The last four weeks of learning to french braid have been an interesting journey. On a good note, my daughters survived our practice sessions while only experiencing minimal pain. I also now understand the principles of how to french braid. However, while my braiding has greatly improved, the journey isn’t quite over as I would be a bit embarrassed to present the girls in public after braiding their hair! YouTube and help forums have helped me learn what I need to learn. Now it just comes down to practice! “endlessly” posted the following on The Long Hair Community forum and I have to agree.
“My best advice is practice, practice, practice. Watching a lot of french braiding YouTube videos helped me out in the beginning when I was first learning, but otherwise, just continue to practice and take your time with it. It takes time to learn how your hands should be placed and to find what positions work or don’t work, so don’t rush anything. Eventually, courtesy of ‘muscle memory’, you’ll have no problems braiding. One year ago, I could barely French braid and now I can do it without even thinking about it, but like I said, it takes time and a lot of practice.” The following video displays what I have learned about french braiding but more importantly about what I learned about this “networked” approach to learning.
It is amazing what can be learned through only YouTube and help forums. Information about nearly every topic is available. Therefore the difficulty is not finding information about a topic but rather filtering the immense amount of information pouring in. That is probably why Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) state that “students must focus more on knowing where to find information than on knowing what.” I found that the first key to success in this “networked” type learning is to be as specific as possible in your search.
The more keywords you enter, the more focused your results will be. Google has some great search tools that allow you to filter by time, location and direct quotes. Even better is Google’s advanced search that allows you ultimate searching control. You can even choose what file type (word, pdf, etc). YouTube shares many of these features as well. You can filter by time, type, duration and features. I also discovered that nearly as much can be learned by reading the YouTube comments as watching the video itself.
Many of the comments offer advice and also suggest new videos to watch and resources to explore. Help forums also became a valuable resource. At first I was skeptical to post questions in these forums. However, I quickly discovered that these people were passionate about braiding and therefore replied quickly and with much detail. They really wanted to share their knowledge with me so that I could experience successful braiding as well.
While I have always thought “YouTube has everything,” I now really believe it and will continue to use it when I need to learn new things. I have a few projects in mind (all-grain homebrewing, canning, and learning to play the guitar) that I would like to explore on YouTube. Now I just need to find the time! Oh yeah, and my wife wants me to replace some bathroom faucets. Awesome! I would also like to use this “networked learning” approach with my students as it does a great job addressing many of the communication competencies presented by Renee Hobbs (2011). In particular, this process of using YouTube and help forums allows students to use technology to successfully access and analyze information. In addition, hopefully my students will also contribute to this collective knowledge as they reflect and act as they respond to others. This all leads to a powerful learning experience while also positively impacting others.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace.