This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Week 3 - Get Personal

How personalized is your personal learning plan? 

I'm stealing a couple of prompts from Clark Quinn's work with the Change11 MOOC this year. He makes the point in his blog post that formal learning structures often don't fit the way we learn best. So, as we pursue empowered learning, let's think about what our ideal conditions for learning might be. Quinn asks: 

"What would your ideal learning situation be?"  

"How would you construct an optimal performance environment for yourself? What would it look like?" 

I encourage you to explore this from a personal, reflective place. Try to remove all educational jargon from your answer. No theory allowed. It might help if you think about learning and performance outside of school or the workplace. Answer both prompts however you like- be creative,or don't-  try to include your reasoning and how you know what is best for you. 

Task Discussion

  • Paul Oh   March 27, 2012, 3:32 p.m.

    What would your ideal learning situation be?


    I think my ideal learning situation involves a lot of alone time - where I can read, write, reflect - coupled with opportunities to talk to others about what it is that I've read, written and reflected upon. I should add that this is not a linear kind of process. In other words, sometimes conversations start me down a path of reading. Or the conversations might happen in between reading and reflecting. You get the picture, I'm sure. I've seen this happening a lot in my social media experiences. I follow a lot of smart people who are reading lots of interesting things which I then find myself reading and thinking about. And vice versa.

    That said, I also know that some formal structure is good for me. Like this p2pU course, for instance. I think the framework of knowing that I have an obligation to myself and others as part of a learning group/community is motivating. (I also know I operate well under deadline and in response to guilt. :)

    I think I also like learning by doing. So opportunities to create and then share what I've made - going public - are important to me.

    What's so great about the learning possibilities in the age in which we live, this age of social media, in my opinion, is not necessarily that you can access everything you'd want to with everyone whom you might conceivably want to. Though that can be very cool. It's more that you can be as minute in your pursuits as you could possibly want to be - blog about the nose hairs of your favorite celebrity, for instance - and still find others who share that same arcane interest.

    I love that.

  • Joe Dillon   March 27, 2012, 4:59 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Paul Oh   March 27, 2012, 3:32 p.m.

    I agree that the small amount of structure in a course like this provides a focus, even though the structure compared to a traditional graduate course, for example, is really loose. 

    The "going public" part is interesting. Formalizing and clarifying thoughts just a little for the benefit of a small group can serve as a motivation and a reward. 

  • karen   March 21, 2012, 4:31 p.m.

    What would your ideal learning situation be?

    My idea learning situation is one driven by a real need to learn something and fueled by a variety of ways to learn, including quiet individual reading time, periodic consultation with mentors, reflective writing, and perhaps most of all, hands-on active doing of stuff.

    While I have always done well in traditional learning environments (in terms of external measures like grades), I don't think I've really learned much in these settings. :(

    Instead, the settings I've learned the most in were times when I've jumped in to learn something on my own and learned it through a combination of study-do-consult-reflect iterations.

    A concrete example is that I have spent the last two years learning about building construction (framing walls, masonry, electrical, etc.). I could have gone to building trade school I suppose, but instead I jumped in, did a lot of reading and video-watching on whatever I needed at each stage, and had a lot of help from mentors that I could ask as I had questions.

    Reflective writing is always a big part of my learning as well, and this experience has been no exception. Writing has helped me unpack what I've learned and has also been a valuable reference later when I forgot how I'd done something.

    I'm wondering how this approach could be somehow incorporated into more traditional educational experiences (project based learning?).

    And then there that nagging issue of formal accreditation. That's a tough nut to crack.

  • Paul Oh   March 27, 2012, 3:34 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   March 21, 2012, 4:31 p.m.

    I like the idea of mentors that you bring up, Karen. So often it seems I hear people talk about those who've been influential to them in their development. I'm no exception. Mentorship seems very much to be a vital component of the "personal" in personal learning.

  • Joe Dillon   March 27, 2012, 4:47 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   March 21, 2012, 4:31 p.m.

    study, do, consult, reflect...

    This sounds like a good model to me, also. I especially like the "consult" part, because it suggests to me that you question, listen, learn, counsel and cooperate. 

    Reflective writing in professional development is potentially so powerful. For the teachers who believe in the potential of reflecting, writing and sharing, reflective writing can be the professional development. 

  • Liz Renshaw   March 19, 2012, 12:13 a.m.

    Just picking up on a couple of points raised in our discussions which really resonated with me.

    I agree with karen finding that space, which is which I can learn but not be in my own echo chamber really highlighted something for me. I need to be in a space in which there is some intellectual challenge and something to chew on. I need to have discussion and debate which takes me beyond what I comfortably know and really pushing some new thinking.  This 'course' has really offered me this opportunity.

    My feature of my ideal learning scenario is to engage with a diverse range of people from different continents, work and interest areas and backgrounds. Being in Australia and being awake when others are 'asleep' means that when I wake there is pretty much always new posts to be explored over morning coffee.  I will have to confess to 'peeking' in the middle of the night to check posts on the iphone in bed... so participation across timezone really adds a feeling of excitement, motivation and wonder.

    I was a bit skeptical at first about short p2pu courses but the intensity, depth and breadth of the conversations have been exceptionally engaging. So I've now taken on a couple more short courses. So I would add short, focused, open 'courses' since my experience here.

    I relish the links that people provide and always follow them up. So thanks, This allows me to access ideas/ thoughts/readings outside my usual fields of research.

    In summary I think I enjoy being a global learner and that's would be a key ingredient for me in any future learning.


  • Paul Oh   March 27, 2012, 3:35 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 19, 2012, 12:13 a.m.

    I agree, Liz. I feel like I've gained so much from the rich discussions here in this short-course format.

  • Joe Dillon   March 27, 2012, 4:50 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 19, 2012, 12:13 a.m.
     So I would add short, focused, open 'courses' since my experience here.


    I wonder how you would compare this experience to your experience in the change11 MOOC? Does the smaller group and shorter timeline change the way you approach the course? 

  • Joe Dillon   March 18, 2012, 2:36 p.m.

    The best instructional modification I ever heard of came from a local school for gifted and talented students. In trouble shooting a boy’s academic struggles, they decided to give him three gym classes a day. He quickly began to perform at a high level in all of his academic classes.

    I need this modification.

    I also need to have a sense of place. I always get to know the bike routes in the communities where I’ve taught. I feel I need to shoot on the school's basketball hoops regularly to teach well.

    This year I’ve travelled three times to meet with a group of teachers for the LDC work with the National Writing Project. At two of the locations, I had a chance to hike local trails in the morning before meeting and gotten to go for quick walks or jogs at lunch. While I have learned so much in the intensive work we have done, giving myself a sense of place and the instructional modification of regular physical exertion has been very important to me. At our November meeting In Chicago, I arrived late and didn’t learn the neighborhood. I hustled from meeting to meeting in huge hotels and never got my bearings. Too cold for long walks, I took five minute breaks when I needed an hour. I grabbed an extra cookie when I needed a jog. Without a sense of place and way to regain a focus, I struggled and felt a little cloudy the whole trip.

    My ideal learning situation allows me to work and collaborate with groups and also provides opportunities for me to think, read, write and move. When I can do that, I bring something to the groups that rely on my thoughtful participation. The best part about working and collaborating online is that I get to choose the space. When we say we’re meeting on Google +, to me that means I can sit in my basement with a cup of coffee. If I attend a webinar instead of a seminar, I can put my laptop in front of a yoga ball. Then I'm really learning.  

  • Paul Oh   March 27, 2012, 3:40 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Joe Dillon   March 18, 2012, 2:36 p.m.

    I always get to know the bike routes in the communities where I’ve taught. I feel I need to shoot on the school's basketball hoops regularly to teach well. 


    I love this, Joe. I had never thought about the importance of a sense of place for learning beyond the way I structured my classroom. And yet in order to know our students, we also need to know where  they "live," is what I'm hearing you say. And perhaps for students to understand themselves as learners, they need to understand for themselves where they live. Which speaks to the need to get them outside the four physical walls of the classroom.