Networked learning facilitates the relationship between digital technologies and education and learning1. The central concept in network learning is the connections. Connections include interactions between the user, digital technologies, and resources. However, the question is whether all interactions with technologies constitute networked learning. In other words, despite a growing demand for efficient ways of using networked learning to enhance student learning in higher education, do you think the networked learning initiative reach the point is designed for? My answer is “NO”! I think there are challenges in networked learning concept, developing, and maintaining connections with digital technologies that it still cannot be considered as add-ons to the academic research.
Misusing the digital technologies: This semester I am a TA for a class (~100 undergraduate/graduate students). The instructor does not let the student use computers during the class for any purposes. Students must silent and stow away their cellphones, tablets, and laptops during class meetings. Do you know what the result was? Students engaged more in discussions, took notes, and listened carefully. This makes me think that what are the differences between the classes use the digital technologies and those focus on traditional instructor-student technique in term of level of student learning. I talked to the instructor, and he clarified his intent by explaining that digital technologies disadvantages are more than advantages. He believes that digital technologies make distractions and the students misuse these technologies. I agree with him. To overcome this challenge and increase learning, the central question is how to inspire the student to use digital technologies for learning purpose? And how to teach them to use these technologies in a right way?
Lack of trust in cyberspace: Moreover, in higher education, most of the graduate students and scholars worry that sharing their research in public through cyberspace will allow another scholar to steal their ideas3. Their concerns come from lack of trust in cyberspace and cultural deficiency in using e these technologies.
Miscommunications: All of us suddenly are fallen into the digital technology era without knowing the basics of handling effective public communication. There are several instances of miscommunication in cyberspace information exchange between culturally diverse learners2 which not only not increase learning but also impoverish the learning. After inspiring students to use digital technologies to enhance learning, it is essential that student learn how to solve the misunderstanding, pave miscommunications, and facilitate interactions and learning through networked-learning technologies.
All of the factors I have discussed in this blog reinforce the role of culture in networked learning. On the other hand, it is undeniable that our culture also “absorbed a range of new media platforms and practices.”4. So, to keep up with the relative rapidity of change in digital technologies platforms being used, facilitate developing and sharing knowledge, and underpin practical pedagogical knowledge in a networked learning environment, all of us must learn the culture of using these platforms accurately. But how?