Personal Learning Network (PLN) Assignment

Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Networked Learning Independent Study Project Design

Objective: develop and use networked learning to create a personal learning environment/network for 21st century research and design. 


  • Each learner selects his or her topic of study, (what you know, what you want to know), and establishes a research question.
  • Acceptable/Responsible Fair Use policy is discussed.

The project is positioned within the following perspective.

What if your teachers disappeared and you had to learn on your own? Would you give up on learning? Where would you begin? Why would learning be important? You are an empowered learner. You have the power to learn anything. How much you learn is up to you. How you manage your learning is up to you. How you manage your time is up to you. A big part of your success will depend on how well you are organized. 

Introduction of Tools

Web applications are introduced one at a time to give participants the chance to master the tool within the context of the study topic. Digital literacy is integrated into these lessons as needed. The essential questions of digital literacy are presented. 

  • Where can you go for good information?
  • How do you know if you can trust what you find?
  • How will you find subject matter experts you can trust to help you learn?
  • Why is reflection important when you are learning something new?
  • Why is it important to share what you’ve learned? How will you share?

Web Application (Components of the Networked Learning Environment for Research)

Social Bookmarking (RSS) “Diigo”and/or “Pinboard”

  • Explain Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and evaluation of Websites
  • Set up the account
  • Subscribe to each others accounts
  • Bookmark, read and annotate at least 5 reliable websites per week that reflect the content of chosen topic
  • Add, annotate and read at least 3 additional sites each week.

Microblogging “Twitter”

  • Create and Account
  • Follow 10 Individuals or organizations you found during research.
  • Advanced use as interested


  • Create Evernote account
  • Begin content collection

News and Blog Alert (RSS)”Google Alert”

  • Create a Google Alert of keywords associated with selected topic
  • Read news and blogs on that topic that are delivered via email daily
  • Subscribe to appropriate blogs in reader

Personal Web Aggregator (RSS, Information Management) “iGoogle”, “Symbaloo” and “Netvibes”

  • Introduction to Google, Netvibes and Symbaloo
  • Customize choice
  • Start by creating a Homepage
  • This will build as you learn new tools

News and Blog Reader (RSS) Google Reader RSS Feeds

  • Search for blogs and newsfeeds devoted to chosen topic
  • Subscribe to blogs and newsfeeds to keep track of updates.
  • Set up gadgets in Symbaloo or Netvibes

Personal Blog(RSS)/Mobile Blog “Blogger”

  • Create a personal blog
  • Post a research reflection each day of the content found and experiences related to the use of Networked Learning Research Environment pertaining to project topics
  • Find bloggers with similar topics subscribe to blogs in reader

Internet Search (Information Management, Contacts, and Synchronous Communication)”Google Scholar”

  • Conduct searches in Google Scholar and Fogler library databases for scholarly works.
  • Bookmark appropriate sites
  • Consider making contact with expert for video conference”

Video (Research, Fun) “Vimeo”

  • Create and Account.
  • Create a Channel.

Photo Sharing “Flikr or Picassa”

  • Create and Account.
  • Upload Photos.
  • Share Photos.
  • Interest of Participants

Video Conferencing (Contacts and Synchronous Communication) “Skype”

  • Identify at least one subject matter expert to invite to Skype with you, group, family, community for your project.

Daily research, reflection, share (Ongoing during project)

Once the personal learning environment is constructed, you will continue to conduct research and navigate new content on a daily basis. Lab activities will be divided between introducing a tip or offering a research theme for the day, actual time spent conducting research will vary.

  • Craft a final synthesis of your work.

Other Networks

Covered with time remaining or interest. 

Podcasts (RSS) “iTunesU” “Academic Earth”

  • Search iTunesU or Academic Earth for podcasts related to topic
  • Listen or view to at least 4-10 podcasts or lectures


  • Steele-Maley, T (2010). Networked Project Design
  • Drexler, W. (2008). YouTube – Networked Student. YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from

Toward a Networked Introduction to Projects

“So the coin of the realm is not memorizing the facts and figures their going to need for the rest of their lives; the coin of the realm will be, do you know how to find, validate and
leverage information; do you know how to analyze and synthesize that
information; and can you problem solve, collaborate and communicate with
– Ken Kay [1]

Web 2.0 Foundations: A Course in Participatory Technology

An Opening Vignette:

Technology is a word we often confused with computers, programs, and myriad gadgets only.  If you dig deeper I think you would agree that humans have utilized technology in very innovative ways since the Middle Paleolithic (or for those numbers folks out there c. 200,000 years ago+-).  Be it friction fire, basket-making, agriculture, irrigation, warfare, in-door plumbing, radio’s or iPads there has always been a human driving the social use of these tools.  Elders, leaders, young people, wise people…. have always enabled and proliferated technology at the core of cultures.  We need to never loose site that you, the young people before us are entering a radically different world than the one we (the olders in your lives) came from.  Though pockets of traditional life ways exist (and may proliferate in terms of localization of food and economies), the connections young people have to the world and what the world needs are fundamentally shifting the narrative of our shared futures. We need a learning design that helps young people prepare for a world without borders.   So how are we (educators) responding? In 2008, Pearson put together this short video to make a few suggestions:

“We have to develop a narrative that sustains 21st century learning.”

The 21st century imperatives for learning deal with connection and connected learning.  Do schools enable you to find, validate, leverage, analyze, synthesize , problem solve and collaborate with information on a regular basis?  What does this look like?

Web 2.0 Foundations is designed to be a participatory venture between you our school, learners, teachers, the community and world that enables and moves you into spaces of dynamic individualized learning with new technologies.  This learning creates spaces (mental, physical and online) that enable  21st century literacies.

Over the semester I will post my design field notes for Web 2.0 Foundations and iLab Projects with a focus on networked learning, designs for extensive networked research, mLearning (Mobile Learning), project based learning and more. It is my hope that these fieldnotes give a record to your learning process and ultimately help the process of learning change so prevalently taking place in the world and right here in Midcoast Maine.

Your part in this design has begun and I am so happy to be in a network with you all.


A note on our distributed web.

We will tag everything we create with the following:

web20found (Social Bookmarking, this blog , student blogs (Called Lables))

#web20found (Twitter Hashtag)

web20foundtools (for specific tech tools used in the experience)

web20foundreading (for specific readings and research findings we like)

I will tag these posts with


#fieldnotes (Twitter Hashtag)


Here are seven attributes that should have or need to develop for successful online learning

Here are seven attributes that should have or need to develop for
successful online learning:

  1. You have to have a sense of self.
  2. Successful learners online
    have an awareness of metacognition — self-motivation, self-starting, and
    ownership of one’s actions. In other words, they reflect on how they learn as
    well as what they learn.

  1. You need to be able to manage your time wisely.
  2. They
    must be able to lay out their tasks with a critical eye, plan them accordingly,
    and follow them through to fruition — many times without someone looking
    over their shoulder.

  1. You have GOT to know how to collaborate.
  2. This is a
    biggie. More than an understanding of technology, more than a perfection
    of writing skills, the ability to collaborate is one that must be used
    comfortably online.

  1. You need to be able to set goals for yourself.
  2. Being able to
    see the target and backwards plan towards that target is vital.

  1. You need to communicate well in writing.
  2. The entire
    online community is based on the language of words and how to
    communicate them effectively. One cannot use texting language and expect
    to be heard. A student needs to use their best level of writing.

  1. You must follow the community norms.
  2. Just like a
    classroom has a set of rules, so does an online class. A student must
    function within the norms and rules of netiquette set up by the instructor (or,
    better yet, agreed upon by the class itself).

  1. You must be your own advocate.
  2. As slam poet Taylor Mali
    once wrote when asked if they would be tested on the material, “If not you,
    then who?” So does it go with being one’s own advocate. If you won’t ask
    the questions, take control, and make sure your voice is heard in a positive
    way…then who will? 

Via Heather Wolpert-Gawron at Edutopia

Web 2.0 Foundations:

Comment here on what Netiquette points are important to you for our learning community.

Weaving the Dream


Weaving a Dream


In his book Mable McKay: Weaving the Dream (1994) Greg Saris tells an ethnohistorical story about Mabel, a Pomo basket maker while also discovering his own heritage in the process.  At the end of the book Saris asks Mabel why she allowed him into her oral history which so few outside the Pomo knew.  Her response….”because you kept coming back”.



In our education circles we are very busy dodging, planning, creating, and dealing seemingly “against” a system that is hell bent on making the corporate and managerial school a model for reform that is palatable to our communities. I see in your tweets, blog posts and videos that education


innovators are struggling and letting it be known.  It is a rough and emotional road.

In a recent blog post and Monika Hardy forwarded to me along with some sage advice coupled with my last few days at PFUNC 11 I am reminded that all of our wranglings in education need not loose site of our learning communities, and the humans behind them. We need to come back, consistently to young people.  Do you remember beyond the banter of struggle what the noise of young people learning sounds like…. looks like….?


Do you remember the feeling you had; the heartache of happiness,  body and mind full of  hope…..hope.  Do not loose these feelings, even in your….reform work to help, political struggles and battles in education. But do not rest in your classrooms, learning centers and other space of education either.

Keep coming back to the learner: not the standard, model, curriculum….Weave your dream with learners as a learner, and never forget that they are there, watching, waiting, worried and hopeful.  Listen to young people and they will do more than follow your lead, idea, design….they will lead, ideate, and design.  Your dream will be successful, inspirational and world altering precisely because you kept coming back….to what matters to us all.


[1] Splitting Cane for Weaving. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12 2012, from:

[2] NA. Retrieved July 6  2009, from:

Saris, G.  (1994). MAbel McKay: Weaving the Dream. Berkley: University of California Press.

Pearson (n.d.). Learn to Change Change to Learn [Video]. Retrieved from

A Web 2.0 Foundations Learner Benchmark Fall 2012


  1. Read the Course Syllabus, and watch all of the Media To Get You Thinking for the week (They are Short) and Read Writing In Discussions
  2. Tell us about the what you’ve researched and what you’ve learned. This could be about the big topics of the syllabus and media, or about little pieces  you discovered and  found really interesting. Remember to comment on at least one other post.


What We Need To Become As Learners

What I learned from the four “Media to get you think” videos is that right now, across the world, our educational systems are in a rut. By a rut I mean that our educational system is not working. The the third video “a few ideas… Visions of Students Today” –

– stated “Students are told there is always a single unambiguous right answer to a question. Students are also told that the voice of authority is to be trusted and valued more than independent judgement.” Thus students end up guessing the answer that they think the teacher wants from them.” Our educational system is doing this to us. The educational system that we are enrolled in right now is forcing us to be so dependent on our educators that we can not think for ourselves. Thus making us unable to be able to learn on our own. The educational system, or at least the way it is set up, also does not want us to be divergent learners. This is not just theory either. The video “RSA Animate – Changing Educational Paradigms”

– has a part in it when the narrator is talking about a group of 1,500 kindergartners that were tested on being divergent learners. In the test if you scored about a certain level you were considered a genius. 98% of the kindergarten children tested as geniuses. The narrator in the video goes onto say that as the same group of children were tested five years later less than half of them were considered divergent learners. The same children were tested again another five years after their second test. The numbers showed that a minimal amount of the students who were considered now educated tested as geniuses. This relates back to the quote from the “a few ideas… Vision of Students Today” video in which they were talking about how students are told there is one answer to everything. There is undeniable evidence that our educational system is forcing kids (us) to believe there is only one answer to everything and as we can clearly see is that this is making kids (again us) dependent on the teacher and makes us less of individuals and just more dependent.

In the United States the major conception is that if you go to college you will become better educated and thus get a job and thus be wealthy. This is not always the case however. In fact it usually isn’t the case. The video “a few ideas…Vision of Students Today” had a picture at one point that read “After two years in college 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years 36% of students showed change. This is clearly a result of this dependent relationship that we have with our educators. Generally when you go to college you are on your own and you are responsible for your individualized learning. However, in our educational system, as proved by these videos are not taught to be individuals. “ We [Students] are told there is always a single unambiguous right answer to a question. We [Students] are also told that the voice of authority is to be trusted and valued more than independent judgement.”

I have thought about these videos and their message for a while. In my mind I have come to the conclusion that there is something we can do about it. We as students can change this educational rut we are in. We can change it by doing what the second video, “The Machine is Us/ing Us”, hints towards. We have very powerful technological tools on our hands. We as students can use them to become better learners, to become more individual learners, to become more responsible learners, so that we may be held accountable for our own education. In fact that is what we are in this class for. As the syllabus reads “You should be aware that in the my [Mr. Steele-Maley’s] view you are the only person responsible for your education. You must take an active part in that process and act responsibly.” On this not let me say that I hold you, Mr. Steele-Maley, accountable for this statement. I hold you responsible for making us individual learners, making us responsible. As you said at the beginning of class on Friday, September 7th, 2012, “If I do my job correctly, at the end of this course you should not need me, I should be irrelevant.” I hope that this comes true. I hope that his course holds me accountable for my learning. I hope this course makes my education comes from me. I hope that for all of us as we become better individual learners. That is what we need to become as learners. -DM

Success, Careers and Values

“‘It’s actually really important that you succeed at what you’re succeeding at, but that isn’t going to be the measure of your life.’

Too often, we measure success in life against the progress we make in our careers. But how can we ensure we’re not straying from our values as humans along the way? Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and world-renowned innovation guru, examines the daily decisions that define our lives and encourages all of us to think about what is truly important.” – TEDxTalks