As a learner, participation in NGL was useful for me

In reflecting on my experience as an NGL learner, I decided to revisit Kilgyte’s threshold concepts and review my response to them at this stage of my networked learning journey. In my minute paper posted early in the course, I commented that it would be interesting to observe my degree of transformation. I now feel that I have stepped through the networked learning “portal” and in my endeavors to embrace and understand NGL, I am on a path which is transforming the way (my) learning is understood, teaching support practiced and how my life is lived (Kligyte, 2009). In my reflections I will be identifying the main ways that I believe NGL has been useful to me as a learner.

Although I found stepping into the networked learning space troublesome in the beginning, I feel that I have survived this initial experience and am now on my way to understanding how connectivist learning works. Even though I was familiar with the concepts of Connectivism as a pedagogy (Anderson & Dron, 2011), being an active NGL learner provided me with first hand experience which I believe is vital to inform my support role in learning and teaching at USQ.

As Downes (2011) states “…the process of taking the course is itself much more important than the content participants may happen to learn in the course”. Although he was referring to a MOOC on ‘Connectivism and Connectivist Knowledge’ being run by himself and George Siemens, I find this applies to EDU8117: Networked and Global Learning as a connectivist style course.

The immersion process as a learner, while troublesome in the beginning, has placed me in a community of practitioners and introduced my fellow learners and myself to ways of doing things that educational practitioners do in the networked space (Downes, 2011). Using blog posts for reflective writing, sharing of ideas, discussion, refining and creation of new understandings about NGL and related educational issues has been highly beneficial as an introduction to this practice. Some of my traditional concepts of how knowledge is generated have been challenged and I am progressively realizing the importance of developing the “capacity to generate knowledge and maintain relationships in a network” (Siemens (2005) in Kligyte, 2009, p. 541). While listening to Stephen Downes’ presentation on ‘The challenges (and future) of networked learning‘, I was able to reflect upon my progress and appreciate how much more I understood about networked learning since commencing this course.

In the early stages, as a novice I dwelt in a messy space and spent too much time focusing on the specifics of the technologies required and wondering if I would step over the threshold. My crunch time came with the ‘drop date’ for the course, and my decision to continue participation in the course served as a commitment to pursue my NGL learning. My conviction that it is valuable to have first hand experience in networked learning as a learner, student and support teacher motivated me to continue my studies.

Discursive and Irreversible
In this sense, the transformation underway is deepening my understanding of the concept of networked learning and as such will be irreversible and something that cannot be unlearned. I am developing new practices and establishing new network relationships for gathering information and reshaping my understanding through sharing and reconstruction of knowledge using blogging (Kligyte, 2009).
In a discursive sense, crossing the threshold into networked learning is continually developing my network and information literacy. Learning about using the tools required such as Diigo, Mendelay, WordPress and Feedly has been highly beneficial, as I have extended my experience in using Web 2.0 technologies for learning (Anderson & Dron, 2011). Even though it was challenging to set up these new technologies quickly at the start of the course, it was a valuable experience as a learner. I went through the frustration of feeling overwhelmed about how I was going to learn about and apply them to the tasks required, to feeling reasonably comfortable with how they work, and encouraged by the skills and experience acquired which can utilised further in the future.

Diigo is a very useful tool because it provides the facility to bookmark online resources, make notes, search and share with others. Even though Mendelay has not been used extensively in this course, it is a good tool for storing references, files of readings and articles of interest. The fact that it can be synced and accessible from multiple locations, as can Diigo, Feedly, and WordPress facilitates and enhances my mobile learning, as my study is spread across locations and devices – work, home and using PCs, laptop (MacAir), iPad and iPhone.

Using Feedly as an RSS tool has developed my understanding of the importance of having a web aggregator, as it has performs an essential function in my Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) (Jarche, 2008). Drexler (2010, p.3) states that using “RSS allows learners to subscribe to changing content and makes tracking changes easier”. Downes (2011) lists ‘aggregation’ as the first of four major activities in Connectivist teaching and learning, followed by remixing, repurposing and feeding forward. Using Feedly and WordPress is helping to provide me with “multiple perspectives and voices” rather than having “singular views of content and interaction” (Siemens, 2008, p.14). As a learner I am benefiting in my ‘new’ networked role by being “…able to form relationships with peers and experts from around the world and using academic resources from different institutions and educators” (Siemens, 2008, p.13).

The development of a Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) (Jarche, 2008) has been important to manage my learning. It helped me visually conceptualize the processes I was going through, while being flooded with new information and provided a way to process the knowledge being aggregated. As a learner, in the sensing and filtering part of my PKM, I continually need to decide what to include in the context of my studies and decide what nodes in a network are of most importance (Drexler, 2010). I still feel that I spend too much time in the seeking and sensing phases before sharing, however I now believe it is important to share sooner in order not to miss opportunities to interact and exchange ideas with fellow students. Drexler (2010, p.3) notes “Construction of a personal learning environment (or PKM) does not necessarily facilitate comprehension or deep understanding” and that “the learning potential depends on what the student does with the content, how it is synthesized and what is created”. I am hoping my longer processing time equates to increasing my learning potential.

The requirement to learn something new using NGL was a useful learning activity, as it introduced me to the concept of learning online for personal interests rather than for work and education. In writing about the ‘expansive conceptions of learning networks’, Goodyear, Carvalho and Dohn (2014, p. 139) state they have a “broad understanding of “learning”, which does not restrict the definition to formal education courses, but also embraces informal, self-directed, vocational and/or interest-based learning, as well as learning that occurs as a by-product of engaging in activity which has some other purpose”. This to me encompasses the broad scope of learning which can be both linked and integrative, as it can “reveal connections among different aspects that previously did not seem to be related” (Kligyte, 2009, p.541).

My learning about NGL and Zentangles has confirmed similarities and connections exist in both learning activities, as I first noted in my post ‘Me as a learner’, and is characterized by the following features:

  • anything is possible one (key) stroke at a time
  • deliberate focus is required
  • unknown outcomes are possible and likely
  • there are no predetermined solutions
  • it can be abstract
  • portable/mobile and possible anywhere
  • learning is inspirational.

zentangle learning   002

Zentangle learning artifacts: Deb Liriges

List of References

Anderson, T. & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12 (3). Retrieved from

Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved April 09, 2011, from

Downes, S. (2014). The challenges (and future) of networked learning. Stephen Downes, September 05. Retrieved from .

Drexler, W. (2010). The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 369-38. Retrieved from .

Goodyear, P., Carvalho, L., & Dohn, N. B. (2014). Design for networked learning: Framing relations between participants’ activities and the physical setting. In S. Bayne, M. de Laat, T. Ryberg, & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Ninth International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (pp. 137–144). Edinburgh, Scotland.

Jarche, H. (2008). Skills 2.0. T + D, April. Retrieved from

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference (pp. 540-542). Auckland, NZ.

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Presentation to Universidade do Minho, Portugal.

Zentangle, (2014). Zentangle Theory. Retrieved from



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