Creating a Distributed Network Learning FAQ

If you have presented (or heck, if you have even simply thought about) PLE/PLN/Network Learning, especially to existing educators within formal education, I am sure you have noticed the same sets of questions keep coming up. I know I get the same or similar ones over and over again; so much so that my answers sometimes feel a bit canned, and not always as subtle as they could be. Questions about the new role of the teacher, the changing conception of knowledge; questions on how to make PLEs less complex, whether Network Learning is as effective as ‘conventional’ methods.

On my recent trip to Colombia this seemed especially the case, but maybe I just noticed it because I delivered a similar talk on Network Learning 3 times in 3 days. But the same set of questions kept popping up. So much so that I thought “wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of Network Learning FAQ where some of these common questions were addressed?

It didn’t take me long (5 minutes I think) to jump from this to realizing that the best answers to these questions (and indeed the best questions) weren’t to be found in any one place, but instead that most of them had already been asked and answered in a myriad places around the net, in the distributed and ongoing conversation about Network Learning. So the logical step (at least in my addled mind) seemed to be a wiki to collect all of the questions that advocates of Network Learning were repeatedly ask. But instead of short snappy answers, point to some of the best pieces in the blogosphere that have attempted to answer this question. When I put this out in twitter, at least one person also thought it a good idea (and you know what, sometimes one other person is all it takes!)

So, with that small encouragement, I set out to find a place to do this. Wikieducator seemed like a good bet; it’s not affiliated with any single person or institution and yet dedicated to OER, which this will hopefully be. Indeed, a quick search revealed that none other than the inimitable Leigh Blackall already had a page going on ‘Network Learning.’ After a quick check with Leigh that this might be a good place for such a project (and indeed another reality check from a trusted colleague that this wasn’t the worst idea they’d ever heard) I set up a page.

So, what do you think? Is this a dumb idea? Or would you like instead to add to it? Please feel free, that’s kind of the whole idea! It’s just a beginning, but I do hope it will grow. I know there are many, many questions, and well thought out answers (and even better, working code and executions!) out there. Even if you don’t have a link to an answer, please consider adding the question that always occurs to you (or is alwasy asked of you) when discussing Network Learning (or “Connected Learning,” “Connective Knowledge,” “Connectivism,” pick your trope – you’ll notice I rarely use “Connectivism.” I just can’t seem to bring myself to, must have some sort of “anti-ism” gene 😉

Am I re-inventing the wheel here? Please, point me to somewhere else that is doing this. I LOVE using existing materials! Is this not distributed enough? Comments on that and more also appreciated. For me, this is just a selfish exercise to gather together all the good answers I already know are out there, so the next time someone says “You know, this Network Learning sounds interesting, but how do you assess it?” I’ll be able to say, “Hmm, glad you asked, why don’t we take a look over here…” – SWL