Another website musings

I have to admit to being tardy in starting assignment 2. I have been feeling rather stretched thin lately and my usual organised self is beginning to shatter. So I have been reading David’s comments on assignment 1, reading blogs and trying to define a problem. In my new job a lot of effort is focused on creating program sites in Moodle as these will address the requirement to provide students with Program Learning Outcomes and so much more…

My new manager stated quite aptly the other day that “The answer to life, the universe and everything these days is a website!”

So this is where my thinking is heading towards a problem that exists in my context and where I can ask my colleagues and manager to discuss the problem as my peers. David suggested on one of my blog posts to look at the following journal article:

Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29.

I had posted some thoughts around McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message. How much this article turned my thinking around as it made me realise that learning can occur regardless of the medium (put very simply). It also clearly links in with Universal Design for Learning framework that I explored in a previous course. And fits into the website problem… As an online learning designer I have to help academics design websites that enable learning (regardless of whether that is a Moodle site or actual website). What happens most of the time is that the ‘website’ gets loaded up with information and information is not learning! So it is with these new Program Sites and many of the LMS course sites that are created … and I help create :/

Everyone is thinking if only I provide the information, students will learn! This does not take into account students’ personal learning journey. This is hard to emulate in a website. Talking about the design for a unit of study  Damien Clarke in his blog post, The reusability paradox – WTF? describes three approaches to deal with student diversity:

  1. Make the unit of study as abstract (decontextualised) as possible making no assumptions about learners or their backgrounds, and “teach the facts”.
  2. Design the unit to cope with the highest represented context (i.e. the discipline with the most students).
  3. Design the unit of study to address multiple contexts, in an attempt to make it meaningful to multiple disciplinary groups.

Damien goes on to say that these approaches are not the solution but David Jones directs us nicely (via Diigo) to an Edugeek journal article, Evolution of the Dual-Layer/Customizable Pathways Design,  that talks about designing your own learning pathway as well as having an instructor led design. I particularly like the idea of students being able to create their own story by selecting from the available material and adding their own.

My musings have not only help me to start on the problem for assignment 2 but also to reflect on who I might seek peer reviews on the problem from. I feel I can use blogs/readings by people with similar problems to validate my own problem as well as incorporating the peer review into my current work, starting with asking my manager and colleagues. How would they address this problem?


Quality in Learning Design

Terry Anderson gave a presentation about the Quality of Online Learning (2016). The title question he posed was:

Quality Online Teaching and Learning – Is it really different than campus-based education?

In his blog he provides the following answer:

It Depends! – not least of which depends on the pedagogy employed

His presentation resonated with me for 2 reasons. First, it dawned on me that I have judged the Networked and Global Learning course through a social constructivist pedagogy lens as this is my and my fellow students’ preferred way of learning and teaching. The course was build using connectivist pedagogy and therefore some of us had difficulty with the openness, student/teacher role definition, artefact creation, privacy and perceived disorder of the course. Upon reflection, I can see that the course has been effective in using connectivist pedagogy as we have build and shared artefacts, developed and assessed networks, and critically evaluated resources which Anderson (2016) indicates as quality in connectivist pedagogy.

The second reason why Anderson’s slides were so useful is that I will be able to use this to in my role as Online Educational Designer to assess the quality of online learning by measuring it against the pedagogical approach used.

To summarise Anderson’s presentations I have adapted some of his slides.

Quality depends on pedagogy





cc_88x31 These images were based on Terry Anderson’s Online quality Mexico SlideShare presentation available at Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International – CC by 4.0.


Anderson, T. (2016) Quality in Online Learning Presentation. Virtual Canuck: Teaching and Learning in a Net-centric World. Retrieved from

Diigo…why it doesn’t work

I started a new job recently and we have to test an upgrade to the Moodle learning management system. I thought I would use some of my newly found skills from the NGL course and suggest that the team use Diigo to highlight and annotate the help pages that we have to change as part of the update. This is when I discovered that the highlighting and note taking on webpages does not ‘stick’.

David suggested a number of times on our course blog that we look at webpages stored in Diigo to see his annotations:

Note: Be sure to have Diigo available in your browser, I’ve annotated the page with a few comments related to the course. If you’re a member of the NGL Diigo group, you should be able to see those annotations. (David Jones, Week 9)

I have been wondering why I have never seen his or other students’ annotations or my own when I have (re)visited those webpages. This is probably the main reason why I have found Diigo so useless. The answer is that the free version does not provide users with this functionality. I expect that David does subscribe to Diigo and therefore does see the annotations when he returns to a webpage.

The Brain

I like the idea of it being able to come back to annotations of webpages but what I really need is a place that stores it all the information and the connections between all this information. This is when I came across something called TheBrain that can include every thought that comes up and visualise connections and relationships. I have just downloaded the app and will experiment with it during the free trail (1 month). I was greatly inspired by the following video that in many ways highlights how networked learning works 😉

eLearning Adviser vs Online Educational Designer

I started a new job this week at the University of South Australia (UniSA) as Online Educational Designer. Previously, I worked at the University of Adelaide (yes, the competition!) as an eLearning Adviser. Even before my first working day, I noticed there was a big difference between the two competing universities in this small state in Australia (1.6 million people) that even has a third university, Flinders University.

The biggest difference is that UniSA has a Digital Learning Strategy that clearly shows that the university is in touch with the impact of technology and the internet on education and learning. The strategy incorporates digital literacy, learning at different pace and place, and life-long learning for all staff and students:

This strategy is a whole-of-university strategy, through which we will deliver an engaging curriculum, support our students to be productive professionals in a digital age, expand our flexible learning arrangements, develop our academics to be leaders in the digital learning experience, and inspire the entire UniSA community through life-long learning. By 2020 UniSA will be recognised internationally as a leading university for its use of innovative digital technologies to ensure a high quality student learning experience. (UniSA, 2016)

For me, one of the most compelling points made in the digital learning strategy was to enable more face to face opportunities by using technology in creative ways to deliver information, provide opportunities for knowledge construction and promote active online networked learning.



Digital Learning Strategy

  • Digital literacy
  • Choice of pace and place to learn
  • Digital identity
  • Improving the face-to-face interactions
  • Lifelong networked learning for staff and students


  • Well-designed physical and virtual spaces
  • Technology to improve/transform the pedagogy eg green screen recording studios that are easy to use
  • Learning analytics – dashboard available in Moodle Learning Management System


  • Choice of technology
  • Flexibility of working hours and place


What I miss…

The wonderful relationships I had already established with the academics at the University of Adelaide and that I miss so much already. I wish I could merge the two so that the academics at the University of Adelaide could also benefit from a digital learning strategy that could provide them with a whole connected environment to help deliver truly transformative learning for them and the students. Unfortunately, they are currently shifting from one learning management system, Blackboard to a new one, Canvas and the institution is under the misapprehension that a shift in LMS (technology) will also transform pedagogy. That however lies with the power of the relationships that can be built between eLearning Advisers/Online Educational Designers and the teacher, not within a technology. It is not whether you use technology but how you use the technology! … and perhaps we all need a bit of assistance with that.


UniSA (2016) Digital Learning Strategy 2015-2020. Retrieved from—2020/

How NGL can inform my role as a teacher?

Interestingly, my role as ‘teacher’ is being an online educational designer at a university. My participation in all the courses in the Graduate Certificate of Education: Digital Learning Environments have been done with an educational design perspective. The NGL course has provided the greatest difficulty in using this perspective as designed is definitely not what networked learning is. In fact, the organic, learner-centred, connected nature of networked learning does not lend itself to the commitment, purpose, hierarchies and structures of normal courses (Dron & Anderson, 2014).

Through my participation in the NGL course, and using my online educational designer lens, I have two ideas that could be implemented in my ‘as a teacher’ role which could lead to transformative change of how courses are taught at university. First, I would recommend that networked learning is ‘taught’ as an add-on instructional style to pedagogy of current courses (Ehlers, 2013). Second, Carvalho & Goodyear (2014) have examined networked learning in order to distinguish the activity, what people are actually doing and learning in the network, from the elements that can be ‘designed’. I would create and recommend the elements that are of use to networked learning such as the tools, resources, and social interactions in my role as educational designer.

Idea One: Networked learning as an add-on


Networked learning would be useful as an instructional add-on to any university course, rather than providing a separate course on networked learning. Networked learning principles could be added incrementally to all courses.

“The extension enables learners to create their own supporting network, which can act as their personal “learning attendant”. Therewith learners have the opportunity to learn in a self-directed way when- (what-) and wherever they want to, whereby they can draw on a worldwide resource-pool of knowledge and “peers” as learning attendants through whom (external) reflection and validation is given” (Ehlers, 2013: p.111).

Networked learning is already implicitly being done in universities, academics have their research networks and students have their social networks. This is why networked learning is so useful as an add-on to an academic’s current pedagogy as it uses authentic learning tools that people are already familiar with (Herrington et al., 2014). A crucial part of knowledge transfer occurs via the learning process that connects what, when and from whom to learn (Siemens, 2002; Ehlers, 2013).

“By designing instruction in which students actually use current tools to create information as an author does, as well as more skilfully consuming information in all formats, we enable students to understand both the process of evaluating and using these tools and the visceral differences between posting and discussing something publicly as opposed to handing it in to one person (the instructor)” (Bobish, 2011: p. 63).


  • Teaching academics networked learning (to recognise their own networked learning)
  • Learning new technologies
  • Time


Teacher & industry models of learning networks

Using authentic tools and scenarios that relate to people’s real life and future work life. Authentic activities are the ordinary practices of culture and what actual practitioners do, if used in teaching then this will allow for transfer of learning between different networks (Herrington et al., 2014).

Providing learner control over tools, content, their identity.

Learner control over tools, content and identity means that the student can decide what tools to use that will benefit them (Bonzo & Parchoma, 2010). The “technologies do not merely assist in everyday lives, they are also powerful forces acting to reshape human activities and their meanings” (Bijker in Carvalho & Goodyear, 2014: p.52). The internet and technology allows students to create their own personal learning network, facilitating knowledge creation, use, interaction and transfer (Monge & Frisicaro-Pawlowski, 2014).

Teach students to see the connections between content, tools, people.

The student is able to transfer networked learning to other courses, social and work life using the authentic models provided by the teacher (Herrington et al., 2014). Once students can relate different ideas transformative learning can occur.

“The more we relate things, the more creative we are because creativity is being aware of or seeing connections that others don’t. The more we relate things, the more we can transfer them because the ability to transfer is based on the ability to make connections between otherwise seemingly different domains.” (Cabrera & Colosi, 2012: p.86).


  • Technology – fast changing
  • Institutional limitations – requirement to use the learning management system
  • Analytics – difficult in a distributed environment
  • Privacy/identity complications

Idea Two: Design for networked learning


“We never educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment. Whether we permit chance environments to do the work, or whether we design environments for the purpose makes a great difference” (Dewey in Carvalho & Goodyear, 2014: p.59)


“That there is no such thing as user error: while they can make mistakes and do weird stuff we never envisaged, it is our failure to design things right that is the problem” (Dron, 2016).

McLuhan (1964) explained that we learn differently depending on the media used in his seminal work The medium is the message. Thus the environment through which we learn has an impact on how we learn. Carvalho & Goodyear (2014) established that design elements such as the tasks, tools, resources and relationships can improve the way a network operates. Dron & Anderson (2014) recognise that design can also encourage participation, get people to remain in the network and should be designed for change. “As McLuhan said, we shape our tools and our tools shape us” (Dron, 2016).


  • Time to design
  • Technology required to create tools
  • Designers required not just teachers
  • Traditional teaching role lessened


Carvalho & Goodyear (2014) point out “the importance of (1) links between design and what people do and feel” and (2) the value of design and development methods that work by incremental improvement” (p.56). Three design elements were researched extensively by Carvalho & Goodyear (2014) in The architecture of productive learning networks and supported by case studies from around the world. These are epistemic, set and social design:

Epistemic design (tasks)

This design is about the knowledge-oriented elements/tasks that can bring about learner activity. Well designed task and support resources will focus thinking (Carvalho & Goodyear, 2014). For example, scaffolds, navigational clues and legibility to reduced cognitive load.

Set design (physically situated)

A “logic that can connect place or tool to activity” (Carvalho & Goodyear, 2014: p.63). Visual layout is simple and clear, focus on content. Every element has a well-justified purpose, avoid overload of textual, visual images or sound.

Social design (socially situated)

Interaction with others is enabled and as people are self-organising, roles are only suggested. A sense of community is created via the sharing and visualisation of experiences and ideas from students, teachers and professionals.


(Networked learning design elements, reproduced from Carvalho & Goodyear, 2014: p.59)


  • Technology – fast changing
  • Institutional limitations – requirement to use the learning management system
  • Not wholly networked learning as working within a course structure
  • Teacher willingness

Shift happens

Both ideas described would be possible for me to ‘teach’ depending on the willingness of the academics to shift from their traditional pedagogy to a more learner-centred, authentic connected approach. Regardless of academic willingness, I will model networked learning in my professional oeuvre so that I can illuminate its benefits.



Bobish, G. (2011). Participation and pedagogy: Connecting the social web to ACRL learning outcomes. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37(1), 54–63.

Bonzo, J., & Parchoma, G. (2010). The Paradox of Social Media and Higher Education Institutions. Networked Learning: Seventh International Conference (pp. 912–918). Retrieved from

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

Dron, J (2016). True costs of information technologies. Retrieved from

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds: Learning & Social Media. Edmonton: AU Press, Athabasca University.

Ehlers, U. D. (2013). Open learning cultures. A Guide to Quality, Evaluation, and Assessment for Future Learning. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. Retrieved from

Herrington, J., Parker, J., & Boase-Jelinek, D. (2014). Connected authentic learning: Reflection and intentional learning. Australian Journal of Education, 58(1), 24–35.

Jones, D. (2016) Overview/intro to EDU8117 – Networked and Global Learning. Retrieved from

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. Retrieved from

McLuhan, M. (1964). The Medium is the Message. The Anthropology of Media: A Reader.

Monge, R., & Frisicaro-Pawlowski, E. (2014). Redefining Information Literacy to Prepare Students for the 21st Century Workforce. Innovative Higher Education, 39(1), 59–73.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 2(1). Retrieved from

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

Networked learning, as Connectivism suggests, is as much about acquiring meta-skills in learning as it is about the learning itself. In the absence of a teacher role, this typically means that the networked learner must discover sources of inspiration from within the network through role models, or discover the learning design in some other way. (Dron & Anderson, 2014: Ch.5 online version).

The Dron & Anderson quote highlights my learning from Networked and Global Learning course and paradoxically my frustrations with the ‘delivery’ of the course. The lack of learning design and teacher presence have caused me (and the other students) no end of pain, whilst paradoxically enabling me to create my own learning network, although not per se for the course. More so participation in Networked and Global Learning course was useful to me in understanding what networked learning is, and how I can use it to be a lifelong learner.

I learnt that networked learning is a decentralised way of learning. Not everything is taught by the teacher within the structure of the institution. Networked learning recognises that an active, self-directed exchange with places, people, situations, communities and content outside the ‘school’ environment is just as much part of learning (Dron & Anderson, 2014). Networked learning is particularly enabled by the internet as a medium to create and distribute content and connect people to people and content (“Networked learning”, 2016; Ehlers, 2013). In addition, networked learning explicitly addresses the sharing of experiences of the learning process and independently creating one’s own learning network (Ehlers, 2013).

It has to be noted, that networked learning has occurred throughout human history via our social, family and work networks without necessarily being part of an educational setting (Carvalho & Goodyear, 2014). The NGL course has attempted to instill networked learning via its instructional design. “How a person learns a particular set of knowledge and skills, and the situation in which a person learns, become a fundamental part of what is learned” (Putnam & Borko, 2000: p.4). Connectivism (Siemens, 2005) was used as a model for the the design of the learning environment that is delivered via the blog entitled An Experiment in Networked and Global Learning. The use of ‘new’ learning tools (blogs, feed aggregators, shared annotations) to find and filter information as well as allowing students to build connections by creating and sharing knowledge on their own blogs (Siemens, 2005; Kop & Hill, 2008).

David Jones (2016) stated in an Overview/intro to EDU8117 – Networked and Global Learning online session that:


This is certainly how the NGL course has been delivered. The role of the teacher, David, was mostly to model network learning behaviour, via his personal blog and the course blog in which he made connections to past student blogs, literature, people and communities. He also demonstrated how to use the tools that enable connections such as Feedly, WordPress and Diigo.

Apart from understanding what networked learning is and having experienced a version of it via the NGL course, the irony is that the course sits within traditional course structure with its roles and deadlines negating some of the benefits of networked learning, especially that of learner freedom. At the same time too much freedom has caused enormous frustrations for students within the course (Spangler; Martlew; Murray; Cassano, 2016).

Too many options, especially in a learning context where we may have little idea about appropriate tools, methods, content, or individuals from which to learn, can make it very difficult to choose between one path or another, and may leave the learner in a worse position for control than if he or she had no choice at all. (Dron & Anderson, 2014: Ch.5 online version)

Natalie echos some my feelings about partaking in the course:

“I have found this course somewhat chaotic, with many concepts and theories presented in a non-intuitive order (from my perspective only). I have completed other courses, where I haven’t had trouble following the learning; and in these courses, I haven’t felt a strong need to connect face-to-face.“ (Natalie: 2016)

Dron & Anderson (2014) suggest a number of freedoms in networked learning that can be either advantageous or damaging to learning. These freedoms are time, medium, technology, relationship, method, pace, content, place, disclosure and delegation.


Notional cooperative freedoms in a network
(Dron & Anderson, 2014: Ch.5 online version)

In the table below I will outline how the NGL course performed on suggested freedoms that are normally part of networked learning and that have impacted on my and other students’ participation in the course.

Freedoms (10)

(Dron & Anderson, 2014)

Performance of NGL course

😊=good (2) 😑=neutral (4) =needs work (4)


“the availability of other people determines when and how participants might learn.”

Other students/teachers did not respond in a timely manner to blog posts. Limited to institution’s semester time. Too much time spent to learn what networked learning is.

Place 😊

Could be accessed anywhere, any device with internet connection using various technologies (mobile, Feedly, Diigo).


“connectivist models place a great deal of emphasis on members of a network being contributors and creators rather than consumers”

Small amount of students participating and slow start meant there was not much participant content. Content provided was mainly of the read/write type and thus did not necessarily align with the learning needs of students. The content on the course blog could be updated for greater relevance to the new students.


Individual creates their own learning path

Students did not know subject matter well enough to ask questions of others in the network. Students were hesitant in their new role of creating their own learning path. They did not know this is what they were meant to do.


“Within a network we choose how, when, and whether to engage with others, without any constraints beyond that those we engage with must be, by definition, part of the network.”


The course tried to ‘enforce’ relationships by asking students to link to other students (limited number) and others. Freedom was taken away by making it part of assessment to do this. Few students and different background meant that connections were tenuous.

Medium 😊

Ability to choose any medium to supplement learning and suit learning style was evident in all participant’s posts.


“The only constraints on the choice of technology in network-based learning are that the tools and processes we use must facilitate connection.”


Encouraged to use freely available tools, in particular to move away from the learning management system. The course was run via a blog and students’ assessment is linked to the creation of their own blog posts. This has proved beneficial to creating a personal learning network. However, technical issues with the use of Diigo, student’s blogs being added to the OPML file for Feedly, automated blog analysis and learning new technologies was particularly hard on students in the first few weeks of the course.


“Networks are very good for surfing ideas, following paths wherever they may lead, going on tangents, and connecting disparate ideas and skills, but to follow intentionally focused paths they are more limited.”


Learning path was always unclear and has caused frustration. Could have been improved by scaffolding students into networked learning. A lot of time was wasted trying to discover the learning path. Course content, method and assessment did not change to suit the current students.


Blog posts were slow in appearing and being noticed. Learning in a semester based course with assessment deadlines makes this type of learning less suitable to a ‘traditional’ course. Perhaps it would be better as an ‘add-on’ (Ehlers, 2013).

Disclosure 😑

Reluctance to reveal one’s identity and lay public reflections. Considerable time commitment when writing blog post due to posting for others as opposed to the pure self reflection of a personal journal.

Shift happens

Overall, I think that the NGL course has been beneficial for me to establishing lifelong learning habits, in particular creating one’s own personal/professional learning network and identity. However, achieving this valuable conclusion through means of the NGL course has not been an easy task due to the extensive time commitment necessary to write blog posts and feeling lost most of the time without any support. To improve the course, I strongly agree with Natalie’s analogy of a host at a party, who not only enables online socialisation but also scaffold students into networked learning.



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

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

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds: Learning & Social Media. Edmonton: AU Press, Athabasca University.

Ehlers, U. D. (2013). Open learning cultures. A Guide to Quality, Evaluation, and Assessment for Future Learning. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. Retrieved from

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. Retrieved from

Martlew, A. (2016). Networked and Global Learning Blog. Retrieved from

Murray, M. (2016). Global Education Matters. Retrieved from

Nat8117 (2016) As a student, participation in NGL has been useful for me. Retrieved from

Networked learning. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved 1 August, 2016, from

Putnam, R. T., & Borko, H. (2000). What do new views of knowledge and thinking have to say about research on teacher learning? Educational Researcher, 29(1), 4-15.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 2(1). Retrieved from

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

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

Networked learning 1 2 3

The online meeting that Miranda, Angela, Natalie and I attended on Monday night really exemplified networked learning. Here is why:

  1. Environment – a knowledge environment was created outside the official ‘classroom’ by setting up an online meeting
  2. Identity – our roles are less hierarchical: we are the teachers, facilitators and learners at different times during the meeting
  3. Interaction – learning through different mediums is possible as we used visual and auditory skills to communicate and interact.

Another example of my version of networked learning was achieved via Melissa’s post, Together to Learn, in which she points to a video entitled ‘Life in a Learning Community‘. This led me onto a completely different topic than the intend of the video which was about Alvin Tofler’s Learning, Unlearning and Relearning. Using a clue from the video I explored Marshall’s McLuhan’s “The medium is the message“.

McLuhan explains that learning using different medium impacts on how our reality is shaped and transformed and that the effect of the medium is independent of what is presented. He talks about environment, interaction and identity. This leads me full circle to our online meeting, a medium that allowed me to assert my identity, led me to interact and learn through a different environment.

Our online meeting had a positive effect, however the medium can also have a negative effects as is clearly exemplified by Jon Dron’s post on the True costs of information technologies, where the tools are driving the way we operate in the world.

Our new systems make us do the work for them. This is the polar opposite of why we use IT systems in the first place, and it all equates to truly lost time, lost motivation, lost creativity, lost opportunity.

The true effects of our new mediums is not yet fully understood and often hidden. This I believe is something that needs to be researched and taught.

…other tools and collaborating

In my previous post, Diigo and other tools, I talked about how I hand write to make sense of information and that I have not found Diigo or Mendeley useful for this type of activity (for me). The dimension that I failed to address is that both Diigo and Mendeley offer the opportunity for people to collaborate but that the method in both cases does not suit me.

I use Google Docs (docs, slides, forms, sheets) extensively to collaborate at work and study. Google Docs has without a doubt completely transformed the way I work and study. Why?

  1. Visual layout and use is simple and clear…intuitive…its ‘outward simplicity creates inner calm
  2. No more saving – documents are saved automatically to Google Drive
  3. Sharing – I can link and embed documents anywhere I want
  4. Editing – I can give editing rights to others and we can synchronously edit a document (example below)
  5. Storing – one place to store my documents with multiple access points: mobile phone, laptop, work computer, via LMS etc … all I need is a browser and internet connection…although…
  6. Offline – I can work on documents offline and sync them when I am connected again

So I had an idea!

For students of the NGL course to collaborate using a Google Doc. I have embedded one below, you do not even need a Google account to edit to this document.

Please note: I am not sure if the embed code is going to work, so I will also provide a link to the document. If you have Google Drive then you can add this document to it 🙂

The topic…why not assignment 2? Ideas how NGL can be used that will help you as a teacher. Also useful for assignment 1, formal blog post ‘as a teacher’.  I have written 2 ideas to kick start the document, How will NGL inform you as a teacher? I look forward to collaborating with you:

Diigo and other tools


The image above clearly indicates my lack of engagement with the Diigo tool. I looked at it today as I read the following on the course assessment page:

Your use of Diigo and any other tools you use (and mention in your blog posts) will be examined to look for evidence of participation on four fronts:

  1. As student (3%);
  2. As learner (3%);
  3. As teacher (3%);
  4. Use of other (non-blog) tools (1%).

Yes, I panicked and finally took another look at Diigo. I tried it back at the start of the course and was unable to add anything to the group area. Every time I highlight something on a webpage the annoying ‘in the way’ doowacky appears:


I know at that Natalie struggled with Diigo as well and David provided an answer on the Study Desk… way back (50 days ago according to Feedly – which I do find a useful tool!). Even though I get the intent of Diigo, it is a way of sharing annotations on the same document/webpage, this method just does not work for me. Frankly, I cannot wait to remove my account at the end of the course so I no longer have to see that doowacky on every webpage I highlight.

I have used Mendeley to organise my resources. I could make annotations and share these with others but even in Mendeley I have not done this. For me the physical act of hand-writing notes/quotes when I am reading aids my memory and helps me to construct knowledge. This is what my sense-making activity looks like:


Each person will be different in their sense-making activities. Amongst other activity attributes Carvalho and Goodyear (2014) recognise that “activity is shaped by the physical setting in which it unfolds” (p.59).

People typically open and walk through a gate rather than jump over the fence; they follow existing paths rather than make their own; they use tools that come to hand; they click Google search links that come up on the first page, and so on. It is often rational to conserve energy – physical, mental and emotional (Carvalho & Goodyear, 2014: p.59).

When I am on the train, I find my reading/ hand-written note-taking particularly useful. My brother told me about this great method called Bullet Journal: The analog system for the digital age. I have adopted this method at work, taking a note book with me to meetings, I don’t often refer to my work notes afterwards but writing items down certainly aids my memory and is a great reference point that is easy to carry around and refer back to when needed.

Our little class

When I enrolled into Networked & Global Learning course, David contacted me as I was the only person enrolled. How would the course be provided considering there was only one connection, teacher to student. Luckily more students joined and the course is being delivered as before. Something I had not picked up on, but Natalie did, is that some students have dropped out. Natalie points out:

…students will always prefer to interact with other students in the “here and now”, whether it be online or face-to-face. Interacting with a post, where there is little chance of a response, has limited appeal.

I totally agree with her and have indeed struggled with this course because of the lack of interaction with other students and teacher. It would be valuable to know why the students dropped out.

The way I have tried to resolve this is by talking to colleagues and friends about the course – and this is exactly what networked learning is about. We seek our own networks for learning.

Interestingly, it might well be the reason that we have a small class that is bonding us together, the stalwarts remain 😉 determined to make it work. Miranda‘s question ‘Do these virtual learning environments where people can speak with each other give enough of a human connection that learners sometimes seek?’ is something that our little class is about to explore thanks to Natalie who is organising an online session.

I look forward to sharing online.

Yours virtually,