Monday, September 20

PLENK 2010 - The Most Awesome Course on Planet Earth!

Click here to watch the animation video

I used xtranormal to create the animation (above) by simply writing the dialogue script (text only! Seriously!). The whole production process (thinking and writing the script) took me around 30 minutes only. Now, that is what we want from awesome learning tools; Minimal effort, amazing output! Though,
xtranormal has a commercial version (besides the free features) with even more sizzling juice, and that _____ me off :(

PLENK 2010?

PLENK stands for Personal Learning Environments and Knowledge Networks. This Massive Open Online (thinking) Course is facilitated by Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Dave Cormier and Rita Kop. More than 1500 persons have already registered. The course will last until 21st November, so you can still join and experience inspiring and useful information overload on rocks!

Click here to know more about PLENK 2010 and register.


Over the next nine (9) weeks this post will be continuously littered with my reflections as I learn week-by-week (One mega post, instead of 9-10 small ones! Between 4000-6000 words for sure!), but for now I am too busy engrossed learning and making noise beyond this blog.

But, before scanning my reflections, here are the most juicy collaborative reflections of PLENK2010. Yes, you can find that in the weekly webinars, which include the facilitators (Stephen, George, Dave & Rita), invited speakers, and active participants (recorded webinars):

Actually, due to time differences and sleepiness I have missed all the live sessions, but the great thing about webinars (or using tools like Elluminate) is that they can be recorded easily and archived for later viewing. So, in that sense I have managed to watch and reflect most of these recorded sessions, and they have certainly enriched my ideas and opinions about learning and moving forward. Seriously interesting, so don't skip the recorded webinars above!

The first week of PLENK 2010 was an explosive and inspiring discussion flow of ideas and thoughts from the participants (and facilitators); exploring what is a Personal Learning Network (PLN), or should I say Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Here is the reading materials shared to 'trigger' off this explosive discussion (#plenk2010, Daily [Sep 12-18], Daily and Blog feeds list):

However, as the discussion raged on, it turned out initially to be a battle for whether PLN or PLE is the appropriate term to describe our self-assembled/constructed learning environment/network using a variety of learning tools. Of course from a semantic, theoretical, or academic point-of-view such discussions are extremely exciting, but many (based on my understanding) seemed to be more interested in exploring the 'HOW' rather the 'WHAT' and 'WHY', which we will eventually do later in this course (I think), based on the course outline.

As from a learning point-of-view exploring what a PLN or PLE is, and the potential differences helps (hopefully) the learning group come to some sort of agreement or understanding (reference point) of what we are actually talking about, as we progress in the course. Also, it was great to explore how participants articulated their own original and personal ideas and thoughts of what a PLE/N is to them.

As the discussion raged on, I discovered that PLN originated from USA, and PLE originated from Europe (somewhere!), and that PLN indicated 'Active', while PLE on the other hand indicated a more 'Passive' role, and therefore PLN is perhaps a more appropriate term to use (Nice with brains and perception!). Also, PLN emphasizes more on our online (or offline) network of people, while PLE is more focused on the usage of learning tools. Soon, some argued that the terms PLN or PLE (and lifeless visual snapshot diagrams) were not appropriate, and that perhaps 'Lifestream' with real-time flowing diagrams was more appropriate (Whatever!).

As the discussion raged on, obviously someone would argue that 'P' or Personal did not make sense for our mostly shared Learning Networks/Environments. Usually, we like to keep our Personal stuff (e.g. life) private and perhaps only share a bit (on Oprah!). But then it was argued that we needed to understand the difference between 'Personal' Learning E/N from 'Personal Learning' E/N, and as Socratic intellectuals that makes totally sense! In short, maybe we should just ditch the 'P' totally, as some people actually pronounce 'P' with a 'B' (my 5-year old son for starters!).

So, if no 'P', why not use 'S' standing for Self (or perhaps Social). So, instead of PLE or PLN, let's explore instead SLN or SELF LEARNING NETWORK :

Alright, my first diagram of SLN is too abstract, meaningless, and macro to make sense for beginners, but I will work and re-visualize it throughout PLENK 2010, and hopefully it will bloom beyond Bloom's taxonomy (No harm in being a bit ambitious!).

Finally, the real challenge for me (and probably for many others) was to access or build the mother of all learning streams, which includes every single learning contribution from all the participants (Forum discussions, blog posts, Twitter, and whatever!). Of course that would be information overload on rocks, but I kind of like that option. Of course, the Stephen Downes Daily updates are awesome, but you have to wait 24-hours for filtered juice. The Daily is more attractive than Daily, but until Moodle Forum posts are included in the #PLENK2010 Twitter hashtag, it simply excludes too much.

In short, is it possible that all Moodle forum post links are shared through the #PLENK2010 hashtag? The only option I can think of now, is to use my Google Reader to subscribe to #plenk2010, Daily, Blog feeds list, and Moodle forums (RSS) to create my own mother of all learning streams, and enjoy the full stream.

Any better solutions?

Reading materials for week 2:
I have actually discussed earlier in my blog, why LMS is playing an increasingly less important role in our PLE (without actually using the PLE term):

Here is a photographic best answer to contrast LMS with PLE (or Constructivism and Connectivism), inspired by George and Stephen (plagiarism or copyleft?):

I am already one week behind (the class geniuses), so I will leave my reflections for week 3, and then perhaps return to week 2 if 'learning time' permits :(

I nearly dropped off my seat in surprise and laughter while watching the recorded week 3 webinar with Janet Clarey, as she was not sure what the marshmallow man is doing on the diagram (above)...

I thought it was pretty obvious... I am still learning :)


Reading materials for week 3:
Whatever! It will always be the 'Next Web' or 'Extended Web'. Web 3.0? Alright, now that gives us some number, so we can perhaps relate to. Semantic Web? Yes, that sounds even more specific and contextualized. Anyway, all these terms kind of mean different things to different experts and ordinary people (like myself). Also, I have never really engrossed myself in defining where a specific tool belongs; whether it is web 1.0 or web 2.0, or web 4.5...who cares!

What really matters, is what a particular learning tool can do for us (efficiently, effectively, in an user-friendly manner), or perhaps what we can do for it. For example, only a clown would today train Professors to use 'Dreamweaver' to develop a course website, and then recommend subscribing to a hosting company, so that the website can be uploaded. Or teach Flash MX to develop animations and games. Or even use Photoshop to mashup or create images (PowerPoint 2010 rocks!). Today, we are blessed with an amazing and growing toolkit (or PLE) of possibilities to learn, share and interact with practically anyone in the world (Who has access to the Internet).

It is fine to define what level the Internet and learning tools have evolved to, but what really matters is how we use the Internet and learning tools to establish our own PLE, and how we engage and inspire students to create their own little PLEs, so that that they can evolve into independent self-learners for life.


Reading materials for week 4:

Are learning theories important to know? Good to know, but not necessary to know to become an excellent learner or teacher. If you explore learning theories, you might notice also that learning theories often seem to reflect THE FLAVOR TECHNOLOGY/IES OF THE DAY. And Connectivisim is not an exception, as it seems to be influenced by the emergence of the Internet (connections), social media (networks), and brain science (neural connections). Whether these new technologies and understandings (of the brain) have influenced George Siemens and Stephen Downes thinking consciously or not, I have no clue, but the more I read about their evolving learning theory the more I see connections, or influences they have on their thinking. However, there is nothing wrong with that, it is just an observation (which might be wrong).

But does any learning theory conceptualized until today actually describe how we learn? I doubt it! Meaning, Connectivism is the flavor of the day today, but in a few years time another delicious learning theory will pop-up and everyone will get excited again. Although, learning theories don't exactly describe how we learn, they are still important as they guide our thinking about how we learn. As such, I believe all the major learning theories (Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism & Connectivism) have a place in understanding how we learn, and they may be relevant in their own way as they explore learning knowledge, skills, attitudes and wisdom.

In short, NO learning theory conceptualized until today actually describes how we learn, but they are all important to know as they explore how we learn from different angles. We could discuss, 'which learning theory is the most appropriate for our time (perhaps Connectivism), but I find that a waste of time. Why? Because (in my opinion), no learning theory until today really describes how we learn, so instead we should appreciate the nuggets of wisdom in all of them, and use these nuggets of wisdom to facilitate sizzling learning experiences.

So, how do we really learn? The process of learning is too complex, dynamic, unique, contextual and amazing to really understand using words and diagrams to explain. Looking forward to the next learning theory! Excited already!


Reading materials for week 5:

PLE Conference Papers (.pdf):

Have you ever heard anyone excited about using and learning through a Learning Management System (LMS). Perhaps initially, but most people kind of get turned off after a few experiences. Why? I am sure there are many reasons for that, but it could be the way it operates, influences, monitors, user-interface design and the way it structures (or controls) learning (objects), which often resembles the factory model (input-process-output), or perhaps like a book. For reading that is fine, but for interacting and collaborative learning? Not so sure!

What I am trying badly to say, is that the way systems are designed and used do effect our learning, especially our motivation to learn. For example, I am passionate about writing this blog post (which is open to everyone!), but would I be passionate about posting my reflections in a closed forum (in a LMS), which is only accessible to my teacher and students. Or even worse, I write an assignment using Word, and then it is submitted online to the LMS for only my teacher to review and grade. Worse yet, the teacher is too lazy to provide feedback, except a grade (number or alphabet!). Now that is terrible, but sadly happens often in our Universities around the world.

Today, we have so many awesome learning tools to use, and getting stuck in one all conquering (LMS) is not the way to go. LMS today are more like airports, whereby we meet up before using the most appropriate learning tool(s) to collaborate and sizzle learning.

In short, we need to find those learning tools that suit us best for learning, and integrate them into our PLE and PLN. Learning is actually really fun, just need to find the right rhythm and tools!

Reading materials for week 6:

Reading materials for week 7:


Reading materials for week 8:

Oops, I forgot George Siemens! Now, it makes more sense:

Great, Harold Jarche has also discovered ZaidLearn's intergalactic gaga PLENK 2010 adventure! Amen :)

Reading materials for week 9:


Reading materials for week 10:

Still thinking :)


Paul Ellerman said...

The video is great!!!

George Siemens said...

Hi Zaid, I'm willing to accept the Clooney reference...


Tom Kuhlmann said...

LOL - "What about using Bing?"

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Nice to get feedback and acceptance from some of the inter-galactic awesome learning Gurus out there.

Did you both use the Inter-Galactic Gaga Network to access my blog?

I am actually a week behind schedule, but this (one) post will be updated on a weekly bases exploring my thoughts on each week's learning theme :)

Have a great week learning, and I will for sure become more serious as the course progress :(


Time2Act said...

very interesting Zaid, I will read the whole post soon (my mind still closed after 2-month vacation) but just wanted to say many thanks for the topic.

Frances Bell said...

Interested to see your use of XtraNormal. I used Xtranormal to create a conversation between Stephen Downes and SiKate ( a composite character of students in CCK08) that highlighted some of the interactions that piqued my interest . The script text was taken from Moodle posts and blog posts (links available at youtube entry).

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Frances Bell,

Thanks for sharing :)

I am enjoying the animated PLENK conversation right now!


Sui Fai John Mak said...

Love your post. Stimulating, stunning, funny, and awesome :)

Anonymous said...

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