Saturday, September 18, 2010

So, What Have I Learned This Week?

At one point I thought I could understand PLE vs. PLN as a clear (if somewhat arbitrary) distinction between tools and sources. That was premature.

I partially understand the "ecology v.s. environment" exchange in the "PLEs and PLNs" discussion. The term "ecology" is suggested as an alternative to distinguishing between the environment and the network. I've used this as my starting point on my diagram (detailed view here)

To me there is a distinction between the environment and the network, but the boundaries are blurred. The trouble is that I just can't diagram or contemplate my PLE without involving networking tools and the sources with whom/which I network. ("Sources" as I use it, includes both contributors and consumers of information – I'd say "people", but sources also include print, videos, etc. that don't require interaction with the author.) The environment isn't just limited to physical spaces (office, classroom, kitchen table, couch) where I park my carcass while I'm engaging my mind in learning. Images and sounds, the feel of a keyboard or weight of a book, the abundance or absence of distractions, the uneven speed of my satellite broadband are all part of my learning environment.

I picture my network in terms of tools for connecting with sources, but it also includes the sources, live or virtual. Since the user-friendliness of those tools or sources influences the degree to which I utilize them, that becomes part of my learning environment, even though I think of tools primarily as network components. My network of people could not exist without the tools I use to communicate with them. And how can I distinguish between the person and the nature of my contact with him/her? People are part of the network, but their personality is part of the environment?

Then there is the whole question of actual vs. virtual. From many of the postings in PLENK, it seems we are especially considering the electronic environment and network. But I've visited that one before and haven't changed my mind that it's a blend.

Simply becoming aware of the concept of a learning environment and network has already helped clarify my understanding of how to make better use of it. While there is little consensus on semantics, the discussions have given me a fairly well-rounded picture of the wide-ranging scope of the topic.

The PLE/N vs. institutionally supported LMS comparison was sparked by #1 of Dave Cormier's 5 points. The LMS caters to the learning institution's need (compulsion?) to manage the flow of information. There's a place for managed information in formal training. LMS almost never have the free-wheeling, open-learning concept PLENK promotes. Enduring learning relationships are difficult in an institutionally supported LMS. Dave's cute "extr'ORD'narily hi-tech video" on Community As Curriculum as well as numerous other posts point to the advantage of having a self-sustaining network that endures after the course ends.

What really interests me, is how learning through a PLE can be recognized and accredited by the institution. Illych abandoned the institution in "Deschooling Society". I wonder if the institution can be opened. It's ironic that my institution promotes independent learning; but the students are conditioned to demand structure. Those are the threads I'll be watching and bookmarking more actively in days to come, now that I'm comfortable with my understanding of what a PLE/N actually is.

Friday Elluminate notes (really skimpy)
Curation – questions about authority, popularity, democracy
Curator’s views of what’s worthy (not necessarily what he agrees with) will shape what gets preserved - long tail vs. wide tail – George strongly believes it's natural to grant long-term and quality contributors greater prominence - but only in their area of expertise.
Wide tail is a goal – long tail is reality about what gets exposure.
In response to concerns about censorship, Dave suggested that depends on how many curators there are.
My thought - is that multiplicity of curators results in scattered and fragmented information in many diverse places, almost as difficult to sort through as the original information was. I want freedom to go anywhere, but need someone trusted to give opinion on what's most worthy of my time – an exemplar if not a guide.
Backchannel chat on backchannel chat – SL classes on backchannel were required because students have been programmed not to talk in class – extremely interesting. Backchannel is extremely important to my processing information – just as valuable and less disruptive than sharing the mic.
Education institution vs. PLE/N discussed again – should students pay the institution for content when same content is available for free?

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