Is it a “Personal” or a “Social Networked” Learning Environment? #PLENK2010

This post is a response to readings (week 1) in the MOOC, PLENK 2010.

The book Power of Pull is my favorite exposition of a theory of networked learning, because it accounts very well for an action orientation and a social embeddedness as it portrays the learning process.  The course readings echo this idea. like when the Educause piece says:

The (network and the collection of resources) becomes a PLE when the integration of resources starts to include the work and voices of others as readily as a student’s own critical reflection and scholarly work.

It is stated again in Stephen Downs’ piece when he quotes Graham Attwell:

‘New forms of learning are based on trying things and action, rather than on more abstract knowledge. ‘Learning becomes as much social as cognitive, as much concrete as abstract, and becomes intertwined with judgment and exploration.’

Graham’s quote is great because it also emphasizes a move from the learning of abstract content to action based learning, that is also social, contextualized and problem centered.  (Alec Couros’ book chapter Developing Personal Learning Networks for Open and Social Learning points to Knowles’ concept of Andragogy, Vygotskian Social Constructionism and Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory for a sound theoretical background for this type of learning.)

So again, my question is; is this a “personal” or a “social networked” learning environment? I think the continued use of the term “personal” in someways reflects an over-individualized view of learning that now, in the context of networked learning, can be seen as more inadequate than ever.  I also think it is more than just terminology.  Many aspects of networked or “pull” learning tend to be counter intuitive. In order to really appreciate this new paradigm I think many people, especially in the business world, will need to suspend their common-sense ideas about what it means to learn.  I think I’ll attempt another post on this theme.

4 thoughts on “Is it a “Personal” or a “Social Networked” Learning Environment? #PLENK2010

  1. I see the personal aspect in that I get to choose the social networking tools and sources that make up my learning environment. The knowledge is not mine independently, but I choose how I approach and absorb it. More at my blog

  2. Thanks for your input Jim;
    I think the personal really stands out when you contrast a PLE with a traditional classroom approach where the teacher sets the curriculum, sequence, assessment mode, etc. . .. My underlying quest and focus is to make my learning environment positively enhance my everyday activities. My sense is that to emphasize the personal will, for me, make it easy to slip into a world that is virtual, abstract and unrelated to my everyday physical world. But, I think the social aspects are ubiquitous to all worlds and a key that not only links all worlds together, but is also the key to getting thinks done. However, there re just so many different ways of looking at things; it’s potentially mind boggling.

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