Networked learning…is it useful?

If you had asked me about this idea a couple of years ago when I was in undergrad I would have probably laughed at you and thought that it was a crazy idea. I only say that because for me everything was done ‘offline’. Homework assignments were done on paper and turned in at the beginning of class and any reports where typed in Word, printed out and turned in.

Fast forward a couple of years to today. Now…I’m starting to come around to the idea of networked learning. When used in the right context networked learning can be extremely useful. It gives students the opportunity to collaborate with others (not just others in the class, but possibly others around the world) and use it as a two-way discussion to improve their ideas and reasoning. Also,  as pointed out repeatedly throughout the readings, the more blogging that a person does usually the better a person becomes at writing. They become better at getting their desired point across in a well-mannered and interesting way. I’m a mechanical engineer and even I cannot stress how important this idea is. Regardless of what a student does with their degree being able to clearly convey their ideas to an audience is such a useful quality.

I would like to change gears slightly and look at ‘networked learning for graduate students’. I use the quotes there because I feel like for graduate students ‘networked learning’ is different than ‘networked learning’ for undergrads. Instead of using blogging to collaborate on assignments and improve writing skills, graduate students can use blogging to express their ideas on the research they are working on and use blogging to collaborate with other likeminded individuals to construct a stronger research claim.

As a graduate student, I don’t like wasting time. Therefore, I don’t like doing things that won’t benefit me or others in my lab. I’m not going to lie…I use to think blogging was useless and the biggest waste of time (please don’t hate, I have changed) and didn’t want to take the time to do it. Anyhow, when I was reading through the article written by Tim Hitchcock I saw a sentence that really stuck out to me, for simplicity I’ve included the sentence below.

“The most impressive thing about these blogs (and the academic careers that generate them), is that there is no waste – what starts as a blog, ends as an academic output, and an output with a ready-made audience, eager to cite it.” [1]

This sentence just really stuck out to me because it got me thinking about how blogging could be useful. It could be used for brainstorming and getting ideas flowing between others in your respective field. It can be used for getting ideas out to an audience before ever going to a conference or publishing a paper.

Thus, it is easy to see that assuming the information does not have to be kept confidential blogging can be useful when used properly and can help add another level to a person’s research/writing.

[1] Hitchcock, T. (2014, July 28). Twitter and blogs are not just add-ons to academic research, but a simple reflection of the passion underpinning it. Retrieved January 20, 2017, from