Segunda-feira, 21 de Fevereiro de 2011
Reflections about Networked Learning and PLE

In Networked Learning people learn within networks as a part of them, receiving and contributing to the creation of knowledge. The Social Web and the Web2.0 tools have certainly contributed importantly to this way of learning. RSS feeds and comunicating in an online open way through blogs, wikis, twitter, facebook, and many other tools, has provided the learner with an environment within which to interact and connect, demanding a continuous exercise of autonomy and responsibility in their use to learn.

In Wendy Drexlers paper "A Networked Learning Model for Construction of Personal Learning Environments in Seventh Grade Life Science" (2010), its stated that in the 7th grade class networked learning environment the students success depended highly on their motivation and teachers strategic guidance, adding that it would "require considerable teacher professional development and possibly a philosophy different from that of most current educators".This issue is very important for me as a teacher to reflect about. It is not easy to build a PLE, or I might say it was not easy for me. I started last year  (2010) in September to better understand what a PLE is, and to try and build my PLE. It was in one of the PhD class, and the tool asked for me to use was Netvibes. It was only then I truly understood the power of RSS feeds in updating me with all the content on the websites, blogs I consulted everyday or just randomly once in a while. I had used GoogleReader or Twitter to update some information, but to think I could have an open online space as a PLE was something new to me. I then began to search about PLEs in education, and soon enough I found the video 'Welcome to my PLE' with a 7th grader explaining how she built her PLE for Science class. The video is very good in showing how in the teaching practice we can integrate the PLE as a learning experience for the students, its very clear in showing how the student manages all the pages she consults for personal entertainment and school work. My first thought was that this must have been some special student achievement :)...could it be built by a 7th grader?! OK, lets have confidence on our 7th grade students :) The issue is that, it is possible! The questions are: Is it possible to apply Networked Learning in schools with large classes with students heterogeneous in the ability to use technology? My reflections take me to think that with numerous and heterogeneous classes the necessary balance demanded of the teacher between the necessary relinquish of their authority as intellectual managers and students autonomy, would be far greater and more difficult to obtain. In this type of learning its development lead to an increase of one-to-one or small group teacher facilitation, bigger classes will also have bigger difficulties to manage those supports in the frequency needed. Younger learners need more support in their learning, and the bigger the classes more computers will be used and consequently more technical support will be needed, and some frustration can lead to difficulties in students motivation towards this approach to learning.

On the other hand, a growing number of young learners outside formal education are using digital technologies, increasing their exercise for autonomy learning, autonomy to choose the tools that best suit their interests and needs to learn. This can facilitate the teachers challenge to integrate these tools in class and for the development of a PLE by students. Students are challenged to continue the learning process initiated in the classroom, and transfer that knowledge to the outside of school walls, or vice-versa, capable of developing their own PLE for all subjects of interest throughout their life, as a lifelong learner.

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