Thanks to my fellow MOOCers and the H817open team for a great learning experience.
Personal learning networks
A Google search reveals plenty of resources on PLNs. On the webpages and blog posts I came across, a few words and even sentences were spent on defining the concept of a PLN, but most of the space was used to argue why building a PLN is a great thing and to present a multitude of social media tools that could be used for creating a PLN. So activities 15 and 16 are good ways to discuss thoughts and ideas on this particular concept. It’s been very helpful to read the many interesting blog posts that have already been written by my fellow moocers on H817open 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.
The shortest definition of PLN that I came across is probably this one: “Your Personal Learning Network (PLN) is the group of people who feed your learning head” (P2PU). However, the text continues “In a true network, you’re a contributor, not just a consumer.” I think this is a very important aspect which is also stressed by Bozarth who claims that “you get back what you put in” (Bozarth, 2011). So reciprocity seems to play an important role in a PLN.
I found a somewhat longer definition on the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website:
“A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a way, a process, a network of interrelated connections you make for the purposes of discovering, collaborating and sharing ideas and resources. These connections are created based on your learning needs and can be made with like-minded people from all around the world” (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website).
I think the definition above captures the reciprocity but also manages to stress that it takes effort to build and maintain a PLN. I was very intrigued by the “based on your learning needs” in the quotation above. The P2PU also stresses the “intentional” aspect and state that “[m]eaningful participation in this network is an integral part of your personal learning plan”. I was a bit surprised at discovering this link to what might be called personal learning objectives. My first impression of PLNs was that these were networks based on mutual interest and that you would more leisurely share ideas, thoughts and resources to explore a certain topic to keep up to date. I hadn’t quite thought of a PLN as such a very targeted getting down to business (learning) approach. But I do see the benefit of more purposefully building a PLN and now consider whether I myself should set more specific learning objectives than “just” finding out what MOOCs are all about, exploring new tools or keeping up to date.
But now I think it’s time to venture into my own attempt at a definition of PLN, so here goes:
A personal learning network consists of peers with whom you connect to explore topics of mutual interest by sharing ideas, thoughts and resources.
Now the question is whether PLN is a useful term or not. As such, it’s not a new phenomenon which has already been stressed in many posts. However, the many social media tools available today certainly expand your range when attempting to build a PLN and the possibilities for connecting, sharing and collaborating online. I’m thinking that PLN becomes a very important element in open education, especially when talking MOOCs. I can see how the formulation of a personal learning plan and the focused effort to build a PLN, can help learners get valuable learning experiences when it comes to informal learning. This is my first MOOC, and I have experienced myself how important it is to reach out and connect to other participants to be able to explore, share and collaborate. It took some effort initially to do the reaching out, but now I’m enjoying every minute of it 🙂
Bozarth, J. (2011). Nuts and Bolts: Building a Personal Learning Network (PLN). http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/659/.
Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website. A Simple Comprehensive Guide on the Use of Personal Learning Networks in Education. http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/simple-comprehensive-guide-on-use-of.html.
P2PU – The Peer 2 Peer University. Build a Personal Learning Network. https://p2pu.org/en/groups/diy-u/content/build-a-personal-learning-network-2/.
by Inger-Marie Christensen
I’ve been looking at the different representations of open education that have already been posted on blogs and in the discussion forum. Coming from quite a formal educational setting at the University of Southern Denmark, I wonder how open education will work in practice. How do you drive learning forward without fixed structures and (perhaps strict) guidelines and deadlines?
But already at this point, only a week into the open education course, I can see how the fixed structures that our students are exposed to might also be perceived as a playpen: a fixed framework that you need to act and learn within. It may be fun for a while, but there also seems to be issues concerning how best to motivate and engage students within the existing framework. I was quite struck by the Open Education Image posted by lkdeckardramos with the simple but very provocative caption “The difference between choice and spoonfeeding”. I do see the point of this comparison; formal education is well-prepared and cut into pieces so that it can be “fed” to students. However, they don’t always like the flavour. And it happens that the piece is too big, and students choke on it.
What is the added benefit then of open education? Escape from the playpen and freedom of choice to find and ride the open digital wave of knowledge that fits your current needs and interests? But beware of sharks!
Have a closer look via this link: http://prezi.com/hzrg6l3d7nbt/the-playpen-versus-the-open-digital-ways-of-knowledge/?kw=view-hzrg6l3d7nbt&rc=ref-2213739
I work as an e-learning consultant at the University of Southern Denmark. We are currently in the process of finding out what MOOCs are all about and whether to design and deliver MOOCs ourselves. Therefore participation in this “Open education” course seemed like a great idea. Not only do I gain insight into open education and the MOOC concept in particular. I also get to experience MOOCs as a learner. I think that is a very valuable experience to draw upon in the design of MOOCs. It is my impression that many people see MOOCs as a collection of videos that are available online. They do not seem to be aware of the great demands that MOOCs put on learners in terms of networking and both initiating and participating in learning activities online. The idea of making education so widely available is excellent, but how does it work in practice? What possible models exist? What are the experiences so far concerning the design and delivery of open education?
A bit about my background
I have a MA degree in English, International Studies and Communication and was employed as a teacher at Tietgen Business College in Odense, Denmark from 1995 – 2008. Around 2000, I became involved in e-learning as my college started using Blackboard as an e-learning platform. I quickly ended up as a technical and IT-pedagogical support person. In the “early years”, the platform was mostly used for distribution of messages and materials, but then I started using discussion boards and suddenly the world changed. Students who were reluctant to participate in a face-to-face lesson, would write long, thoughtful pieces in Blackboard. Those who were always quick with an answer in class, only left a few lines in the discussion board. And suddenly, I as a teacher had a much better feel of the learning process students were engaging in and their current levels.
These experiments with e-learning in practice led me to believe that online learning could be so much more thant just a few posts and slides uploaded to Blackboard, so in 2005 I embarked on a master programme on ICT and Learning offered by a network of Danish universities and delivered as blended learning with a few face-to-face seminars and many collaborative learning activites online. In my master thesis, I focused on the competence development of teachers within the field of e-learning. I completed the programme in June 2008, much richer in terms of both knowledge and skills. The most rewarding learning experiences was probably being a student in a blended learning programme trying to cope with the online learning process, finding out how to use my fellow students, the texts and other resources and our supervisors.
As I started on my master thesis, I switched jobs and became an e-learning consultant at the University of Southern Denmark, working full time with staff development. Today my field of interest is educational design of blended learning and distance learning with a particular focus on collaborative learning processes and feedback. I design and carry out teacher training in the field of e-learning and e-learning platforms. I’ve also done a bit of publishing on web 2.0, the use of 3D virtual environments for teaching, teacher training and live, online teaching via web conference systems, and I am a co-editor of the Danish online journal “Læring og Medier” (Learning and Media: www.lom.dk).
Looking very much forward to this course and all the online activities/Inger-Marie Christensen