I’ll admit it: I hate blogging (Week 1)

Perhaps it’s because I’ve only ever been forced to blog for classes that I find it boring – and challenging. To me, the point of a blog is that people willingly share their thoughts with the public, on any topic. This allows for freedom of expression and a personal flare to the writing. Therefore, I struggle to understand why blogging is such a phenomenon among professors right now, even after reading more about blogging as a form of academia. By requiring it for a course, doesn’t that limit and prohibit full honesty in the writing? But I must say, I’m completely open to changing my mind on the matter! And I say all of this to be completely upfront in the hopes that my writing has more truth to it. In blogs for other courses, the writing never sounded like me because I was forcing it.

Moving on. . .as a lover of travel and all things international, I should be the first person to back blogging. How cool is that I can read about students’ lives across the world through a blog or Twitter? On the other hand, I have Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and whatever other social media platforms may emerge in the future, to keep my global friendships alive. Are we looking at these platforms as forms of learning and education, as well? A picture is worth a thousand words, so imagine all we can learn from a person’s 167 Instagram posts! However, I recognize (and agree) that social media is not real life, and it’s only a snippet of a person’s reality – if at all. Can the same be said of blogging? Isn’t it just another form of a person trying to show the rest of the world how smart, cultured, and open-minded they are? #woke

I’m 24 years old. Facebook became huge when I was in 8th grade and we still had to hide our MySpaces from our parents. Ever since, I’ve been so tightly connected to the internet and technology. My phone is rarely out of sight, and I’ve recently made a point to leave it locked away in another room so I could start enjoying the real world again. I don’t need to check Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and even Venmo, on a loop while watching Real Housewives of New York on the TV and reading BuzzFeed on my laptop. Maybe I worry blogging will just strengthen that technology reliance even more. Instead of learning about education, cultures, fashion, art, cooking, and so on through a blog, shouldn’t I be pushing myself to go out and experience those things firsthand?

And here I’ve gone and done exactly what I critique bloggers for – rattled off my opinion on a subject that I’m not well-versed in and that people probably don’t care to hear. And hey Dan Cohen, tweeting doesn’t always have to be an intellectual commentary on one’s professional field. I like reading about what people had for breakfast on Twitter!


No Information is an Island

We are entering the digital era, and everything gets digitized: we work with Microsoft Office software at work, purchase goods via PayPal, monitor everyday exercise or even sleep habit with fitbit, and post daily life experience on social network. Almost every behavior is influenced by Internet to some extent, and we really enjoy the convenience, efficiency, and stability it brings. As it comes to the learning process, the conventional “schooling” is also greatly transformed by Internet towards an advanced form of networked learning. Learning process is now not limited within an isolated classroom or a single textbook. You can easily have access to all the information and knowledge, jump into a discussion on online forum consisted of diversified groups of people, and express your opinions anytime/anywhere. The Internet-based learning, being one form of “connected learning”,1 bridge all the information and opens a new door for higher education with enormous benefits.


Digital Platform in 21st Century

(click on the figure to be directed to the original source)

But still, when this networked learning gradually extended to every classroom, there still have several challenges to be properly addressed. Using a laptop or PC for learning process can always be a distraction in conventional classroom or study room, especially for those freshman. New concepts tend to be boring, and complicated equations are always tedious. With a laptop on the desk and a whole world of interesting things happening every seconds, the lecturer can easily lose control to young students. This challenge urges lecturer to rethink about their way to deliver key information and make their fast-paced class more intriguing and understandable. On the student’s side, more self-control is preferably required for enhanced learning efficiency.

“internet vs classroom”的图片搜索结果

Online Education vs. Traditional Education

(click on the figure to be directed to the original source)

Networked learning via Internet requires more critical thinking for all the information. The traditional textbook-centered learning approach tends to deliver safe and well-confirmed knowledge to all learners. As Internet being a massive flee market of information and knowledge, students should carefully read through all related information online and rule out fake claims and incorrect messages. This process can be rather difficult for those students stepping into a new and unfamiliar area. Though more practice can certainly help, teachers should provide proper aid at starting period to help students understand fundamental principles and guide them through screening stage.


The last challenge for networked learning online is to effectively convey your points and messages in a professional way. As Doug Belshaw mentions in his blog, “ensure your data is readable by both humans and machines”.2 Students tends to treat Internet as a casual space, and hence their writings may have lots of oral language, confusing abbreviations, and/or random tags learned from social network, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It is better to separate the writing pattern of insightful blog with that on social network to promote deep and more efficient communication. Having more practice in professional blogging can definitely help, but it could be better if university can offer workshops on professional blogging for freshman. Online blogging and forum certainly provides us a channel to access the professional and unique perspectives from others, post our own critiques, and eventually understand the original information better via comprehensive discussion. No information is an island in this digital era, and no learners should be separated from others.

“academic blogging”的图片搜索结果

No Academic is an Island

(click on the figure to be directed to the original source)



  1. For Ito’s most recently published thoughts on this topic, see Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, and danah boyd, Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2015).
  2. Doug Belshaw “Working Openly On the Web”

Networked Learning: A Great Way to Develop Early Career

Hello, welcome to my blog! This is my first time posting writing online. I am very excited about it. Today I’d like to talk something about networked learning and how it helps young scholars to develop their early career.


The theory of networked learning was created back in 1970s by Ivan Illich. Since the last decade, the development of internet makes it way easier for people to connect with another around the world. It also makes the access to learning materials easier. The networked learning itself is evolving rapidly. But one thing does not change is the core of networked learning—connection.


Because of the idea of connection, networked learning is a great way for young scholars to develop their early career. For young scholars, increasing exposure of their work to both public audience and peers in their field is the key to a successful career. Because everyone is involved in networked learning to some degrees nowadays, sharing research ideas and posting work on platforms (blogs, Twitter and Linkedin) is a smart move to “advertise” yourself. In the old time, participating conferences is the main and most effective way to reach out with other researchers in the field. But because social media is almost real-time, zero cost and covering a really wide range of audiences, it is gradually replacing conferences and becomes people’s first choice.  


In my field, people post their new publications, share pictures of the presentation and discuss potential collaboration on Twitter a lot. There are senior professors who are already the big names in the field as well as young scholars who just started their career. Everyone looks so passionate to research and is very willing to share ideas with others. As a PhD student, I think it is the time to build connections with people in the field. Maybe one day I will get a postdoc offer or get funded for a project just because I post my idea or make a comment today. Who knows!

Networked Learning in a Digital world – Or Prisoner’s Dilemma in Disguise?

The emergence of Web 2.0 has accelerated the growth of human networks, both in a social as well as a professional context. The growth of human networks has aided learning both in formal settings (universities and colleges) as well as informal settings in the form of community learning websites (For ex. Stack Overflow, Github, etc.).1

     Being a graduate student, I have lost count of the number of times I have visited Stack Overflow exchange to obtain solutions to tricky coding challenges in research from other netizens.  Similarly, I have provided solutions to problems posted by other (no I have never obtained help for class assignments if you were wondering). This is one of the easiest examples of networked learning whereby individuals all over the globe come together and provides solutions to each other’s problems. The popular phenomenon of Crowdsourcing, first coined by Jeff Howe in 20062, whereby organizations and governments seek to utilize the power of the crowd in solving issues both at a local and a global level also falls under the umbrella of networked learning. The only difference, in this instance, being that knowledge flows from individuals to organizations and governments.3


Fig 1. An example of a crowd-sourcing fail or brilliance depending on how we see it4

        Having successfully diverted my reader away from the current week’s reading, I will now undertake a feeble attempt at doing justice to the role of networked learning in institutions of formal learning. Campbell (2016)5 in his article argues in the favor of online collaboration as a form of experiential learning. This he argues goes above and beyond the class room learning as it forces students to tackle multiple challenges and instead of simply collaborating with one another, to co-create knowledge. In my opinion, his arguments will go uncontested.

         However, I would like to draw your attention to the blog by Tim Hitchcock6, who argues in favor of researchers using their online presence to further their respective fields of knowledge. The author highlights various success stories associated with the use of networking tools in research. The validity of his arguments are however, diminished by a very simple phenomenon in economics known as the Prisoners’ Dilemma.As the game goes two individuals acting simultaneously and bereft of the benefit of  communication with one another, always selects an action which hurts them both due to the nature of payoffs (See fig. 2).


Fig 2. An illustration of the prisoner’s dilemma game. Defect is the dominating strategy for all individuals8

         Research materials when shared online may be prone to plagiarism. Research ideas are be prone to be stolen (Hitchcock himself admits this being a major concern). Have we as individuals, who are part of a larger society, evolved enough to control our needs for immediate gratification? Can we curb ourselves from stealing our neighbor’s (not in the literal sense) well thought out research ideas? The presence of websites such as Github where contributors share codes and real time data with others is a step towards the right direction. However in my opinion, we, as part of a larger society of researchers, must do more in order to prevent us from going down the route of the two dear prisoners. Else we risk falling into a vicious cycle from which academia might not be able to extricate itself.

P.S. I decided to keep my views about the remedies required to help academia get out of the vicious cycle of non-cooperation private. I would however gladly discuss this offline. Also Go Hokies!!


  1. For a detailed exposition on Learning Networks, refer to Sloep, P., & Berlanga, A. (2010). Learning networks, networked learning.
  2. Please refer to “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” here https://www.wired.com/2006/06/crowds/
  3. For crowdsourcing challenges hosted by the United States Government please visits –  https://www.challenge.gov/list/
  4. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/04/19/_boaty_mcboatface_may_be_rejected_by_british_government.html
  5. Campbell, Gardner (2016). Networked Learning as Experiential Learning.
  6. Refer to http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/07/28/twitter-and-blogs-academic-public-sphere/
  7. For a quick insight on Prisoner’s Dilemma game, refer to the Wikipedia article on the same at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma
  8. Source: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/02/08/why-reducing-co2-emissions-is-like-the-prisoners-dilemma/

Why Blog?

The reading for this week talks a lot about blogging, networked learning, and the advantages of using the internet or the web as a learning platform. They talked about it as a way to give the student more interactive and collaborative learning experiences. However, The only thing missing is the student perspective of this new way of learning. So I decided to share my opinion, as an international student, it’s really hard for me to blog. First, cause I’m used to having the instructions for a project or an assignment (how many pages, references, etc). And if I have to write a paper for a class how many times I will go to the writing center just for grammar, spelling, or just to get my ideas across. Second,  as graduate students, we must support or ideas or arguments with resources, and of course when blogging is more about you own ideas and thinking.

So I’m really intimidated and excited at the same time of how to get as much experience and confidence from this new way of interaction and collaborative learning experience.

Networked Learning: Put Your Ideas in a Blog!

Blog is an almost perfect platform to show who you are and what you think. It is an active site for both the writers and readers based on comments and responds to comments. Get involved in blog community, one can gain more than expected.

Compared with twitter, I prefer blog. Twitter is simple and convenient for information fragment and people only spend several seconds on each post. On the other hand, blog requires more serious thinking about the topic. Put a link of the blog on twitter would be a great idea to get more audience. “Hashtag” is useful tool to find the blogs you are interested. My current research is about nanotechnology. When I just searched “nanotechnology blog”, I got a link for “Top 5 Nanotechnology Blogs”. At least 4 posts were really interesting and I searched more about the writers. In my opinion, that is a great example how a networked learning is established. I would consider networked learning as a more active learning than listening a lecture in the classroom. Whenever I find something interesting in the blog, I can just stop and pay more attention to the specific idea. On contrary, I have to follow the teacher’s lead in class for one lecture.


I attended a conference this summer. The conference was arranged with a super busy schedule for two days with about 200 talks in different sessions. The talks which I was interested sometimes have a conflict in the schedule and it made me quite depressed to miss one of them. That would be very helpful if this conference held a blog and allows the attendees to post their talk on it. Even though I missed some talks, I can still get a general idea about the talks and then have some communications with the authors. Since this conference is held every other year, it will help the members of the conference to track the researches if the talks are presented on the blog. For example, I can search the talk of one specific person which was given on last conference and consider the progress obtained.

It may cost considerable time to maintain a high quality blog and update in time. But once you get enough attention and comments from the audiences, the writer could obtain more suggestions to get improvement.


Actually I am a big fan of blog and have kept a blog for more than 10 years. Instead of writing about research and learning, most of my blogs were about daily life and the thoughts related to the past, present and further. It is popular between my friends, and I think it is a good way to let people to know me. Maybe in the near further, I will start a blog about my research and put all my ideas in it.




A Balanced Serving: networked learning to better equip the student

Networked learning is a concept that I have experienced but never had a formal name for until beginning the first weeks reading for my Contemporary Pedagogy course. As a child of the 80’s, I grew up watching the expanding incorporation of computers and the internet into classrooms and despite some of the challenges that these technologies bring, I firmly believe that they are valuable tools for educators. I personally use many online resources to supplement the material that I learn in the classroom and get different approaches to difficult concepts.

When reading the article by Gardner Campbell about networked learning I really related to one of the first things that he brought up which I have quoted below:

“[…] in 2008, an emphasis on the global economic competitiveness of the United States was framing the value of a college/university degree increasingly in terms of an individual’s potential for lifetime earnings as well as the nation’s human capital available for research, development, and production. Education was becoming more about careers and “competencies” […] and less about inquiry, meaning-making, and a broadly humane view of human capacity.”

Gardner Campbell: Networked Learning as Experiential Learning

This continues to be a problem with how education is advertised and evaluated, especially in the United States. Students choose careers based on potential salaries and universities advertise using the income of their alumni. These are not the motivations that should drive education.

One of the problems is the continually inflating cost of post-secondary education in the US. Students often accumulate tens of thousands of dollars of debt in pursuit of a college degree and must ensure that they will be able to afford their loan payments upon graduating. We need to invest in education and begin to shift the standards used to appraise the value of higher education.

A very powerful tool for societal change is the use of networked learning. Websites, blogs, tweets, etc. are all freely accessible sources of information that can be accessed by the public and can be easier to digest than an academic paper for example. As members of society, the more that we can engage with our communities and encourage healthy discussions about higher education, the more that people will be aware of the issues that challenge the delivery and positive impact of higher education.

Furthermore, incorporating these technologies into the classroom pedagogy better prepares students to utilize these tools in their own professional lives, becoming more successful and influential members of their fields. Online learning also poses a fantastic opportunity to provide a high-quality education to people at a fraction of the cost of traditional in-class methods. It is up to us, as the next generation of educators, to challenge the current paradigm. Education should serve the students not the institutions and be driven by curiosity and not money.

I am excited to be in the classroom with future educators who are learning how to participate in and incorporate networked learning. I know that I will learn a lot through reading the blog posts of my colleagues and participating in discussions throughout this semester and into the future.

Vulnerability & Credibility

After reading each of the articles provided, I had the strongest reaction to Tom Hitchcock’s piece.  His argument to me is mainly in increasing the reach of a researcher’s work and impact, and doing so by taking advantage of common platforms that were built to encourage networking and sharing of ideas.  He concedes that many scholars are reluctant to publicly share their work through blogging or tweeting due to the opportunity for them to be harshly criticized or for their ideas to be scooped.  What seems to be more important than these fears, to the author, is advancing the current state of knowledge in an uncomplicated, immediate, and pervasive way.

I understand his argument, but to me not blogging and not tweeting has nothing to do with worrying about me being ridiculed or about my ideas being scooped.  These modalities of communication, to me, are personal forms of expression.  I’m not sure that I’ve been reluctant to put myself out there due to an insecurity of being ridiculed, but I think it’s something else.  For me, it has to do with vulnerability.  My writing is mine, it originates in my heart and in my mind, and I don’t always want it to be available for the world to see, regardless of whether it would welcome ridicule or praise.  Either way, my words are mine.  This feeling started early on in my younger years as I started writing poetry, and has remained through my biomedical research endeavors to some extent.  Though he’s advocating expressing scientific concepts and not necessarily a glimpse into the deepest recesses of my mind, or poetry, it’s still too personal for me.  These lines of communication are too informal and too vulnerable for me.

If the issue is engaging in a larger and more meaningful conversation, I find I can build a public dialogue through other means—not only by presenting my work at conferences, but by engaging with the community as well.  Public talks may be limited to the audience that’s present at the time, admittedly an infinitely smaller audience than could be reached via online platforms, but it still enables networking and making an impact on a personal level.  That is the kind of impact I’m more interested in.  Though Hitchcock turns his talks into blogs by his own confession, I just don’t feel the need to present my ideas on a public, massive platform.  I’m more comfortable letting my (written) science speak for itself through traditional means, after enduring rigorous review from experts.

Buried in my reluctance to open a Twitter account for any reason, or blog on a regular basis, is likely the issue of credibility as well.  I know there is so much more to the story, and this is a very shallow approach to a much more complicated dialogue, but part of me thinks that if anyone at all can write a blog, the degree of credibility becomes far reduced overall.  But if this is the direction the scientific world is unanimously moving, I may have to overcome whatever temporary discomfort this type of communication may bring, and embrace it anyway.


I don’t want to begin my GEDI blogging journey on a negative note, but I couldn’t help but be critical of this week’s readings. In general, they smacked of techno-utopianism — hype that disguises as much truth about the networked world as it reveals. Here I have to disclose some bias — my PhD research is on the philosophical implications of technology. In particular, I spend a lot of time thinking about why end-users have so uncritically embraced digital networks and social norms that multiply and are amplified in a networked context. As an instructor, my research interests are echoed in the way I treat the use of tech in my classroom. As a student of pedagogy, it’s only honest to connect my views on these topics to my (admittedly very-much-in-development) teaching practice.

Despite my overarching critique, however, there’s interesting stuff to be explored here. All of this week’s thinkers have a sincere interest in leveraging innovation toward the best end possible. That’s great. Unfortunately, these pieces all demonstrated a very specific ideology: the ethos of Web 2.0. They would have been more interesting to me if they revealed their bias. Or at least the social trajectory by which this bias has come to support an ever-more popular perspective on networked learning. Here are a few examples:

In Gardner Campbell’s article, he emphasizes the need for students to understand the Internet from a more practical perspective. I completely agree with this: at this point, we’re all digital beings, and it behooves us to know a thing or two about how the web actually works. But “how the web actually works” includes more than just technical expertise on URLs, packet routing, HTTP and data infrastructures. There is an economic ideology at the core of Web 2.0. The constant clicking and “sharing” that facilitates the business model of the Internet, which makes a profit from all of this online activity in ways that are generally unknown to users. The networked self, including the networked student, generates a profit for the platforms they use. Although Seth Godin states that “blogging is free,” it is only free in the sense that we do not have to pay directly for certain blogging services. In these cases, user data is extracted that is highly valuable to all sorts of entities, include surveillants and social media sites fine-tuning algorithms to serve more profitable ads to their users. The networked student becomes a source of income. No explanation of the Internet should fail to include observations like these, which are not political interpretations — they’re just facts.

But my problems with this ideology aren’t entirely related to economic exploitation. They also have to do with the spirit of what it means to learn and produce intellectual and creative work.

Campbell tells us:

By forcing students to write ‘publicly’, their writing rapidly improves. 

This can be true in many cases. But it also reinforces the idea that the only meaningful behavior is that which we can display / promote. In research she did with teenage students, social critic Sarah Leonard indicated that a staggering amount of millennial writers aspire to become marketers. Marketing is a safe job option for budding writers, at least in comparison to the  potential of making it as a journalist, editor or (God help us) fiction writer. Public writing can be extraordinarily helpful insofar as it forces writers to emphasize clarity and conceptual legibility. But we also need to affirm the value of creative work  for its own sake, not for its profit margin or the number of hits it garners (two metrics now deeply intertwined).

This issue is separate from the related concern addressed by Tim Hitchcock. In his piece, Hitchcock says  “a lot of early career scholars, in particular, worry that exposing their research too early, in too public a manner, will either open them to ridicule, or allow someone else to ‘steal’ their ideas.” Those are fair concerns and should be left to the consideration of each individual scholar, particularly based on their field (although Hitchcock perfunctorily dismisses them with a vague reference to his own life). He does not consider the deeper process by which scholars come to feel ready and comfortable to share their work. Constant self-publication and self-publicization may lead to more Twitter followers and a “constant conversation,” but often one needs to work in isolation to hit on a truly singular finding. The short-term reward of “growing your network” and being marginally recognized with Internet fame is a foil to what might be achieved when time spent on social media is rerouted solely to one’s own paper.

I mention this, of course, in the context of graduate work. But I think we also need to share this perspective with undergraduates, because it’s becoming increasingly viewed as outmoded. To demonstrate that it’s possible to be both tech-savvy and critical of the Internet is sometimes interesting to students, I guess because they don’t get that perspective very often. In the “Digital Culture” unit of the course I teach, I try to offer this (without hitting them over the head with it).

Meanwhile, the “Working Openly On The Web Manifesto” has its roots in free and open software culture, which (again) is not inherently bad, but may have problematic implications for scholarship. The notion that work is primarily meaningful for its sharing value seems like a quick route to short-circuiting educational processes that take gestation, painstaking attention to detail, and long stretches of time to come to fruition. Academic work is not the same as crowdsourced coding projects. That is, until starry-eyedness about the Internet forces us to lose sight of the reasons why scholarly practice is distinguished from other types of work. (Also known as: why, for the most part, grad students don’t publish drafts of their doctoral dissertation until it’s been through extensive review).

Okay, I think that’s all I have. Despite my polemic, my mind is still open, and I wouldn’t mind being challenged on this. (Hey, it’s good for my research).


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