As a student in this networked and global learning course, my approach to studying has been challenged because those used in my previous education courses in this program were principally aligned with a constructivist online approach to learning. Although some of these skills were still useful, I discovered early in this course that I needed to develop new skills to equip me for the NGL style tasks being asked of me as a student. This experience has created further awareness of the digital skills and literacies students required for learning in the 21st century and will be the main focus of my reflections.
In a broad sense it has provided me with experience in using Web 2.0 technologies outside the Learning Management System (LMS), which is traditionally used in higher education to deliver courses online for students. This exposure to other learning environments such as WordPress, has provided first hand experience as to how they can be used to provide students with opportunities to experiment and practice learning and collaborating across networks (Groom & Lamb, 2014). As students, we are ‘networked learners in training’ (Drexler, 2010) whose learning networks are spanning multiple free platforms and using new tools which have removed us from the confines of specialist technology such as the Moodle LMS for online learning (Goodyear, 2014).
An awareness of the 21st century skills required for todays’ learners is of great importance in my role as a student, as well as a major consideration in my teaching support role. I need to be able to identify and develop skills needed for my study, and based on relevant literature and my experience share information with teaching staff. My previous studies in this program revealed that not all teachers and students were prepared for online learning and teaching and it became evident that improved support for using technology for learning was desirable for both. For me, this NGL experience has further reinforced the need for students and teachers to possess these basic skills, attributes and literacies required for participating in education and work in a networked environment.
Jackie Gerstein: Skills & attributes of today’s learners (Creative Commons)
In my post about Skills for 21st century learners I found Gerstein’s (2014) summary of the ‘Skills and attributes of today’s learner’ a useful resource to inform me as student. She built on Wagner’s (2014) Seven Survival Skills, as defined by business leaders and also added additional skills which she believed would benefit learners of all ages in this era of learning (Gerstein, 2014). Of these I particularly related to the need for grit, resilience and vision, as I have been required to develop these skills in my NGL studies.
Brennan (2013) emphasizes the importance of self-efficacy which is “..our belief that a task is achievable by us, and that the environment in which we are working will allow us to achieve that”. He believes this is at the heart of what motivates students and that high self-efficacy students try harder, for longer and overcome obstacles, cope with failure and continue to strive. While low self-efficacy students try less hard, for less time, and are easily discouraged by failure, are less ambitious and achieve less. He believes educators need to create tasks and environments that allow achievements to happen and so enhance students’ opportunities for success (Brennan, 2013). This along with other critical observations made in my post ‘Flipside of NGL: some critical reflections’ have provided useful insights to me as a student, as a result of my participation in this course.
Student motivation is one of the key determinants influencing success and willingness to pursue networked study (Downes, 2014; Bates, 2014). In my situation, it was the realization that I needed to practice Connectivist style learning and increase my knowledge about it, so I could become better informed about the major changes occurring to learning in 21st century. A desire to remain relevant in my workplace and to be able to provide support informed by experience was my motivation.
The requirement to learn about and practice blogging is another skill being developed through my participation in NGL. In a networked learning environment Drexler (2010, p. 3) views blogging as “a key component of the personal learning environment” which enables students to share and respond to the opinions of others. Downes (2011) in referring to the four major activities in connectivist teaching and learning, notes that after aggregating, remixing and repurposing, feeding forward and sharing your work provides the opportunity for other people to learn from you.
However sharing in public is not easy, as people can see your mistakes and it can be embarrassing (Downes, 2011). This was certainly something I struggled with at the start of the course, in my minute paper I wondered how long it would take me to feel comfortable in engaging in Bigum and Rowan’s (2013) public click pedagogy. This pedagogy is built on “a public sharing of the steps made as one attempts to climb a ladder: mistakes, mess and mishaps as well as ‘aha’ or ‘click’ moments” (Bigum & Rowan, 2013, p.1). I found this a difficult but necessary requirement for the course, and although I spent too much time seeking and sensing before sharing publicly on my blog site, it was somewhat reassuring to find other students sharing similar experiences. I can now appreciate the benefits of blogging as a reflective record of my learning and continue to feel more comfortable with sharing in public (Martin, 2014).
My recent reflection ‘Blogging about blogging’ explores what I have learned from my blogging interactions, and suggest there is a need for more time to interact with other students’ blog posts and for providing greater support to improve our blogging skills earlier in the course. Jarche (2008, p. 24) states that “blog posts can help make sense of your learning process” and from my experience, I agree with his assertion. Additionally, we need an attitude of accepting we will never know everything, but need to know who to connect with in the network to locate the knowledge required (Jarche, 2008). Through collaboration and sharing, we as students can become nodes in participatory pedagogies (Siemens, 2008) and in turn contribute to various communities of practice. The experience gained during this course has encouraged me to contribute to those communities relevant to my professional work. The experience of using Web 2.0 tools and “walking the talk” (Jarche, 2008 p.24), as an NGL student is fulfilling an essential requirement for my support role in learning and teaching at USQ.
List of References
Bates, T. (2014). Online learning and distance education resources. Retrieved from http://www.tonybates.ca/.
Bigum, C., & Rowan, L. (2013). Ladders, learning and lessons from Charlie: Exploring the potential of public click pedagogy (No. 2). EdExEd Working Paper Series.
Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, no one can hear you scream: A guide to understanding the MOOC novice. Hybrid Pedagogy, July 23. Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/in-connectivism-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-a-guide-to-understanding-the-mooc-novice/ .
Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved April 09, 2011, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html.
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 http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/drexler.html .
Gerstein, J. (2013). The other 21st century skills (Web log post). User Generated Education. Retrieved from https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/the-other-21st-century-skills/.
Gerstein, J. (2014). How to Foster Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: An Educator’s Guide. Retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/how-to-foster-grit-tenacity-and-perseverance-an-educators-guide/
Goodyear, P. (2014). Productive Learning Networks: The Evolution of Research and Practice. In L. Carvalho & P. Goodyear (Eds.), The Architecture of Productive Learning Networks (pp. 23–47). London: Routledge.
Groom, J., & Lamb, B. (2014). Reclaiming innovation. Educause Review Online. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/visuals/shared/er/extras/2014/ReclaimingInnovation/default.html .
Jarche, H. (2008). Skills 2.0. T + D, April. Retrieved from http://www.jarche.com/2008/04/skills-20/.
Martin, N. (2014). Let’s get blogging. USQ 23Things. Retrieved from http://usq23things.net.au/wordpress/.
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.
Wagner, T. (2014). Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills. Retrieved from http://www.tonywagner.com/7-survival-skills.