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

Design Based Research Plan 1 Web 2.0 Foundations

Elaborated Design Plan for Web 2.0 Foundations

Informed Exploration

Educational Focus

Web 2.0 Foundations is a semester long secondary school course focused on participatory co-learning in multisited contexts with the goal of elevating the understanding of ones potential for creating positive learning outcomes in blended learning contexts. Focused on building a personal learning network for networked research the course Web 2.0 Foundations is situated within the middle grounds of formal and non-formal learning environments and relies on connectivist and constructivist pedegogy.  This intervention has been designed to better understand how a learning community in a traditional rural school setting responds and contributes to the conversation on adapted (Blended/Connected learning environments) while also achieving pertinent school based and national standards.

Research framework:

Needs Analysis and Survey of Literature

The controlled curricular structures of the “school” are not adequate to meet the challenges faced by the worlds young people in the twenty-first century. Further, the one hundred year absence of systemic change in education provides an environment that is ripe for what Zuboff (2010) has called a “Mutation”: modes of learning “that create value by offering [learners] individualized learning that express a convergence of technological capabilities and the values associated with individual self-determination”. Zuboff’s argument is cogent in education as only now, in 2010 do we see some meaningful consensus on educational change beginning to solidify, for instance around the need for computers in learning to address the 21st century skills of finding leveraging, synthesizing, collaborating and problem solving with information (Hayes Jacobs ed. 2010, Bonk, 2009, Davidson and Goldberg, 2009). This new and still growing consensus occurs while the bulk of school and curricular policy remains static (Apple, 2010, Darling Hammond, 2010).  The realization that educational systems are unresponsive to needed change raises the importance of new learning environments when considering that our world systems are in decline (Burns Our interdependent world calls for a deliberative, culturally conscious, and collaborative generation. With this in mind the future role of education as a change agent has never been more important.  Bold initiatives  grounded in the seminal work of critical educators such as(James Beane, 1995,1996; Michael Apple, 1990,1996, 2009, 2010, Boulding,1988), eLearning mavericks (George Siemens, Steven Downes, Alec Couros, and Dave Cormier) As the world realizes both systemic global crisis (UN millennium Development Goals, 2010; ICISS, 2001), and the exponential growth in global connectivity, education can and must help catalyze a new global civic culture through the restructuring of how we provide learning to our world.

Systemic Social, Cultural and Organizational Influences and Constraints on Design.

This design exists within a traditional school system setting atypical to Committee of Ten Standardization yet within the current environment of standardization and standards based reform (RISC and MCCL).  This environment is both exciting and intimidating to the researcher.  The learners involved in this study are primarily rural western European Americans at or around the poverty line to middle and upper middle class.  The learning environment numbers from 150-200 young people across a 60 mile district.  ALL 2012-2013 participants are local to one high school and number at 75.  Strong small rural community ideologies exist with conservative, pragmatic and progressive manifestations creating an environment of uncertainty for students.

Theory development

The Design work for Web 2.0 Foundations elevates, connectivist, constructivist, and open learning theory. The course’s mission is to connect individuals to the world through place based and international studies that are applied to an individuals interests, passions and quest for serving their local and world communities. Web 2.0 Foundations is made up of young people who co-develop their own program with a Teacher/Mentor Networked Learning Mentors (Via Twitter, Google +),and other local and international community members. At every stage of research, design, Web 2.0 Foundations supports individual learners while also connecting those individuals face to face and virtual project based learning cohorts that have can have a mission to solve local, regional, and global problems that effect our interdependent world.

Audience Characterization

The intended audience for this design research are both young and old existing within the academy and in informal and formal learning environments outside of the academy.  The research is meant to have impact on the theory, design and implementation of new learning environments at the middle level and secondary level in private, public and quasi public/private institutions. It is my hope that young people find this research accessible so they may take a greater role in the design of education.


Field Methods

Task analysis will be used to better understand daily patterns of learning, Contextual Analysis will be used to situate the study in local and global educational contexts, Audience and Expert Review will be used for internal and external reflection and iteration and Ethnographic methods (specifically ethnographic fieldnotes) will be used for recording the learning process. Participatory design will be used to support learner motivation and participation.

Systems Design

Participants who engage in Web 2.0 Foundations are introduced to  an integrated project based learning process’s that leverages internet based learning systems, Mobile Learning and collaborative project based learning.  Learning modalities are face to face and blended with synchronous and asynchronous learning over a four month period.

Learning Targets

The project is situated amidst multiple learning targets both institutional and informal. Local and international institutional learning targets make up the institutional learning targets and  include NETS-S, Local 21st Century Benchmarks, and adapted common core requirements.  Wider learning targets include effective connectivism and networked learning practice.

Design Strategies and Principles

  • Context evaluation, content sequencing, fostering interaction with an additional emphasis on addressing knowledge as existing in networks and learning as developing and forming diverse, multi‐faceted networks (Siemens 2008)
  • Generate Value for Learners
  • Curate a Gathering of human experiences and Artifacts that are synthetically processed
  • Use of Empathy
  • Agile communication of findings during design process “data as narrative”
  • Contribute solutions to a broad learning community


Apple, M., Au, W., and Gandin, A.L., eds.(2009). Routledge International Handbook of Critical Education. New York, Routledge

Apple, M., ed.(2010). Global Crises, Social Justice, and Education. New York, Routledge.

Bannan-Ritland, B. (2003) The Role of Design in Research: The Integrative Learning Design Framework. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 21-24.

Bonk, Curtis J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future.New York: Teachers College: Columbia Press.

Downes, S. (2005, December 22). An introduction to connective knowledge. Stephen’s Web

Downes, S. (2006, October 16). Learning networks and connective knowledge. Instructional Technology Forum: Paper 92.

Davidson, C.N., Goldberg, D.T. ( 2009) The Future of Learning Institutions in the Digital Age. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R.I., Shaw, L.L. (1995) Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hayes Jacobs, H. (2010). Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria: ASCD.

Siemens, G. (2008a). About: Description of connectivism. Connectivism: A learning theory for today’s learner, website.

Siemens. G. (2006a). Knowing knowledge. Electronic book.

Siemens, G. (2005, August 10). Connectivism: Learning as Network Creation. e-Learning website.

References informing overall design stage.

Bell, P. (2004). On the theoretical breadth of design-based research in education. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 243-253.

Blomberg, Jeannette, et. al. (1993). Ethnographic Field Methods And Their Relation To

Design, In Participatory Design: Principles And Practices, Schuler, Douglas, Ed. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey, 123-155.

Brown, A. L., & Campione, J. C. (1998). Designing a community of young learners: Theoretical and practical lessons. In N. M. Lambert & B. L. McCombs (Eds.), How students learn: Reforming schools through learner-centered education (pp. 153-186). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2, 141-178.

Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational researcher, 32(1), 9-13.

Cole, M. (1996). Creating model activity systems,Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline (pp. 257-285). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Cole, M. (2001, January 19-20). Sustaining Model Systems of Educational Activity: Designing for the Long haul. Paper Presented at Symposium

Honoring the Work of Ann Brown, Berkeley, California. (Accessed online on 15 November 2001 at Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. The Journal of the Learning Sciences,13(1), 15-42.

Design-Based Research Collective. (2003). Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 5-8.

diSessa, A., & Cobb, P. (2009). Ontological innovation and the role of theory in design experiments. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13:1, 77—103.

Nasir, N. S., Rosebery, A. S., Warren, B., & Lee, C. D. (2006). Learning as a cultural process. In K.Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (1st ed.) (pp. 489-504). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richey, R.C., Klein, J.D.,(2007). Design and Development Research. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Shavelson, R. J., Phillips, D. C., Towne, L., & Feuer, M. J. (2003). On the science of education design studies. Educational researcher, 32(1), 25-28.


iLab Fieldnote: Preparing for Mentor Meeting (9 Oct)

A Fieldnote on Student Directed PBL, Co-Design and Mentors

Project: Web Server Development and Deployment (Canvas LMS)

Participants: @MrHodgdon @Nathan_A_Austin @Victor_Pearce

Mentors: @steelemaley (Lead; eLearning and Information Studies Department) @jmandala (Network Mentor: Web Server Configuration, Internet Form, Function and History)

Sometimes the path to self directed learning in a co-designed project gets a bit blocked.  Lets face it, in blended learning environments where the formal meets the informal (or even in environments where young people are unschooled) the learner may need (or) seek advice from mentors and need direct facilitation.  This is not only important but essential in many learning projects where co-design is a goal.  If young people know enough to ask tough questions and have allowed themselves to fail without becoming despondent (They are still pushing ahead with a design) the path to informed collaboration  is clearer.

In preparation for the iLab Projects Mentor Meeting this Tuesday I asked Josh Jacobs of Mandala Designs (Mentor: Web Server Development) what he thought the  project team needed at this snapshot in time.

He related that the team might take a look at their everyday use of technology to create driving questions for themselves.  He related that to gain a working understanding of of the key collaborators of software and hardware and technology and how they make a users web interaction happen is foundational for understanding Web Server Development.

A small snippet of Josh from my fieldnotes:

Evernote 20121005 19:25:39

From Fieldnote to Design: The Co-Design Experience: Learners as Users, Designers and Researchers

In order to facilitate the process of the project on Tuesday to build on what Josh Described we will use an adapted form of Context Mapping from Sanders et al. (2005):


Every user study starts with a preparation phase. Setting up the study involves the formulation of goals, planning, selecting participants, choosing techniques, etc. These elements are known by conventional research practitioners. With generative techniques, however, extra attention is needed in formulating goals. Generative research appears less formal than more traditional forms of research but its successful application rests on carefully selecting the main directions of exploration.


The next step is to sensitize the participants and prepare them for group sessions. Sensitizing is a process where participants are triggered, encouraged and motivated to think, reflect, wonder and explore aspects of their personal context in their own time and environment. A sensitizing package consisting of little activities or exercises is sent to the participants at home in the period before the session. They may get several days to weeks to complete the sensitizing package. Sensitization over a longer period, typically one or more weeks, prepares participants to access their experiences and to express and discuss these in the group sessions. The quality of the information learned in the sessions depends greatly on the depth and length of sensitizing.


A session is a meeting in which participants do generative exercises. Participants receive instructions and sets of expressive components, and create artefacts that express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Their experiences are revealed when they are asked to present and to explain these artefacts to the other participants in the group.


The qualitative data collected in the sessions are rich and diverse. The artefacts created by the participants contain many stories and anecdotes related to the topic. The stories and anecdotes are usually recorded on video and audio. Transcriptions of the verbal protocol are also made. The study is not meant to support or reject existing hypotheses, but to explore the context, uncover unexpected directions, and widen the view of the design team.


The final step is bringing the results to the design process. For the early phase of the design process, the results can both inform and inspire the design team. Conventional ‘written’ reports often fall short in communicating effectively to design teams. Techniques that are more interactive, such as workshops, cardsets, and persona displays can be used to enhance the design team’s understanding for and empathy with users.


Our Process as it Relates

As the goal setting planning and participants are embedded in this project, participants where “sensitized” using multiple asynchronous tools and impromptu meetings in school spaces.  The iLab uses Project Foundry to scaffold project work through group communication, project design scope and sequence, task management and feedback loops for iteration. The participants also use Twitter for communication and sensitization. The sensitizing period for Tuesday’s session has been 4 days.  The session planned will be organic and focus on mapping the user web interface backwards to web server development in hopes of queuing prior knowledge but also to formulate visuals to aid in question development and student research direction. We will most likely use either a Promethean Board, or Sketchnotes via Goodnotes App to capture the session notes.  The session will also be recorded via video and Images portions will be uploaded to the web using Twitter, Blogs and or Evernote. For analysis, the participants will be asked to relate their analysis directly via blog posts and and to communicate project design iteration toward project goals and beyond to web server development.


Sanders et al. (2005). Contextmapping: experiences from practice. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Vol. 1 No. 2, Taylor and Francis.

(2012) Creativity-based Research: The Process of Co-Designing with Users. UX Magazine, ARTICLE NO. 820 April 24, 2012

I derive my inspiration for fieldnoting from @triciawang and Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, Emerson et. al.

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)