Flipside of NGL: some critical reflections

Looking at the flipside of NGL learning , I have found myself agreeing with Goksu, Paul, and Mari’s comments about Brennan’s article ‘In Connectivism, no one can hear you scream: a guide to understanding the MOOC novice’. It struck a chord with my experiences, even though this NGL course is not a MOOC situation, many of the issues are still relevant. In a broad sense his statement below summarizes the main weaknesses I have observed:

Connectivism as a theory does not provide support for, or recognition of prior knowledge, cognitive load, or novice issues, or recognize particular novice needs, even though individual connectivists sometimes do, or try to.

 My current view also supports the following observations made by Brennan:

  • He claims that faith to a theory can get in the way of the evidence, and as such believes there is no “one size fits all” theory and no “one size fits all” student. If no one size fits all, then we need to look at blends and possibilities of integrating NGL activities to prepare students with the skills needed for the shift towards this style of learning. In the current education structure, this suggests we should be starting in early education, so that students have the opportunity to develop the learning skills needed to equip them for their vocation/s and lifelong learning.
  • Connectivist theory does not differentiate between novices and experts and can be a disservice to both – distributed platforms, networked nature of learning, new tools and techniques can add significantly to cognitive load. As this has a relationship to feelings of fear and anxiety it can help explain why novice learners may experience difficulties in unstructured learning environments.
  • Connectivist theory does not allow for novice support – this will not fit with the current approach to student support being fostered at USQ. Do we want students to feel worse about their learning efforts? If they are mature age students trying to retrain or change vocations, this may not encourage them. With a diverse range of students both domestic and international, there will always be those who require academic support and encouragement to continue, and succeed with their studies.

I’d like to keep these comments by Brennan in mind, as I feel they are important for me to consider in my future proposals for NGL learning.

Not everyone knows how to be a node. Not everyone is comfortable with the type of chaos Connectivism asserts. Not everyone is a part of the network. Not everyone is a self-directed learner with advanced metacognition. Not everyone is already sufficiently an expert to thrive in a free-form environment. Not everyone thinks well enough of their ability to thrive in an environment where you need to think well of your ability to thrive.

And will be encouraged by this statement too:

It’s not difficult to design for novices. It’s not difficult to give people the tools they need to catch up. It’s not difficult to connect if a sensitive, careful and thoughtful design is there to connect you to the help you need.

In addition, as Andrew comments in ‘Being critical of NGL’ there are potential weaknesses such as equity and accessibility to technology, computer literacy, the online learning skills required of the students and the online teaching skills of the teacher which need to be taken into consideration before implementing NGL into classrooms. In my higher education context with the majority of students studying online, the challenge I see is to reduce the impact of these potential weaknesses on students’ learning and improve the quality and relevance of education to help equip students with the skills needed in 21st century workplaces.


This entry was posted in Me as learner, Me as student, Me as teacher and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Flipside of NGL: some critical reflections

  1. Pingback: As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me | insights

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