Personal Learning Network

Assignment Description

For this assignment, you will begin to develop and document your Personal Learning Network. Your PLN is an important element in the ONID program.

Establish and/or develop a personal learning network, the core of which will be Diigo and Twitter. You may use existing accounts if you already have them, or you may create new accounts for this program. These accounts will be used throughout your involvement with the ONID program. In the process of using these tools in this class, think about your larger PLN and the elements that comprise it, and begin searching for new tools that will enhance your PLN.

Visual Representation

Word cloud that spells out PLN. Words include things like reiterative, never-ending, communication, collaboration, internet, diigo, library

I created this word cloud because I think word clouds are fun. Too, I really enjoyed just taking some time to brainstorm about the types of words I associated with “personal learning network,” after working within that concept throughout the semester.

I really liked Bob’s emphasis on how a “personal learning network” consists of more than the internet– it’s also the people, your collegial and academic interactions, the brick-and-mortar resources, etc. Many of those types of resources are also included in my word list. Similarly, the word “reiterative” appeared frequently while I brainstormed and typed my list of words for my word cloud. I envision a great PLN as a reiterative, never-ending process. You revisit old ideas as you learn new ones, while new connections you make as part of building your PLN encourage you to think about both old and new concepts from a different perspective.

Reflection on the Assignment Design

I am nearing the halfway point of the ONID program (not quite there yet, though). I started in January, which means I also took courses out of sequence. In ED 653, Instructional Design, I was first exposed to the concept of the personal learning network, and it was in that course that I had the opportunity to create a Twitter, Diigo account, etc. So, when I saw the Personal Learning Network assignment in ED 431, it was probably the assignment I was least looking forward to, because it felt a little redundant.

Similarly, I try to be intentional about the time I spend on the internet, and so I am not one of those people who seeks to create an extensive Twitter following. Consequently, really the only times I would go on Twitter this semester was to do the required number of tweets for the PLN assignment, which often made it feel artificial. This semester (and throughout my time in school, really) I feel as if I am much more likely to expand my personal learning network when I have a purpose in mind. In other words, if I have a specific question or an assignment to complete, that’s when I am likely to dig up resources and websites and scholars that become part of my PLN. For this assignment, I often found myself just scrolling through Twitter looking for something somewhat interesting to share, which is quite different than the targeted searches and the exploration of specific issues that I am used to doing.
To sum it up, then, this is what I would offer in terms of feedback to the PLN assignment:
  • Make sure that the PLN assignment approaches the personal learning network concept from a different angle than the other courses in the program, and perhaps expect that many students will take the courses out of order.
  • While some may disagree with this suggestion, I think it would be great to give the PLN a more focused direction. I think it could be interesting to pose a new question, issue, or problem related to the course materials each week. Then, the cohort could practice using their PLN to expand their knowledge of that specific concept.
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Podcast Assignment

Assignment Description

For this assignment you will create a series of three audio files that you will publish in your blog and eventually in your portfolio.

For each of chapters 3-5 of The World is Open:

  1. Create a 1-3 minute audio podcast that highlights or explains one of the resources or topics mentioned in the chapter. The audience for your podcast will be a target population of K-12 or post-secondary teachers, depending on your preferred setting–e.g., elementary teachers, science instructors, counselors–or a topic of general professional development for all teachers. The purpose of the podcast is to introduce your topic to your audience as a potential resource that will aid in their personal or professional development. Your audio files should use the same short musical/voice intros and outros, as if they were part of a series of podcasts.
  2. Using SoundCloud, embed all three podcasts on your blog in an entry titled “Podcasts.” Remember to use the “ED 431” category for your blog post.
  3. Include the transcripts of each audio file.
  4. Post a 300-500 word reflection on the process of creating podcasts (issues, successes, discoveries, etc.) and the utility of podcasts as a teaching and learning tool. Once your podcasts and reflection have been reviewed and revised, publish them in your portfolio on a page titled “Podcasts.”

Podcasts

Reflection

When I first looked at the assignment description, I noticed that each podcast needed to be 1 to 3 minutes in length. I didn’t quite know how long of a transcript to write, so I found a website that stated how many words are needed for a script for a 1 to 3 minute video. This was a great resource to help me get started outlining my transcripts. According to this information, my scripts should be 150-510 words, or, 1 to 5 short paragraphs. I spent quite a bit of time composing the scripts for the podcasts, which was a little challenging because I recognized that, what might work for written material may not necessarily work for spoken material. After I wrote the transcripts, I spoke through them out loud a few times, adjusting sections that sounded awkward, too formal, or unclear. Next, I found intro/outro music at incompetech.com. I downloaded the music and imported it into audacity, and then was able to record the podcast text into audacity without too much trouble as well. I also added a “fade in” and “fade out” from the music to help transition from music to the speaking part of the podcast. I didn’t really encounter too many technical difficulties with the actual recording, since I’d used audacity before.

Skip encouraged us to reflect on the pedagogical merits of podcasting, and as I did so, it really made me think of our Mobile Learning assignment. In this assignment, I discussed how one of the defining features of today’s students is their mobility. Podcasts really speak to this– students can easily learn from podcasts while they’re commuting to work, while they’re washing dishes, or while they’re waiting in line at the bank. This is definitely a strength of the podcast teaching tool.

In addition, some studies indicate that students have roughly a 10-15 minute attention span. Podcasts allow information to be “chunked” into smaller segments, which have the benefits of fitting into the relatively short blocks of time students have available (like my example list above)– but also have the benefit of working with, instead of against, waning attention spans.

References

Bonk, C. (2010). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Fabris, C. (2015, March 24). Online or in person? One college lets students switch back and forth. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-or-in-person-one-college-lets-students-switch-back-and-forth.
Hahn, D. (2016). How many words go into a script for a 1, 2, or 3, minute video? Main Street Marketing. Retrieved from http://main-street-marketing.com/faqs/how-many-words-go-into-a-script-for-a-1-2-or-3-minute-video/.
Kahn, S. (2012, October 2). Why long lectures are ineffective. TIME. Retrieved from http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/02/why-lectures-are-ineffective/.
MacLeod, K. (2015, November 15). Fretless [digital audio file download]. Retrieved from www.incompetech.com. Licensed under Creative Commons: BY Attribution 3.0 License.
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