Networked learning is a concept that until my first year of graduate school, I never knew or explicitly understood what it was; and honestly, I’m still a little fuzzy. It is my understanding that networked learning is the use of blogging and social media as platforms to engage in learning. It is the process of acquiring, developing and sharing information with others in a way that aids in their learning. When I think of networked learning, I think of experiential learning. Experiential learning is the process of learning through experiences. Within the context of education, I often think of experimental learning as internships, research and service, and have never really thought explicitly about networked learning.
Please bear with me ya’ll as I attempt to process my thoughts on networked learning. Although I identify as a millennial, and as a student affairs educator, I completely agree that learning happens in various ways outside of the classroom, I’m still processing exactly how I feel about experiential learning. Social media is great and I do believe that learning happens there, but what type of learning is happening. And is this learning for personal of academic reasons? Now, does there have to be a difference; absolutely not, but this is a dichotomy that I sometimes find myself in when thinking about social media. Additionally, the use of blogs as a form of networked learning in academic setting is a newer concept for me. I’m still trying to see blogging as a useful tool in the academic world and not as another “busy work” assignment. As I’ve spent the last three semesters blogging, it initially started out as being time consuming but the more I blog, I think there may be some use to it. Blogging can be seen as a tool that provides insight into the mind of our professors and peers. As someone who has typically been afraid to speak up in academic settings, blogging has been beneficial for me academically as of late because I have been able to express my honest thoughts and opinions for my classmates and professors to see without speaking up in the classroom. However, blogging can also be seen as a copout and one that I don’t necessarily want.
All in all, networked learning is a concept I believe is utilized more at the graduate level than the undergraduate level. I’d be curious to see tis practice more in undergraduate academics. As many universities are now moving further into the 21st century, I’m interested to know how networked learning processes impacts their learning potential and outcome.