January 20, 2011

Strategies for Success

Posted in CCK11 at 4:27 pm by kristibroom

Yesterday, I shared my goals for CCK11. I’ve got one to add:

6. Stay ahead of the readings! Last year, I spent the week (and weekends) playing catch up with the readings, which deprived me of rich understanding of the sessions, and the discussions. I don’t remember if previous courses had the readings published in advance, but I greatly appreciate that this one does!

I really appreciate George and Stephen sharing with us the strategies for success. The model that resonated with me was Create, Interact, Track.

  • Create: content for myself to use as reflections, and for others to keep me on track, to challenge what I’m saying, and to learn as well.
  • Interact: with others who have different and similar points of view.
  • Track: how things are going based on comments, interactions, etc.

Best of all, the slide gave me a few ideas on technologies to try to meet that goal.

Tracy Parish said “what I’m learning about is how I’m learning about it.” That really resonates with me, and concisely states what my ultimate goal is in participating in CCK11.

One other random point of resonance: Stephen’s explanation of knowledge using the “Where’s Waldo” example was perfect. I get it! And, I’m looking forward to learning more about how knowledge is distributed through the network.


January 19, 2011


Posted in CCK11, PLENK2010 at 7:16 pm by kristibroom

CCK11 kicked off this week. I’m excited to start another 12 weeks of intense learning, interaction, confusion and connections.

Although I registered for CCK11 a couple weeks ago, it was only yesterday that I finally decided to really join. This is my third MOOC, and while I love learning about this cutting-edge format for learning, I know that I need to commit myself to it in order to get anything out of it.

My first MOOC was CCK09, and though I read most of the readings, I did not fully participate in the forums, nor in creating my own work. In PLENK2010, I set out to more actively participate, and this blog was born. I found that by setting personal goals for PLENK2010 (which, by the way, I did reach), I was more committed to the outcome.

I’ve set goals for CCK11 as well. They don’t differ drastically from PLENK2010, but I hope they will help me stay focused on what I hope to achieve through these 12 weeks.

  1. Explore at least 2 new technologies. I’ve already got a few on my list. By the end of the course, I’d like to have a working knowledge of what they can do for my learning.
  2. More consistently post to this blog. I know this is too loose for measurement, but I hesitate to set a target of posts/timeframe (I did that for PLENK, and posted exactly 1 time per week). I’m hoping to get comfortable enough to post as often as I have something to say.
  3. Enable a deeper understanding of Connectivism, and how I can apply it to my own learning and those whose learning I help enable.
  4. Engage with at least 5 CCK11 participants. This may seem like a small number, given the large number of participants. But, by engagement, I mean conversations and connections that will occur inside and outside the course. So 5 seems reasonable.
  5. Stay focused on these goals, and filter out the content that doesn’t help me reach them. It’s not that there couldn’t be nuggets in the rest of the content. But, for me to be successful, I need to target a portion of what is produced.

I’m looking forward to the journey. If you have goals that you would like to share, I’d love to hear them.

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

September 27, 2010

PLENK2010 Week 2: Contrasting personal learning with institutional learning, PLEs with LMSs

Posted in PLENK2010 at 4:45 pm by kristibroom

Last week’s conversation around PLEs vs. LMSs is one that is still a bit perplexing to me. I very much look forward to this week’s topic: Understanding the neXt/eXtended Web, but will continue to revisit the PLE and LMS discussion.

One of the challenges in fully rationalizing the concepts comes from my background in corporate learning. It feels like comparing apples and oranges. To over-simplify my experience and current point of view, the PLE facilitates immediate, unstructured, mostly relevant/applicable access to knowledge. The LMS provides longer, structured, relevant/applicable access to knowledge. If I need an immediate answer or some interesting “brain food,” I look to my PLE. My PLE fills the cracks of time with learning. If I need to build a skill, I look to my LMS to provide options for learning, which then are scheduled into larger chunks of time. Does that mean PLEs are always immediate, or relevant? No. And sometimes the resources coming out of the PLE are lengthy, and help to build skills over the long-term. And managed well, the LMS can provide quick access to short and immediate answers. So maybe the question is in how I have used each, and maybe as I continue to work through their value, I can challenge those initial assumptions.

I really like Martin Weller’s comments about the LMS. His discussion of integration resonates with me:

“One advantage of centralised systems is that they provide readily integrated packages. This offers three main advantages:

Convenience: The default set of tools an educator would require are readily available without them needing to locate and choose.

Monitoring: The integration of tools allows administrators and educators to monitor usage, so for example they can track the overall access of a resource, or the use of tools by an individual.

Authentication: Single sign-on means that users only need one user ID name, and also that the system can allocate roles and functions to individual users.” (Weller, 2010)

Convenience, monitoring and authentication are all key issues for the learning audiences I support. And, the LMS, to some degree, addresses all of them quite well.

I also really like Terry Anderson’s advantages of PLEs, particularly the following:

  • “Ease of Use: PLE environments can be customized and personalized allowing education to flow into the learners’ other net applications
  • Control and responsibility: The PLE centers the learning within the context created and sustained by the learner – not one owned by the institution. This leads to sense of and practical application of educational self direction.” (Anderson, 2006)

So, I’m back to apples and oranges. Both good fruit; both have a place in support of learning, and the key is to determine which is best to include in your recipe for success.


Anderson, T. (2006, 1 9). PLE’s versus LMS: Are PLEs ready for Prime time? Retrieved 9 22, 2010, from Virtual Canuck: http://terrya.edublogs.org/2006/01/09/ples-versus-lms-are-ples-ready-for-prime-time/

Weller, M. (2010). The centralisation dilemma in educational IT. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE) , 1-9.

September 19, 2010

Thoughts on PLENK2010 Week 1

Posted in PLENK2010 tagged at 5:51 pm by kristibroom

In Friday’s Elluminate session, George (or was it Dave?) said that creation is a critical component of the learning process. I’m not a natural note-taker, preferring to let ideas swim around in my head. So blogging does not come naturally either. I’m willing to give it a shot though, and see how it improves my learning through the course.

I have 3 frames of reference as I complete the course.

  1. The first, and most selfish, is to improve my own knowledge relative to the subject and MOOCs in general.
  2. The second, related, is to determine how to apply the concepts and models in my work.
  3. The third, and most personal, is to determine the current or future benefits to the educations of my children. They’re too young to be digitally connected now, though the day is coming quickly.

The swimming thoughts this week have to do with the PLE/N differences. In the first frame of reference, the difference seems important. I hope to add clarity in the next week or so. In the second frame of reference, and maybe the third, I’m not sure it matters so much. The ideas that learning occurs socially through networks seems important; whether that is an “E” or “N” seems less critical, at least at this point.

I’m enjoying the live sessions. In addition to the content, I’ve enjoyed thinking about the idea of curation. I will admit to being intimidated by the amount of content. Curation would help, and I recognize that I may need to do that for myself. I’ve also keyed on the term “negotiated knowledge” and hope to explore this more as the course progresses. I come from an environment of very prescriptive learning, with content that is highly regulated and approved. That second frame of reference makes me quite interested in knowledge that is negotiated and not pre-approved.

I look forward to the next week, and will endeavor to post again, and spend more time in the discussion forums.

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