When considering how NGL can inform my role as a teacher, I found the model of the networked teacher developed by Couros (2008) useful, as it represents an educator’s Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and identifies the connections and activities contributing to networked teaching and learning. As a result of my networked learning studies, I have identified and developed valuable digital skills and network connections. This experience will inform my teaching support role when working with teachers who may wish to incorporate NGL teaching strategies in their course or curriculum. Drexler (2010, p.1) believes that “a teacher is better equipped to facilitate networked learning if they have experienced the construction of such a model first hand”. Teachers need to be able to model the style of learning and need to be practicing this in their professional life. An example of this has been provided by David Jones in this course ‘An experiment in networked and global learning’.
The change in the role of the teacher that accompanies networked learning is an important consideration for my work, as they become a facilitator or coach in a student-centered approach to learning (Wang, 2006 in Drexler, 2010). They are no longer ‘the sage on the stage’ but rather the ‘guide on the side’, one who facilitates, supports, coordinates, moderates and consults. Drexler (2010) found in her ‘Networked student model’ for construction of personal learning environments, that “the teacher is necessary to help the students navigate the breadth of content, apply the tools properly, and offer support in the form of digital literacy skills and subject matter expertise” (p.3). Teachers are challenged to scaffold this networked learning approach, yet provide an environment where students take more control of their learning (Drexler, 2010). Although this case was tested with secondary students, it is likely to apply in the higher education context at USQ, which has a diverse student cohort with many students unlikely to have previous experience with this approach to learning (Burton, Lawrence, Summers, Gibbings & Noble, 2013). My work in providing support for teachers and students can contribute to the scaffolding required in the learning environments at USQ, and networked learning literature frequently refers to the importance of providing adequate support to scaffold learning (Goodyear, Carvalho & Dohn, 2014; Siemens, 2008; Veletsianos, 2014; Bigum & Rowan, 2013 ).
Before elaborating on the areas identified for possible NGL contributions to my teaching support role, it is important to consider some of the challenges encountered in higher education when encouraging staff to adopt new technologies. The 2014 Horizon Report identifies the ‘low digital fluency of faculty’ as a significant challenge impeding ed tech adoption in higher education. Digital media literacy is identified as a key skill in every discipline and profession, and a lack of training exists in preparation of teaching staff. Importantly the Horizon Report (2014, p.22) states “…digital literacy is less about the tools and more about the thinking”, thus having the skills to use the tools and platforms is a only a starting point for networked learning. As noted in my reflection on this NGL course, the incorporation of Connectivist pedagogy to utilize the networked environment available provides new approaches to learning (Anderson & Dron, 2011).
McIntyre (2014) explains that rapidly evolving digital devices and networks challenge the cultural practices within educational institutions and many educators have been slow to recognize the significance of these changes. A change and rethinking of teaching methodologies takes time, even when the need for change is clear. Academics need to understand digital literacies in relation to the practices of workplaces they are preparing students for, otherwise they risk becoming increasingly ineffective within the educational process (McIntyre, 2014). Kligyte (2009) suggests that many teachers will be resistant to adopting new technologies, as it requires changes to their practice and identity. In providing support, I will need to display empathy and respect when working with teachers and focus on long-term change that will allow them to work through the liminal space and approach threshold concepts of networked learning in stages (Kligyte, 2009).
My teaching support role within Academic Services Division and Learning and Teaching Services contributes into several areas. Currently, I am seconded to work as an educational designer in the Online Student Support Tools Project, with a focus on developing online support for students. My substantive position in eLearning Development involves providing support to teaching staff by contributing to course redesign and development teams. My post about Finding CLEM as a teacher and student helped me identify the communities I interact with at university. I have expanded on these communities and created a Coggle diagram ‘Role as a support teacher’ which maps avenues for contributing my NGL knowledge and experience.
Access full screen Role as support teacher at Coggle.it.
Contributions to projects
It is important for networked learning designers to consider the connections between learning activities and the physical environment (Goodyear, Carvalho & Dohn, 2014). In my current work involving the development of online support tools for students, I consider the following design advice to be very relevant:
Design entails thinking about the kinds of learning places, tools and other resources that students are likely to find helpful, for any particular task, while recognising that students may not follow the recommendations inscribed in designs. They will often make their own choices about tools to use, where to work, what to read, etc.
(Goodyear, Carvalho & Dohn, 2014, p.139)
A potential project for inclusion of NGL content and tools is a proposal to update and implement the Diagnostic and Reflective Tool (DART), which was designed to improve students’ digital skills when entering higher education (Burton, Lawrence, Summers, Gibbings & Noble, 2013). It was designed by USQ Faculty Deans of Learning and Teaching (2012) and built in Moodle as an online educational tool, but has not been implemented into USQ systems. As I am currently involved in reviewing this tool, I view this as an opportune time to suggest updates and modifications to the tool and present a strong argument for its availability to all USQ students as originally intended.
Contributing to elearning Development (eLD)
Several avenues exist for sharing NGL knowledge with this community. For example using professional development sessions to demonstrate and promote the use of tools such as Diigo and Feedly. NGL knowledge can then be shared forward by support staff working with teaching staff in eLearning development review and redesign projects.
I consider SAMR a useful model to assist with course redesigns for online learning, as it promotes augmentation and modification of learning activities in conjunction with new technologies. The ‘Padagogy Wheel V3.0: Learning design starts with graduate attributes, capabilities and motivation’, also brings together visually the many important elements for teachers to utilize in their design decisions.
Contributing to Learning and Teaching Services
In this community I plan to be engaging with opportunities to encourage inclusion of NGL content in any re-accreditation processes within courses, programs or smaller micro units, within any review or redesign processes occurring. This avenue provides an opportunity to contribute to redefining and broadening the focus of learning and teaching, and promoting the advantages of implementing networked learning activities for the benefit of both students and teaching staff.
Contributing to Academic Services Division
In this broader context, as a result of my NGL experience and knowledge, I would now more willingly consider contributing to online discussions, pilot projects and forums. I believe the issues facing learning and teaching within higher education require discussion, innovation and change in order to provide education that is relevant for the 21st century.
From a state of mindfulness, or listening with an intent to hear, insights may become more visible. These insights can then be shared through practices such as working out loud, openly questioning assumptions, and trying things out together. All of these take practice (Jarche, 2014).
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 http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/890/1663.
Bigum, C., & Rowan, L. (2013). Ladders, learning and lessons from Charlie: Exploring the potential of public click pedagogy (No. 2). EdExEd Working Paper Series.
Burton, L. J., Lawrence, J., Summers, J., Gibbings, P. & Noble, K. (2013). Developing DART: A digital learning tool to facilitate equity and access in the contemporary higher education context. In: Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia Distance Education Summit (ODLAA 2013): Education Across Space and Time: Meeting the Diverse Needs of the Distance Learner, 4-6 Feb 2013, Sydney, Australia.
Carrington, A. (2014). The Padagogy Wheel V3.0: Learning design starts with graduate attributes, capabilities and motivation (Web log post). Designing Outcomes. Retrieved from http://www.unity.net.au/allansportfolio/edublog/?p=874.
Couros, A. (2008). The networked teacher. Flickr. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/courosa/2922421696/ .
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 .
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. (2014, September 29). Everything Connects. Retrieved from http://www.jarche.com/2014/09/everything-connects/ .
Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. In Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference (pp. 540-542). Auckland, NZ.
McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 1. Retrieved from www.herdsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/HERDSARHE2014v01p83.pdf.
New Media Consortium, 2014. NMC Horizon Report> 2014 Higher Education Edition. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-higher-ed
SAMR Model. (n.d.). Technology is Learning. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model
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.
Veletsianos, G. (2014). Success, personal learning plans, and multiple pathways in open courses. Retrieved from http://www.veletsianos.com/2014/08/17/multiple-pathways-personal-leanring-plans-moocs/.