Graham Attwell is to Blame. He convinced me that blogging was worthwhile, important and, the clincher for me, that it had something to do with the ePorfolio process.
Over the past four years I have given it a go; I posted too frequently; my posts were too long; I blogged into spaces that disappeared, that are no longer available; I overcame my concern that I was writing for an audience that either did not exist, or would not want to read my offerings.
During my blog sabbatical, that happened to coincide with my sabbatical from teaching, I have e-Lurked here, there and everywhere to provide nourishment for my learning need; I really must get out more. I have followed and participated in many excellent discussions enabled by Elluminate Live and FlashMeeting; I have followed conferences, remotely via Twitter streams including live video of the events. All for free, all from home, with me deciding what it was that I wanted to dip into and when I did it. A bit of a luxury, but without having a Personal Learning Plan or even a goal, I simply took advantage of the opportunities that were signposted by my Personal Learning Network and wandered through some rich learning experiences.
Many of the discussion that I found myself following focussed on Personal Learning Environments and Learning Networks; my learning auto-pilot was using my ‘interest lens’ to filter and sift the available learning opportunities.
During this time I have had hundreds of blog posts in my head but not had the motivation to share them. I have become a bit addicted to ‘watching’ Twitter and enjoyed following the ‘is Twitter killing Blogging’ debate. In many ways it was that debate that reinforced some of my thinking about Personalised Learning and Learning Environments, and that made me think more about ‘control’ in the context of a Learning Environment.
I watched as a cloud grew http://cloudworks.ac.uk/index.php/cloud/view/2266, but I realised that if Grainne/Matt had not planted the original seed, and if Grainne had not promoted/propagated it, it would not have grown. My PLN was watching, but needed someone, somehow to ‘push’ and encourage participation. Nothing new in that, the critical role of the facilitator in any Community of Practice is widely acknowledged. But how can we tell/ signpost/suggest, to a learner, who is operating ‘independently’ in his/her own PLE, what it is that they should/might experience or learn. Even with an established PLN around, ‘mature’ independent learners enjoy the ‘wander’ and exploration but ‘need’ someone to guide or mentor them.
From my work with web-based curriculum mapping I had concluded that, to support personalised learning, learners would need to be given access to an accessible, learner-facing learning menu. I need to think a bit more about the role of the learning guide, mentor, facilitator or teacher. Who ‘controls’ and independent learner? Does and independent learner need to be ‘controlled’? – a job for next week!