Personal Learning Networks & Open Educational Resources

After a bussy week, I’m finally ready to write down my own thoughts about this theme. PLN’s are a very important way of learning, I think. This environment creates a space where you as a learner can self-create (as mentioned in the friday Elluminate session). Things appropriate for the learners needs. An attractive idea since most of educational systems today are very content based, curriculum centered, etc. It’s all about sharing and connecting, but making the connections yourself, you are able to emphasize the things you, as a learner find important! I do ask myself how you can evaluate this. Not the method (test, paper, oral examination,…) but, how do you evaluate students who choose their own path? Standardized test are no longer an option, since every learner learns about different things. So how do you do it? Is it like I mentioned before (here) that learners write about their findings in a blog or so? But then all they would do is write stuff. Off course a podcast or video presentation is also possible. But again, presenting one’s findings, is that it? George mentioned that we should be aware of not only finding, reading and sharing information but  also creating stuff creatively! Maybe it’s this that creates value. If you let students be creative, that they invent ways of presenting and sharing the things they encountered, they learn the most.

So a “Personal Learning Network”, is it able to do this? Let’s find out. Trying to connect different sources of information is certainly one of its basic capabilities. Since learning is everywhere, PLN’s can organize the chaos, or at least make you able to surf the chaotic waves of the ocean of information. Aggregating information is step one, but adding to that is being able to do pattern recognition. Trying to connect different things you encounter and find some set of rules or similarities out of them, a set of principles.

My PLN is pretty basic, I think. It evolves a lot around information gathering, to little on creating and sharing. An overview:

As you can see I use a lot of tools for multiple purposes. Also, a lot of tools I use on multiple devices. Interaction between them is important to me. A number of my tools belong to the “Google Suite”, I find it very handy that these applications can interact, communicate with each other, share information! I could use more ways of sharing information. Trying to use new tools to express myself.

Also in the classroom. As a teacher a lot of the times I let my students report in a written form, why don’t I do this through different means? I hope to try this by means of using the online tools available (partly shown above). Also I hope to use different devices. Letting them work with a digital camera, recording a podcast, making a video and showing this in class, but also on a website, a blog, an LMS, the school’s website, etc. Certain learning outcomes that I have to achieve will perhaps complicate things, ideas that I would like to accomplish, but there are possibilities! The one thing that troubles me is time! I teach geography only once a week to my students. This means 1 class session of 50 minutes per week! In traditional education this is sufficient to reach the set learning outcomes, but when trying to do this connectivist-style this seems so little time! Does anybody else concur? If not, how do you work around these time constraints? I find this very frustrating since these fun ways of teaching are difficult to put into practice with only minutes to spare… How do you change the system?

PLN’s can surely enhance education. It brings a lot of useful tools to the workplace. Ways to gather information, aggregate, express, share, create, … connect. These tools will be necessary in the 21st century, therefor these tools should be used in education.

Cable Green gave an interesting point of view on open licensing! PLN’s give tremendous freedom and flexibility to a learner, but the content should be flexible too! Open content, sharing content freely is important. Cable talked on how universities are changing (slowly) to this open content for students to use. Off course, this is not to the liking of publishers, but still would enhance the educational experience greatly. The possibility of using course material in your own blog, update it constantly, even together with students,… This would be great.

Listening to the presentation, learning about integrating PLN’s and OER’s was very enlightening. I hope to find a way to do this in my own class environment. Instead of offering a published book using my own material, placing it online for students to use it in their own PLN, this must lead up to learning outcomes far greater than the ones achieved now. It’s like Cable said: “It’s criminal to use (static) books for more than 4 or 5 years.”

There is still a lot of work to do, but it’s nice to see that possibilities open up right in front of us. If we can find the tools and implement them into our classrooms, education will prosper!


One thought on “Personal Learning Networks & Open Educational Resources

  1. This is great, Lars. You’re truly putting the ideas together and thinking about how they work for you as an educator. Thanks for posting!

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