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This is my initial two cents about the Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) on the topic of Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge (a.k.a. PLENK2010) and some background about both of these concepts.

First, Massively Open Online Courses. This is an interesting concept in which huge groups of people get together online and communicate through blogs, twitter, course management software, live chats and any other available online medium centering around a certain topic.

The word Massively may be a giveaway but some courses can reach upwards of 1000 registered users and if 10 to 20% of those people are actively participating 150 people all commenting on blogs and vying for chat room space can get hectic. Massive. The flood of blog posts, many of which echo the same content can be difficult to sift through in such an environment. Conversely, the amount of information and it’s different avenues of delivery could also be considered a benefit.

So far, my participation with PLENK2010 has been more of the former. Sifting through hundreds of parroting blog posts looking for unique viewpoints and data, often randomly choosing what to give my attention to rather than having the salient points available. I do admit i missed the live chat but i don’t know how fulfilling that would have been considering the bulk of information has been difficult to parse and this is only day 2 of a MOOC the length of a college semester course.

If you are a master marketer or already have a Personal/Professional Learning Network in this area you may already have friends and cohorts within the course to help you. Or this may be more group think and clique-mongering on our twitter accounts and blogs. Online we very rarely find the information we did not search for… We look for information that reinforces our worldview for the most part and i think the Mass of MOOC’s seem to reinforce this fact.

This particular MOOC is about cultivating Personal Learning Networks. PLN’s are defined as…

Mark van Harmelen defines ‘Personal Learning Environments as systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to set their own learning goals, manage their learning; managing both content and process, communicate with others in the process of learning, and thereby achieve learning goals. A PLE may be composed of one or more sub-systems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services.’ PLE Wiki

Basically you network of similar minded professionals, or not, who you trust to gather information from. My Aunt Lynn is a great person to have in your PLN no matter what. She will find information and seek you out. So Good, i try to be as thorough as she is. BUT PLN is a relatively straight forward concept. Blog, Tweet, write stuff, be active in your field, follow people, like stuff, put yourself out there and you will develop a network of people who’s information and perspectives you appreciate. It’s like real life.

But the definitions and vastness of the idea in peoples minds is what boggles me. It’s amazing how much conversation goes on ABOUT what a PLN is. Thats pretty much all educational technology people do is define and re-define PLN, define PLN vs. PLE etc. haha.

Seriously though do we need this much debate about it?

So in conclusion

“If you’re in a business and you’re a young professional and you want to take an open class, how do you get your superiors to respect that, and say ‘Wow, that’s really good professional development. We should put that in your personnel file,’” Lane questions. “If it’s open and everyone can drop in and drop out, it’s just not seen in the same way.”

If i took a college class this convoluted, I’d have to tell some people in class to Shut Up and let the smart kids talk. I am interested in the concept of Massively Open Online Courses but in my implementation i will create a Moderately Open Online Course to make sure the main themes float above the chatter.

Check out Plenk2010
and let me know what you think about it

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/16/2010 15:27

    I too am finding the sheer volume of “parroted” information frustrating. I am a licensed elementary school teacher and have had zero previous knowledge about MOOC, PLN, PLEs prior to a few days ago.

    I do not necessarily think that you will find my blog particularly enlightening but perhaps you can take a peek and let me know what you think?

    This is also my very first attempt at blogging and I am trying to reach out to participants in this course whose blogs I enjoy reading and your post was thorough and entertaining!

    I hope we both find what we are looking for over the next 10 weeks.

    • 09/17/2010 17:40

      Hi, thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      I think your blog is good and interesting. You are writing regularly which is the most important thing.

      As far as the MOOC and PLN’s. You seem very set on writing about the subject so i would write about your personal PLN. The people you like and follow, shout them out, link to them, #hashtag them in twitter, let them know you are alive and heaping praises on them.

      Get specific, on your blog if you say i had contact with EdTechJoey and you link to him and his blog that increases his value as a PLN resource AND your value as a PLN resource. You just created a reason for me to put you in MY PLN.

      But just writing about concepts in the abstract will make life kind of boring if you just describe TO us what you did rather than bringing us into your information discovery. From reading your blog i have no idea what kind of information you are looking for as a professional and a person besides building you Personal LEarning Network, and i don’t know the topic; is it elementary ed, special ed, technology for elemntary kids, social awareness development etc?

      Give us details, and you’ll be fine 🙂

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