Missed opportunities?

I have a few observations about the NGL course that I would like to write about as they raise  concerns for me and perhaps others. Adam has expressed his concerns in his recent post on thoughts about the NGL course, even though he blames himself, I think we have all struggled with understanding how we can create a networked community.  The concerns expressed by students of the NGL course seem to stem from the lack of cohesion about what, when and why to add blog entries and connect with other students.

This seemed to particularly evident for early bloggers like Natalie and myself when very few posts were coming in and hardly any connections seemed to be made between students. I for one, noticed that nobody had viewed my blog using the WordPress stats page, which was very disheartening. I noticed this weekend after David had sent out his draft report on blog posts using the BIM program, a flurry of blog posts occurred. Might it be that teacher presence is required for students to establish a community? Or even, does the creation of blog posts create a community?

According to the Riel & Polin (2004) reading, a community is created by members establishing behavioural norms, routines, rules and a shared purpose. So if we look at these items step by step we can see how our NGL is failing as a community.

Membership

This is a given as we are all students of the 2016 NGL course. We all have roles as participants and David is the teacher. But what are our roles within the community? In particular the networked community? All we have is our links with each other as we will never meet face to face or via our work.

Behavioural norms & routines

Even though the course blog clearly outlines what is expected of participants in terms of assessment and blog participation, many participants had never written a blog before, didn’t have an established routine for posting and where insecure about how or what to post.

The members could have benefited from establishing the norms and routines at the beginning of the course so everyone was aware of expectation. As most students have indicated a need for face-to-face interaction, a more interactive Zoom meeting would have been useful to establish the norms.

Shared purpose

This is probably the key to why the course is not working as a community. We are all working on our own journey through Networked and Global Learning. We all have different backgrounds and are in different situations. Melissa, a music teacher, Adam a teacher in Japan, Miranda a teacher (and much more), Natalie, an academic learning adviser and the Network Trotter, who is a millennial teacher in South Africa, whose name I still don’t know. And of course myself, an online educational designer.

Addition (added 17 August 2016): I forgot to include Angela, the wonderful primary school teacher at a Catholic school whose struggles with networked learning is particularly inhibited by the schools’ restrictions on connectivity. Apologies, Angela!

Even though I have found other peoples’ posts interesting, I have found it hard to connect their ideas to my journey as indeed we do not have a shared purpose.

So I guess we are all creating our own journey without being networked to each other, which makes me a little sad. This is certainly the greatest loss about learning online.


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.

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