The Networked Student
The video The Networked Student by Wendy Drexler tells the story of a boy as he develops a personal learning network (PLN). The student is studying American Psychology, and he starts building a personal learning network. The student first does research and practices finding websites and articles with valid, credible information on his subject. He shares what he finds on his social bookmarking site, and he also looks for other people who have bookmarked articles and websites on his topic. Then, he finds and subscribes to blogs where people write about the American Psyche, and he comments on the blogs, offering his own informed opinion. After conducting plenty of research and reading articles and blogs about the topic, he decides to create and manage his own blog. The student also uses his mp3 player to subscribe to and listen to podcasts available through iTunes U. These podcasts are recorded by professors who teach about his subject! The student is even able to contact the director of a documentary, who then discusses his documentary through Skype to the student's class!
At the end of the video, the narrator poses an interesting question: Why does the student even need a teacher? The narrator explains that his teacher is the one who helps him build his personal learning network. She teaches him how to research effectively and organize his information. Basically, she's the catalyst that helps jump-start the student's journey into developing his own personal learning network, and she is there to aid him whenever he has trouble or wants to learn something new.
This video gave a good example of how to build and maintain a personal learning network. You're not expected to start out already having a lot of connections or even knowing what to do. That's why you have a teacher or someone with more experience to show you what to do and give you advice on how to begin. Then, as you do more research and learn new things, you'll be better able to continue building onto your PLN on your own, as well as be able to help others who might be having troubles or are also just starting out.
A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment
In Welcome to my PLE!, a seventh grader shows us her personal learning environment (PLE) for her science class. In order to keep everything organized, she uses a website called Symbaloo. She explains that the blocks in the upper rows are for personal use, while the blocks along the bottom row are what she uses for her school work. Every day, she checks the blog for her science class to see what will be covered that day. She also has a tile on Symbaloo that links to an essay on her Google Docs account that she wrote about learning how to write a scientific report. Another tile is linked to her Delicious account, where she has bookmarked websites that talk about the leopard gecko. She then wrote a report on her blog that certified her to handle her class's pet gecko. But that's not the only thing for which she uses her blog. She also posts reflections of what she learned in class. On her Symbaloo, she also has a tile that links to a special note taking program where she can paste pictures or small bits of text that she can look at later. This note taking program also keeps track of the sources from which the texts and pictures were obtained. She also created a glog about box jellyfish on Glogster, a site which allows you to create digital posters where you can compile text, pictures, and audio clips related to the subject of the poster. The student even emailed a professional to have her glog reviewed!
At the end of the video, the student explains that she likes this type of learning because it allows students to have more freedom. She can choose how and when to complete the work that needs to be done. She also explains that this type of learning teaches students how to be responsible. Even though students could look at anything they wanted on the internet and be easily distracted by social networking sites, the students feel inclined to work on their projects responsibly and be sensible about which websites they visit to do their research.
The student's PLE is a lot like my own PLN. She uses a variety of different websites and programs to help her compile and keep track of information she has researched. I am in the process of learning how to use Symbaloo, Pinterest, and Delicious in order to keep track of information I stumble upon. She also has a blog where she makes posts about what she has learned, which is exactly what we are learning how to do in EDM310. She contacts professionals to get their opinions, and she connects with her fellow students and others on the internet who share her interests, and she shares her own knowledge on her subject matter with them. In EDM310, we are building and expanding our network of connections by reading and commenting on the blogs of fellow EDM310 students and even other teachers and younger students across the world. Even when I graduate EDM310 and continue on to my career as a teacher, I hope to keep building onto my PLN and to teach my students how to create their own!