Networked Learning and Inclusion

The third suggestion presented by Doug Belshaw in “Working Openly on the Web” is to ensure data is readable by both humans and machines. This statement reminded me of a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) workshop I attended a couple of weeks ago. The workshop attendees were advised to make sure any file we upload is also readable by machines. However, this was addressed in the context of how graduate teaching assistants may further accommodate students with disabilities.

Seth Godin argues that blogging is a means to force oneself to become part of the conversation.

Reflecting on all of these points, I have come to conclude that making data readable by machines does not just allow for “network effects”, as suggested by Doug Belshaw, and blogging is not just a platform to participate in the conversation if one so chooses. Rather the idea of “networked learning” allows for any- and every- one to be an active participant in one’s education. It includes those students whose learning needs may otherwise be overlooked by traditional pedagogy.

I was most inspired by Michael Welsh’s presentation of a “scaffolded” final project that makes the process “worth it” for each individual student. I have been in a few classes, both graduate and undergraduate, that have included checkpoints by which my instructors could give feedback for the next phase and the final submission. I’ve found this helpful due to the instructor feedback and that this does not allow for leaving a final project until the last moment. I’ve even experienced not submitting one deadline to my expectations, and it was reassuring to know that I would be able to recover as I progressed.

I am interested to learn ways to incorporate networked learning, “scaffolded” assignments, and ultimately inclusion in my own teaching practices.

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4 thoughts on “Networked Learning and Inclusion

  1. I sometimes feel burdened that all the processes of networked learning are recorded. I try to write more accurate and thoughtful text because of the burden, but the burden sometimes limits my way of thinking.

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  2. Your post deals with something I’ve been struggling with in my own research and that is how to make databases useful to humans and machines. I appreciate that computers are capable of an incredible multitude of things but I also wonder if we sometimes degrade our quality of output so that its easier for computer interpretation. I recently listened to a radio lab podcast on the use of hashtags and other syntax tools and I found it fascinating how they connected the idea of creating hashtags as a searchable database for computers to interpret.

    I’ve also had classes that incorporated final projects but I do struggle with the idea that the bar is different for different students. I think I struggle with the idea of ‘fairness’ in this context and how you evaluate that. I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve been in group projects where one person does most of the work and it legitimately feels unequal for the same grade. I do like the idea of somehow staggering expectations but it is hard when some students feel they are doing much more than others and the resulting grade is the same.

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    1. I think you raise a good point there. When projects are structured as collaboration the idea is to encourage teamwork and group effort. But with the traditional grading system, it becomes a fragile alliance that breaks as soon as one group member decides not to contribute. I would, however, say that this may be due to thinking behind the grading system and not networked learning. So, although all students may get the same grade, the skills they acquire varies greatly and that affects their success down the road.

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