It looks like we may be using the words Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and Personal Learning Environments (PLE) interchangeably. At the moment, I have a preference for PLN as my term of art so I’ll work with that term for this blog post and see how my thinking on this topic evolves over the semester. I’ll also focus on my education PLN since my risk PLN is a bit more established. Sometimes, it’s a challenge to have multiple personas!
The three articles we reviewed for this module suggest that PLN is informed by experiential learning perhaps by using a hybridized approach of online communities of practices and face-to-face meetings. The communities of practice can work at both a student and a faculty level. I really appreciated Appendix A in the Cox article and especially that the list started with safety and trust – that did seem to be foundational to building any sort of community. I also found an article that spoke to the different models one could consider building. The one that spoke to me most was Figure 9 in the Seek/Sense/Share model. And I found this model to be interesting and one that I would continue to test this semester to see if I concur.
Who do you approach for answers to your questions?
Being an introvert, I typically rely on online resources first. However, I have made it a point to join the UAF Community Seminars for additional insights and for what people are thinking about wrt to Educational topics. Given the 4 hours time difference, I’m always grateful when things are offered in the early afternoon at UAF.
Where do you go for advice?
That depends on the question I’m trying to answer. The most valuable piece of advice I got recently was from my advisor, Sean Topkok, who told me to focus on taking the classes that were of most interest – it wasn’t necessarily the safest approach for a program that is going away, but it was the most helpful. My courses have given me insights on approaches that I’ve never seen in any books or online blogs. In a lot of cases, I have to spend a lot of time in my head getting clear about the question I’m asking as well as the criteria I would use to make a decision. In other cases, where it tends to be more of a content question, eCampus and my instructors have really informed possible next steps in my personal development.
Who inspires and motivates you?
I have a number of heroes – I usually start with Jane Goodall, for her tenacity in pursuing her dreams regardless of what others said. Many don’t know that she started as a secretary and never earned a bachelor’s before pursuing her Ph.D. Her approach to observations in the wild was unique at the time and required much privation, although I think she felt it was a worthwhile sacrifice.
I am a big fan of Cal Newport, author of several books including “Deep Work” and “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” with a recognition that it takes significant effort to master a skill, but that once you do, you will have distinguished yourself among many others.
I have also been inspired by a book that I read last year Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. This book helped me get very clear on what I wanted my next few life chapters to look like.
I am motivated by goals – for example, taking this degree (and others before it) was not because it’s a job requirement but because I thought it would be the best way to learn a new skill. While I’m highly disciplined in some ways, I just don’t measure up to Isaac Newton, who was able to use his year in quarantine during one of England’s plagues to do things like invent calculus!
Where do you find new ideas and resources?
It will sound odd, but I adore Pinterest – the visual infographics are easy to absorb and file for future use. This year, I learned about Google Scholar and Zotero and a number of digital storytelling applications. Now I’m learning Canvas. I’m playing with software that challenges me to learn new skills and I’ve identified a keen interest in learning more about gaming.
Some of my latest challenges are to use Twitter as a PLE tool – it’s not really my favorite platform, although I can see some of the advantages. I’m also looking for greater diversity in my feeds. I’m cognizant that many of my personal and professional blogs focus on work by Caucasians and I don’t think that develops the level of diversity and inclusiveness that we need to model in our courses. It has been one of the most unanticipated benefits of being in the UAF program to have exposure to other perspectives. And I am constantly working on increasing my accessibility skills.
With whom do you share new ideas and insights?
My teachers have been patient listeners/readers/participants. I also use my School of Management folks to gain a better understanding of the business environment in which we find ourselves at UAF these days. And given that I now work at the Smithsonian, I’m slowly building a list of education colleagues that will give me yet more perspectives.
With whom do you brainstorm or problem-solve in the face of new challenges?
My teachers, fellow classmates, and my students. Not that they wanted to hear it, but oh well, sometimes I just need to share.
Looking forward to connecting with you all! You can find me on Twitter at @CcubedPearls