Week 3 – Where you and NGL have come from, and where you’re going

Welcome to another week. This will hopefully be a week that sees you venture a bit further into the wilds of NGL and perhaps start thinking about how (and if) any existing notions might need to be reconsidered. Three main questions for this week

  1. Where has NGL come from?A single set reading that gives some of the history of NGL and its connections with broader intellectual pursuits.
  2. Where are you going?i.e. where are you going with NGL in this course as student, learner and teacher?

What has NGL come from?

This section looks at the a bit of the historical and some of the conceptual origins associated with NGL.

Groups, networks, collectives and communities

Back in 2006, Stephen Downes produced the image to the following image and some related thinking about the differences between groups and networks. Given the topic of NGL making this distinction seems important, especially given that most learning and teaching focuses on groups. You can see more of Downes’ related thinking on this page from a 2011 cMOOC. Also linked to on that page is the next reading.

This reading develops three different ways of looking at “many” (groups, networks, and collectives) and thinks about how those distinctions might be useful in e-learning.

A new reading: In 2014, Dron and Anderson wrote a book titled “Teaching Crowds” that extends the ideas from Dron and Anderson (2007). Read chapter 3 of the book as it describes a typology of social forms of learning. Also, make sure that you have joined the Diigo group and have a Diigo tool installed in your browser when you read chapter 3. That way you’ll be able to view and contribute to the group’s annotations.

Possible blog post? Are the participants of NGL a group, network, collective or something else? Still too early to tell? What should/could/might they be? What are your experiences of groups, networks and collectives, in learning, teaching or life more generally? Have you experienced sites such as Quora or Reddit? Which of these conceptions might be useful, which might be challenging or inappropriate, for your context “as teacher”?

Mike Caufield has proposed the idea of choral explanations as a way to describe the type of social learning/interaction that occurs on Quora.

Learning technology through the generations

The following reading situates the networked learning type perspective as the third generation of pedagogy. It gives some detail of the origins of networked learning and its connections with existing pedagogies and related concepts, and much beside. In reading this (as with all readings) be thinking about how this applies to your practice as learner, student and teacher. What are the insights that can help? The barriers you need to be aware of? The gaps in your knowledge? What do you need help with?

Reading: Anderson and Dron (2012)

Where has NGL come from?

The aim of the following reading is to provide you with some connections to the use of “networks” in other academic fields and also (at least one version of) the history of NGL.

This is all meant to help help you think more about how you are using NGL as student, learner and teacher. What insights from this history resonate with your experience? Which offer suggestions for ways forward? Which identify what’s causing you problems? As you read through this reading, you might ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. How could this course be improved?
  2. How could your approach to this course as student be changed?
  3. What contradictions appear in the history of NGL?
  4. How has NGL changed over the years?
  5. What insights/research appear directly related to you as teacher?
  6. What connections do you see with what’s in this reading and what you’ve experienced before in terms of learning, teaching, and education?
  7. What might the next 10 years hold if technological change keeps accelerating?
  8. What deep questions does this reading (and NGL in general) generate for you in terms of “learning, understanding, capability, agency, and responsibility”?

Reading: Goodyear (2014), “Productive Learning Networks: The Evolution of Research and Practice”.

Where are you going?

That’s enough reading about NGL and various bits of history. It’s time to turn your attention to where are you going. In particular, where are you going in terms of NGL and you “as learner”, “as student”, and “as teacher”. From a very pragmatic perspective, that means taking a look at assessment.

For me, assessment is perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of a course being delivered by NGL. Mainly because I’m unsure how much we will be able to explore how NGL might transform the nature of assessment in this course. It’s a sign of the the difficulty formal education has in innovating around assessment, the importance assessment plays for learners, and my own limited conceptions of assessment from a NGL perspective all play a role here.

The following aims to make clear my current conception of the assessment of the course and how it will be marked.

Assignment 1

Assignment 1 is worth 60% of your mark for this course. A detailed description of Assignment 1 is available. In summary,

  • It is due on the 9th of September.
  • Is divided into two parts: Participation and Looking back and forward.
  • Both parts are worth 30% of the total course mark each.
  • The participation component will be marked by a combination of
    1. automated marking (10% of the course mark); and,I will run a script that will analyse all that you’ve written on your blog. It will be looking for the total number of posts, the size of those posts, the percentage of posts with links to posts written by other course participants, and the percentage of posts with links to other resources.The rationale for this approach is to minimise any constraints on what you write on your blog post. But at the same time encourage you to make connections (through links).
    2. manual marking (20% of the course mark).As per the rubric on the assessment page.
  • “Looking back and forward” will be marked manually. (more detail following)

The “Looking back and forward” part of Assignment 1 asks you to write 3 separate blog posts (each about 1000 words) that respond to the following statements (use the statements as the title of the post)

  1. As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me.
  2. As a learner, participation in NGL was useful for me.These first two posts are where you reflect back on your other blog posts and your experience of using NGL as student and learner. The idea is for you to use that experience and the literature you’ve read to figure out whether or not NGL was useful and to think about why.
  3. How NGL can inform my role as teacher.This post is a little more forward looking. It’s an attempt to take your posts and thinking about NGL “as teacher” and identify (at least) two possibilities around how NGL could be used to inform/change/transform your practice as teacher.The intent is that this post and possibilities are getting you to think about what Assignment 2 might focus upon. i.e. for Assignment 2 you will have to end up identifying 1 possibility and developing a design-based research proposal for implementing and evaluating that possibility.

Assignment 2

Assignment 2 is worth 40% of your mark for this course. A detailed description of Assignment 2 is available. In summary,

  • It is due on the 21st October.
  • It has two parts: Peer Review (10% of course mark) and The Proposal (30% of course mark).
  • The intent is for you to draw on your experiences and insights from Assignment 1 and develop a design-based research proposal (what this actually means is described in the assignment detail, and will also be discussed later in the semester) for how you will transform your practice as a teacher through application of NGL principles.

What now?

As learner

Your focus now should turn to your participation in NGL. In particular, what are you going to do “as learner” with NGL. You should have identified what it is you are going to engage in and have begun trying to engage in that learning, and, more importantly, have started reflecting on that experience.

Next week is a lighter week. Only 1 reading. It will have a particular focus on you engaging and thinking more about your use of NGL “as learner”.

As student

Take a closer look back at the assessment details. How are you going in terms of meeting the requirements for participation? Have you started linking to posts from other course participants? Are you following other course participants and their blogs?

As teacher

It’s also a good time to be reflecting on what you might do “as teacher”. What particular problem, task, desire, or other teaching outcome might you like to work toward using NGL as a lens?


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.

5 thoughts on “Week 3 – Where you and NGL have come from, and where you’re going

  1. Pingback: Updates – OPML file and Week 3 material | An experiment in Networked & Global Learning

  2. Pingback: A new activity on Week 3 | An experiment in Networked & Global Learning

  3. Pingback: Criteria and more detail on Assignment 1 – Part 2, now available | An experiment in Networked & Global Learning

  4. Pingback: What is “netgl” and how might it apply to my problem | The Weblog of (a) David Jones

  5. Pingback: Group, network, collective…or? | BeeLearning Blog

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