October 25, 2010

Using PLE/Ns Effectively

Posted in PLENK2010 at 11:54 am by kristibroom

Last week I tried to use a new technology, and gave up. This week, I followed through. Here’s a link to my very first cartoon strip: http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/?comix_id=20777432c328993 and an image of it:

I’m struck this week by the conversations on digital literacy, and the grim statistics about those who are literate. I have been reflecting on the question “so what do we do about it?” What does this mean for my kids? What does this mean for the audiences whose learning my department influences? What does this mean for me? If we are illiterate, how do we “fix” it?

And then I made a connection…literacy isn’t a linear process with a start and an end. It’s about practice and refinement and continuous learning. And the skills I’m learning through this MOOC and through my PLE/N are the skills needed to move toward digital literacy. It’s about filtering. It’s about critical thinking. It’s about focus and clustering and contributing and trusting.

From the readings this week, Robin Good and Howard Rheingold suggest that a new skill in information management includes critical thinking about and validation of content sources. Good suggests the following questions to his 10-year old daughter:

Who is the author?

What do others say about the author?

What are the author’s sources?

Can any truth claims be tested independently?

What sources does the author cite, and what do others say about those sources?

So if those questions help with critical thinking, it seems that filtering becomes even more important, because now, rather than simply reading, time is spent in validation, in reflection, in questioning.

George wrote a short post this morning about information management, suggesting that it is the most critical skill on which all others depend. A quote from Wednesday’s session resonated with me, and I think applies as well. Clay Shirky said “There is no such thing as information overload, there’s only filter failure.” Through participation in this course, we are taught…forced…to manage our information and to filter. It seems that we are taking very useful steps toward digital literacy.


October 21, 2010

PLENK2020 Week 5: Evaluation

Posted in PLENK2010 at 2:24 pm by kristibroom

I am behind and catching up. Also, for the record, I tried to follow the suggestion of using a new technology. I recorded a video, got over the need for perfection, but became timid when I realized I would be posting to the web and be searchable. It’s that eXtended Web from week 3 that made me nervous. So, maybe next time.

Evaluating learning in PLEs. I am intrigued by the question at the beginning of week 5: “how do we measure what matters…and, to whom does what we measure matter?” And, as has been suggested, I think the question applies to a larger world than PLEs. While I enjoy reviewing data, and think it a necessary part of our sense-making, I struggle with the can we/should we question. Can we determine appropriate measures, and then record data? Yes, of course. Should we spend the time doing so? It depends.

If the purpose of my PLE/N is to provide the resources for my personal learning, can anyone besides me measure its value? As my contributions to my network further the field and benefit the learning of others, yes, value can be assessed. But I struggle to think that measures identified by someone else can evaluate my personal learning.

As with most of the topics in PLENK, I’m not sure I have a clear answer. I am, however, still eager to explore and learn, so maybe that is success.

October 11, 2010

PLENK Week 4: Learning Theory

Posted in PLENK2010 at 4:56 pm by kristibroom

Week 4: Learning Theories. The Daily on 10/4/10 said this: “At first glance, learning theory discussions have all the excitement of watching rocks break down into soil: the process is long and tedious and often seems to produce little value.” I was prepared to be overwhelmed with content and underwhelmed with interest. And, I was surprised, in both respects.

In terms of content, I appreciate the efforts to provide both comprehensive lists of theories, and also manageable summaries. Instead of being overwhelmed and, quite frankly, ignoring everything, I was drawn into the content. And, while I cannot claim to begin to understand everything, I did make connections that will help me sort through the knowledge.

In terms of interest, I go back to the 3 perspectives I bring to this effort, and that I included in my first blog post. From the viewpoint of my first perspective, the personal interest and knowledge, I was intrigued, and do feel that I gained something. The second viewpoint, the one that applies to my work, brings a bit of concern. I have seen examples in my corporate experience of overuse of a particular theory to the detriment of learners. We have a model based on a theory; we use that model, and it’s hard to gain acceptance for anything else. I think the combination of many techniques (and the learning theories that ground the techniques we use) enable a rich learning environment. I don’t think the problem is in the theories; I think the problem is in getting stuck on one theory applied to all situations. And then there’s the third perspective: my children’s education. I read with interest Jenny’s post on learning theories. I agree with the flexibility to give the student what is needed.

Next month, I have the opportunity to chaperone an experiential learning trip with a class of 5th graders. As a chaperone, one of my responsibilities is to teach daily lessons to the students, both in a classroom, and while hiking through the woods or suspended 60 feet in the air on a ropes course. I’m sure that I will smile as I reflect on the Social Constructionism (is that right?) that will underly our lessons of winter animal tracks in the woods. But, I doubt that I will mention Vygotsky, Wittgenstein, or Papert to the kids, nor the many others that will influence the learning during that week.

As I continue through the PLENK experience, I appreciate all that I’m learning and discovering. I have a new appreciation for those who study and know learning theories. I hope that each time I have an opportunity to learn about learning theory, I pick up a few additional nuggets of knowledge, or new connections to resources where the knowledge exists. Now on to evaluating learning!

October 3, 2010

PLENK2010 Week 3: Smarter Data, Smarter People?

Posted in PLENK2010 at 7:12 pm by kristibroom

It’s been an interesting week in PLENK2010. While I’ve researched Web 3.0 a bit in the past, the implications for data connections, and smarter data are always intriguing. Someone in the Elluminate session chat said (paraphrased), when I need the data to find my child, I see the benefit. But, I want to control who sees the data. I don’t want others to be able to find my child, too. Wow.

It makes me think that this isn’t about technology, as so few things really are. It’s about adopting a new set of behaviors in reaction to technological advances. For some, that may mean locking up, shutting off as much of themselves as they can so the data doesn’t find them. I love Paul Ellerman’s representation of Xweb. Others will continue to share quite openly, maybe more than society at large sees as comfortable. My guess is most of us will find a happy medium somewhere that meets our individual needs.

I am also very interested in the part of Rita Kop’s post, which talks about the challenge of networked learning being finding the right information. She says “…research is available to show that not all adult learners are able to critically assess what they find online and might prefer to receive guidance from knowledgeable others.” (Kop, 2010) It makes me think about last week’s discussion of LMS and PLE, and the benefit of fewer choices for some people.

And it also raises the question of how do we find the right resources. And better yet, how do we teach others to do the same. Will xWeb solve this problem for us?

I’m starting to see the connections among all that I am learning in PLENK2010. I look forward to building additional strength in my network as the weeks continue.


Kop, R. (2010, 7 19). The eXtended Web and the Personal Learning Environment Retrieved 10 3, 2010, from Plearn Blog: http://ple.elg.ca/blog/?p=444