Blogging is free, but…

When I first started blogging, I was feeling extremely uncomfortable and weird. And yes, weird is the right word for that situation because I loved writing to a paper and do not like technology so much, unfortunately.

I was writing dairy when I was in high school and was sharing my opinions and thoughts with my friends and family members by speaking. Blogging is totally different than this. When you write your thoughts, nobody reads it. You are only transferring them to a paper. And, when you talk with people in person, you can see their reactions and those reactions directs your thoughts sometimes. Or, when you say something, you know that your audiences know who you are and your thoughts, character, and more. Either one makes people feel comfortable. But blogging is different. First of all, you should type it by using a keyboard. And anybody can read, comment on it, and judge you. this judgment might be about your thoughts, your language, your grammar, even sometimes about your character. Because other people do not know you, your position, your situation, and they might have some expectations when you do something public. If you open yourself to the public, your thoughts and opinions become public goods anymore. And everybody has a right to judge or do whatever they want with it after that point.

All this Contemporary Pedagogy… Why should I care?

As my first foray into blogging, I apologize in advance for my lack of writing skills. As someone who sits in the STEM field (Mathematics to be precise), it is critical to practice communication skills. However at first, my writing is going to suck. Watching the TEDx Talk by Wesch, I have to acknowledge that failure is a part of learning.

By taking this course in Contemporary Pedagogy, I am placing myself outside of my comfort zone. When I talk about what this course to my peers in my department, I always get a confused look. Integrals, Analysis, Computation, most of my peers only focus on the math. Blogging, group activities, portfolios, what do these have to do with a math class? Can there really be another way to teach definitions and theorems? I’m not sure. By taking this course, I hope to expand my perspectives. Perhaps there’s a way to change how we teach both math classes focused on rote exercise memorization and classes focused on definitions and theorems.

This week was labeled “Networked Learning”. Specifically, our readings focused on the power of using the internet to connect those who seek to learn. Specifically, one online tool that enhances academic research is blogging. I feel that it is pretty clear that blogging has many benefits for the humanities and the social sciences. The previous link referenced many blogs of that type. But can blogs be a useful tool for mathematicians as well? Why, yes! The creator of the ubiquitous programming language, MATLAB, has a regularly updated blog about numerical programming. It’s easy to think some practices only work well in one field or another. I say, that’s just being too lazy to figure out how to adapt practices in a novel way.

My last thoughts for this week comes from the article about networked learning. What struck me specifically was the idea that the library is one massive example of networked learning. We’ve been doing this ever since the creation of the written word. The point is though, the tools that we use to connect to each other are changing. The printing press changed the way people learned in the past. Today’s “printing press” is the internet. And so, it is so very critical to learn how to use networked learning to further our knowledge.

Again, I always try to think about how networked learning applies to my field, mathematics. This one is surprisingly easy. Stack Exchange is a huge platform for users to ask questions, and answer them as well. You see questions about first year calculus, and programming logic, all the way to graduate level information is some obscure mathematical field. Personally, it’s amazing to witness such a massive example of networked learning. Perhaps it’s not a stretch to see how Contemporary Pedagogy applies to mathematics.

Learning to ride the discussion horse

Time to get in the conversation. (Photo: TIAER and Bill Bethel, Flickr Creative Commons)

The field of animal agriculture can be a particularly controversial one. The ones who get to hold the reins of our industry’s discussion horse are the ones with the loudest emotions are the deepest pockets: namely, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). These organizations have the manpower, the time, and most importantly, the cash flow to cast their unrealistic and wildly over-dramatized propaganda against animal agriculture.

This is old news for those of us involved in agriculture. We resent these organizations for telling our story for us. We detest the inaccuracies of their testimonies of what happen on our farms. It twists our guts to watch Internet reels of their recycled footage of mistreatment on farms,  many instances which they have been found guilty of staging themselves. It hurts our heads and hearts that these groups defame and slander us without even getting to know why we are farmers and the passion we have for our work.

Several years ago, farmers and/or their significant others discovered the power of the blog. This was their way to fight back against the PETA propaganda. When these blogs really got started, I was so inspired by them. I loved how these people could open up about their livelihoods, share their triumphs and sorrows, and just be real about life on farms big and small.

As I became immersed in my college education however, notifications about these bloggers on my Facebook and Twitter pages began to annoy me. It was the same old post every time – “be an ‘agvocator,'” “I received a cease and desist letter from PETA today,” “doesn’t HSUS realize ______?” It seemed these bloggers were only talking to people like themselves: an audience that agreed with them.

Further, I aspired to be a scientist. Shouldn’t scientists be unbiased, objective, not involved with political affairs? Science is about fact, not emotion.

Perhaps this used to be true. However, not everyone is a scientist. Moreso, the work we do isn’t ultimately meant to effect others scientists, it’s meant to effect the general public. And whether we like it or not, Internet shares are the bit in the discussion horse’s mouth. We must learn how to ride.

Thanks to the Internet, our societal ideas are being re-molded at an unfathomable pace. And lucky for us – we have two hands! Many of us may be new to the craft, our hands unsteady and perhaps even unwilling to get debris underneath our fingernails. But if we don’t participate, someone else will carve our niche for us – a niche that we may find doesn’t suit us, or even one in which we don’t fit.


Networked Learning = Change

When reading about Networked Learning, the first word that comes to mind is change. It is changing the way in which we share information and interact with colleagues and the public from different corners of the world. It creates an opportunity for dialogue that is missing from conferences and forums.

Incorporating blogging into school programs may change the way that students perceive the learning process. In his talk, Dr. Wesch discusses students who were basically shuffling their way through school. Only seeking information to complete an assignment and to check another class off of their plan of study. To be honest, I feel like that sometimes. I just want to be done and move on with my life.  Around me, there is so much talk about what we should be doing to secure a faculty position. Everything is about how to earn the most or publish the most — not about how to make the most impact. There are also politics and unwritten rules.

Taking classes outside of my department has introduced me to networked learning and has provided a new way for me to be actively involved in my education.  I’m not fully immersed in the concept though — I pretty much only blog when required for a class. That may change at some point because I have kind of enjoyed blogging. I’ve also opened up to tweeting.

As a TA, and maybe a future professor, I have been pondering ways to incorporate networked learning into my classes.

Networked learning also puts me in the mind of the Open movement. Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources. Scholars can share their Open information through blogging and tweeting. All of these concepts celebrate connection and openness.

Concerns for New Researchers

This week’s readings made me think about what may keep some new researchers from blogging. I agree with Hitchcock that “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” (Hitchcock, 2014). I think such concerns can be addressed by remembering that research benefits from peer review. In addition, new researchers should not feel restricted to only writing about certain subjects. Thus, it is important not to “let ideas about propriety or academic silos limit you” (Perry, 2015).

Hitchcock, T. (2014, July 28). 3 Rules of Academic Blogging [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Perry, D. (2015, November 11). 3 Rules of Academic Blogging. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Networked Learning

The concept of ‘learning’ is talked about extremely often in the college environment, but Dr. Wesch stated well in his Ted Talk in how we have looked at learning as just dumping information into peoples’ heads. He continues to talk about students sneaking right passed the education just trying to get through the class with the needed grade to move on to the next one. At times during both my undergraduate/graduate experiences, I have felt like that student just trying to go through the motions to get the grade and move on to the next class as quickly as possible. However, my experiences outside of the classroom was ultimately where I found the ‘real learning’ he discussed. I wrestled with the questions of ‘who am I, what am I going to do, am I going to make it’ and didn’t really ever talk with someone about those until the start of my senior year, almost too late to adjust anything about my experience. I had to make the decision to stop being ‘comfortable’ in the position I was in, and take a chance on a new/different career and type of work. In undergraduate I was definitely with lots of other students focusing “more on careers and ‘competencies’ and less about inquiry, meaning-making, and broadly humane view of human capacity” (Networked Learning as Experimental Learning). That quote from Campbell outlines the change of focus I had to make entering graduate school or else I was not going to be able to get anything out of the program.

The idea of ‘networked learning’ I first think about social media and how the world is utilizing that to network with each other, but the learning part is usually not there. Godin talks about the humility needed for blogging and how you are having to explain yourself with the post. Humility is something usually lost in most posts in social media, and blogging has the edge when it comes to most of the posts being impactful on others based on someone opening up and sharing their organized (or sometimes not) thoughts. Social media is a beast and I could rant about its negative impact on college students in relation to ‘networked learning,’ but I will focus on how as college administrators, we are responsible for helping in students finding that transformation needed to learn from their experiences. As Dr. Wesch talked about all of the stories, all it took was reaching out to the student and finding what they needed to succeed or at least listen to their unique story. Some students need a lot of help and support, while others just need someone to listen to kick start their learning. We need to work to (or continue to) focus on helping students learn how to build a life worth living, and not just how to make a living.

GEDI – Arash's Academic Blog 2018-01-21 22:48:34

 Yes, the digital revolution that was supposed to transform our intellectual lives, through constructing a public global square for sharing ideas and facilitating dissemination of information, did actually happen. But the changes it brought about were, to say the least, underwhelming.

And Reading through one of this week’s readings (Tim Hitchcock’s 2014 blog post), I sense a great deal of optimism in the passionate calls of the academic for better use of web technologies and social media. Being in 2017, it is obvious to me that the transformation has not taken place. The “American scholar” is still struggling to find its broader audience while the masses vehemently reject “taking life advice from Elites.”

While I am being deliberately cynical here to make a point , It is only fair to point out some of the positive changes: MOOCs have indeed democratized access to some levels of higher education. Open text-books are finding their place, although their growth is disproportional in STEM fields and the open-access frameworks allows free of charge access to academic research.

Nonetheless, our diminishing attention spans and the changes in our information consumption habits (from text to audio to visual content) is in direct contrast with blogging. It is also true that I prefer long-form content over fast-food style provocation-delivery services of tweeter. A successful contrasting example that comes to my mind is Vlogging. It is a form of content making that allows engagement with all sensory abilities. (some examples: + , + , +). And many video sharing platforms such as Youtube support discussion groups. It is still an open question where comprehensive, meaningful and constructive conversation can taking place online.


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.

Education as Practicing with and within Community: Some Pieces of Puzzle

It wouldn’t be surprising to see students who aren’t interested in topic and not motivated to learn, at best they may put efforts to get good grade and that’s that. Despite advances in learning sciences, classroom often treats as rigid environment isolated from the real world, in which teacher is authority. In such environment, the existence of mere communication between members wouldn’t help that much to increase relational capacity among students as well as teacher and students in a way that the setting serves as creating a community of scholars. In such environment, if there is attention to acquiring knowledge, it’s more often because of earning high grade and not necessarily enhancing knowledge. One may picture a chilly climate where nor teacher neither students care that much about learning. And even if teacher really cares about students’ success how much she can do to change pedagogy considering existing institutional pressure. Can she make growth priority rather than proficiency, for example? Michael Wesch in his inspirational talk about learning, illustrates grading as climbing mountain; he emphasizes on experience rather than final destination. There is not such thing as failure in this system, if one couldn’t get to upper stages during the process, student is not done yet, she needs more work. Climbing happens in a group, it is a community-based process.

Building on the notion of community and the importance of working together, Gardner Campbell sees the role of community, looking at broader picture. He addresses experiential learning, not necessarily in its traditional meaning, but practices within community with emphasis on connection and collaboration. One may think of community engagement as one particular approach to implement experiential learning which encourages participation and connection, though its effectiveness can remain under questions, deepening on a a variety of issue and more importantly power relations. But what Garner argues is that in digital age “connected learning” through internet offers unique opportunity in which students can collaborate within a social setting and benefit from educational experience that change lives, he emphasizes. Regardless of existing benefits of such network and potential concerns over it, one may doubt if this can be part of a picture to address the major issue of education as Garner argues, becoming more about career and competencies rather than knowledge inquiry and understanding. It is worthy to explore…


Networked Learning

As future academics, we are encouraged to produce work that gets published in academic journals. Research papers are a powerful tool to communicate scientific findings. They help to showcase the latest in scientific research. In its own way, academic journals support the theory of networked learning as it communicates knowledge and information between individuals. However, there are a number of other tools that apply to the networked learning theory.

The readings touch on blogging a tool for disseminating knowledge. Micro-publishing platform, such blogs, can grant higher visibility and engage a wider audience outside of academia. It can also bring the audience through the research process. Due to the interactive nature of blogging, it can extract useful feedback. Blogging fall under the umbrella of networked learning by maintaining communications between individuals, and information.

I see blogging to be a useful avenue in which ideas can be expressed. It helps build relations between like-minded people outside of the rigorous of scientific publication. Communication in blogging build relationship to other and relationship to scientific outlets which can establish further apatite to it.

1 2 3 4