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Wk 2- Mapping my learning plan


So how do we go about planning for our own learning?  Each of us will have a different path, a different set of interests with, perhaps, overlapping areas of concern.  Is there a way to be both independent and interdependent? We do know that learning can be more productive and vast when we work together.

Let's discuss here how a person can plan for their own learning at the same time as looking for opportunities to work with others.

What are your ideas for making such a thing happen?

What sorts of online resources and products might assist us on such a path?

How can we work together on overlapping interests while still meeting the needs of each individual's interests?

Task Discussion

  • karen   March 18, 2012, 6:04 p.m.

    So, I've started mapping my own personal learning here. It was both more challenging and personal than I expected.  (Cindy, my reluctance to publish this to the world gives credence to the right-most extreme of your continuum....for me at least.)

    In answer to the prompt, I do see areas where my learning is more of a solitary, personal pursuit and areas where it completely depends on interaction with others.

    For me, my PLN, especially on Twitter, is a took I completely depend on. P2PU is growing in importance to me as well, but I am searching for ways to deepen my experiences there.

    For me, I am puzzling over how to get the best our of peer learning, whlie also trying to get out of the echo chamber a bit. Any thoughts?

  • Joe Dillon   March 19, 2012, 3:21 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   March 18, 2012, 6:04 p.m.

    I have to react to the concept of the "echo chamber."

    I agree with the general wisdom of trying to ensure that our networks don't just tell us what we want to hear. However, especially where teachers are concerned, I think there is a particular need for progressive teachers who are invested in improvement to find like-minded colleagues. For so many of us the web allows us to bounce ideas off of people who care about the issues most important to us. Isn't this how we become "personal learning junkies?" 

    I guess I think the purpose for a network really depends on your context. An administrator who's staff might rush into any project he or she suggests might want to solicit the feedback of people who can help him think critically. On the other hand, the situation I find myself trying to support is a teacher who is invested in a change- integrating technology in their course, for example- being surrounded by folks who are less inclined to care, support, or encourage this effort. 

    So often, teaching can be an isolating profession where people can get discouraged and disconnected. I think it is important to note that likeminded folks so often constructively push one another and that echo chambers are really rare, even when people are on the "same page." 

  • Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   March 17, 2012, 8:49 p.m.

    I liked that post, Paul.  It is the messiness versus the order that can be difficult to get a handle on in this everchanging environment. What do we plan for versus what do we let serendipity manage?  And how do we set ourselves up in situations where serendipity takes place? And are their key points in any process where we need to shut serendipity down in order to process and acclimate the learning that has already occurred?  Seems to me that has always been true for me.

    I reminded of the first time I did the 12 week Artist's Way program.  The program has certain structures and requirements, and some of the structures are actually intended to increase the likelihood of serendipity.  For instance participants must journal daily for about 20 minutes.  The journal should take place in the morning because that is when random ideas and connections are most likely to come forward and be fruitful. So that is a structure, and yet it is built to capitalize on creative and innovative energies.

    What do we have in PD that does this?  Anything?

  • Paul Oh   March 20, 2012, 1:03 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   March 17, 2012, 8:49 p.m.

    As always, Bonita, you ask great questions. One way, it seems to me, to organize for serendipity is through the process of inquiry - by determining what it is you're seeking to find out, by asking yourself questions, then pursuing answers to those questions via a range of resources, including personal learning networks.

  • Joe Dillon   March 20, 2012, 1:38 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Paul Oh   March 20, 2012, 1:03 p.m.

    I notice in the exchange here that you both seem OK with the word "serendipity," while also asking about structures and suggesting processes. I also want to throw in the word "strategy." We can approach learning opportunities with strategies in mind and then reflect on how well they worked. If we have structures, processes and strategies in place, serendipity is something we come to expect and not something we might equate with "happy accidents." 

  • Paul Oh   March 14, 2012, 12:31 p.m.

    I was all ready to write a post this morning about mapping my learning plan. I had come up with the idea of writing about the back and forth between thinking locally/acting globally-acting locally/thinking globally. How I learn from one arena, then try to give back to another, and vice versa, in a dynamic, non-linear kind of way. How I've been supported by colleagues through the National Writing Project to understand deeply both my own needs and local context, but also expand to see the broader landscape - both through the avenues of research, inquiry and action. And how online social networks have made this all the more possible, and richer.

    And then I took a few moments to read the post associated with the diagram Jonas shared below, related to Organizing for Diversity. And I think that diagram, and the accompanying post, reflects how I try to operate today, at least philosophically, when it comes to my professional learning and work.

    The diagram captures my belief that we need to organize in some moments and for particular learning purposes, but also be willing to be less organized in order to innovate and think more broadly. I like that there aren't neat divisions between the groupings, that they overlap, which is true in my own learning life, too. I like the fact that "serendipity" is honored. So much of my own learning has involved the serendipitous discovery of colleagues and their brilliant ideas through my "external" social networks. And, as Liz has said below already, I like the idea that social networks form the basis for avenues of social learning.

    The only thing I would add to the diagram to make it my own are arrows in order to show the iterative nature of learning. Perhaps arrows circling within each grouping, arrows circling outside the entire set of groups, and arrows that jump from one group to another. Because I definitely do not move through these groupings as a learner in an always-linear fashion. 

  • Jonas Backelin   March 15, 2012, 5:46 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Paul Oh   March 14, 2012, 12:31 p.m.

    It corresponds to the goal-action-feedback cycle and it captures the dynamic and iterative nature of learning: as understanding grows so knowledge is rebuilt through results. A constructivist approach to learning must provide not only the environment and the tools for the active construction of knowledge, but also the availability of appropriate feedback on the learner’s progress. (Fowler 1999)

    • Great input Paul,
    • Had to get my head around 'iterative nature of learning' and can remember from language training that we used a repetitive mode to perform the same action over and over again to improve our skills. 
    • I'm still stuck with the purpose of goals (intristic motivation) in Personal Learning and found this question very motiviating: 
    • What would it mean to you to have a crystal clear sense of purpose AND the drive to make a valuable difference in the world and to the lives of others?
  • Paul Oh   March 20, 2012, 1:10 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jonas Backelin   March 15, 2012, 5:46 a.m.

    I'd love to have a crystal clear sense of purpose and the drive to make a valuable difference in the world and to the lives of others. This is a great prompt and, I agree, very motivating.

    I attended a conversation at the Educon conference once led by a group from an arts academy in Philadelphia. The conversation focused on the connections between art and literacy. The group opened by asking everyone to write down their personal philosophy about education. It was a great way, I thought, to start with the very broadest lens - why we do what we do, what we see as our purpose as teachers. We weren't asked to share our writing, which I took to signify that it was simply our own personal framework for how we were then going to think about the ensuing conversation.

  • Liz Renshaw   March 21, 2012, 1:12 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Paul Oh   March 20, 2012, 1:10 p.m.

    Paul, this is a very interesting way to start a conference and to really put teachers into a quite different headspace. I'm going to think about using this strategy at an appropriate time. I like the idea that you didnt have share it too..... a bit threatening. also people might begin to shape their response to please others.  Again we are seeing the artist leading us into a more open context......

    My interest is is primarily focused on adult literacy/numeracy, what about you interest?

  • Paul Oh   March 27, 2012, 2:41 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 21, 2012, 1:12 a.m.

    Liz, my apologies for not responding sooner. My work focuses mainly on digital literacies among teachers and students, k through university. I suppose I'm most interested these days in the impact of social media on learning. Really glad to have met you through this p2pu experience.

  • Jonas Backelin   March 12, 2012, 3:59 a.m.


    Here are some ideas of open education:

    A ‘Massive Open Online Course’ (MOOC) is an educational tool to apply the theory of connectivism and an open pedagogy based on networked learning.  MOOCs are founded on principle characteristics of autonomy, diversity, openness and interaction (Change11).

    There has emerged a variant in open learning that is called ‘Collaborative Open Online Learning‘ (COOL).  Here participants engage in the development of a personal blog/digital portfolio and the collaborative development of an educational technology wiki resource (eci831).  There is also an idea that assignments and tasks are shared and remixed (DS106) [I know it's a very general description].

    Maybe we can introduce the idea of ‘Teachers Open Online Learning’ (TOOL) that embraces the idea of a Community of Practitioners who meets to share experiences and insights via advanced technologies.  This creates new ways to share and remix resources, collaborate with other educators, and help our learners connect with each other.

  • Liz Renshaw   March 12, 2012, 4:06 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jonas Backelin   March 12, 2012, 3:59 a.m.

     I like this idea about TOOL, Im participating in the Digital Storytelling DS106 and the repository of learner created assignments, and learner designed daily creative tasks is really inspirational. It's a really great way to share and remix resource, help people to connect andalso build some 21c digital skills in an enjoyable but challenging way. 

    How do we think we could define/describe a Community of Practitioners?  

  • Jonas Backelin   March 12, 2012, 5:06 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jonas Backelin   March 12, 2012, 3:59 a.m.

    Found YouPD on our Future Groups Ideas.  This is a teacher peer led development to grow networks for Life Long Learning.  A 'Hack' is a problem fellow teacher are experiencing and the innovation in this community is geolocation and 'blender' meetings (the challenge component is not very exciting yet).  I think they lack the DIY component that are present on P2PU, but to build peer network on problem solving is very good...

  • karen   March 14, 2012, 9:25 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 12, 2012, 4:06 a.m.

    Love the idea of learner created assignments.

    On our web conversation, we talked about a group in which you could choose your own challenges to pursue. Would like to have participants help design those challenges.

    Thoughts on how to facilitate this?

  • Jonas Backelin   March 11, 2012, 12:49 p.m.


      I like this quote “In communities, people learn in order to belong.  In a collective, people belong in order to learn” from A New Culture of Learning by J.S. Brown and D. Thomas. 

      The authors question the idea of Communities of Practice (CoP) where members learn the characteristic ways of belonging to a community.  The new culture of learning in a collective relies on peer-to-peer relationships that are fluid and temporary.  They also write “Expertise is shared openly and willingly, without regard to an institutional mission […] as a way to enable the agency of other members of the collective”.  Isn't this what we are doing here, right now?

      If we look at this from the approach of ‘Personal Learning Environments’ (PLE) as  "[...] one node in a web of content, connected to other nodes and content creation services used by other students. It becomes, not an institutional or corporate application, but a personal learning center, where content is reused and remixed according to the student's own needs and interests. It becomes, indeed, not a single application, but a collection of interoperating applications—an environment rather than a system" (Stephen Downes) In this learning ecology the network of independent people create an emergent pattern recognized as interdependent knowledge.   

      Going back to a presentation from 'Partnership for 21st Century Skills', they predict that this will be widely adopted within four to five years.  Is that realistic and what change is needed?

    I think the last point is where we need to make progress...

  • Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   March 11, 2012, 5:57 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jonas Backelin   March 11, 2012, 12:49 p.m.

    In terms of adoption of 21st Century skills in five years...adoption, yes.  Actual use and application will be tremendously shaky and often look like old time learning with a new cover (my prediction). I think this because this is a sea change (at least in the USA) from where schools are presently living and going.

  • Liz Renshaw   March 11, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jonas Backelin   March 11, 2012, 12:49 p.m.

    Having been involved with a number of CoP over the years I agree with the comments  that there are prescribed ways to being and acting in these groups. I found that the CoPs, in my experience  were driven by the demands of the external funding sources, predetermined objectives and strict project time frames.CoP within institutional walls were problematic in design, and applications. Whilst there were positive outcomes, CoPs as a supported professional learning process were never endorsed by the institutional beyond the initial external funding phase. 

    I'm very interested in doing some thinking about the way of learning where relationships are more fluid and temporary. I think this peer to peer relationship has much more to offer. For instance this P2PU course builds engagement with learrners from all walks of life and this brings a richness of experience, thought, and inspiration far beyond when one engages with a 'tribe' at an institutions formal pd event. Off to read more on this line................   

  • Liz Renshaw   March 11, 2012, 9:11 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   March 11, 2012, 5:57 p.m.

     I think there prediction of 3-5 years is very optimistic. I think we are already seeing the early adopters moving forward in this areas. Certainly there are already many pockets of innovation. In Australia there is a sea change happening and we are seeing that many learners/students are starting to drive educational change as they challenge the prevailing orthodoxies. Teacher training institutions are working to develop 21c skills, universities are creating courses that embrace different ways of thinking.... HOWEVER ..... we have a massive challenge with the 'babyboomers' generation of teachers, who have been in the game a long time..... and are quite change resistant.

  • Joe Dillon   March 11, 2012, 10 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 11, 2012, 9:11 p.m.

    I excerpted two clips from Jim Groom's talk at K-State about the University of Mary Washington's use of PLEs. They total about 4:30. 

    Introducing UWM blogs

    results of PLE implementation

    I'm hopeful that the educators can hear these types of positive results and join in a larger conversation about how we make sense of the potential in personal learning environments.  I'm also hopeful that this type of results oriented discussion of ed tech lowers the resistance of teachers who don't see tech spaces as positive in and of themselves. 

  • Jonas Backelin   March 12, 2012, 4:16 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Joe Dillon   March 11, 2012, 10 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing Joe, it took me some time to realize that tubechop show sections of the 1:24 clip.  I’m interested in the Edupunk and ‘do it yourself’ attitude, instead dystopia we should funnel creativity and create ‘Rainbows and Unicorns’.

  • Jonas Backelin   March 12, 2012, 4:21 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 11, 2012, 9:11 p.m.

    I agree with Liz on 'babyboomers'... but there is also a trend with Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives,


    Digital Tourists and Digital Residents

    Maybe innovation will evolve naturally?

  • Jonas Backelin   March 13, 2012, 12:36 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 11, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

    Hi Liz, I found this diagram by Harold Jarche on the topic: Organizing for diversity and complexity

    I think this also give us some direction on P2P learning

  • Liz Renshaw   March 14, 2012, 12:29 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jonas Backelin   March 13, 2012, 12:36 p.m.

    Indeed a useful diagram as it can help people to understand the differences between the approaches to pd and pl.

    The article also has a couple of interesting things : I like how the power of social networks,  was likened to electricity,. The networks do provide, illumination, energy, and shine a spotlight on different ideas, thoughts and activities. enlightened

  • Liz Renshaw   March 14, 2012, 12:31 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jonas Backelin   March 12, 2012, 4:21 a.m.

    Evolution of innovation......ummmmmm could be waiting a while?

  • Paul Oh   March 14, 2012, 12:06 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 14, 2012, 12:29 a.m.

    I liked this post a lot, too, Jonas. The diagram, in the context of the post, is really interesting and resonates with my own beliefs about the fluid (to borrow a term I liked a lot from an earlier thread by Liz) nature of networked groupings today. And, like Liz, I was struck by the idea that social networks is the grease, so to speak, that allows social learning to happen.

    Liz, would you mind saying more about this idea that the diagram can help people understand the difference between approaches to PD and PL? 

  • Liz Renshaw   March 17, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Paul Oh   March 14, 2012, 12:06 p.m.

    When I looked at this diagram, it made me think about some of the differences between professional development and professional learning.  

    Project Teams (PT) consists of groups of people working together in a structured way to achieve a  goal which has been predetermined by an organisation.  PTs operate inside organisations and resemble ‘walled spaces’ in which people may be coopted to the team. Team members are likely to come from the same or similar knowledge areas. The team is likely to be a closed group, which operates in a high predictable, structured way and within a given timeframe.  The goal is to produce a tangible outcome, often nowadays called a ‘deliverable’. In this context individual or group learning is not a consideration.  

    In CoPs groups of people (practitioners) who share a concern or a passion for something they do interact together to learn how to do something better. People engage in joint negotiated activities and discussions to help each other and share information. Time is spent in building trust relationships which in turns acts to increase the flow of ideas/information/shared practices.  The CoP is less structured than a project team, and values both group and individual learning. When CoPs operate within an organisation they may still be bound my organisational demands to produce deliverables within a given time frame.   There may be some diversity within the group members but they are do gather around a common domain of knowledge.

    Networks consists of groups of diverse individuals, who may or may not share a common knowledge area. The individuals chose  to be part of the network, which is created external to the organisation.  The network is an open entity and is dynamic in the way it operates. Learner agency lies at the heart of this entity, the individual engages according to their own needs, interests and abilities. The learning experience of each participant will be distinctive.

    In general, PTs and CoP are examples of methodologies used within organisations for professional development programs. The focus is primarily on developing the skills and knowledge of people to ensure that the strategic goals of the organisation are met.  Learner agency is not a consideration, membership is often stable, set time frames are in place and the focus of activity can be narrow, and unchangeable.

    External networks, exemplify professional learning since it is the primacy of individual learning that lies at the heart of the network connections. The individual is able to regulate their own learning, being able to make changes according to emergent learning needs. Autonomy, diversity ,interactivity and engagement  are the key features of networks which act to promote professional learning. 

     I agree with our other participants that the distinctions between these different approaches are not clear cut and that there are areas of overlap and blurring around the edges.  At the moment I am wondering where the distinction lies between professional learning and personal learning, is it time to ‘drop’ the personal/professional from this label? Am I perpetrating a false dichotomy, between learning at ‘work’ and learning ‘ outside’?  I think this is another discussion?



  • Joe Dillon   March 20, 2012, 10:28 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 14, 2012, 12:29 a.m.

    I created a Diigo group for this course after seeing your reflection on the article Jonas recommended. I'm sharing my notes and annotations on this article there. 

  • Paul Oh   March 20, 2012, 1:31 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Liz Renshaw   March 17, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

    Much to consider in what you've written, Liz. For now, I'll pick up on your thought: "At the moment I am wondering where the distinction lies between professional and personal learning, is it time to 'drop' the personal/professional from this label?"

    I know I get confused about the distinctions between the two. In my posts here at this course, I know I've used the terms interchangeably at times, and at other moments tried to make distinctions between the two. I suppose when your work reflects your personal interests - for instance, I'm an educator focused on literacy who also likes to read and write - it can be that much harder to be clear about the distinctions.

    But I'd go further and say that the carving out of distinctions between spheres of learning is perhaps one of the reasons why students are so often disengaged from school.They, too, witness every day distinctions between professional learning - school - and personal learning - what they do every place else.

    So I think what I'm saying is that I'm all for blurring and dropping "personal/professional" from the label.

  • Liz Renshaw   March 21, 2012, 1:47 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Joe Dillon   March 20, 2012, 10:28 a.m.

     Top idea...... might be a good strategy for future P2Pu groups as well....