As A Student, NGL was Useful to Me

As a student, participation in NGL was useful to me in because it prompted me to reflect on my processes and habits as a student. This reflection, in turn, helped me to enhance some of my existing methods as I was participating in the “learner” aspect of the course. I will expand on that further in my post about my experiences as a learner.


One of the biggest challenges for me as a student has always been my lack of intrinsic motivation. I have relied heavily on teacher encouragement and assessment deadlines to get me through. At the beginning of this course, this lack of motivation was a big hurdle for me in participating in NGL. However, I was glad to discover from both the research and other participants comments that it was quite common to feel lost at the start of any NGL course (Anderson, & Dron, 2011). I was helped along by the introduction of reflective practices such as Harold Jarche’s PKM (Personal Knowledge Mastery). Using this practice, I was able to assess the process I used for investigating, making sense of, and sharing my understanding of concepts, while also looking at ways to improve them. Indeed, this was so beneficial that I began to reflect further on my difficulties in self-direction and regulation.

I was lucky enough to be studying connectivist theory in another course (Theories for Learning Futures), which has close parallels to networked learning (Czerkawski, 2016). Connectivism is a theory that proposes learning as the construction of the connections within a network (Siemens, 2004)(Downes, 2014). A core characteristic of connectivism is self-regulated learning (SRL) (Siemmens, 2008). That is, for the student, or indeed the network of students, to actively construct their curricula and learning pathways rather than the teacher. One of the readings that I stumbled across was ‘Motivating self-regulated learning in technology education’ (Barak, 2009). In it, the author suggests three dimensions of self-regulated learning in technology education (SRLT).




Figure 1. Dimensions of SRLT.
From Barak, M. (2010). Motivating self-regulated learning in technology education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 20(4), 381-401.

Barak’s explanation resonated with me as a student because it identified an essential characteristic of a self-regulated learner that I was overlooking, and it wasn’t motivation as I had thought. What I was missing, was the metacognitive processes used in SRL to guide an motivate. As Barak explains, metacognitive processes are those that involve ‘controlling any aspect of cognition, for example, memory, attention, communication, learning, problem-solving and intelligence’. Having completed more tasks in the course to master my learning (such as CLEM and PKM), I discovered how useful they were in motivating me.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have always been a visual learner. I like to ‘see’ what I want to learn and be able to navigate my way around that knowledge. These new strategies allowed me to see how I was navigating, and also to be able to monitor how I was progressing.

bicycle-311520_640It’s a bit like having gotten part way along a journey to find that you’re riding a bicycle on a freeway and you’re not exactly sure where you’re going. You might reach a useful destination eventually but are in danger of either losing the urge to go on or indeed of getting squished by something zipping past.

In this analogy, there are a couple of things to point out.

First, without reflection, it’s difficult to see where you are and where you need to go to gain the understanding you’re seeking. With the pace of the modern world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or lose focus. According to Dewey (1933), reflective activities allow learners to gain some perspective on the learning experience as a whole. For NGL its the reflection on the connections between nodes across time and space that provide significant benefit. If we get back to the bicycle, it’s like looking at Google Maps to see where you have been and where you are so you can assess where you need to go to reach your destination.

The second point to make is that the means of traversing the learning experience may be different according to the learning outcomes and the context of the learning. Connectivist theory stresses the importance of context (who is involved and how it’s learned) over content (what is learned). It’s like riding a bicycle when a car might have been better. The CLEM framework helped me to see that while some of the processes I used to collect and analyse knowledge were sound, others were almost detrimental ([see my NGL as a learner post]).

The third and final point to make is that goals are crucial to achieving an outcome. If you don’t have ‘pit-stops’ along the way, then there is a tendency to lose sight of objective that motivated you to begin in the first place (Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992). I discovered the SMART strategy to help me with this in the future.

The illumination of where I sit as a self-regulated learner was the most significant benefit of participating in the NGL course. I believe that it will have an impact on how I continue to learn in the future, as well as informing the design and implementation of future training experiences (see my NGL as a teacher post).


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.

Czerkawski, B. C. (2016). Networked learning: design considerations for online instructors. Interactive Learning Environments, 24(8), 1850-1863.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educational process. Lexington, MA: Heath, 35, 64.

Downes, S. (2014). Connectivism as Learning Theory. Half an hour. Retrieved from 1/15

Jarche, H. (2014). What is your PKM routine?. Harold Jarche: learning & working in perpetual beta. Retrieved from

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. elearnspace. Retrieved from http://www. elearnspace. org/Articles/connectivism. htm

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. elearnspace. Retrieved from

Zimmerman, B. J., Bandura, A., & Martinez-Pons, M. (1992). Self-motivation for academic attainment: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and personal goal setting. American educational research journal29(3), 663-676.


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