Networked Learning for Teaching/Advising Students?

Reading: Gardner Campbell, “Networked Learning as Experiential Learning” (2016)

Networked learning has various avenues for researchers. For example, the Research Gate allows us to create a project and post our publication online. People who are interested in our projects can follow us and ask questions through this social media. As compared to the past when people need to attend conferences to obtain the latest knowledge and exchange ideas, our social networks nowadays has significantly accelerated the diffusion of knowledge. An idea that came to my mind is that I may ask my students who are doing research with me to constantly post their latest results on the web like facebook newsfeed, so that they can receive feedback right away. Also, as an advisor, I will know they are working :p. But to be honest, in my area where there are tons of math, it’s pretty difficult to post sth unless the results are plotted. Oh well… I will try to figure a way to do it..

On the other hand, I think networked learning cannot replace traditional classroom type of study, at least in the area of engineering. Though online courses websites such as MOOC and Coursera make knowledge easily accessible to everyone, interacting with teachers is still very important for students who has no self-learning ability, at least including freshman and sophomore students in my opinion.  Nevertheless, networked learning systems like Canvas used at VT is a very good learning assistance for students. They can start a discussion with their classmates and teachers. They can easily form a study group to exchange ideas and learn from each other. But it seems to me that only a few instructors at VT really use those website functions to assist their lecture.


Teach to learn & Learn to teach 


Education is a continuous process that involves teaching and learning. Professors are in charge of educate students at different levels by teaching to learn. In addition, a broadly view of human capacity is crucial for the development of professional contributors to our society is needed.

Infinite teaching and learning materials and methods have emerged during the last centuries.  Now a days, digital media has become one of the most innovative and powerful tools that can  impact students, teachers, professors and other academic actors. Internet make accesible all kind of valuable topics, communication channels, and networks.

Using technology and nontraditional materials (blogs, twitter, video clips) to teach is controversial. First, the steady flow of million of users can question the quality of content that can be reached. Second,  the constant updates, variety of versions, softwares, devices and such makes it a real challenge for some professors with lacking skills of technological literacy. However, these tools engage, builds and create new networks that can be use to improve the educational process. As future professiorates, it is critical to learn and adapt ourselves to new technologies. Being aware of what is going around, and being up to date to be sure that we are not falling behind is part of the “Learn to teach” process.

One concept very simple but powerful that can inspire use is: “individuals best adapted to their environments are more likely to survive“.

Finally, “Teach to learn & Learn to teach is a continuous cycle that needs to include the adaptation of new tools such as technology. This approach might help us to contribute to the development of future professionals with human capacity.

About the Author

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise department of Virginia Tech. 

Avatar: The Last Blogger

How does one start a blog? With a Hello World? With an overview of my life culminated into under 300 words, like an abstract? With a series of gifs whose captions tell my dialogue?

Hello World!

Okay now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss blogging for academia. Obviously, I’ve never owned a blog, though I do know quite a lot about the English language so I think that makes me a novice, a padawan, if you will. I’m a generally private person, so asking me to share my thoughts online is a little boggling and I’m trying to come to terms with opening up to virtual strangers (yes both meanings of the word virtual).

After reading Tom Hitchcock’s blog about using social media as a tool to connect with other research professionals and share ideas, I can find value in a blog. Blogs seemed like a very shallow, whiny diary of sorts to me. But, I can choose what to share or not share. I can divulge my first kiss from the 8th grade or talk about my research involving molecular simulations of proteins involved in Type 2 Diabetes (I’ve been doing that for the past three years and it really is a hobby of mine). I guess I could make it a whiny lab journal talking about all the trials and tribulations while conducting this research.

I can choose who I correspond with and what we choose to talk about. I’m having this epiphany while I type  that I haven’t really used the Internet to its true potential, sharing only memes and cute animal pictures with my friends and family.

My name is Megan Richardson and I am a Lurker. I like to lurk, I like anonymity, though I’m going to have to give that up if I want to make use of this newfound tool.

Blogging, or even communicating via forums is a good thing (this is really odd to say after I have avidly sworn off social media through my teenage years and young adulthood). I can’t easily travel to places but I can easily send messages to people in those places. Online translations have become a wonderful tool and I can culminate a group of collaborators and friends worldwide who share my interests that I may have never gotten to meet otherwise. I’d have to depend on getting accepted to present at the same conference or be introduced by mutual acquaintances. There is too much chance and the likely end result would be me and this other researcher being passing ships in the night. I was really enthralled by co-writing a blog with other researchers like The Many Headed Monster that Hitchcock mentioned.

All in all, I have a lot to learn before I’m ready to collaborate with anyone. But I believe, one day I can collaborate with the world…

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