As a Learner, Participation in NGL was Useful to Me

Having come to the discovery early in the course that there were some aspects of my learner identity that were less than ideal to be able to participate in a self-regulated activity (see my NGL as a student post), I sought to incorporate some of what I had learned. In the article, ‘Motivating self-regulated learning in technology education’, Barak (2009) identified interest as one of the aspects of motivation. So the first thing I needed to do was find a topic that I was not only interested in but was relevant to me in my current context.

The topic I chose was to learn how to write a children’s book.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always enjoyed writing, and over the years I have participated in short courses and informal learning activities to develop and share in that passion. At the time I wasn’t aware of it, but having completed this course, I now consider my past involvement in a FanFic (fan fiction) discussion board, in essence, my first steps into NGL. On the discussion board, I gained a presence within the community and involved myself in creating and sharing stories that expanded on the original text. Dron and Anderson (2007) and Anderson and Dron (2011) identify these characteristics as key to connectivist learning. The other aspect they refer to is access to critical feedback. This evaluation came to me by way of my peers and readers provided as comments between ‘episodes’. Henry Jenkins (2010) claims that

‘a familiarity with fandom may provide an important key to understanding many new forms of cultural production and participation and, more generally, the logic through which social networks operate.’

So, from that perspective, I wouldn’t be starting out blind if I focused on writing. However, I needed to narrow the topic down. I had done a few courses on developing characters and screenwriting so I knew already that learning to write was too broad. The other factor that influenced my decision was context and the idea of using cultural practices as learning resources. Ares (2008), communicates the importance of making learning relevant and contextual to the learners in her observations of a networked mathematics classroom. For me, the context came from family. My nieces would be an incredible source of inspiration, and my mum (a kindergarten teacher) was just as eager to learn as me. In addition, the first task to create a network learning map, allowed me to see that there were many nodes I could tap to assist. And so it was children’s writing that I finally decided on.

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Having chosen the topic, I jumped straight into collecting artefacts. By chance or perhaps by design, the topic I chose did not lend itself to academic literature, and indeed I already had some social sources I could turn to, primarily by way of Twitter. I searched blogs and wikis, video sites and MOOC sites. Only when I became overwhelmed by the number of resources available, did I realise that I had jumped straight into old habits. My previous post (linked above) on my experiences when starting out, explains how I used some of the NGL strategies we’d learned in the course to re-focus myself.

I also attempted to employ some metacognitive control processes as suggested by Zimmerman, Bonner, & Kovach (1996), and Zimmerman (2002). While some of the personal influences such as self-efficacy and self-esteem were a little too complex to contend with (without a stiff drink and a vast network of psychologists), I was able to employ some strategies to orient my learning towards my objective of completing my first children’s book.

I developed some short and long-term goals and aligned them to a time-management plan. I utilised the CLEM model to examine my learning network to determine which nodes might assist in developing an understanding of my topic. In addition, I reflected on my style of learning and developed some ways of utilising visuals to help me learn. As an example, I gathered some random objects, people, places, and emotional/physical deficiencies, printed them out and shuffled them as a means to prompt ideas for characters. I came up with this idea after playing Superfight with friends. I also relied strongly on video tutorials through Udemy.

Finally, and most importantly, I learned by doing. Utilising pedagogies of situated learning (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989) I actively participated in the practice of writing, while seeking critical feedback from the most important experts I could find… my nieces. While this is still an ongoing learning experience for me, I do hope to achieve an outcome by the end of the process. It may take a little more time than expected due to the pressures of completing two courses at once, but I am committed to finishing the book and may eventually post it up here for feedback from some of my new contacts and experts in their unique perspectives.

Participation in NGL has benefitted my learning as it has begun to seed new practices into my repertoire of learning strategies. It has allowed me to appreciate some of the self-regulation processes that I may have been told about in the past but would not have attempted without this authentic learning experience.

References

Ares, N. (2008). Cultural practices in networked classroom learning environments. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3(3), 301-326.

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(3), 80-97.

Barak, M. (2010). Motivating self-regulated learning in technology education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 20(4), 381-401.

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational researcher18(1), 32-42.

CLEM and Community. An experiment in Networked & Global Learning. Retrieved from https://netgl.wordpress.com/study-schedule-2/week-4-clem-and-community/

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2007, October). Collectives, networks and groups in social software for e-learning. In E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (pp. 2460-2467). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Jenkins, H. (2010). Fandom, Participatory Culture, and Web 2.0 — A Syllabus. Retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2010/01/fandom_participatory_culture_a.html

Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview. Theory into practice, 41(2), 64-70.

Zimmerman, B. J., Bonner, S., & Kovach, R. (1996). Goal 1: Understanding the principles of self-regulated learning. In B. J. Zimmerman, S. Bonner, & R. Kovach, Psychology in the classroom: A series on applied educational psychology. Developing self-regulated learners: Beyond achievement to self-efficacy (pp. 5-24).

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