Monday, June 16, 2014

All of Us are Smarter than Any of Us

I'm taking two courses for my doctoral work this summer, and both are about online teaching and learning. One of them is titled "Social Network Learning," which makes it sound like it's all about Twitter and Facebook. To be fair, it is about Twitter and Facebook, but it's more about social presence in online learning, and making connections with other people as resources for learning.

I'm just beginning week two of the course, and as an assignment we were asked to find an image that represents our beginning conception of a personal learning environment (PLE.) After selecting an image, we had to write a brief explanation of our thinking about the image, and how it connects to our current thinking about PLE's.

Here is the picture I selected, and my reflection about it:

[Image by Phil Hollenback; CC BY-NC 2.0]
This photo is a great representation of my conception of a personal learning environment (PLE.) My PLE is comprised of many different people (some I know face-to-face, others online online) as well as a great number of resources (both in print and in pixels) that I know I can turn to when I need answers, resources, or encouragement. However, the interactions between these people and resources are messy and may look random and haphazard to people looking in from the outside. It makes sense to me, because I've build the network over time, and I understand the connections, messy as they might be.
When I see this tangle of network cables, I think of all the devices connected throughout the organization this rack of routers represents. And beyond that, there may be a much broader external network--the Internet--to which they all connect as well. This is how I think of my PLE: I am connected, but the different nodes in my network are also connected to networks of their own...creating a vast web of interconnectedness. I'm reminded of the old quote from Douglas Merrill: "All of us are smarter than any of us."


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