As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me

For me the Student, NGL is a fascinating and useful area. I’m not new to networked and global learning as my undergraduate degree was in Internet Communications but in my opinion, NGL is not a topic of study that ever can be considered ‘done’.

Being given the opportunity during this unit to learn something new, on a topic of our own choice, was excellent. In my work as a Librarian, the shift towards 3D learning spaces are gaining momentum, and I have found it useful to learn about Second Life, and especially looking at the different pedagogical models. Researching about Second Life saw me turning to my most reliable professional network – Google+ communities – and have joined a library community associated with Second Life. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was still an active community although Second Life is not as popular a 3D learning space as it was between 2006-2011 (Floyd & Frank, 2012).

I cannot say that this particular blog-style of learning, outside of a formal learning management system is ideal for me. I have found it with times confusing as to where to find the course material, and did feel isolated from the peer network as I cannot ‘attend’ the live lectures. I have found it frustrating that there has been no direct links to the other students’ blogs, and thus had to trail through Lauren and Samanthi‘s blogs to find links to the others. Maybe the addition of a Google+ community or a Facebook group to this unit might have helped our little group of students to get to know each better? It might have stimulated more participation as the infrastructure of social media allows for more spontaneous conversations.

Feeling a bit hesitant to be too critical about the infrastructure in which NGL are presented in this unit, I reminded myself that Selwyn (2014) encourage critical analysis when it comes to the use of technology in education. Not all technologies will achieve the desired outcome, and thus it is important that educators look at what learning outcomes needs to be satisfied within the curriculum, and from there investigate what technologies would match the needs of the students.

Having the option to listen to the lecture recordings are extremely helpful. Not being able to attend the ‘live’ lectures, it is reassuring to know that Chris record the session for those of us that cannot attend regularly. Time constraints unfortunately impacted peer-participation in NGL but as Riel and Pollin (2004) conveyed, it is best practice to learn to be an intentional participant and re-adjust our thinking and make concentrated efforts to collaborate and engage with our NGL peers. Thus, my lunch break became part of my PKM routine, where I’d read through my fellow students’ latest posts and formulate my own draft posts.

Transparency in NGL is a real challenge. Through the years, I have preferred to use an alias for blogging but as I progressed through my studies, it has become necessary to be more open and transparent about what I do, and what I would like to achieve. I have learned that in a NGL community, you cannot build trust and collaboration for the long term, when you are called gamermom72 and the other people range from piresjubas to trapgodtrippen. I don’t know what happened to the other people but gamermom72 still exist on Instagram. At the time it seemed a good idea to have this sort of account to learn what games my kids are playing, and also because it was fun experimenting with bitmojis.

As Kop (2011) found in her study on open learning networks, participants expressed the need for “a sense of trust” and the need to be “comfortable and confident to be able to participate”. In my experience, I didn’t feel comfortable communicating with various alias in Instagram but my Google+ communities, where we all use our real names, is a different situation. We all share information, and learn from each other. I do think in this unit of NGL us students have not communicated optimally, and  still believe that the addition of a social media platform would have been beneficial, but the fact that we all know each others’ names and professional backgrounds have helped to establish a certain ‘quiet’ respect and we have participated as much as our time constraints allowed.

References:

Floyd, J., & Frank, I. (2012). New immersive worlds for educators and librarians: beyond Second Life. Library Hi Tech News, 29(6), 11-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/07419051211277940

Kop, R. (2011). The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: Learning experiences during a massive open online course. Irrodl.org. Retrieved 6 September 2017, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/882/1689

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Selwyn, N. (2014). Technology and education: why it’s crucial to be critical. Retrieved from, https://www.academia.edu/7771394/Technology_and_education_-_why_its_crucial_to_be_critical

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