Monday, November 10, 2008

The Networked Student

Inspired by Alec Couros' vision of The Networked Teacher and participation in the Connectivism course, I've decided to experiment with student personal learning networks. I'm still in the process of brainstorming a concept map to represent the Networked Student. It's not especially pretty at this point, but I would so appreciate any feedback on the content!

Today, I kicked off a project with my Contemporary Issues class. Each student is selecting an issue for which they have a great interest. We're in the process of building personal learning networks one step at a time:
  1. Internet search tips
  2. Social Bookmarking - Set up account
  3. RSS - Set up Google Reader, personal blog, podcast subscriptions, Google Alerts
  4. How to find an expert (to schedule Skype sessions with our class)
  5. Hoping to hold it all together with iGoogle Page and/or personal wiki
Students already have Google Docs accounts, so it seemed easier to keep with the Google tools.

For the selected topic, students will:
  • Follow at least 5 blogs (hopefully more)
  • Create a personal blog and reflect at least twice/wk
  • Maintain and share bookmarks on the topic
  • Facilitate discussions in our face-to-face meetings
  • Subscribe to podcasts if available for the topic
  • Schedule a Skype session with an expert in the field
  • Create a final product that can be posted to share with others (e.g.: wiki, ning, slideshare, Voice Thread, video)
A purely connectivist approach would not mandate each of these tasks. Students would be free to navigate their learning network according to individual needs. However, my students still find great comfort in structure. This is their first venture into online learning. We'll see how they venture on their own once I nudge them out of the nest. :-)

What am I missing? If you've done this before, what worked or didn't work for your students? Anything you would add? Ideas?


Sharon said...

Don't forget Social Networks (Ning, Twitter, etc)

Wendy DG said...

Thank you Sharon. I added a social network category.

Sharon Harper said...

I am really interested in what you are doing here as this ties in beautifully with a pilot programme class I am establishing for next year based on the Future Problem Solving programme.

mmakis said...

I think this is great graphic...and I back your ideas.

My quick comments:
---Swap the position of RSS and Social Networks to allow both RSS and communication to point to Blogs as they would be consuming other's blogs as well as authoring their own. Or put blogs twice.
---Make the boxes more consistent. Either title the topic, technology, or similar and not the brand. For example, Skype can be used as an IM, phone, a voice conference call, etc... And isn't Google Reader a brand as well. I see with your notes that Skype is already preselected, but it may be better to spell out what Skype is in the graphic...maybe adapt to VOIP tool (Skype), or similar.
---Also fix up the arrows for consistency.
---What about a forum to post Q&A with expert approval? Have you found one of these that fit your needs?

I like it though...

I am working on a project right now in Corporate America, helping to set up a road map for a client's 50,000+ person learning solution, and Web 2.0 (Wiki's, blogs, forums,...) plays into the long term layout.

Alec Couros said...

Thanks for doing this Wendy. I don't think in way that mine is perfect in any way, it's certainly a work in progress, but the concept struck a chord with many. I think yours will as well. And I think the big goal will be able to expose this idea to students, let them see the bigger picture, and allow them to create their own depictions of their emerging personal learning networks.

OK, now a few points.
1) I agree with mmakis on "either title the topic ... and not the brand". I was careful to not mention any of the technologies by name or brand, and tried to name them by the bigger purpose of theme (social networking services vs. Facebook). I think this will be better for the longevity of the concept you create as specific technologies often have a short shelf-life.

2) I'm wondering how information management and RSS can be better integrated. I see RSS as a form of information management.

3) I'm wondering if txt'ing, especially between students needs to be mentioned. While txting is certainly controversial and of arguable value, I would not doubt it to be part of many students' personal learning networks.

Thanks for this, and I look forward to this expanding. This also reminds me that I really need to revisit mine as well.

All the best.

Wendy DG said...

Thanks for all your comments. I'm going to work on the graphic and repost with revisions.