Skip to main content

People, Places, and Things

"Fragmentation of information requires that we weave together elements into some coherent framework." - George Siemens

At a recent teachers' workshop, I asked the attendees to shout out their favorite digital learning tool. "YouTube!", "Pinterest!", "Twitter," Google Plus!", "Flipboard!". The answers kept coming. I then asked people to stand up if they used three or more of the shouted responses. With half the attendees standing, scattered throughout the room, I asked them to huddle up with me in the middle. The purpose of this activity was to demonstrate George Siemens concept connected learning centers (CLCs). The Internet and learning networks allow us to access information and resources from a variety of places. Knowledge attained from a variety of information sources is fragmented. Modern learners create centers to add coherence and meaning to information. These centers are simultaneously social and technical (social bookmarking, blogging, microblogging, learning management systems).


How do we create order and meaning from what can often be characterized as chaos?

Examples of places where learners are creating coherent learning centers include; Twitter, LinkedIn, Weebly, and Schoology. George Siemens, a founding father of connectivist learning, says the process of leveraging networks, and organizing content into personal knowledge centers is an essential learning process of the modern era.

"The learning is the network." George Siemens



Personal learning environments are personally constructed areas for generating, organizing, and sharing content. Like CLCs, personal learning environments will include social (personal learning network), and technology (personal web tools) support structures. Both CLCs and PLEs incorporate elements of formal and informal learning, including; experiences, analog material, and digital media. This blog, for example, serves as a centering tool, a professional learning portfolio, and a personal learning environment. It has taken me four years to develop a coherent structure for curating, creating, and sharing using this platform. Like my learning, the process is ongoing and ever-changing because networks, and our experiences with them, are constantly evolving.


"...students require structure and scaffolding when they first venture into digital learning environments." - Steve Wheeler

Where does the learning management system (LMS) fit into connected learning centers and personal learning environments? There are some, including myself, who argue every learner should have their own domain on the web, and that it's up to the individual learner to develop a personal structure for coherent centers of learning. A learning management system, like Schoology, creates a scaffolding experience within a protective walled garden. Students, in a short time, can create a connected learning center. They can curate and share learning materials in their resources folder. They can engage in online polls and discussions. They can organize and share evidence of learning using the pages, blogs, and my personal favorite, the portfolios tool.

A versatile, dynamic, learning management system, allows learners to practice networked learning as they development their personal learning environment. A user profile page serves as an introduction, personal philosophy summary, as well as, an invitation to connect with other learners. Blogs and web pages provide places for transparent goal setting, inquiry, and reflection. App integration (open API) allows students to incorporate the tools best suited for learning styles and creative expression. The personal learning environment is taken to the next level when learners have the opportunity to share their PLE with authentic audiences. Purposeful, relevant learning activities help bridge the gap between formal and informal learning.

The present and future of learning are personalized, mobile, digital, and social. Where can learners practice curating, creating, and sharing in a safe environment? A web domain for every learner is the ideal, but for most time-pressed learners lacking experience, an LMS such as Schoology, provides a bridge, or is integrated into our personal learning environments. Silvia Tolisano says, "Documenting our learning is integral to becoming self-determined with our learning." In a digital, web connected world, learning is enhanced and evidenced by how well we organize our people, places, and things.

What does your personal learning environment look like? 

What recommendations do you have for learners creating connected learning centers?

Resources and References


Anatomy of a PLE - Steve Wheeler

The Promise of Connected Learning - Rob Reynolds, Ph.D.

Documenting for Learning - Silvia Tolisano


photo credit: Constelação 1 via photopin (license)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Learning that Matters

Originally posted on Fractus Learning - 5.3.16

“Today we speak casually of lifelong learning, but in a few decades, it will likely be so much the norm as hardly to require its own label.” - David Perkins

You’re an educator with your finger on the pulse of what’s relevant to teaching and school. Being well read, you know that educational thought leaders are focusing recent dialogue on learning. Schools have always been places of learning, but few can deny the impact the Internet has on a person’s ability to learn whatever they want, whenever they want. Let’s have some fun by responding with the first word that pops into your mind.

Fill in the blank to complete the following phrase;______________________ learning.

The possible answers are numerous, aren’t they? Is your response included in the table below?


Authentic Problem-based Project-based Individualized Personalized Cooperative Flipped Mastery Community-based

To Email, or Not

Should current students learn how to use email?


As someone who celebrates a clean email inbox about once every five years, I found it interesting that the topic of student email usage was on the agenda of our recent high school leadership meeting. The focus of this brief conversation concentrated on these questions.



How can we get students to utilize their school email account better? Should we be teaching students how to communicate with email?When and where should email usage skills be taught? Who's responsibility is this?Why do we want kids to check their email? Those around the conference room table agreed with the importance of students checking their email to stay informed about upcoming events and opportunities. Others mentioned it as being an important part of "digital executive functioning." Time was running short when someone said, "Kids don't use email."

This brief statement sent my mind scurrying in several simultaneous directions. 

First, thinking …

Practice Makes Learning

“Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
Yesterday, I sent a tweet to my friend Aaron Davis to congratulate him on his excellent blog, Read Write Respond, being recognized as a finalist for an Edublog Award (#Eddies15). He graciously responded with this...
@robert_schuetz@debsnet congrats to you too Bob. You got a gig as well — Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs) December 11, 2015My first thought was, "whaaaa?". My second thought was, Aaron's in Melbourne and I'm near Chicago, must be something lost in translation. After checking out the Edublog site, sure enough, my blog is listed as a finalist in the Teacher Blog category. Honor and pride began percolating for two reasons. 
First, my blog was listed along with others that I read, and comment on, nearly every day. Blogs from people I hold in high regard as friends, as thought-change leaders in education, and as peopl…