Tuesday, 13 January 2009

First of the New Year.. a personal learning story

I am not going to write my new year's resolutions here, because I don't have any......

Instead I want to write about a new learning experience I am involved in: http://digifolios.ning.com/

It's concerned with developing Personal Learning Portfolios/Environments - something I am keen to introduce to my students, particularly on the Virtual Teams Module. In fact I'd go so far as to say its essential in e-learning that students craft and develop such an environment for themselves in order to keep track of their learning resources.

I have blogged before about Netvibes and how it has made such a difference to my overall efficiency in keeping track of my surfing adventures....so it isn't the use of an aggregator that is new for me.....

No, what I am loving is the being part of a community and collaborating in learning tasks. There are some scheduled synchronous events (talks on WizIQ and Elluminate), there are blogs, shared presentations, discussion boards.... and yesterday we had an "ice breaker" in the form of a challenge to discover the Birth Order of each community member.

The fascinating thing about this was the ingenuity of individual members in their use of technology to discover the answers: polls on Survey Monkey and Doodle, use of Google Docs, Twitter and Gabmail etc - without any specific instructions from the coordinating team, people just got on with it. What is more, the results were fascinating - why are so many in this community eldest children - and is that significant? And the emerging stories even more so.

This is in sharp contrast with an e-learning conference I attended a few days ago where I felt I was talked at all day and only got to network in the coffee breaks - like that was somehow incidental?!

Whenever I ask students to tell me the best things about distance learning programmes I run, they say - the networking, hearing how other people manage these issues. When I think back to courses I have attended, I remember the people I met, the stories I heard, what I learned about myself in sharing stories of my own and having feedback and support from others.

And finally, this whole experience convinces me that it is possible to kick off a virtual learning experience from a cold start, to form relationships on line without benefit of face to face introductions and to collaborate effectively with others across distance using technology.

O brave new world, that hath such people in it!


  1. I share your thoughts on O brave new world, that hath such people in it!

  2. Hi Jane

    You've summed up the new course perfectly about being part of a community and collaborating in learning tasks. It is indeed great fun and I too am enjoying the experience.

    Catch up with you later on Ning...

  3. Hola:
    Te animo a conocer mi web
    Un saludo.

  4. Hello jane,

    I am one of these members who learnt about the use of Google Docs. I know about them but never used before. don't know why, but in the group I felt so comfortable to do something and share :-)
    Best from Mexico

  5. thanks for the comments: I am so used to blogging away quietly here that it rather took me by surprise to find them! I am glad I chose to share this on the Digifolios ning!!

  6. Beautifully said... and as in my "conversation" with Monty Paul - this blogging space reallly is a place for fluent writers. I'm still fishing around trying to understand how the ning "works" !!

  7. i'm involved in a part time MSc supplemented by an online learning environment. it is a struggle when the thing Moodle doesn't work so well and my colleagues don't seem as enthused by the whole Web 2.0 thing as I am. i suspect that may be a bit of a geek thing.

    my question is how to encourage and develop that in them?

    ps thanks SO much for putting me on your blog list- will try to live up to that commendation

  8. Thanks for stopping by: the issue of how to engage students/colleagues in web 2.0 is one which exercises me daily. No doubt we will discuss some more. ps - I adore the title of your blog:it's one of those memorable quotes I occasionally drag out of the recesses of my failing memory, only to be greeted by blank looks from those too young to make the link....