This week was the culmination of my Network Learning Project. This was a really fun experience. The assignment was to learn something new using only YouTube and Online help forums. Learning this way is not a new experience for me. When I am trying to learn something new I will very often turn to Google or YouTube. I used this method for both training to run a marathon and setting up my freshwater fish aquarium. I really enjoy connecting with other people and am still Facebook friends with many of the people I met on the running forum. I think it is amazing to be able to connect with people all over the world.
One of the benefits of learning from others on Online forums is that you don’t have to make all the “first timer” mistakes yourself. You can learn from the experience of others. Hearing the perspective of so many different people allows you to see the task from many different angles. That is a real benefit for someone like me who likes to really think about the process before I get started.
There were some limitations in using only YouTube and help forums. I missed being able to ask questions in person. When I went to the hardware store I really wanted to double check with the worker on which screws I should buy. Instead I had to make my best guess because I didn’t want to take the time to post to a forum and have to wait for a response. I also ran into a problem once I got home and set up the chop saw. I had watched a couple videos on how to use the saw, but the simplest thing was holding me up. I couldn’t figure out how to open the saw. Since I was at home this time, I did go inside to find another YouTube video. I laughed at myself when I saw how simple it was, but this time the YouTube method came through for me.
Learning the “Networked” way is definitely something I would do again. I think this experience helped me to realize that while learning remotely is great for some tasks, there are others where having a live teacher would be more beneficial. When I made my first cuts with the saw I would have liked it if there was someone knowledgeable there who could make sure I was doing it the correct way. Thankfully, it worked out just fine, but I would imagine other skills which are more difficult or dangerous would not be best tackled in this method.
I think students are quick to use online resources when they want to learn something new. An assignment like this would be interesting to use with my students. I think they would enjoy the challenge of using YouTube for something educational. I know a lot of my students spend a lot of time watching videos. It would be great if they learned that it could be a valuable educational experience as well. I may take it a step further and encourage the students to think of something they are “experts” at, and have them create their own YouTube tutorials.
Below is the video of my process making the shelves and some of my reflections. I hope you enjoy it!