Next step for NGL

Note: Most of the following was written a week or so ago. Since then course site and week 1 has come into being. Also, it appears that enrolment in the course has skyrocketed up to 15.

The initial call for input into the re-design of the Networked and Global Learning (NGL) course was more successful than I hoped. What follows is some reflection on that response and some thoughts about the next step.

Decision #1 – I have set up a blog on that I think will become the main repository for course information as used by the students. They’ll also have their individual blogs for their own work which will hopefully be aggregated into the course blog.

Reflection – just how much design is needed?

The first response to the tweet I sent out

Came from @type217

A little related to this is the second comment from @s_palm

Over the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about the amount of design that these two suggestions assume is required for a course. “Design” provided either via the services of a “top notch learning designer” or through a “coherent reference”.

Does/should a “networked” course have the same level of design that is associated with a traditional course?

If the aim for a “networked” course for the student to build and grow their own knowledge networks in directions, then should there be more of a light touch?

A comment on the Google doc from @cj13 captures this

Why not get them to build the course, i.e. you do a spot of “master curation” and teach them how to curate

I’m currently thinking of a middle ground as mentioned in the comment I made on @cj13’s point

My rationalisation is the short time frame to get this up and a fear/recognition that too much radical change will put the students off. So the plan is I’ll put in a small path, but then encourage/require the students to ramble away from that. And it’s in that rambling (joint and separate) that the real course will emerge. What they follow, find etc.

I have been thinking about just how much of my role as teacher should be design and how much should be participation in the networks associated with the course. Too often I feel that my practice is focused too much on the design stuff and not enough on the participation. I have a feeling that the amount of time I spend on design doesn’t always have a significant impact on the networks/learning of the students.

This also links to some ideas about bricolage as a perspective for teaching (and just about everything else) in networked/distributed/complex world. More on that later I hope.

There are a range of other suggestions in the Google doc.

@alanarnold’s suggestion

takes things a little further than what I intend. However, there will strong evidence of the influence of the CCK MOOCs and other Canadian influences.


So how then does the “small path” and the “ramble” get implemented? Here’s what I’m thinking.

This Study Schedule page will follow a similar pattern to the CCK’12 course outline and the associated weekly pages. i.e. provide a brief overview, a couple of readings, and then have a collection of activities.

Each week will cover one of the topics from the current potential topic list.

The activities will be designed to encourage the participants to build and share artefacts that connect the topic to the learner’s specific targets in terms of themselves as student, learner and teacher.

Which suggests a range of additional tasks to complete

  1. Identify the weekly topics.
  2. Identify the weekly tasks.
  3. Link the tasks to the assessment.

Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like design?

Similarities and Differences between the old version of the course

This is just an ad hoc collection of reflections based on looking through the prior version of the course


  • Started with students engaging in some reflection and identifying where they are
  • Closed with a symoposium (asynchronous) leading to a final paper – this offering will rely on writers workshops instead.


  • Theme 1 focused on learning communities.
  • Theme 2 – spent time looking at a range of theoretical perspectives
  • How much “social presence/netiquitte” is required?

Reflections on the current state of the course

Current state

I’m reasonably happy with it. It’s nothing earth shakingly innovative, but it pushes the boundaries sufficiently that I think it will (hopefully) provide a more useful learning experience for the students. It is constrained by my capabilities. But in the end the next few weeks will tell how successful that is.

To that end, I do want to find more time to engage in on-going bricolage. That’s partly Downes’ idea of teaching in this space being about “modeling and demonstration” but also about the idea that a course like this – even with only 10 or so students – is a complex system. Big up front design doesn’t work for such a system. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. You have to watch it evolve and respond appropriately.

The tools

The biggest time sink in preparing the week 1 activities was figuring out and setting up the initial set of tools we’ll use in the course.

The week 1 post was written in Word and then manually converted into HTML. This is silly, but fits with the use of Mendeley for citation management and my past experience. It leads to the problem of two different copies.

Setting up the OPML file was also manual. A bit of editing in vi. There don’t appear to be any truly useful tools for constructing OPML files. Need to look for tools that allow for curation/gathering of feeds and then convert that into OPML.

Also had the grand idea of using Menedely as a group. Not sure how that’s going to work, haven’t really used it in anger for that purpose just yet.

The design/content

I found that there was always the desire to provide the perfectly crafted instructional sequence. To offer the pre-packaged conception of the topic. Need to keep a focus more on providing diving off points, rather than a self-contained whole.

Designing a course on “Networked and Global Learning” – scope, thoughts and call for suggestions

The machinations of University decision making are always (more than) a bit obscure, opaque and uncertain. Especially when the institution has just been through a restructure. Late last week I found out that the Networked and Global Learning” Masters course I was allocated to would actually run. Since the course was last re-developed sometime ago, I’ve also pushed for the opportunity to bring it into the modern network age. Hence this this post.

Semester starts in two weeks time. By then I need to design most of the course and have a few weeks implemented. Given the topic (networked and global learning), the limited amount of time, and my limitations it’s only sensible to do this in the open and hopefully benefit from the network.

If you have any thoughts, ideas, or resources that might be helpful please feel free to suggest. Either in the comments below or in this Google doc that has some initial thoughts and resources.

The initial model

The course synopsis (which I have to align with) includes stuff like

  • critically examine the practice of networked and global learning (N&GL) using a variety of theoretical lenses
  • situate themselves within N&GL communities
  • and investigate, reflect upon and evaluate their experiences of N&GL.
  • include an exploration of current tools for and trends in N&GL.
  • Participants will develop insights around how to harness N&GL to support their learning and learners.

Hence I’m thinking the course will be based around a small collection of readings/resources around appropriate topics in NGL.

In engaging with these the participants will be asked to think about how that applies to their use of NGL as

  1. Student – Participants will be asked to transform how their practice as a student in formal education (i.e. this course) through NGL.

    The course will require the students to do things like maintain a blog and use it as a reflective journal. Engage in social bookmarking, curation and anything else that helps build their network.

  2. Learner – i.e. in less formal contexts. Participants will be asked to use NGL to learn something personal
  3. Teacher – i.e. how to harness N&GL to support their learning and learners.

The “teacher” task being the focus toward the end of semester as they draw on their experience.

The only traditional type assessment piece might be an essay worth 20/30% of the final mark. Most of the rest will be participation and reflection type activities spread over the semester.

What’s next?

Feel free to add your suggestions. For me it will be about re-engaging with the resources and ideas I’ve got hidden away in my network.

Not to mention reflecting on how much all of the above indicates that I’m suffering from this problem.