Plenk2010 Journey:

I'd like to learn how to set up, interact, facilitate and create knowledge in a PLE type environment

November 05, 2010

Organisation of information and creation of knowledge

Last week, I went to Down House, the place were Charles Darwin lived after his voyages.  What I found interesting and relevant to PLE is how he organised his learning.
He had a very thorough system to follow up on many various topics of interest.  He used field notebooks that he kept apparently always with him to capture what he observed and thought.  Then, he collected his findings, ideas and thoughts, per topic, in specific notebooks:  this is where he elaborated his theories.
So he used a two-tiers approach from note taking to thought forming.
I couldn't help but make the connection with a comment that Maria Andersen made on our tendencies to be exposed to information only once.  I guess he probably used his field notebooks as reminder but he then, it seems elaborated his thought in some form of order.

Another thing that he did was to establish experiments to test out that the theory that he had.  From an hypothesis, developing a way to check it out in observation and / or prediction.  Making sense in one's mind, through categorization and connection has to be verified externally too...

In relation to our world of learning, well perhaps at least mine, I have the impression that I gained a lot of potential material and more tools (or perhaps functionalities), that is for sure.  But this part of the learning process may be taking to much space & time in comparison with what I am left with for elaborating on my own thoughts and checking them out.

October 25, 2010

Being Successful with PLE

The things that draw my attention on the topic of being successful with PLE last week:
Importance of learning question for filtering
I think more and more that the first task in any PLE should be to define what you want to learn about, in the form of a question if possible.  It does not need to be very clear or specific but it help focusing the search (filter) and can be refine over time.
What I value most is what integrate
I find that I am less and less interested in wordy blogs or long papers.  I like maps, summaries that help me find my way in the jungle.  It is of course because it saves me time but also because new learning is also about integration and simplification.
Don't get me wrong, I also read books & articles but from sources that I have already identified through those learning artefacts and what "trusted" connection mentioned.
There are different ways that PLE can be connected (am I missing a trick?)
My PLE (all of them?) is really focused on organising my learning for myself.  Well, that's it's definition, isn't it?  But it does not include, nor at this stage faciliate (for me), the possibility of collaborating with others on specific topics:  How would I know who is interested in my research question?  Who would be prepared to work on them with me?

October 19, 2010

PLE Assessment

I have been trying to make my own sense of the conversations last week about PLE and assessment.  With a topic like that we could probably discuss until the end of time and never really get to a clear resolution...  I am coming from the perspective of the world of business & research, and there too, the dynamic is the same.

So there isn't much I can really contribute on how to assess (or measure) a person's learning and whether it should be solely driven by the individual or guided in some way by the educator. Except, perhaps to say that, in the end, the learning is the responsibility of the learner and it is also good to have a kind of a map to explore a city at least for a start even if one decide to redraw it or discard it at the end.

What really interests me is to explore if, instead of talking about PLE in isolation, we should instead talk about  PLEs and say, ILE for Integrated Learning Environment.

A PLE by itself is fine.  It would help one person for its own learning and research.  It would make for a more "user friendly" system.  It would also help for making the learning more widespread, less reliant on one single source of knowledge.  But it wouldn't necessarily leverage the value of connecting individual PLEs together.
If the learners can develop as a community to support each others, provide feedback (a form of assessment) and depend on each other's work to explore more, faster, etc..., then the network effect kicks in.

So, to me, the value is also in having some kind of hub to keep things together.  Like the gRSS Hopper that Steve puts in place.  This allows connection across the individual as well as, provides a way to monitor the development of the learning (community).  Again here, it might be possible to set up some kind of external assessment of individual learning without that (but it would be probably cumbersome, time consuming and would any way, at least, require people to register) but that would be missing on the possibility to measure how the learning community evolves as a network.
I think that it should be possible to assess the learning that happens during a course like PLENK2010 by simply looking at the formation and evolution of the network.  That's where the interesting bit is for me and it would require a mix of PLE and a system to link the participants together and monitor their interaction.

How do I know I am making progress?

I have tried to reflect on the ways that I know I am making progress in my research and in my learning, using the format that Stephen came up with during last Friday's conversation.
What I found interesting is that most of what I have come up with is about how I know that I have achieved something, when the learning is integrated and regurgitated in some way.  The only assessment that I have about my progress is a feeling of confusion, mixed with interest and some hint of insights and things to do....
Well, right now, I will know that I have made progress when I have a proper PLE up and running, so I will leave that for now and work on it.


October 11, 2010

What to learn in a MOOC about Learning Theory?

Last week was about learning theory.  I must say that it is not a really engaging topic for me:  To me the only theory that I want to learn is the theory of the person(s) that I am developing, engaging, influencing:  how they think, what motivates them and what they believe in the world around them...  Well that's me.

More to the course itself, I was kept wandering if the topic in itself is really suited to the course intent itself:  in a way, looking at the various theory is like asking for some content to be served to us.  that means a very traditional way in an environment not intended for it.  Listing theories left me with a "so what?".  We can assume that this type of knowledge is already there.  
PLENK may be suited to build maps, aggregate, categorise, etc...  In a sense, making sense about the large mass of information, as well as gathering the links to the theory themselves.  
Or, it would have been useful to really focus on the link between PLE and learning theory.  It may have given us more insights about our own implicit theory.  And I have a suspicion that in a modern learning environment, with social consideration, large amount of data, etc...  the practical aspects of a PLE are very much linked with the theoretical, less dissociated than we would traditionally think.


October 05, 2010

Value of learning artefacts

On the Friday conversation of the first week, a formula was drawn to assess the value of an artefact .  The formula was simply an aggregation of the most important variables that should be consider, no more but that is an encouraging start.
I think that it is very important to have an evaluation of what is produced.  Without something like that, it is quite difficult to establish a selective mechanism for sorting out the large amount of input.
I also think that an evaluation of some kind would allow for a reward mechanism for producing valuable knowledge to the web, whether it is new knowledge, new way to present, useful aggregation or guide through the multitude.
Wouldn't you like to be rewarded for what you contribute?

Concept Map: Learning Process

I wanted to explore how I organise my learning as a process.  One of the main challenge for me is to keep focused:  There are a lot of research / learning that I would like to do and it is easy to get lost.  
So I wanted to outline how I would like my learning process to work and then start to think about what PLE system I have or would like to have for that.
What I would like from a PLE is first and foremost a way to put together various sources of information, and notes, and research in a way that makes it easy to follow, build on and collaborate on.