Networked Learning Project – Reflections and a Cozy Scarf

This is the final blog post in a series of three on the networked learning project I have been doing in CEP 810. 

Through the course of this project, my classmates and I have been learning a new skill through YouTube videos and various online help forums.  Our essential learning for the project has been to familiarize ourselves with the variety of “networks” available on the web and how we can use those networks and other digital tools to learn.  Over the course of these four weeks, I have accessed an on-line network of knitters to teach myself the skill of knitting a scarf.  Some of these knitters share their knowledge through the creation of video tutorials, others by answering the questions of a novice on a help forum.  Through these interactions, they share their passion and knowledge with those of us who do not share their experience base.  As a result, I have begun the journey to being a knitter by learning the basics and completing my first project. 

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As a learner, this type of learning is effective for me.  I use it frequently when I am working to solve technology problems or learn a new piece of software.  Google is a perfect example.  As I went through the process of becoming a Google Educator this summer, their videos and help forums were the easiest and most effective way to learn the content.  I believe networked learning is a fantastic tool to have in your educator’s toolbox because video and “ask an expert” situations can be such a powerful means of engagement for some students.  It is not an all students all the time kind strategy, but can be very effective in specific learning situations such as learning a new technique or trying out a new skill. 

I do not see myself using this technique much for students in the near future as my district has blocked both YouTube and on-line forums due to the potential for negative interactions for students.  As a member of the district technology team and the Library Media department head for the past six years, I have been actively working to have those filters removed, but have not had much success.  I am hoping some changes in my district will enable teachers to use these effective tools soon.  I do use video tutorials that I have created with my students for things like using a new online tool or searching for titles on our library catalog, but they do not have access to that wider network of experts to answer their questions. 

Overall, I think this project was a good experience for me.  I learned a new skill, and was forced outside of my comfort zone by asking questions in a help forum about a topic for which I had very little background knowledge.  I am looking forward to some changes in philosophy in my district soon so I will be able to introduce my students to the networks that will help them investigate their passions and encourage them to become lifelong learners at the same time.

The video below represents my learning during the course of the project.  I welcome any feedback on networked learning in general or my project specifically.

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