Some recent conversations in the many online forums and web spaces I frequent has prompted me to think more and more about the ‘changes’ in our personal learning landscapes. I look at the Web 2.0 technologies and tools currently available and envisioned just around the next corner and celebrate the changes that these have brought to the way in which we communicate online and create our own learning spaces. In this year alone we’ve seen an absolute landslide in the use of voice technologies that favour and support the publication of the learner’s voice publicly. Who hasn’t dabbled in blogs, wikis and podcasts in 2006? Who has not yet migrated their conversations and discussions to free an open sourceware such as Moodle? Who is yet to experience the absolute engagement of live classrooms, presentations and keynotes in web conferencing mode? It used to be the second wave that were reluctant to immerse in all things ‘E’ but now they are the ones embracing and embedding such elearning practices in their everyday teaching and learning. It used to be the ones with little confidence with ICT that held back from engaging with such tools as internet telephone and messaging systems; but now they are the ones leading the way in their focus on how to best use them in their classrooms.
Things they are a changing!
I believe that it is the autonomy and freewill that has caught the attention of the second wave and it is their ability to ‘do it for themselves’ that will be the sustainable feature of their ongoing elearning practices. It is the simplicity and ease of use of these social networking tools that has brought most success in the shortest amount of time during the projects run in 2006. I count numerous individuals and teams focussing on their own professional development in social networking in LearnScope, elearning grants, Networks, creative Partnerships, indigenous engagement, industry engagement and other ‘capability development’ projects across Australia. All have a tale of success to relate and some interesting developments and achievements that will be the enablers for their ongoing networking activities.
The second wave facilitators, the eleaders, the ementors, the coaches and mentors; and the networks coordinators have been showcasing their activities and successes all year round – small steps, one at a time. They are no longer reticent about publishing their progress, their achievements and their challenges in blogs, wikis, and podcasts. Most importantly they are learning to ‘network’ with other groups and individuals in public forums. They are also willing to ‘strut their stuff’ on the online stage in live events.
It is their ‘journey’ that is most important – their journeys of discovery have been the best professional development experiences in 2006. They have done this for themselves without huge amounts of time invested in ‘courses’ or ‘workshops’ – mostly they have done this by making the best use of the web 2.0 tools they have selected. We all know that ‘time’ or lack of it has been the biggest barrier to elearning development for the second wave in past years, they’ve been unable to put aside huge slabs of time to devote to their PD for example in LearnScope projects. Instead they have focussed on making the best use of a small amount of time to move forward and to become competent and confident in the new web 2.0 world.
I look back over the year and realise just how many have been following in the footsteps of the new eleaders and ementors and becoming a band of new adopters of elearning. They are the ones who are now showing the way to the most reluctant of our teachers and learners – sharing widely and specifically the strategies that work for them and their learners.
I have to admit that the ‘shape’ of the learning landscapes they have chosen are different to those I might have imagined and recommended for them, but they have a committed ownership to the programs they have researched and developed during their professional development. The key to ongoing sustainability and future success is in the ‘ownership’ of their own personal learning landscapes.
My new focus for 2007 is to embed the eportfolio, digital storytelling and social networking strategies into models for personal learning landscapes.
The first aspect of this will be embodied in the Eportfolio conference to be held in Melbourne in March 2007. Details for this are currently being displayed in a Wiki designed for the ‘Conversation Cafe’ or workshop planning between Helen Barrett and myself. You can view these at: http://eportfolios.wetpaint.com/
The second aspect of this will be a feature of the E-learning E-mentoring Essentials EdNA Group in 2007. Details for this are currently displayed in the Moodle group at: http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/course/view.php?id=662
The third aspect of this will be some new Eleading Professional Development opportunities through the Game of Games at: http://www.game-of-games.com/register.html
To reflect on 2006 and the various digital storytelling projects I’ve been involved with I am currently conducting a Case Study on embedding innovation through digital storytelling and you can contribute to that at: http://designplanet.wikispaces.com/Case+Studies
To enable others to reflect and evaluate their own experiences in social networking I am encouraging colleagues to contribute to the ‘social networking’ evaluation at:
If you are interested in my personal learning landscape, check out page 4 of this protpage at: http://www.protopage.com/coach_carole
‘lead, follow and get out of the way’