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Using the Networked Knowledge Activities framework for informal learning

One of my roles is to develop training, tools and resources for Minnesota 4-H volunteers. We depend on volunteers to deliver high-quality, culturally relevant programs for youth. I am always looking for ways to use different modes to reach volunteers with the tools and resources they need to be successful in their roles.

At the National Extension Conference on Volunteerism (NECV), I attended a workshop by Florida 4-H staff that introduced me to the concept of Networked Knowledge Activities (NKA). NKA is an instructional design framework that describes the knowledge activities that people use in networked online contexts (e.g., online classes, social media, virtual communities of practice). The framework’s purpose is to guide the design and development of social media-based learning activities in a formal learning context.

Florida 4-H staff gave the example of their Network Knowledge Activities with this diagram:
Florida 4-H staff gave the example of their Network Knowledge Activities with this diagram
Graphic created by Heather Kent, UF/IFAS Extension Northwest District 4-H Regional Specialized Agent, 2023.
  1. They start with a blog post on a topic that may have links to a fact sheet, project page, infographic or planning guide.
  2. The blog post is shared on their social media accounts. YouTube is used for videos and Pinterest for curated boards on the topic.
  3. A link to the blog is in their monthly newsletter that is emailed to families and volunteers.
  4. Links from the blog are housed on their volunteer resources website.
  5. Content is reviewed and resources are shared at in-person meetings at the local level. 
I am building a smaller NKA to strengthen the informal learning that occurs for volunteers in the region I serve. I plan to start with a monthly newsletter emailed out to 4-H club leaders that has two or three short articles that links them to resources on our website. I am also creating a private Facebook group that connects to the tools and resources linked in the newsletter. Club leaders can participate in discussions with others around the topic. Local staff can discuss and share these resources at in-person meetings.

I see how this intentional network planning can be a framework for organizations to strengthen informal learning with youth or adults, do you?  Do you have an intentional pathway for the volunteers, youth or parents in your organization to gain skills to support their work?

-- Karyn Santl, Extension educator

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  1. Thank you for sharing this model Karyn. With today's environment of information overload, the NKA provides a strategic intentional approach for repetition of message as well as opportunities for volunteers to go deeper in their own learning and exploration with built in pathways. I am interested in seeing how your experiment is received.


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