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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Connectivism and Personal Learning Environments

#CMC11 I really enjoyed the sessions with Stephen and George- they give all sorts of things to think about!

I do think that ePortfolios have the potential to provide a workable environment for Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). I'm not talking about ePortfolios that are simply repositories for static text. But, ePortfolios that serve as a "home-base" for a learner may facilitate an environment for the immersion that Steven talks about that is essential for connectivist thinking to flourish.

Here's a pilot model I may try to implement this summer/fall. We have a course called, "Math for the Inquiring Mind." It's built on the ideas of Process Education, which is built on constructivist theory. Students are given a problem solving methodology to use and Excel as a tool. They are then given some open-ended problems to practice with. But, very quickly, they are encouraged to apply the methodology to their own problems.  They also are encouraged to create "critical thinking questions." And, they regularly do self-assessment, called SII (identify Strengths, Areas for Improvement and Insights.)

My idea is to provide each student with an ePortfolio (hopefully Mahara) within a Moodle environment. Students would enter their SIIs and problems (with work on solutions) into their ePortfolios. Other learners and the instructor could provide comments and feedback. The student could also join groups in Moodle to work on problems of common interest that are better solved within a team. Withn Moodle, they can direct comments to their ePortfolio. Throughout, learners are enerating content, an important component of a PLE.

In a way, this is similar to a blog, but I can provide learners with a template that gives them some structure.  And, I can add helpful activities.


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