Week 2 – Conceptions of Network Learning

Welcome to week 2 of NGL.

This week is really about preparation for diving head long into the struggle and the wilds of NGL. An alternative metaphor might be a pause to catch your breath. In order to do this you’ll be asked to

  1. Read a short paper on networked learning as a threshold concept.
  2. Watch a brief video about different types of system.
  3. Spend time mapping your own network and watching it in action and thinking about the question of information overload and dealing with it.

The last step is perhaps the most important. It involves you explicitly thinking, sharing, and building the process you will be using for learning in this course. If you spend a fair bit of time on this task, you will get so much more out of the rest of the course.

Networked learning as a threshold concept

The threshold of our lives by dhammza, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  dhammza 

First, a quick reading.

Kligyte (2009) is a very short conference paper. While it’s brief it sums up nicely many of the problems you may be having with the concept of NGL. It starts with the idea that network learning is changing how we “create, analyse, and share knowledge” (Kligyte, 2009, p. 540).

The paper’s main message is to illustrate “threshold concepts” can be used to understand the difficulty and complexity involved in changing teaching practice to incorporate more technologies. To do this it draws on a threshold concept framework to examine how networked learning to understand networked learning and how people new to the practice and principles struggle in grappling with the implications.

Reading: Read the “Threshold concept framework” section of Kligyte (2009). In particular the table and its discussion of networked learning as troublesome, discursive, irreversible, liminality and integrative. What in this resonates with you and the last few weeks? Are you still in a “liminal” space? Is the “distributed world of information” appearing any more coherent and sensible? etc, eventually leading to questions of where you are headed? Are you changing how you are creating, analysing, and sharing knowledge yet? As learner? As student? As learner?

The rest of this week’s activities are intended to help you start crossing this threshold


The following video is intended both as a break from reading, but also as a prompt to get you to re-consider how you conceptualise learning, teaching, and the systems that often surround formal education. How are most formal learning experiences designed? Using the chaotic, ordered, or complex systems approach? As you engage with and learn more about NGL, which of these approaches do you think best suits NGL? Does that create any tensions? What about with respect to network learning in the context you’ve chosen to focus upon in your role “as teacher” for this course?


Are you feeling a little like the image here?

One of the participants from last year was certainly feeling this way about this time last year, and he wasn’t alone.

This is not a novel experience for students in network learning and to some extent this course has been designed so that you experience this. This is so that you are aware of this problem when you come to think about applying network learning in your own teaching. It’s also so that you gain some experience at trying to develop some strategies of your won that help you deal with this feeling.

Information overload or filter failure

In the following talk from 2008, Clay Shirky suggests that the problem isn’t information overload, but instead it’s filter failure. See this site for a transcription of the presentation.

You don’t have to watch all of the following video. The relevance to this course is that perhaps your problem is that your filters for (or other means of dealing with) this course aren’t good enough (yet).

Another explanation for the sense of being overwhelmed is that you’re being asked to learn lots of new stuff that challenges your own conceptions. This isn’t easy.

Living in your Network

The solution I’m going to suggest is that you need to develop a solution that works for you as a student. To that end I’m going to recommend two short readings

  1. The Toolbelt and Universal Design – Education for everyone; and,This introduces an approach to learning the resonates with this course and provides Toolbelt theory and the TEST framework as ways for you to deal with the course (and much more).
  2. What is your PKM routine?.Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) was mentioned last week. This post shows off a number of different PKM routines that people have developed. They provide insights that may help you.

What’s your PKM routine?

So what’s your PKM routine? What tools are you going to use to help with PKM? Where do you think the tools you’ve already been asked to engage with fit within your PKM routine? How are these tools, PKM and Toolbelt theory going to help you as “student, learner and teacher”?

David (previous examiner) also quickly filled in the following table with a quick description of what I think my PKM routine is going to be for this course.

Mendeley gets a mention in the following, it’s not a tool you need to use. But it or something like it might help. It depends on you. Your PKM process will be unique.

PKM Critical Thinking Process Tools and Strategies
SEEK Observe & Study Feedly – OPML file sending course and participant feeds into one place.
I also have a collection of other feeds in Feedly that I try to follow. This includes feeds from journals which keep me up to date with what they are publishing.I also rely on Twitter a great deal.
And obviously Google and Google Scholar play a large part in this.
SENSE Challenge & Evaluation, Form tentative opinions This is mostly through writing blog posts. But I am also increasingly using Diigo and Mendeley for this. In particular, the annotation and organising capabilities of those tools allow me to make notes and “categorise” what I’ve found.
SHARE Participate Blog posts, Diigo and Mendeley also enable sharing – especially when sharing with the group.
Twitter is also something I use, but not as well as I should.

The challenge for you now is to develop your own PKM routine. In reality (and just like Davids above) it’s probably going to be something you keep developing throughout this course. Use the table above to develop a representation of your PKM routine.

Activity: This would be a good candidate to share on your blog.

Applying the TEST framework

PKM identifies a set of Tasks you need to complete to participate in this course. You can probably identify a few more. The TEST framework provides a way to think about the combination of Task, Environment, Skills, and Technology.

As part of your PKM routine you will have identified a range of technologies you’re going to use. Are you familiar enough with what those tools can do? Do you have the skills necessary to complete the identified tasks?

Activity: Now would be a good time to seriously reflect on these questions, share your reflections via your blog, and take some steps to address them. I and the other participants in the course can help, but there’s also a great breadth and depth of network resources that can help you develop these skills.

The following are some very specific tasks that you might need to complete during this course. They are provided here as a challenge and also an aid to completing the above task. The task list includes

  1. Write a blog post the links to another a post from another participant.
  2. Write a blog post that has a YouTube video embedded in it.
  3. Use Feedly to know about the most recent resources shared via the EDU8117 Diigo group.


At this stage, you aren’t expected to have finalised your plans for these three roles. However, by the end of week 2 you should be fairly set in your plans and have started working on your “learner” activity. Some of the tasks below become more useful if you have identified your foci as they will guide what you do.


The aim here is to really start making links in our respective networks, both within the course and outside.


Activity: Integrate into your PKM process how you are going to support other participants as part of their network.


The next step is to create connections with people outside of the course. Hopefully people with something interesting and useful to say about NGL. In 2014, I started sharing a list of potential interesting people via the Diigo group.

Your task now is to support each other.

The aim is that these people are going to help give you interesting insights and resources about NGL as it applies to your role as “student, learner and teacher”. With a particularly important focus being on your role as “teacher”. You should be looking for people thinking and doing interesting things around NGL in your teaching area.

How you find such people will involve creativity. Google searches etc.

Finishing up for the week

The following offers a quick list of tasks you should be making significant progress towards by the end of this week.

  1. Be able to offer some explanation of what networked learning is and how it relates to what else you know about learning.
  2. Have designed and implemented (at a least first version) of your PKM routine.
  3. Made connections with some of the other participants in this course.
  4. Finalised on your choice of what you will be focusing on this semester in your role as “learner” and “teacher”.
  5. Made a start on learning something using NGL.
  6. Started making connections with people from outside the course relevant to applying NGL to your foci.
  7. Given some thought to how some of the conceptions introduced above connect with your foci.


Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2007). Collectives, networks and groups in social software for e-Learning. In World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (pp. 2460–2467).

Goodyear, P. (2014). Productive Learning Networks: The Evolution of Research and Practice. In L. Carvalho & P. Goodyear (Eds.), The Architecture of Productive Learning Networks (pp. 23–47). London: Routledge.

Goodyear, P., Carvalho, L., & Dohn, N. B. (2014). Design for networked learning: framing relations between participants’ activities and the physical setting. In S. Bayne, M. de Laat, T. Ryberg, & C. Sinclair (Eds.), Ninth International Conference on Networked Learning 2014 (pp. 137–144). Edinburgh, Scotland.


11 thoughts on “Week 2 – Conceptions of Network Learning

  1. astrethewey

    No sure if this will help others, but in trying to access the first article by Dron and Anderson I was set to a website that prompted me to subscribe and pay to access. Good news – USQ is actually subscribed to this site so if you use this link:


    then click on the title EdITLib above the table, it will take you straight to the USQ access page for the EdITLib site. Then all you need to do is search for the article and download it. Took me a while to work it all out so I hope it saves the rest of you some time!


    1. David Jones Post author

      So sorry for this oversight. I’ve updated the link in the actual page to this it should take you to a web page where you can download the full text of the paper. It should allow any USQ student/staff access the full text from anywhere through the use of EzProxy.

      Anne, thanks for sharing the problem and a solution. Apologies for the wasted time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. algilbey

    Well played Mr Jones.

    Through engulfing us with a gamut of new technology last week you extracted an honest, yet somewhat beleaguered few posts that seem to have fallen right in with your plan.

    Well played.


    1. David Jones Post author

      G’day Alex, I think there’s a bit more reacting to what I’m observing, than all seeing planning going on here. Fits somewhat with the ideas of the video that started this week. If a networked course is more like a complex adaptive system then the ability to purposefully design learning experiences that achieve their intended outcome is unlikely.

      I’m already finding the course taking a much more interesting (admittedly from my perspective) as we all start to engage, than I could possibly have come up with by doing a full up-front design. But then perhaps that says more about my limitations.



  3. Mari

    Hi David,
    I’ve changed the name of my blog from Mari4arteducation to (sm)art education network. The old name still shows up in the list (blog roll – column on right hand side of this page). Is it possible to change this?
    thanks, Mari


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