Last week we were looking at Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) and/or Personal Learning Environments. When I first looked at the assignment I have to admit that I was not very excited. I had heard the terms and read some about them in blogs, and didn’t really think that I had too much more to add. To my surprise, however, the venture of thinking about and creating a visual representation of my PLN was interesting and fun – I became obsessed with thinking about what I learned, how I learned it, and with/from whom.
When I looked at the PLE wiki, I was immediately drawn to D’Arcy Norman’s simple people oriented view that puts his PLN tools between him and “smart people.” It is beautifully simplistic, and I related to the idea that the connections make learning happen. I also appreciated Andrew Chambers use/action-oriented web that has the phrase “learners are” in the center and makes connections to what learners do (action) and what tools help them do those things. Finally, I related to Dave Warlick’s Picture of his Personal Learning Network – in particular the bubble labeled “Reflective Endeavors” that help him learn. The more abstract ideas appeal to my thoughts that PLNs aren’t really about only people or tools or learner actions, but a hybrid of all connections and interactions.
As I sat on the plane on the way home from the Authorspeak conference (more on that later), I opened Virtual Understanding Environment, an AMAZING content organization and sharing software that I first encountered this spring (see previous blog post). I have wanted to dig more deeply into that software and thought it would help me organize the concepts and ideas of my own PLN.
I began with the idea that I would focus on what I find myself learning, how I learn (what my learning actions are) and then look at tools facilitate each action. Soon, however, I found myself with the complicated hybrid web that you see below. It was so big that I have to embed it in two pieces so that you can see it here. The dark blue box is me, the orange rectangles are my learning actions, the green hexagons are what I am learning, and the purple parallelograms are from/with whom I learn. Above, the lighter blue boxes are the media through which I learn (blogs, books, conferences, etc.) and the purple ovals are tools and examples of learning through those media. For example, Curriculum 21 is a webpage, a wiki, a source of professional development, and a conference, so that purple oval has links to all of those blue boxes.
I started with the idea that I would also connect my learning action rectangles to the blue boxes, but it became way too cumbersome. VUE allows for multiple layers, and when I have more time I can go back and make those connections, and I can also add links, pictures and other information to each node so that I can access any part of my network from one source.
In reflecting on my PLN, I am happy with the way it stands now. I think that I am still behind on using video creation tools and also on connecting through using Skype, but I know that I will get there eventually. All in all an interesting and creative endeavor that really opened my eyes to my own learning sources.
Wordle image at top: Bucky, Susan. “PLN 1.” No date. Online image. Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobannon/2983755525/