As a learner, participation in NGL was useful for me?

I chose to learn swing dancing as something of personal interest to me that is not normally part of formal education. Participation in the Networked and Global Learning course has not been useful to me in learning to swing dance. In fact, I have not learnt to swing dance. On my blog, I have only two entries directly related to swing dancing. The first post outlines my reasons for choosing swing dancing, which were:

  • environment: swing dancing sessions to become an essential ‘part’ of the course
  • knowledge: dancing is meant to improve cognitive skill, helping my overall learning in the course
  • social: swing dancing allows face-to-face interaction that an online course lacks

These reasons clearly did not provide me with the motivation to succeed. The barriers to learning to swing dance continue to persist despite participation in the NGL course. These are:

  • time: working full-time, studying and social/family life, I could not fit in another element
  • environment: wet weather and only cycling transportation to the venues made me renege going several times
  • social: although I would have met people at the event, I secretly harboured a feeling of not wanting to show up alone, without a partner

In fact, the NGL course actually reinforced my barriers to learning to swing dance rather than stimulating my interest. I decided upon swing dancing as something that was required ‘as a learner’ for the course so that I could have something to write about under the ‘as a learner’ perspective. However, I think for me to learn something informally requires me to be autonomous in when, where and how I will learn (Dron, 2016; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Something other than the course needs to be a catalyst for me to learn. For example, I had always wanted to learn how to sew but never did anything about it. When I turned 40, my partner bought me a sewing machine, much to my delight. I then enrolled into sewing classes with a friend. This method really worked as it was self-directed and the gift of the sewing machine worked as a catalyst. Going to classes with my friend meant that I build on my existing network in order to connect to a new network.

The second post on swing dancing using the CLEM Framework (Community, Literature, Examples, Model) as suggested in the NGL course blog (Jones, 2016) shows how you can find useful information about what you want to learn. I would have been able to connect to the community had I attended a class or reached out via an online network to find a dance partner or organise transportation to the venues. However, the learning required for swing dancing does not occur online and it is not the type of learner that I am. Networked learning in relation to swing dancing might have worked for me had someone offered to learn with me. Other students in the course chose tasks that were related to their work as teachers (except for Adam) and neither the NGL course teacher nor students commented on my blog posts. There was no feedback or support. At the same time, I was also only able to support Natalie as I had knowledge on what she wanted to learn.

As an online educational designer, I have examined the NGL course from a design approach by recognising that my (lack of) activity in informal learning of swing dancing could not have been designed. What can be designed is the task, tools, resources, interpersonal relationships and learning outcomes (Carvalho & Goodyear, 2012). In relation to swing dancing none of these were present in the NGL course. The NGL course did not provide me with the design to support my informal learning although it tried by way of including the ‘as a learner’ in assessment.

“People can be motivated because they value an activity or because there is strong external coercion.” (Ryan & Deci, 2000: p.69)

In my case there was only an external coercion, the NGL course requiring me to blog ‘as a learner’. Even as I am writing this, I am extremely conscious that I am motivated by the grading rather than the learning that might be attributed to writing this blog post.

“Accumulated research now suggests that the commitment and authenticity reflected in intrinsic motivation and integrated extrinsic motivation are most likely to be evident when individuals experience supports for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.” (Ryan & Deci, 2000: p.74).

I will explore these three conditions with the view of my ‘as a learner’ participation in the NGL course.


The NGL course did not provide me with “social-contextual events (e.g., feedback, communications, rewards) that conduce toward feelings of competence during action [and] can enhance intrinsic motivation for that action” (Ryan & Deci, 2000: p.70). As my learning to swing dance lay outside the NGL course, there was no opportunity for me to receive positive feedback via the course. There was a limited amount of students and response to reflective blog posts was not forthcoming. Also I felt extremely uncomfortable blogging about a personal activity on a public blog that had no relevance to the learning activities of the course.


I am sure the intention of the NGL course was to enhance intrinsic motivation as it allowed autonomy in my choice of learning activity, an opportunity to express my feelings (via the blog post) and to be self directed. However the requirements of the course to publicly produce blog posts ‘as a learner’ showed how “deadlines, directives, pressured evaluations, and imposed goals diminish [my] intrinsic motivation” (Ryan & Deci, 2000: p.70).


I did not see a relationship between learning to swing dance and the NGL course apart from the enforced relationship. Ryan & Deci (2000) state that “the primary reason people initially perform such actions is because the behaviors are prompted, modeled, or valued by significant others to whom they feel (or want to feel) attached or related” (p.73). In the case of learning to swing dance, I did not have any models or significant others who wanted to do this with me in or outside of the course.

Shift did not happen

The reason that my part of ‘as a learner’ failed in the NGL course was that the only motivating factor was grading (Dron, 2016: p.75). Personally, I feel that the ‘as a learner’ element of the course had no relevance to learning about networked learning.


Carvalho, L., & Goodyear, P. (2014). The architecture of productive learning networks. New York: Routledge.

Cassano, N. (2016). Nat8117. Retrieved from

Dron, J. (2016). p-Learning’s unwelcome legacy. TD Tecnologie Didattiche.

Jones, D. (2016) An experiment in Networked & Global Learning: Week 4 – CLEM and Community. Retrieved from

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68

Spangler, A. (2016). Adam does NGL. Retrieved from

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