For the past five weeks I’ve been working on a Network Learning Project for CEP 810. This project required us to learn something new by only watching YouTube videos and reading online forums. At first I thought this was quite the daunting task, as I chose to learn how to ballroom dance with my husband. In hindsight, I was brave in learning something that required a partner, as I was the one who did a majority of the research and then had to teach him!
We started out watching some professional videos, which we quickly learned, were way over our heads! Also, at first, I wanted to learn several ballroom dances (and still do!) but quickly learned that it would be better to just pick one style, the waltz. Once we decided on the style of dance, we used YouTube videos and Dance-Forums.com to learn some of the basics. We quickly saw how important posture was, and also learned our first move, the box step (which took time practicing just that one simple step!). The good news was that the box step is the main step in the waltz, as well as several other styles of dance! So you really cannot ballroom dance until you’ve learned this step. We then learned to enhance this step by “traveling” with the box step, as well as adding turns and even a dip at the end!
The idea of learning how to do something through these online networks was really amazing. I have to admit, I’ve mainly used YouTube in the past as a site for entertainment. Once I saw that you could get very detailed instructions on something like ballroom dancing, I quickly learned that YouTube could be used for more than just entertainment. Likewise, the dance forum, while it was a bit over our heads, did have many helpful posts and people were very eager to offer suggestions—all the way from posture to which types of shoes you should wear!
In the future, I would definitely see using this type of networked learning in my classroom. I am lucky enough to be in a school where every student has been issued a laptop. I think it would be great for them to use online resources to learn how to do something as opposed to me teaching them, or me even instructing which sites they have to use. I could foresee a challenge, because like me, my students primarily use YouTube as a source of entertainment, but I think when they see what is out there with regards to learning something new, and of course setting clear expectations, my students would definitely find value in it.
While my husband and I did come a far way from where we started, we still have a ways to go with our dance skills! I think we may continue to watch some “how-to”s and refer back to the dance-forum website to learn even more—maybe even venture into another style of ballroom dance!