Revised PLE Images Collection & My Own PLE Illustration 

The exercise to collect as many PLE diagrams as I could was not an end in itself, as interesting as that might have been. In doing that, I was hoping to learn from how people conceived of their PLEs and use this as the basis for an attempt to illustrate my own PLE.
Looking at the collection, what struck me was that there were 3 main ways people oriented their PLE diagrams: by tools, by uses, or by people. I added a table of contents to the top of the wiki page that organized the diagrams around these orientations.

There are a few (interesting to me) outliers there as well, ones that combined a number of these orientations into a single diagram. These appealed to me, because I don’t see a PLE, even my own specific one, as being just a single set of tools; we do choose a specific set of tools, but often replace them with others that fulfill a function better. But in addition to the tools and the functions, an important aspect to me is the different ways we can use these tools based on levels of trust/online identity & reputation. That’s why the slogan “PLE is People” isn’t just a joke, funny though it might be.
So with that in mind I set to using my limited drawing skills to visualize my PLE in a way that captured not just the tools, but the uses and the trust relationships as well. I’m hoping the diagram is self explanatory (otherwise, well, what was the point!) but a few explanations:

My PLE Diagram
  • the circles extending outwards from the centre represent different levels of trust/relationships. They are dotted lines on purpose – these are not fixed; relationships change, you get to know some people better etc.
  • the two headed arrows are meant to express the flow of information and learning – it is not all one way. You *can* just read blogs. You *can* just use without using it socially and following others. But I have always maintained that if we view these as actions (‘blogging’ instead of just ‘blogs’) it helps us understand they as conversations, as the “read/write” particpatory web.

Please have a look. Would love to hear some feedback. Does this help illustrate the practice of a PLE any better? This is another one of my diagrams that percolated in the back (and I really do mean the back) of my brain for a while and then last week the specific way to visualize it just popped into my mind. I am not a great artist, indeed, every time I do a diagram like this it reinforces my need to better master a drawing tool (this was done in powerpoint!!!). And while others have ridiculed the term PLE’s in the past as being “just a bunch of drawings” I think that misses the point. A PLE is clearly not just a set of drawings, but the act of producing such a drawing, such a conceptualization, is an incredibly valuable one, not just for any educational technologist but indeed, I’d argue, for any learner, regardless of whether they conceive of it as a “PLE” or not. Knowing how you learn, and how you conceive of the structures and relationships that support your learning, is an important step to becoming a master learner. – SWL

What “Postures” Make Up Your Personal Learning Environment

Just now a silly argument broke out in twitter concerning the acronym “PLE” that I wanted to follow up on. I say “silly” because it was the classic “It’s personal, not monolithic” complaint with the term, which I get and agree with. My response is not to defend the “PLE” acronym but instead just say if it bothers you, come up with a different one, or don’t use a moniker at all, but more importantly, model model model it for the 95% of learners (and teachers) who are drowning in the tsunami of information and choosing to turn their backs rather than learning to surf (to borrow metaphors from a bunch of people whom regular readers and blogosphere denizens will recognize on their own).

And I’m not proposing to re-open this debate here (but maybe I am), instead I have a question for you.

What are the various “postures” by which you understand your own orientation/embeddeness to/in your own personal learning environment (network, whatever!)?

Let me explain a little more of what I mean. I broadly collect my own actions on my learning network, the tools I use, the uses I make of them, and the people that comprise it as well, into three broad “postures”, or ways of relating. For me these are, at a high level,

  1. reading/consuming information, content, reflection, etc,
  2. producing/creating information, content, reflection, etc,
  3. weaving together components, people and conversations on the network, and activity that surely encompasses the former two but also has some distinct aspects to it in and of itself.

Now I don’t think these are exhaustive nor even particularly well conceived, but they are the buckets into which I sub-consciously find myself putting my various activities. And what I am interested in finding out from all of you is, at this high level, what “postures” you see yourself as having in relationship to your learning network, your networked learning, your practice. Are there others you would add to this list or do you have a totally different way of conceptualizing this?

I believe, again without a lot to substantiate it, that you all do indeed have many other ways of organizing and conceptualizing¬† this. But are these all entirely idiosyncratic? Well, to the extent to which we can still talk about “categories” and to the extent to which ideas like “learning styles” still have any meaning, my sense is that we can tease out a number of different “postures,” and a number of different ways to relate these postures, and use these as the entree with which to orient newcomers to weaving their own “personal” learning environments. Certainly these will be personal in the sense of being oriented around them, and certainly be personal in the sense of including different tools, content sources and conversations than mine or yours might. But to argue that we cannot evolve some ways of talking about generally how we orient ourselves to our own PLEs is I think to embark on a solipsistic road that doesn’t resemble the one I find myself on.

So what do you think? Is there a sense in which we can use this notion of “postures” (again, feel free to suggest a better term) as a conceptual entree to helping new people weave their own PLEs, or is this already to reify it. Will it always only be a case of each of us modelling our individual practices, with whatever pieces and conceptions of them resonating individually with each person who sees them. – SWL

(P.S. I am certain this post belies my thoroughly amateur status, that there is lots of nomenclature in the learning sciences that better describes what I am fumbling with here. Please feel free to educate me on it. I do not need tot invent terms where better ones already exist. Like I keep telling you, I am a slow learner).