Monday, December 1, 2014

POTCert Week 13: Personal Learning Networks

Helen Crump on Learning and Networking
Dean Shareski, Sharin: The Moral Imperative 2012
Alec Couros, Teaching and Learning In A Networked World 2010
Gardner Campbell, A Personal Cyberstructure 2009

Ko & Rossen, Chapter 14: Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
Martin Weller on The Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity 2012

I've always thought of myself as a connected person long before I even discovered the internet. Like many, I've enjoyed meeting new people, keeping in touch with them and organizing or joining interesting activities with them. However to me keeping each group of friends (whether casual or close) separate was unnatural. I've always created opportunities to introduce everybody to everybody else, family members, work colleagues, school mates, childhood friends, friends I made while attending courses etc. :) Have I been creating a network of some sort? May be, but more than anything it was a mixture of an act of sharing and not wanting to miss on being with any of them.

The concepts of a PLN and Web Residency have been around for a while. I'd read about them but never really thought about them beyond my initial reaction. Of course I have a PLN and I am a Web resident, I thought.  However during these past two weeks for several reasons including this week's material, I started thinking about them more deliberately.

My Personal Learning Network
I started questioning what I meant when I talked about my PLN and I started thinking about how I am building it. Watching Helen Crump's video and later reading Kristi's post with a list of some of her PLN components, I started realizing that while people who appear on my different online contact lists form one of the most important parts of my PLN, they are actually not the only component. I think that every space that I belong to, have or visit regularly for learning is part of my PLN. Also, every tool that I use to communicate with people, find, curate and share ideas and content is part of my PLN. I know now that I need to organize or document my PLN perhaps in a mindmap format or something. I think that would help me explore what it means and how it fits in with the Cyberinfrastructure ( a concept that I still need o examine) but most importantly how to make it as useful as possible for me and everybody else who's part of it.

As for how I am building my PLN, I think it's a combination of intentional search, staying open and curious and willing to share not only expertise but also doubts and concerns among other things mixed with serendipitous opportunities. As an example, I am not a fan of Facebook, but when I was dragged into it by friends and family, I decided to find something that suited me in it. At the time I was interested in e-learning so I looked for groups that were focused on the subject. One group post lead me to a blog that listed 100+  free tools for online learning. Two of the tools were Secondlife and Twitter. In Secondlife I repeated the same intentional search and found several educational groups and connected with several people who became part of my PLN. Those in turn lead me to Virtaul Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference, to MOOCs, then to POTCert and many other groups and spaces to learn from and hopefully contribute to.

Becoming a Resident

Am I really a resident of the Web as I originally thought. I honestly am not sure. I feel like a resident but I don't have enough to show for it. I've had several places that I've used extensively and regularly like diigo but I also have had several blogs where I'd almost never wrote anything except for very few bits for a course I did online and then now for POTCert. Perhaps I feel at home on the web but I haven't created a real home of my own where others can find me. A place where I share my thoughts, my experiences and my learning. I am very glad that I am finally writing although I know that I still have a long way to go. One of the concerns that I share with others is the time that creating and maintaining my web home and identity requires as well as how much I have to share of myself with the world. I strongly believe that it's better to start slow than to wait for too long. I don't intend to overwhelm myself by trying to get everything done in a short time but I mean to start working gradually on building some small contributions like short videos or audios and continue blogging just enough to build the habit of writing. I know I should be ready to be visible and accessible to my trainees/students online the way I am in f2f , and like on the ground the image I present and how visible and accessible I am to the world are things that I decide and design based on my style as a professional trainer but also as a human being.

As for my final presentation,  I am working on a short reflective presentation about what Open Education means to me.