The way we learn has changed significantly from the first instructor-led correspondence courses, media presentations, and Web 1.0 – the ability to search and read information online (Web 2.0, 2016). With the advent of Web 2.0 tools, people are no longer passive observers in their education. Now they are contributors to the content such as creating a blog or voice thread or adding content to a wiki. They are also able to connect and collaborate with others and learn through these social interactions. The experience has been termed networked learning and aligns with the ideology of connectivism, which suggests learning is about sustaining connections to human and non-human sources (Bell, 2010). Moreover, connections abound…there are a plethora of information sources and access to others with similar interests just a keystroke away.
In my personal experience, the way I approach learning is different with technological advances and network learning opportunities. I can access learning any time or just in time as needed, which allows for more flexibility and opportunities for ongoing learning. I no longer have to wait for the semester to begin to take a course. Even when I do sign up for a webinar, the recording feature means I can still view it later on if I miss it. YouTube videos abound on any subject or system so I can learn about personal interests or topics to further my professional career. Search engines help when I do not know where to find the information I seek, or I am looking for some friendly banter; in today’s jargon, Google It is a noun. Current research along with constructionist and connectivist theories support the premise that we construct skills and knowledge through interactions with others – peers, instructors, co-workers, and mentors (Mackey & Evans, 2011). There are many opportunities to share and contribute to the knowledge pool through my favorite blogs or social media networks.
Some of the digital tools and network learning sites I use the most in my educational aspirations include Web 2.0 tools or applications, several social networks, associations, and blogs. XMind is a mind mapping program that I find useful for storyboarding eLearning designs, planning training solutions, and connecting my thoughts on various subjects (as you can see in my Network Learning map). Prezi is a useful tool for creating presentations to show connections between topics and allows branching of concepts. Prezi has a social sharing component where you search for topics and make comments on presentations. Some of my favorite social network sites include Linked-in and Google+. Linked-in provides great opportunities to connect with individuals and join groups and organizations of interest; I am part of several instructional design groups, which allows me to read, create, and comment on posts. It is extremely beneficial to swap stories and discuss topics relevant to ID in bettering my skills and thought-processes. Google+ has much more potential as a tool than Facebook to “connect you to other people who are interested in your passions.” (Wagoner, 2014). Facebook is my friendship social media platform of choice, where Google+ is my professional one. It allows you to search for communities and network using all the tools associated with Google. Wagoner (2014) does an excellent job of conveying the benefits of Google+ in her article, What is Google+ and why should I use it? In a previous post, Three Favorit Blogs, I share how useful blogs are in staying connected to current trends and happenings in the Instructional Design world. Blogs are one of the best tools in my arsenal of network learning and provide me with a continual stream of ideas and opportunities to interact with other instructional designers. In my mind map, I list several brick-and-mortar learning networks, such as school, work, and associations as well as the digital ones. Networked learning will continue to play an important role in the future as we move into Web 3.0 and 4.0 so digital immigrants, as well as natives, can stay connected to ongoing learning opportunities.
Bell, F. (2010). Network theories for technology-enabled learning and social change: Connectivism and Actor Network theory, in: Networked Learning Conference 2010: Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning, 3-4 May 2010, Aalborg, Denmark: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/9270/1/Bell.pdf
Mackey, J., & Evans, T. (2011, May). Interconnecting networks of practice for professional learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 1-18. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v12i3.873
Wagoner, A. (2014, August 2). What is Google+ and why should I use it? Retrieved from androidcentral: http://www.androidcentral.com/what-google-and-why-should-i-use-it
Web 2.0. (2016, September 28). Retrieved October 2, 2016, from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Web_2.0&oldid=741612667