Wednesday, May 13, 2009

E-tivity 9

Personal Learning Environments

Two buzz words in education, and indeed in the media today, are “lifelong learning” and “informal learning”. Both relate back to the fundamental idea that we do not stop learning when our formal education is over. On the contrary, studies (Cross, 200) have shown that only 20% of our learning actually takes place in institutional contexts whereas the remaining 80% takes place outside of the classroom in different periods of one’s life. I would argue that this is even more relevant in the case of language learning because if you do stop, you will forget, and if you don’t learn outside the classroom, you will make little improvement.

One possible solution to help support students in their lifelong informal learning process is what is called a Personal Learning Environment (PLE). A PLE is not a new tool (don’t worry!) but rather “a new approach to using technologies for learning” (Attwell, 200). There is still no universally agreed upon definition of exactly what a PLE is. Some do not limit the concept of PLE to technology, but offer a generic definition that could include anything we do or use to learn: “a combination of the formal and informal tools and processes we use to gather information, reflect on it and do something with it, which is essentially what we mean when we talk about learning” (Martin, 2007). Others, limit the definition to the toolset used to aggregate and connect what we learn: "A Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is a collection of free, distributed, web-based tools, usually centred around a blog, linked together and aggregating content using RSS feeds and simple HTML scripts" (Fitzgerald, 2006). The fact that there are very different definitions of the concept is “reflective of infancy of the concept, and the practical applications of the read/write web itself” (LTC wiki, 2007).

As you probably know from e-tivity 5, you've been in the process of building this toolset for the past two months, your blog being the hub for your PLE. However, a PLE is personal: "It [...] recognises the role of the individual in organising his or her own learning. Moreover, the pressures for a PLE are based on the idea that learning will take place in different contexts and situations" [...] (Attwell, 2007). In other words, how do you learn and in what contexts? I don't know how much you've organized your own learning so far, but upon graduation (not too far away!) you will have to, of course only if you want to keep on learning.

Sarah

Purpose: To develop a mindmap of your personal learning environment.

Task:

1 – Reflect on what you do to learn languages. This will include both your formal instruction (e.g. classes, textbooks, professors, colleagues, etc.) as well as anything outside of it (e.g. travelling, listening to music, surfing the Net, etc.). Make a list of all of the different activities, sources of information and tools you use. Try to categorize them in some coherent manner that makes ense to you.

2 - Develop a mindmap of your PLE based on your reflection and categorization in the first step. Remember, it's your personal learning environment. Just to give you some ideas, here are a few links to some PLEs:
a first draft of mine
Michele's (the one who gave me the idea)
Ray Sim's
The mindmap of a student last year (Martina Garbinato)

3 - Produce a mindmap of your PLE either on paper or using the FreeMind software that you can download for free onto your computer. If you produce it on paper, please scan it or take a digital photograph of it so that you can upload it onto your blog. If you use FreeMind, please put a link to it on your blog.

4 – Write a blog post about your PLE, building it, what you think about it, etc., including a picture of it or link to it.

Respond:

I would like you to focus on developing your PLE so there’s no respond part this week. Just come prepared to talk about your PLE on Wednesday for our last lesson.


Timeline: Wednesday, May 20.

N.B. A personal learning environment is yours, there's no right or wrong, there's just the way you see it.

16 comments:

Giorgia said...

Hi Sarah,

I need an info about FreeMind...I don't find how to make clickable link inside the nodes... :(

Thank you in advance!

Bye
Giorgia

Giorgia said...

I did it! :)

Bye
Giorgia

AnnaF said...

Hi Sarah!
I produced my midmap using the FreeMind software and I want to aks you how is it possible to publish it on my blog because I have some problems in doing this operation.
Thanks a lot!
AnnaF

Francesca Maniero said...

Hi Sarah,

I can't put my mindmap on the blogpost.. How do I have to do it?
Thank you in advance

Francesca

Lamericaana said...

@Anna and Francesca, I'm not sure and it depends on your software. Some will provide you with a url, others html code to embed in your blogging message (by clicking on 'html' rather than 'scrivi' when making a post) and others simply give you an image that you download and then upload to your blog post. Some of your peers have done it, e.g. Anna Bertelli, Giorgia - so maybe you could ask them. Worse come to worse, we figure it out in class tomorrow ;-)

Sarah

Giorgia said...

@anyone who may need help to upload their mindmaps...Personally, I opened my wiki account, I uploaded my mindmap and then left click on it, clicked on 'copia collegamento' and pasted it on my blog as a clickable word. If you want, through the FreeMind toolbar, you can save your map using different format. I saved it as a pdf file and then saved it on PbWiki. Hope this could be useful!

Bye
Giorgia

Giorgia said...

@anyone who may need help to upload their mindmaps...Personally, I opened my wiki account, I uploaded my mindmap and then left click on it, clicked on 'copia collegamento' and pasted it on my blog as a clickable word. If you want, through the FreeMind toolbar, you can save your map using different format. I saved it as a pdf file and then saved it on PbWiki. Hope this could be useful!

Bye
Giorgia

Giorgia said...

Sorry for my 'unconscious clicking' ;)

Bye
Giorgia

Serena Zorzi said...

Hi Sarah! Same thing for me. I've been trying to upload my PLE on my blog post but i can't make it! I'll try again tonight. Anyway, I'm bringing my map to class tomorrow so I hope we can solve the problem together!

Bye Serena

MartinaC. said...
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MartinaC. said...
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MartinaC. said...

Hi Sarah,
I'm so sorry, but I cannot attend this morning's lesson 'cause I have some problems at home.
In the course calendar it is written that last lesson will be tomorrow. On your blog post you wrote that the last lesson will be today.
When will it be? Thank you,

see you tomorrow,
Martina

Lamericaana said...

Dear Martina, Today is the last lesson. I had written tomorrow on the course calendar but I've finished my hours for this year (shouldn't even be doing class today!). For all of you who can't make it today, it was a pleasure working with you this semester and I'll get your grades off to you by tomorrow.
Best,
Sarah

MartinaC. said...

Dear Sarah,
thank you very much. It was a pleasure working with you too and I hope to see you again! Nice course and very useful for skills' improvements.
Have a nice summer!
All the best,
Martina

fedyb said...

Dear Sarah,
I'm very happy to have attended your course this year! It has been one of the most useful courses I have ever done! Unfortunately I could not attend our last lessons...exams began...but I would like to thank you very much for all the precious information you gave!
Have a very good summer!

Federica

willson said...

love to see this discussion! It’s great to see you all working through the issues and also, it’s great to see recommendations for testing. In the end, it’s what your actual users do and prefer that should be your biggest driver in making these decisions.
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