As I was looking at my Personal Learning Environment (PLE), I could not help but notice how it has grown considerably over the past five weeks. Originally my PLE consisted of staff meetings and workshops but how times have changed. I realize, it is important to research an online community before joining but once a member, to be an active participant. I realize now there is a distinct difference between researching a community and being a lurker. As a new member to several communities, I did observe how the community functioned before actively engaging myself. I am not sure whether this was a lack of confidence or being overly cautious. Contributing and sharing in an online community is not one of my stronger traits however I believe the more one participates, the more confident they will become.
As I began to construct my PLE, my focus was on locating tools and services that will not only help my students but the teaching staff I work with. One of my goals when I applied for the M.E.T. program was to bring everything I learned back to the students. Teaching students how to safely and responsibly use technology is only part of the puzzle. The other part is to continue to grow professionally and try new approaches to teaching. By continuing to build my personal learning environment, I will be introduced to new ideas and concepts.
Comparing my PLE diagram to those of Kim Smith, Kool Oberlander, John Potosnak, Emmett Wemp, Jennie Finafrock, Tsisana Palmer, Daniel McIllheney, and Dave Mulder, there were actually more similarities than differences. The most obvious similarity was in the communities we had joined. Some of the communities in common included FaceBook, ScoopIt, Google +, YouTube, and Twitter. One aspect of Kim Smith’s diagram that I appreciated was how she not only identified the community, but where and how it was used both professionally and personally. I chose not to make any connection between personal and professional use of these communities in my PLE diagram. I personally strive to maintain a wide distinction between my professional career and personal life. Choosing categories such as blogs, social networks, curation tools, and images/videos, I then linked the category to the online tool or service which I am a member of. Daniel, Tsisana, Jennie used similar approaches. Kool Oberlander’s diagram included very specific ways in which the tools and resources were used. A major difference between the diagrams is that I included the non-online component of my PLE, the traditional face-to-face category. This was important to me since I have such a habit of sharing much of what I learn with the other teachers at my school.
What I especially liked about Kim, Tsisana, and Daniel’s diagrams were that the designs could easily modified without out having to reconfigure the images. If I ever decided to add new communities to my diagram, I would have to modify it considerably. Neither one of use have an extremely large community but one I feel is manageable and useful for our professional needs. Although there are many ways to create and configure a PLE diagram, the main concept I am taking away is the importance to carefully construct a personal learning environment which meets your needs, to remain active in the communities that have been joined, and never stop exploring.
Click on the image below to view my PLE diagram: