As we have said from the start, this Multiliteracies course has been set out as a berry bush. What any participant does with it is not meant to proceed according to any predetermined conduit. It has been meant to emulate an open online course concept, where there is some cohesion in the syllabus, but where participants are encouraged to make their own cohesion in conjunction with others in their learning networks, each creating knowledge in constructivist fashion, and according to how much time and incentive to learn that each one has. Indeed, there are many in this session who have returned time and time again, using the materials to develop their own learning not in a particular sequence or time frame, but as members of a community where the offerings of this session are available as open educational resources accessible at anyone's convenience. That access is simply more meaningful when there is an active network present to help with discussion and reflection, and modeling how these materials might be used.
Developing a network is as easy as following respected colleagues on Twitter or activating a podcatcher and listening in on their conversations. In this way I often bring MOOC pioneers George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier into my PLN, or as part of my PLE. These two terms, meaning personal learning network or environment, are distinct but are often used to the same purpose by adherents. Thus my ears pricked when I listened to Dave Cormier discussing PLE's with his colleagues on EdTech Talk last September, but which I listened to for the first time on my way to work one morning recently. You can listen here: http://edtechtalk.com/EdTechWeekly168
I extracted a 13 minute segment of this conversation and uploaded it to our wiki, so you could optionally download it from: http://goodbyegutenberg.pbworks.com/w/file/36128972/EdTechWeekly168...
Here Dave refers to an article which he says is quite relevant to his thinking even though it is a few years old:
Downes, Stephen. (2007). Learning Networks in Practice. Emerging Technologies for Learning (Volume 2). Becta: Coventry, UK.
Retrieved on February 11, 2011 from
In this article, Stephen notes that "When learning becomes the creation of content in the context of a community of practice, then learning becomes something that is characterised not by instruction in a classroom, but rather by dialogue and communication within a given contex."
In the podcast, Dave quotes this line from the article.
"Taken together, the ideas that underlie the PLE – learning in communities, creation over consumption, and context
over class – constitute an instance of a more general approach that may be characterised as ‘learning networks"
There is a discussion in the audio over whether this model is appropriate to everyone, whether it violates privacy, whether it's necessarily good if you take a stand online now, you might later have to explain to a potential employer why you took that position back then. Dave argues to the effect that which would be worse, have students read things and then give them back to you on paper which you then toss in the trash can? or post their reflections online subject to not only the possibility of that kind of scrutiny, but also to a range of more positive outcomes? But then he says something profound about why it is so important to teach and learn in open spaces.
"There is a sense in which openness changes the model ... I'm asking them to go out into the public because that's the thing that I'm teaching ... If you're a professional ... the discussion about your profession is happening out here in the open ... So this is an opportunity for you to engage in a lifelong learning process that's about you engaging in your profession and being part of the way it's being talked about ... Students ... don't understand they're connected .. that experience gives them some sense of the way their profession is developing, so they can at least tap into it if they need to or they want to or they can explain it later to their students. When you move to the open, THAT's the thing ... doing it in private makes no connection towards doing it in public. It's the publicness that's different."
He goes on to say that "The PLE is a disaggregation of power, so it decentralizes the power structure ... it can't be institutionally controlled; it has to be actually owned by the student." John Schinker ends this part of the discussion explicitly relating this to ePortfolios, which I have argued:
This struck me when I first heard it and I have been meaning for over a week to articulate this to others in this course. If you do make an ePortfolio I hope you will tag it in Delicious 'evomlit' and 'eportfolio' so that we can find it here