Problems with NGL

Reading Neil Selwyn’s article ‘Technology and education – why it’s crucial to be critical’ and seeing a similar post from other students have lead me to consider some of the potential pitfalls with learning in a networked environment from the perspective of a learner and as a teacher.

As a learner there is a wide range of tools available to perform the same function, the decision on which tool to use can be overwhelming. As Lauren eludes to in her post “supporting student-directed online activities”, there were a number of different online skill-mapping tools available to the group. Thankfully, Lauren provided a solution, which the group adopted however without some communication of the solution on the forum we could have gone in a number of directions individually.

An understanding of how to use the technology is also vitally important, Nikki mentions in her post “Tensions and reflections” that no one has commented on anyone else’s blog posts and notes a lack of presence from the facilitator. I think in part people not approving comments in the WordPress dashboard – not knowing that they had comments waiting to be approved have obscured this interaction. I know this was certainly an issue for me to start with and did foster a feeling of isolation that Niki mentions. The conversation is dispersed which I believe gives the appearance of disparate, but it is there in comments in separate blogs, on email, in text chat and voice during online meetings. Personally, it would suit my PKM routine to have the conversation centralised in an area for all to see and access easily. Alternatively, to have recommendations from the facilitator on methods to follow comments on blogs and manage the conversation streams.

Further to this, in my context, networked global learning environment requires learners to have some self-direction paired with digital literacy, to be able to have integrate or use technology in their PKM routine. This combination can vary greatly within a cohort.

As a teacher, technology availability can be a problematic with NGL, as Nikki raises in her post “It’s crucial to be critical” we need to be aware that in an effort to create a flexible learning environment we may be isolating part of our cohort. In my context, trying to deliver course content into rural areas presents a challenge – instead of using technology to create new and exclusive courses/assessments/improvements I am creating digital alternatives to existing processes; more focusing on the replacement and amplification part of the RAT framework.

Appropriate use of technology is also a possible problem in NGL, under or over use of technology and choosing the right tool for the job all impact on learners ability to function in an NGL. These considerations are well discussed in a coursea course ‘Evaluating and Implementing‘.


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