron, 2014). Blogs together with Wikis are “powerful digital tool for knowledge development because they facilitate formal, topic-centric, collaborative, personal and/or depersonalized interaction” (Warschauer & Grimes 2007) in which each writer can further contribute and work through initial thoughts and ideas. Students learn by doing and experiencing. A person cannot experience everything but can connect to others (through blogging) that have experienced the knowledge needed thus increasing their own knowledge and learning how to develop and make it clear so that the reader will understand (Siemens, 2014). The research from Holland & Muilenburg, Anderson & Dron, Warschauer & Grimes and Siemens suggests that connecting to people, places and information is the key to learning. Thus, in the writer’s opinion, participation in network and group (blogs) collaboration can lead to successful idea expression and scrutiny which is the first step towards completing a balanced academic report.

Another issue that high school students struggle with when writing academic reports is structure. How should a report be written? What language (formal or informal) is appropriate and how can paragraphs be linked?  The set Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo-sharing website, which enables individuals to collect images that interest them (Hansen, Nowlan & Winter, 2012). If used correctly Pinterest can help an individual find and organise resources, plan essays and reports and follow individuals that have similar interests. A search on Pinterest entitled ‘academic writing’ brings up numerous resources e.g. characteristics of academic style – “Characteristics of academic writing”, that may help with report and formal essay writing styles. A more refined search entitled ‘Academic writing structure’ results in more precise information about essay, report and dissertation style writing. This set enables high school students to gain ideas on how academic reports should be set out as well as giving student’s visual “q’s” on knowledge and report writing.  Students should be encouraged to use this and other sets to gather and organise information.

High school educators see a lot of plagiarism in student report writing these days, when compared to twenty years ago. This is because information is readily available in electronic forms on the World Wide Web and students just copy and paste it onto their reports/assignments (Cromwell, 2006). While some students blatantly plagiarise some do it without knowing .i.e. quote or reference incorrectly. As educators it is our duty to help these students and teach them how to reference correctly.  There are several reference management tools available to buy or download, to assist students with referencing, plagiarism and citation management. Typical functions of reference management software include: importing references from a variety of sources like bibliographic databases; searching, editing, sorting and sharing references; rendering references in a variety of formats; selecting references to incorporate in a word-processed document and formatting them automatically; storing links to documents or copies of them within a database (Jose & Jayakanth, 2008). A search on the internet reveals many easy to use reference tools that are both student and teacher friendly. Examples include BibDesk, BibMe, CiteULike, EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero. All of the above examples are useful when referencing academic papers and journals but in the writer’s opinion the most popular and easy to use reference management software tool is Mendeley. High school students will benefit from using Mendeley as it not only manages referencing and citation for students, but it also can connect them to researchers locally and worldwide (Zaugg, West, Tateishi & Randall, 2011), thus letting students participate in connectivism and collaborative work which can help them expand on and explain their report ideas in more detail.

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection service that could be very useful to high school students when writing academic reports.  It helps students reflect critically on their ideas within a report and details the originality of the students’ academic writing. It helps students realise that they cannot plagiarise someone else’s work and makes them take note of where citation and referencing is needed (Turnitin tour, 2006). Turitin is an invaluable software tool that should be used to guide high school students on plagiarism within their academic report writing.

Overall, it can be concluded that participating in NGL can help high school students be successful when writing academic reports. With this knowledge a successful school implementation to improve academic report writing can be implemented.

  1. The Proposed intervention and a plan for putting it into place

The proposed intervention is to set up a once per cycle (the writers school works on a two week time table called a cycle) lesson for year ten students where the teacher and students participate in connectivism and research via groups, networks and sets to analyse their report writing and develop academic writing skills that will help them to write successful formal reports. Students from year ten were picked because they already have experience in writing reports and therefor know the basics of academic writing. They would also be writing a lot of formal reports in their senior years that will be worth marks towards their senior certificate. A specific specialised teacher that has experience in academic reading, writing and research (perhaps the teacher librarian) would lead the lesson which would take the format of a “hands on” four part lesson where (1) the students and teacher would engage in a group question and answer session (this session may also contain basic information and/or points to note on academic writing delivered by the teacher), (2) the students would participate in blog reading and writing on the topic of academic writing, (3) the students would research a specific topic, related to an academic report they are currently doing, using networks and sets and (4) the students would engage with reference and plagiarism management systems to correctly format their report reference and/or learn how to reference correctly. Each part of the lesson would be completed within fifteen minutes where possible. This lesson would connect students to information and experts who would be able to help them develop their academic report writing skills.

5.1 Question and answer session

The teacher would open the lesson by assessing with the students what they already know and what they want to know about academic writing. These discussions would also give students ideas on what resources they could use to increase their skill base on academic writing. The teacher would answer specific student questions to the best of his/her ability and keep a record (digital brainstorm/notes) of what was discussed. If necessary the teacher would go through the notes recorded in previous lessons, or information PowerPoints and interactive resources that would assist the students in thinking and writing in an academic/formal way. Theses PowerPoints and interactive resources would be stored on the school’s learning management system – Moodle and be available for students to access at any time. This section of the plan would ensure that students consolidate their basic knowledge of academic writing by answering their questions and eliminating their fears of how to write academically e.g. how to structure an academic reports etc.

5.2 Academic blogging

Students would participate in a class review writing blog using a Campuspress blog platform. Students within the class would be encouraged to write regular blogs (once a fortnight) about what they are learning, how they approach academic writing and their ideas for school reports. This would be an enclosed school group at the start, with the possibility of connecting with other schools who would be running a similar program in the future. Students would be able to view and comment on each other’s posts; however, all blogs and posts would be monitored by the teacher for appropriate ideas and language. The teacher would respond to questions and queries on blogs as well as starting whole group discussions on specific academic problems, approaches and resources. Every blog written would be stored, enabling current students to read blogs from past participants. This part of the plan would encourage an improvement in students writing skills, provide students with valuable support and feedback on their current ideas and written work and help students to look at their ideas from other perspectives.

5.3 Research using networks and sets

Under the guidance of the teacher and a teacher aide the students would be asked to research for information using networks and sets such as Facebook, Edmodo and Pinterest. To start with the teacher would provide the students with a specific topic to research for and then guide them on how to search correctly and what information to use from research results. Once students start being assigned academic reports to do from other subjects, they would be allowed to search networks and sets using their own specific topic or idea. They would be able to organise their ideas and research into easy to read formats, so that they could share and get opinions on them via their blog and the class question and answer session. By using networks and sets like this in the classroom, students would be able to connect to peers and experts from around the world. They could share resources, and discuss relevant topics (Dron & Anderson, 2014). Like blogs, networks and sets allow different perspectives to be discussed, helping students in turn to see things differently, which is particularly important for student-centred learning (Dron & Anderson, 2014).

5.4 Reference and plagiarism management systems

Students would be taught how to use both Mendeley and Turnitin and once they know how to use them they would be able to engage with them to organise their ideas, references and the management of plagiarism. Under the teacher’s supervision students would use Mendeley to find similar research articles around the topic of the report being written. This search would also allow students to identify colleagues and experts for potential collaboration to help them with clarification and the understanding of ideas. Students would also use Mendeley to quote within a report correctly and create a reference list that is worthy of an academic report. Under the teacher’s supervision the students would use turnitin on their written academic reports to check for incorrect referencing and plagiarism. They would be asked to check their reports regularly and keep them on or above a level of 95% originality. Turnitin will help students to use their own work and thinking to develop their ideas and academic writing.

6 Conclusion

Overall, this intervention would be successful in improving high school students’ academic report writing skills. It would do this by introducing students to blended learning via participation in groups (blogging, question and answer session), networks (Facebook and Edmodo) and sets (Pinterest), developing their English conversation skills, knowledge about referencing and plagiarism and by connecting them to peers and experts who would be critical and reflective about ideas and knowledge development. This intervention will raise the level of academic report writing in the school, resulting in school leavers being successful and efficient in formal report writing and plan development in the workplace.

 

References

Beare, H. (2006). How we envisage schooling in the 21st century (2006): the SSAT pamphlet    

on how we must change.

Blackboard K-12. (2009). Blended Learning: Where Online and Face-to-Face Instruction

Intersect for 21st Century Teaching and Learning.  Washington DC: Blackboard

Inc.  Retrieved from https://www.blackboard.com/resources/k12/Bb_K12_WP_BlendedLearning.pdf

 

Cromwell, S. (2006). What can we do to curb student cheating?. Retrieved October 25, 2015

from http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin375.shtml/

Driscoll, M. (2002). Blended learning: Let’s get beyond the hype. E-learning,1(4).

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca            University Press.

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). On the Design of Social Media for Learning. Social

Sciences, 3, 378-393.

Hansen, K., Nowlan, G., & Winter, C. (2012). Pinterest as a tool: Applications in academic

libraries and higher education. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and

Information Practice and Research7(2).

Holland, C., & Muilenburg, L. (2011). Supporting student collaboration: Edmodo in the

classroom. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International

Conference (Vol.2011, No. 1, pp. 3232-3236).

Johnson, A. P. (2003). A short guide to academic writing. University Press of Amer.

Jose, S., & Jayakanth, F. (2008). Aigaion: a Web-based Open Source Software for Managing

the Bibliographic References. Retrieved October 25, 2015 from

http://hdl.handle.net/10760/12500

Siemens, G. (2014). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.

Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2012).

Schools that learn: a fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents and everyone

who cares about education (pp. 32-55). London: Nicholas Brealey.

Turnitin tour. (2006) Plagiarism Tour at turnitin.com. Retrieved October 25, 2015 from

http://www.turnitin.com/static/flash/tii.html

Whitby, G. B. (2007). Pedagogies for the 21st century: having the courage to see freshly.

Retrieved from http://www.acel.org.au/conf07/papers/Pedagogy%20for%20the%2021st%20century.pdf.

Warschauer, M., & Grimes, D. (2007). Audience, authorship, and artifact: The emergent

semiotics of Web 2.0. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics27, 1-23.

Zaugg, H., West, R. E., Tateishi, I., & Randall, D. L. (2011). Mendeley: Creating

communities of scholarly inquiry through research collaboration.TechTrends55(1),

32-36.

Assignment 2 plan

Dear All,

Here is my plan so far for assignment 2. I would appreciate some feedback please. I hope to get the rest of the plan done asap

Thanks for reading,

Sharon

Introduction

  • How technology has changed education
  • Online learning – its benefits and disadvantages
  • Online learning in high schools

Statement of the problem

  • Academic reading, writing and learning in high school – students don’t have the skills to do it
  • Students come across creative writing everyday…
  • But are expected to write academic reports….
  • Extended experimental investigations in Senior Science for example
  • Reference to what this project will do

Research question

  • Main question – What networked and global learning tools can be used to develop students understanding of reading and writing academic reports and texts?
  • Sub questions
  1. How can writing and reading blogs develop academic reading and writing skills for high school students?
  2. What is connectivism and how can it help a high school student engage in academic reading and writing?
  3. How can participation in groups, networks, sets and collectives increase the academic reading and writing skills of students?
  4. What use can a leaning management system (Moodle) and wikis play in improving a student’s academic reading and writing skills?
  5. What professional development needs to be provided by the school so that teachers can correctly train students how to read and write academic reports/papers effectively?

Literature review

Guidelines that will inform the intervention

  1. LMS – definition, benefits, barriers
  2. Blogs – lack of textual purpose
  • Students are generally less motivated to write because they do not have a real audience (only a teacher will see their work) – blogs have real audiences
  • Blogging helps them rethink the concepts and view them in a different way
  1. Groups, networks, sets and collectives
  • Not owned by the educational institution – under the control of the user not the teacher
  • Develops the kinds of skills needed to meet the challenge of earning a living in the 21st century – flexibility, adaptability, collorativeness and problem solving powers which in turn will make students aware of the skill of academic reading and writing
  • Rich source of knowledge and information, providing simple questions and answers for study groups, reading groups and collaborators

How NGL can inform my role as teacher

We are in the midst of an ongoing revolution. How students learn and access information is changing. This is a result of the opportunities that technology brings us. Technology is changing the way we connect, perceive and value people and things in the world (Dron & Anderson, 2014). As teachers, we need to harness this revolution and use technology, network and global learning (NGL) to expand how our students access and create knowledge that will benefit their learning and future wellbeing. We need to help our students adapt to a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. One might think that this would be very easy as students of today all have access to up to date technology and most young people are ‘digitally native’ (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008), however; most students do not use technology in an effective or mature manner nor do they have the digital literacy to access the information they need (ION, 2014). This is something that we as teachers need to change.

Before I started participating in EDU8117, due to the encouragement of my school administration and colleagues I was familiar with some NGL tools and technological advances. Currently and in the past I have used the learning management system Moodle. Moodle allows me to link my students to specific notes and resources that help them expand their knowledge on topics that we have covered in class. While Moodle is a useful tool for recapping and expanding on information that has been covered in class, its strict privacy control prohibits sharing and commenting and thus limits opportunities for social growth beyond the immediate group (Dron & Anderson, 2014). It also does not offer students the opportunity to benefit from the insights or learning of students who have proceeded them – a major road block to the creation and understanding of knowledge. Another NGL tool that I regularly use to help my students gain extra knowledge is Khan Academy. Khan Academy is an educational website that aims to let anyone learn almost anything for free (Thompson, 2011). It contains almost 3,000 short videos that explain and discusses principles associated with Mathematics, Science and Economics. It also contains software that has the ability to generate practice problems and rewards good performance with videogame like awarding badges for answering a series of questions correctly (Thompson, 2011). I have used Khan Academy in my classroom to confirm my teaching and solidify student learning. It has done this very well but Khan Academy is limited to its founder’s views and explanations which in turn only confirms previous learning and does not lead to connectivism and the creation of new knowledge. Khan Academy is also only linked to the fields of Science, Mathematics and Economics – a disadvantage to students who are seeking knowledge from other fields. While these tools have enabled my students to gain and consolidate knowledge, they have not allowed them to create, explore or connect with it, (Siemens, 2008) the main reason why I decided to do this course.

Through my participation in this course, I have been introduced to lots of NGL tools and the benefits of networked learning that I will use in my future teaching, which in turn will hopefully assist my students with their learning. This course has made me realise that as educators we need to create learning environments where learners can gain knowledge through experience, thinking and construction (Siemens, 2008) – this can be done through blogging. I will be encouraging my students to blog in my future lessons as in my opinion, blogging has the ability to transform learning. It can enable students to be autonomous as well as helping them to form connections with communities and experts. Students who blog can share their newfound knowledge and reflect upon their learning through the blogs. They can also develop and critically analyse ideas by commenting on information shared, all of which helps students to create new diverse perspectives and to take ownership of his or her learning (Downes, 2007).

NGL has introduced me to lots of resource sharing and sourcing networks. Two examples of these include Edmodo and Pinterest. While Edmodo is more education orientated when compared to Pinterest, both are equally valuable to my future career as a teacher. Networks like these create content, a central requirement of connectivist learning pedagogies, that have in the past and will in the future help educators (me included)  to construct knowledge and lessons that will generate understanding and interest (Dron & Anderson, 2014). Both of these networks (and other networks) can also be used as a basis for lifelong professional education and learning. They can be easily accessed and when using them, students can associate, negotiate, plan and execute projects on a global scale with others (Dron & Anderson, 2014) . I will introduce my students to both of these networks and others in my future teaching.

Being a Science teacher, I consider ‘hands-on’ leaning to be very important. NGL has introduced me to haptic devices and virtual worlds (Second Life) that can provide the user with real life feedback during the completion phase of tasks (Siemens, 2008). I hope to use haptic devices and virtual worlds in my future teachings (cost permitting) so that my students can link their knowledge to real-life environments and solve everyday problems as they occur. I also believe that the use of haptic devices and virtual worlds will lead to experimentation which in turn will develop the creation of innovation and knowledge.

During my study of this course I have encountered lots of useful technology. Technologies such as diigo, google docs, twitter and many more will be useful to me in my future career as a teacher. The interaction I have had with these technologies will not only allow me to anticipate the problems that the students will encounter but also help me to find, share and create important knowledge that will relate positively to student learning. I intend to link the students in my classes to diigo and encourage them to use google docs and twitter to share and source academic knowledge.

Overall, this course has shown me that NGL can assist me to teach more effectively and can help my students to gain, share and create more knowledge. However, in teaching, NGL is not the be-all and end-all of everything and I need to make sure that in the future I use NGL as well as traditional methods of teaching to create the perfect student.

References

Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of  the evidence. British journal of educational technology39(5), 775-786.

Downes (2007) What connectivism is. Accessed 20 September 2015            fromhttp://halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/what-connectivism-is.html

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca            University Press.

Illinois Online Network (ION) (2014). Weaknesses of Online Learning. Retrieved September 20, 2015, fromhttp://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/overview/weaknesses.asp

 

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and            designers. ITFORUM for Discussion, 1-26.

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

Thompson, C. (2011). How Khan Academy is changing the rules of education.Wired         Magazine126.

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

Work is becoming more complex and intangible. Careers that people now embark on were foreign to our grandparents. The careers that our children and grandchildren embark on, will be unimaginable to us. Careers are changing because there is an increasing demand for creativity, flexibility and synthesis (Anderson & Dron, 2014). To be successful in the modern world, a learner needs to participate in the every changing technology of today’s world. However, every day there is something new in technology for people to use and because of this and the decreased specialised advice available in educational institutions, learning is been drawn away from school like structures and learners are being connected and drawn into knowledge creation discussions, thanks to cyberspace and the World Wide Web. This new method of learning is called network and global learning (NGL). It is an interactive structure built for learning, a new learning paradigm that reflects the ability of today’s leaners to access endless sources of information, build relationships with others and collaborate and develop knowledge outside the formal education environment (Kligyte, 2009).

At the start of this course we were given a task of choosing something to learn through NGL. I decided to learn how to play the harp – a musical instrument I have always wanted to know more about. While I still don’t know much about playing the harp (I do know more than I did eight weeks ago), I can safely say that as a learner, NGL has been very useful to me.

As a leaner I have benefited  from NGL because it has easily allowed me to access knowledge once held in libraries and universities, corporations and individual groups (Anderson & Dron, 2014). NGL was and still is useful to me as a learner because it can and has introduced me to a massive number of tools that can be used not only to acquire knowledge but also to alter my capabilities.  It has helped me as a learner to seek new knowledge via collectives such as google +, twitter and feedly and in turn NGL has helped me, the learner, to make sense of gained knowledge using twitter, blogs and Reddit.  NGL has also helped me share new knowledge (Blogs and Pinterest), collaborate over current knowledge and discuss old and new information that I have found (Harold, 2014).

Humans differ and learners have different strengths and preferences in the ways in which they access and process information (Felder & Spurlin, 2005). Some learners use concrete information to learn while others are more comfortable with models and theories. Some learners learn better using visual presentations like pictures and models whereas others need verbal explanation. Some people like to learn by being kinaesthetic and trying new things while others like to analyse and evaluate new knowledge and information (Felder & Spurlin, 2005). Unlike traditional formal education, NGL can provide opportunities for every type of leaner.  It can link learners to factual information (Google +, google scholar), innovative theories and experimentation (Science direct), visual representation of materials (sketchup, Evernote), verbal explanation of theories (Youtube, Khan Academy), active (learning in groups) and reflective (blogging) learning, sequential (AUS-e-TUTE) and global interactions (Skype and Facebook). NGL really is a learners’ dream and also mine as it can cater for everyone’s learning style (Felder & Spurlin, 2005).

Participation in NGL has encouraged me to interact in three social forms of learning – sets, networks and groups, all of which are bound by the common attributes of sharing and communication, that in turn contributes to my learning and the learning of others (Anderson & Dron, 2014).  Participation in the group discussions encouraged by this course (EDU8117) has made me feel cohesive, needed and has motivated me to learn. It has made me become a more effective learner and to realise that learning is more compelling when learning with others rather than competing against others (Kohn, 1999).  As a leaner, participation in the EDU8117 group has made me interact and be social with people I have and probably will never meet. Group participations have also connected me with likeminded individuals that continue to inspire me with their knowledge, outlooks and discussions.

For me, participation in networks (encouraged by NGL) has given me access to channels of knowledge, diffusion and discovery (Anderson & Dron, 2014). It has helped me communicate, to be collaborative and to learn from and with people who have different opinions and outlooks. Networks have connected me to what is happening outside my own little context and have encouraged me to seek news and information on topics that can and will change our way of life and how education is delivered. Networks have allowed me to share my knowledge and the information I have collected on the harp over time with colleagues and fellow learners who have provided me with feedback and valuable advice on learning through NGL. My involvement in sets inspired by NGL has helped me to maintain knowledge and currency in topics that interest me (Anderson & Dron, 2014). For example, I have joined the set Reddit which has linked me to others who are interested in playing the harp and in turn linked me to other overlapping unexpected websites that have developed my knowledge as a learner.

NGL has introduced me to the theory of connectivism, a theory that assumes that knowledge is distributed across networks and that the act of learning is one of forming a diverse network of connections and recognising attendant patterns that help the learner to retain knowledge and participate in lifelong learning (Siemens, 2008).  I do not believe that I have fully immersed myself in the theory of connectivism yet but I think that I am well on my way, thanks to my new found participation in NGL as a learner.

Overall, as a learner, participation in NGL has been useful for me as it has brought me to a new path of leaning and it has helped me discover new ways to extract and use information (Jawitz, 2009). It has made me an autonomous learner and armed me with tools, resources and insights that can only advance my knowledge discovery and creation (and help me to learn how to play the harp). NGL is useful, because not only does it give the learner access to endless sources of information but it also lets the learner engage in discussions about certain topics and participate in collaboration in order to develop new and existing knowledge (Bell, Zenios, & Parchoma, 2010).

References

Bell, A., Zenios, M., & Parchoma, G. (2010). Undergraduate experiences of coping with   networked learning: Difficulties now, possibilities for the future. In L. Dirckinck            Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. de Laat, D. McConnell, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010 (pp. 904–911).

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca            University Press.

Felder, R. M., & Spurlin, J. (2005). Applications, reliability and validity of the index of     learning styles. International journal of engineering education21(1), 103-112.

Jawitz, J. (2009). Academic identities and communities of practice in a professional discipline. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(3), 241–251.

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Kohn, A. (1999). Punished by rewards: The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s,    praise, and other bribes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and            designers. ITFORUM for Discussion, 1-26.

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

Although my journey in this course consisted of swings and roundabouts (Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2006), network and global learning has been very useful to me as a student. At first, I struggled with the ‘new’ technology and finding time to blog, read and network (blog 2). It was also hard for me as a student (and I am sure for other participants) to get my head around tools such as feedly, diigo and wordpress but now because of participation and persistence, I think I have mastered most of the networking tools introduced to me in this course, although I still would not call myself an expert in any. When I first started blogging and networking I was scared of getting things wrong and sometimes embarrassed at the limited knowledge I produced with each blog post (Downes, 2014). However, with the encouragement of other participants I soon overcame those fears and developed my skills as a student by writing about, participating in and reflecting on knowledge produced by me and my interaction with network and global learning (NGL).

To date, NGL has not been used very much in formal education. This is because its loose form often conflicts with and can be disruptive to instructional structures (Anderson & Doan, 2014). However, from my experience with NGL, I believe that it is useful to students because it allows a student to seek knowledge through blogs, tools like feedly and networks and sets like twitter i.e. it has a connective space that encourages information sharing. It helps students reflect on their knowledge/learning – reflection on blog posts and the information within them allows students to make sense of the knowledge gained and rethink previous information gathered. NGL also inspires students to share their knowledge which in turn creates avenues of information that will help and inform future students and learners about topical issues (Jarche, 2014).

As a student in this course I have gained a great sense of community and through connetivism I have released it’s not about learning and knowing everything, but it is about connections and engaging with peers to exchange ideas and formulate understandings (Siemens, 2008). Participating in EDU8117 network learning has helped me connect with fellow educators who have expanded my educational ideas, which in turn has improved my skill as a teacher and made me a resourceful student all, of which is beneficial to a student and characteristics of the new ‘public click pedagogy’ (Bigum, Rowan, Hamilton, Wright & Haxell, 2014).

NGL has encouraged me to become a more self-directed student. Before this course, in other courses, I would follow the course notes to a tee, read the journals set and relate my reading to the academic paper I needed to write for the assessment. Thanks to my experience in NGL, not only do I follow the course notes but I seek out information that relates to my studies and connects me to individuals who can help me make sense of emerging perspectives related to education. NGL has been a great benefit to me as a student because as Bonzo and Parchoma (2010) said – it has involved me in a community, openness, flexibility, collaboration and transformation  – gallant skills that are user centered and which will help create the perfect student (Bonzo & Parchoma, 2010).

The medium that NGL takes place in has many parts. This means that problems that are shared are viewed from multiple perspectives which in turn increases the range of solutions and creative ideas to draw from (Page, 2008). I am a Science teacher and not the most creative thinker ever but since starting this course I have been able to discuss different issues and topics with people from around the world. Sometimes I have been able to relate to other students’ ways of thinking and sometimes I have not;  however, being involved in these discussions and seeing different perspectives have made me make sense of the knowledge contained in this and other courses, which in turn has increased my creativity. NGL has made me cooperate with but also to be independent of others – skills that help mould the perfect student.

NGL has introduced me to technologies such as diigo, TwitterEdmodo, Mendeley and many more, all of which have been and I am sure will be useful to me in my future career as a teacher and my endeavors as a student. Diigo is a social bookmarking system that has enabled me as a student to annotate books, journals and websites, tag sources that contained relevant knowledge, clip videos and pictures and share my findings with other NGL users (Diigo, 2006). All the information I used in this course has been saved onto diigo which in turn has been stored on an internet server. This has allowed me to work on it from any computer or mobile device that has an internet connection – a massive benefit to a full time working student. Twitter is a set where participants can share ideas, resources, tools, media and knowledge (Dron & Anderson 2014). As a student, twitter has enabled me to explore others ideas and get opinions on my ideas and thoughts. Twitter has helped me to become a cooperative and collaborative student. Edmodo is a teaching and learning tool that can create a blended learning classroom, connect teachers to their students online and provide teachers with valuable learning resources (Kongchan, 2012). It is a tool that has helped me as a student to gain valuable resources that I can share with course members and possibly use in my future teaching and learning.  Mendeley is a free reference manager and an academic social network (Henning & Reichelt, 2008). Mendeley has enabled me to connect with academics that are associated with NGL. It has also helped me to write in an academic manner and referencing according to the course specifications – something I have never been good at and a skill that every student needs to have.

While some technologies have escaped me and I am still learning the features of others, I can conclude that participating in NGL has been very useful to me as a student. Studying through NGL has made me focus on the process rather than the outcome – a skill that is missing from formal education and can develop a very successful student.

References

Bigum, C., Rowan, L., Hamilton, M., Wright, S., & Haxell, A. (2014, September). Looking          for black cats and lessons from Charlie: exploring the potential of public click pedagogy. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Networked   Learning, Edinburgh,April (pp. 7-9).

Bonzo, J., & Parchoma, G. (2010). The Paradox of Social Media and Higher Education     Institutions. In Networked Learning: Seventh International Conference (pp. 912–918).      Diigo. (2006). Diigo is about social annotation. Retrieved September 12, 2015 from        http://www.diigo.com/help/about

Downes, S. (2014). The challenges (and future) of networked learningStephen Downes,

September 05. Retrieved from http://www.downes.ca/presentation/346 .

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Athabasca            University Press.

Henning, V., & Reichelt, J. (2008). Mendeley-a last. fm for research?. In eScience, 2008.  eScience’08. IEEE Fourth International Conference on (pp. 327-328). IEEE.

It’s swings and roundabouts. (n.d.) Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed.. (2006). Retrieved        September 11 2015 from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/it%27s+swings+and+roundabouts

Jarche, H. (2014). What is your PKM routine?  http://jarche.com/2014/03/what-is-your-pkm          routine/

Kongchan, C. (2012). How a non-digital-native teacher makes use of Edmodo.ICT for      Language Learning.

Page, S. E. (2008). The difference: How the power of diversity creates better groups, firms, schools, and societies. Princeton University Press.

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

Problems with NGL

After reading  –Technology and education – why it’s crucial to be critical by Neil Selwyn and the articles labelled ‘issues’ on the diigo group,  I can conclude that there are many unresolved problems with NGL.
As a student I wonder – will the knowledge I create be copied? Will the knowledge I create and share be used correctly? Will my assignments be plagiarized? There are so many platforms – what should I use? I then find myself thinking this is all part of learning via NGL – you need to take knowledge for others and make it your own, you need to give your opinion on the knowledge shared, you need to filter the platforms and use the ones that suit you best. NGL is very new to us and we just need to plod along until we find our way. However, as a teacher, I wonder will my students plod along or give up at the first sign of difficulty?
As a learner I wonder – can I be self directed? Is everyone in my network being true and open? Are my discussions/opinions diverse enough? Can I commit to NGL? Do I misunderstand opinions and discussions? Do others misunderstand me? At the start of this course I needed a lot of guidance and although I have learned to discuss my thoughts, I know I still need some encouragement and feedback. That’s why I like reading people’s comments on my discussions, as Charmed said ‘comments have a feeling similar to getting mail’ – you look forward to it and enjoy reading other people’s opinion. As for me being more self directed, I think I am better then I was at the start of this course but as a teacher struggle to think how a 15 year old girl or boys might become self directed. The question is as a teacher, how do we promote this self directed learning through NGL?
I end my discussion about the problems of NGL as a teacher. From reading last years blogs I came across this webpage. Technology breaks down – as teachers, what do we do to continue the learning if the technology breaks down? How do we get teenagers to use technology in a mature manner? How do we keep our students safe online? I believe that NGL is not the be all and end all of education but as Rebecca said it can enhance, transform or redefine education with the help of traditional teaching methods.
Bye for now,
Sharon