Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blog Post #7

The Networked Student

girl downloading files to her brain
The video The Networked Student Wendy Drexler explains to us the function of a personal learning network or PLN. A PLN is a collection of people, websites, and other sources that give information on a subject. The process in which one builds their PLN is simple. First locate a credible source. Next bookmark it on a bookmarking website. Repeat these two step until a fair number of bookmarks are made. Then share the bookmarks with fellow students and see if they have any to offer. Over time this will create a database. This database is only the first part of a student's PLN.

Once the student has spent some time with their database, they can start branching out by blogging. Creating a blog will allow the student to demonstrate their knowledge. They can also subscribe to their classmates blogs or blogs written by experts on the topic of study. This will ensure that they will have the most up to date information available. The student can also post on other blogs. Presenting their findings to others and asking questions will rapidly increase their social skills and knowledge.

Equally powerful is Itunes U. Itunes U is a free service from Apple that provides classes to students via ebooks and podcasts. These classes are recorded by some of the best professors in the world. Students could listen to these lectures anytime. The next question is: where do teachers fit in with all this independent learning? Teachers will be more like tour guides. They will show students how to find credible sources and how to use them. The teacher will also critique the students work and put them back in the right direction.

The networking of a student has the potential to create a learning environment that will surpass even the best classroom. A system that can teach anyone almost anything with such a degree of efficiency is something that is needed today. Why is this system not already in placed in every school today? The tools required are free as long as each student has computer access. The problem is: What happens to the students that are not highly motivated? Networking appears to take an enormous amount of time to setup and maintain. Take a middle school for example. Students go to five or six classes a day. Does the student have to be "networked" into every subject? If not then will they have enough time to attend the other classes and network? Where Itunes U is involved: Will any of these students even be able to understand a college level lecture? Where is the line drawn between being "networked" and being able to be a kid?

The point is the networked student will have to an older student. High school or college students could easily take advantage of this system and excel. If this is introduced to middle school students it may be more effective to have a networked teacher and a class blog. This way the teacher can observe the students more closely to ensure the fundamentals are being learned. The students could still read the blogs the teacher, and other experts have written. Plus they could leave a reply or retell the information on a simpler personal blog.


A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment or PLE

shade tree
The video A 7th Grader's Personal Learning Environment or PLE shows a how PLE is used daily. The day starts with the student checking their agenda for that day's assignments. Next the student uses various tools such as blogger, google docs, and evernote to begin working. If the students need to work in groups the computers are already connected via google docs. The video also mentions that the students try to have their projects looked over by experts.

The PLE appears to be a sophisticated assignment delivery system. The deliveries go both ways. The teacher sends out assignment via the agenda, and the student sends it back via google docs or a blog post. This is an interesting idea. This form of a PLE is more dilute than the PLN discussed earlier. This means that it will be more effective for younger students. Since the student doesn't have to as much networking; the teacher can begin instructing them on how to begin networking. This will set the stage for more advanced PLEs and PLNs for high school.

There are similarities between this PLE and EDM 310 classes. The checklist used similar to their agenda. Both of these allow the students to decide what they want to do next. The connections to experts both have allow them to learn from the best people possible. Connecting with peers also play an important roles in both classrooms. Even though technology has advanced to point where we can teach ourselves anything, we still need to learn how to play well with others.


  1. You raise some interesting questions about the applicability to elementary and middle school students. Dr. Drexler has experimented with those age groups. Are you interested in Skypeing her and asking questions such as these. That could be your video project. Contact me if you are interested.

    A PLN is primarily a group of people, but also tools, that expand your sources of information, provide you with ideas, challenge your thinking, get you to explore new possibilities. The more people you have in your PLN, and the more diverse their backgrounds and interests, the more you will benefit. Don't confuse it with the 7th grader's PLE organizational tool - Symbaloo.

    Interesting. Thoughtful. Well done.

  2. Daniel,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. You write very well and had some very interesting points. I did not find any mistakes. Keep up the good work!

    Jamie Ham