I have always had a self-directed mindset to my own learning, especially in finding the methods that are most effective and motivating for me. I chose to use NGL to learn Auslan, and in doing I began to question my learning process. Overall, NGL did not help me learn Auslan. NGL might have been useful if someone learnt Auslan with me, or if I had chosen a “digital” learning task that had the potential to foster within an online environment (such as Samanthi’s endeavour to teach children to code, or Madelein’s decision to learn Second Life). The struggle to learn Auslan was discussed in my post, “A Learner’s Reflection.” Throughout my learning endeavour, I yearned for human interaction, or for someone to learn Auslan with me. This sentiment is endorsed by Costa and Kallick (2008) who acknowledge that learning is enhanced when we learn with others. However, I did not seek support from my fellow EDU8117 peers in relation to Auslan. Instead, I took a close look at my learning network and used CLEM (Communities, Literature, Examples & Models) to seek out practice-based communities (Jones, 2017). I discovered an eight week Auslan class at my local library. Upon attending, I determined the class was a combination of a practice-based and knowledge-based community (Riel and Polin, 2004). By undertaking Auslan classes, I learnt the basics of signing, which EDU8117 could not provide me. You can check out my amateur signing abilities in the clip below.
Although EDU8117 did not help me learn Auslan, it paradoxically pushed me outside my comfort zone and compelled me to make connections via networking, both within formal and informal environments. Unfortunately, I have not become fluent in Auslan. However, I believe my Auslan inefficiency does not reflect the usefulness of NGL principles. This is supported by Downes (2011) who states that the value of a learning experience resides in the process, not the content. As a learner, participation in NGL was useful to me as it showed me the imminence of networked learning within day-to-day experiences. NGL principles such as CLEM, Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and connectivism showed me that learners can “access endless sources of information, build relationships, collaborate and develop knowledge outside formal educational environments (Kligyte, 2009). This reinforces the notion that lifelong learning occurs beyond the classroom. This is supported by Tobin (2000) who states that “real learning” – the information that is retained and used beyond a course – can only be determined by the learner themselves. Therefore, similarly to my experience as a student, it became clear that “as a learner,” I was in control of my learning journey, and was subconsciously using NGL principles to aid my learning process.
In addition, participation in NGL was useful as it gave me the opportunity to reflect and gain insight into the way I learnt and constructed knowledge (Siemens, 2008). NGL encouraged critical thinking by allowing me to question myself and others, thus “courageously risking the stability of our social worlds,” (Hearn, 2013). In exploring PKM, I discovered the value of “sensing,” and appreciated the fundamental role it played in the digestion of information. I acknowledged this in my PKM post, by stating that;
“Sensing is a big part of my PKM routine. I mostly do this by writing. I am a crazy writer. I write about everything…just to make sense of it…writing challenges my views and perceptions, which I believe is a core of the sensing element,” (Andersen, 2017).
As a learner, blogging was the perfect channel to “sense,” and “share,” (Jarche, 2014). Blogging also represented the true nature of NGL. This is supported by Barnes (2017) who states;
“Blogging is an assemblage of loaded words, meanings, images, and politics which can set up relationships across time and space. The writers, the humans who are the creators of the online text, are both simultaneously human, machine and text. Cyborgic assemblages which take on a life of their own once “Publish” is clicked. Cyborgic text which co-functions in symbiosis, in sympathy but not necessarily in harmony. Blogging is an act of inquiry. Blogging, if the author of the text is willing and open, is an act of becoming,” (Barnes, 2017; Deleuze & Guattari, 1987).
The characteristics of blogging, as described by Barnes (2017) are also the characteristics of a network (Downes, 2011). As a learner, this quote resonated with me, as it made me realise the connections between everything I have learnt in my past, everything I have learnt through EDU8117, and everything I have learnt on my quest to learn Auslan. The “distributed world of information [suddenly] appeared to be coherently connected,” and I realised I was experiencing the integrative features of the Threshold Concept (Kligyte, 2009, p. 531). In using NGL as a learner, I have felt like “a restless, nomadic, unruly thinker who settles down for a while to explore a new terrain, building on…earlier adventures, and then picking up what was most worth keeping and moving on (Barnes, 2017; Soja, 1996). I believe this is a reflection of connectivism (Siemens, 2008; Downes, 2011), which is imperative to lifelong learning.
Overall, participation in NGL was useful by allowing me to understand the meaning of my experience via blogging (Costa and Kallick, 2008). According to Barnes (2017), blogging as inquiry is a method which challenges the notion that writing is a natural and linear process. In fact, Barnes (2017) argues that blogging is liminal. I agree with Barnes (2017), and do not wish to box my learning process in a framework for fear of limiting its liminality.
NGL has helped me discover my identity and process as a learner. I have stepped over the “threshold” and understand the knowledge obtained from NGL cannot be “unlearned,” (Kligyte, 2009). NGL has shown me that learning – true lifelong learning – will always involve “messy journeys back and forth across conceptual terrains,” (Cousins, 2006), through endless connections (Downes, 2011).
This leads me to conclude that lifelong learning thrives in liminality.
Andersen, N. (2017). Personal Knowledge Management. Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from, https://openpagesweb.wordpress.com/2017/08/13/my-personal-knowledge-management-pkm/
Barnes, N. (2017). Blogging as a method of inquiry. Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology, 8(1), 17 -26. doi: 10.7577/rerm.2236
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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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Soja, E. W. (1996). Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell.
Tobin, D. (2000). All Learning is Self-Directed. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.