And more NGL catch up

I had a choice to make. Do a bit of prep of content for the next week of NGL or make more connections with what folk have been doing? I’ve decided that the later is more important and long overdue.

Wonder what the participants think?

Technology or Pedagogy? – EduDoggy

Musette makes an interesting point about what she’d have liked more of in her post-grad education course

In the subjects around ICT and teaching and learning I would have loved more of an opportunity to play with different technologies and learn about how they work and can be used

As a “technologists” teaching in an education program I’ve always been questioning of the balance between pedagogy/theory and technology. The previous version of NGL matched many of the prior courses that Musette and Mari have discussed. Readings, discussion forum posts, write an essay. Not much focus on technology at all.

I wonder how much of this arises from the “digital fluency” of the teaching staff involved? How much is from them being education experts? In much the same way that my courses perhaps include more technology because, in part, that’s where my expertise is. But I also wonder how much of it comes from a view that technology isn’t that important. That it’s important that pedagogy is considered first. My current view is in line with the point Goodyear et al (2014) make about dualistic perspectives (technology or pedagogy) being limited and a relational perspective as being much more useful.

A personal justification why both my courses include folk engaging with technology as part of their learning. Engaging in the complex entanglement of technology and theory/people is much more useful and effective than studying technology from afar.

How far can all this go?

Paul asks

  1. Whether social media will guide the future of learning or will learning shape social media?

    For me this is a good link back to the relational perspective mentioned above. I don’t think it will be one or the other, it will be both plus a whole range of other factors.

  2. Whether there is any limit to NGL?

    As it happens, we’ll look at some of this in a week or two. To identify where I come from, the limits largely reside with us. Human beings are inherently irrational and stuck in the ways of thinking. Especially when in groups.

    I tend to think individuals will get more out of NGL quicker than formal education will.

    e.g. even with some of the smartest technology brains currently around, the xMOOC crowd gave us lectures with quizzes!

This appears to link nicely with another of Paul’s questions

So if educational institutions are supposed to be as that lovely quote from Men in Black, ‘the best of the best of the best’ then surely shouldn’t they be at the forefront of networked and global learning and not relying upon out-of-the-box solutions?

Networked learning and functional efficiency

Philip comes across a claim in the literature that I hadn’t heard before

It has also been suggested that networked learning offers educational institutions more functional efficiency, in that the curriculum can be more tightly managed centrally, or in the case of vocational learning, it can reduce costs to employers and tax payers

The tighter central management of the curriculum is possible with certain types of ICT, especially the large single enterprise system approach inherent in the LMS. However, the type of radically networked approach in NGL makes this a little harder (though not impossible).

The social cyborg

Philip finds and reports on an article “Dawn of the social cyborg”. Beyond the disruptive changes with IT, globalisation etc it suggests that the next big challenge to corporate learning environments is the “appearance of a new species of learner” called the social cyborg and I quote

It’s helpful to think of these people as a distinct species, one that has evolved unique capabilities to take advantage of networked people and information systems

This challenges corporate learning with extinction as they become irrelevant. The solution is new tool sets, skill sets and mindsets.

Frankly, I’m not sure that the need wasn’t there all along. The “4 steps to best leverage the social cyborg in the workplace” strike me as particularly weak and inappropriate. The first one is to appoint a taskforce and draft a technology plan. Sounds like stone-age thinking to me.

Learning through community

Annelise’s latest post includes a nice quote related to an important idea in NGL

I now know that for me to become that master I must be engaged in a knowledge-based community in the real-world of writers who are further developing their craft.

The idea is that to learn to be a writer (or many other things) it’s very beneficial (perhaps best) to be engaged with a collection of people who are writing and sharing how and what they are doing. More so than attending a formal class on writing, or just reading a book.

Of course, there are numerous areas of interpretation within this, for example

  1. What exactly is meant by “community”?

    Many different definitions, some of which I don’t like, but in Annelise’s case she’s using a definition from Reil & Polin (2004) that she describes in more detail in her post.

  2. How do you engage most effectively?

    Really don’t think there are simple answers to this.

The reward of NGL?

Annelise also quotes her son

Maybe the lecturer is trying to show you how the real-world of blogging is like. To keep on doing it without reward, and how you need to be persistent.

Which begs the question of what is the reward that you expect from “the real-world of blogging”? What do you want, rather than what’s possible?

For much of my early blogging the reward was having a space to make random thinking a little more explicit. I didn’t really care whether others read or commented on what I was writing. However, seeing the stats trend upward was a motivating factor eventually. Getting comments are also great, but the value for me remains as a learning tool for myself. Certainly a tool enhanced by the input from others, but not necessarily required.

Assessment in NGL

Annelise also writes about assessment. The problems with more traditional forms of assessment and the difficulties I’ve mentioned in coming up with the criteria for NGL. The process we’ve used to formulate the criteria seems to have been a plus for Annelise, but I still think what’s been set remains questionable.

One of the problems I’ve faced is the assumption (from the institution and the participants) that there should be a clear expectation of what is required. It’s not surprising that students want to be able to answer the question, “What do I need to do to get the grade I want?”. But the problem I have here is that NGL is meant to be very open and emergent. What each participants learns from the course can’t possibly be predicted by me ahead of time. If this is the case, then how valid can a rubric or three designed ahead of time be? I’ve tried to use “generic” criteria related to reflection, learning, and participation but I still feel it can be improved. This is one area I’d like to explore “as teacher”, if I ever get the time.


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.

2 thoughts on “And more NGL catch up

  1. Hi David,

    I like including students in the development of the criteria but if I had a choice I would remove assessment. That being unlikely, and maybe not desirable, I need to research the area thoroughly as I am basing my comments on my experiences.

    What I have learnt in the world of grades is that at the end of the day what matters is what one learns and not the grade. What I did notice is that when one did achieve a high grade they really knew their stuff, inside and out.

  2. Pingback: Another tail wagging dog story… | iambaz47 (aka Simon)

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