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

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.