On Sunday, I finally found the time to listen to the recording of guest Will Richardson, author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, from Wednesday’s #PLENK2010 live Elluminate session. In this session, Will gave a short presentation Using PLE’s Successfully and a couple of things came up.
First was a summary of the recommendations on 21st Century Literacies from the US National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) :
- Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
- Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
- Design and share information for global communities to use for a variety of purposes
- Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
- Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
- Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
This is a pretty sophisticated set of competences that I would struggle to demonstrate. It’s even more challenging, when you consider that these are the aspirations of a professional body for teachers of high-school age children! Do we even do this for our undergraduate and postgraduate students? Would I and my colleagues be competent to teach these high-level digital literacies  to them?
The second theme was a set of principles for creating and successfully using a PLE:
- Pursue your passion.
- Read widely.
- Add value.
- Be personal … sometimes.
I can see how these principles might apply to my own PLE, which for me is centred around this and the Learning Lab blog
. But it’s not quite so obvious how it might apply to our students. Too often, we try to get them to engage with the tools of a PLE by telling them that it’s good
for them, and we then try to get them to engage with a topic related to a course we are teaching or a topic within a course of our
choosing, and we try to force them to engage by assigning credit. Would they engage more if they were able to pursue their passion
while we supported their learning as mentors rather than assessors?
- Definition of 21st Century Literacies, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), February 15, 2008. URL: http://www.ncte.org/governance/literacies.
- Barbara R. Jones-Kavalier and Suzanne L. Flannigan, “Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century”, Educause Quarterly, Volume 29, Number 2, 2006. URL: http://bit.ly/dabAsD.
- Sir Ken Robinson, Changing Paradigms, RSA Edge Lecture, 16 June 2008. URL: http://bit.ly/bMz8FM. video: http://youtu.be/mCbdS4hSa0s.
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The first week of #PLENK2010 is nearly over. Just one Elluminate discussion to go (16.00 Zulu, 17.00 BST). This is my first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) (it’s actually my first experience of any form of formal learning for quite some time) but despite all the dire warnings about information overload issued at the start, I actually think I’ve settled in quite nicely. I have read all the readings (and made notes!), read the interesting blog postings that have been published in The Daily, posted comments on a few of them, lurked in the forum and contributed here and there, shared bookmarks with the plenk2010 bookmark group on Diigo, and even contributed a couple of aggregation tools (see earlier posts this week). So, I think I am on top at the moment (though I must confess to being too scared to look at Tweetdeck for the #PLENK2010 hashtag).
Of the readings, I’ve found Alec Couros’s description of a PLN (Couros, 2010) resonated best with me:
personal networks are the sum of all social capital and connections that result in the development and facilitation of a personal learning environment.
I haven’t yet drawn my PLE – an activity that seems to be a rite of passage for this course – but if I did, it would look a lot like Joyce Seitzinger’s (@catspyjamasnz) excellent image that is available to view on Flickr.
Another interesting idea was expressed in Dawley (2009), a paper introduced in a discussion on PLE Competencies . She describes levels of engagement in social networks on a scale that goes from network discovery through to leadership via lurking, contributing, and creating. I like to think that I’ve stopped lurking and started contributing and creating. We’ll see if I can reach a leading role.
Next week, we move on to comparing PLEs with VLEs!
The new academic year starts for me on 27th September, and as I’ll have less time then, at least during the day, I will probably find that my participation drops off. But I hope not, because I think I’ve got a lot to learn and contribute.
Alec Couros, 2010. “Developing Personal Learning Networks for Open and Social Learning” in G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Emerging Technologies in Distance Learning, AU press, 2010. Available on-line.
Lisa Dawley, 2009. “Social network knowledge construction: emerging virtual world pedagogy”, On the Horizon, Vol. 17. No. 2. pp 109-121. Available on-line.
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At Tony Hirst’s suggestion (see comments to previous post), I followed Alan Levine’s instructions and created a custom google search engine derived from Stephen Downes ‘feed of feeds’ OPML file. It took a couple of attempts as it’s not clear on the Google Custom Search Engine creation page just what you have to do, and the order you have to do it, but with Alan’s post and a bit of perseverance I worked it out.
I am therefore pleased to announce that there is now a Custom Search engine (CSE) for PLENK2010. And it can be made into a gadget (for a blog, wiki, iGoogle, but not it seems for NetVibes!) which looks like this:
A word of caution, the search engine is based on the 133 blog feeds that, at the time of writing, Stephen had collected in the PLENK gRSS-hopper (which includes the twitter stream). It doesn’t restrict search to #PLENK2010 posts. To do that, include the term #plenk2010 in the search.
@mhawksey added Google Instant magic using the techniques described in How to Google Instant(ise) a Custom Search Engine (CSE). See improved PLENK2010 Google Custom Instant Search. Nice!
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I have started putting together a personal learning environment for the Massively Open Online Course PLENK2010. Taking my inspiration from mashup-meister Tony Hirst, I have created an Aggregator using Yahoo! Pipes. This takes the OPML file (connect.downes.ca/feeds.xml) from the PLENK2010 Participants Feeds page, feeds it through a filter to extract posts with #PLENK2010 in the body or title, and produces a simple feed reader. The output of this can be obtained in various formats including iGoogle feed reader gadget, Google Reader, netvibes widget, JSON and RSS. It has to be said that the pipe is not very reliable: I suspect that obtaining and parsing the OPML file (which had at the time of writing, 100+ feeds), extracting the feeds and then filtering them causes time-outs on the back end, and Yahoo! doesn’t appear to cache the results between calls. Perhaps there’s a work around.
In a sense, my PLENK2010 Aggregator Pipe does much the same as Stephen Downes’ gRSS-hopper tool that is used to create the PLENK Daily and would be redundant if the filtered feeds from gRSS-hopper were available in RSS format. But on the other hand, Yahoo! Pipes can be used to create an aggregator for all kinds of web content, has has been amply illustrated by numerous blog postings in Tony Hirst’s OUseful.info blog, and might be a useful place to start building an aggregator for any other personal learning activity. And a pipes aggregator can easily be extended to take in live Twitter feed, photos, YouTube movies etc.
In my normal day-to-day PLE, I use Google reader to read the feeds from my sources. However, to avoid mixing my PLENK activities with my normal work, I thought I’d give Netvibes a try. Netvibes has a useful feature that allows you to create a new dashboard. Give it the keyword plenk2010 and it will create a set of pages that include widgets for blog searches, Google searches, twitter feeds, Youtube, Flickr, etc. all looking for the tag plenk2010. You can throw away the widgets (particularly the advertisement widgets) that you don’t want and you’re left very quickly with a good starting point for a custom PLE. I only needed to add the RSS feed from my Yahoo! Pipe and I was set. The result is what I assume would be a Publisher in Downes’s nomenclature (see Stephen Downes: Personal Learning Environments (Video)).
I’ve created a screencast showing My PLENK2010 Dashboard in Netvibes.
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Nice presentation made to students at the University of British Columbia as part of “JumpStart 2010″ UBC’s international orientation by former student Andre Malan (andremalan.net). Includes a very good presentation.
As well as an orientation presentation (in Prezi) of Personal Learning Environments from a student’s Point of View (POV), it concludes with some suggestions of suitable tools.
Would be worth Student Support Services taking a look and adapting for the Swansea University case.<br/>
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