Personal Learning: #slice2012

I spent some time with my P2PU* friends in a Big Blue Button hangout and a Google Doc pondering what we can do to help others embark on a Personal Learning adventure.

I’d like to have the attitude that everyone I know is seeking to learn something every day, but since this is a course for teachers, we’re really focusing on the incredible opportunities that are out there for professional development.

I started thinking about how there is a continuum for personalized professional development opportunities (and this is rough thinking…)

  • No interest in pursuing anything new
  • Those willing to read something on a topic of  interest to them
  • Those willing to go to face-to-face conferences (potential for social learning, but limited commitment)
  • Those willing to engage in book clubs or other socially mediated learning
  • Those willing to engage in discussion – written or spoken – with others regarding practice in an effort to learn from and share with them
  • Those willing to share goals with others to form a community that supports each other as they all move forward to meet their own goals

We all know that there are lurkers – the ones who are happy to see/listen to/read and not really necessarily interact with anyone else beyond that. I have been this learner before. I remember curling up in my princess chair a few summers ago when I read all of Kelly Gallagher’s Teaching Adolescent Writers in one day. (I think I forgot to eat I was so engaged!) I scribbled notes in the margins and I spent the rest of the day preoccupied thinking about the book and how I might use the new ideas.

A few weeks later I was able to hear Kelly Gallagher speak at the Pennsylvania Writing Institute and I had an opportunity to talk to others about what I read. Their perspectives and opinions and ideas broadened my understanding of the text and their questions forced me to think through my ideas more carefully.

Add to that the course requirement that I need to come up with a plan for implementing something I learned during the institute. It’s no longer abstract. It’s about considering your practice, what you need, how to adapt it to your own needs, and figuring out exactly how/when you intend to use it.

The only thing that could make it better would feel far too forced for a group that is together for a week is to have some kind of community that continues to be in contact, encouraging and challenging me as I work towards my goal.

Those are the kinds of opportunities I have found in participating in any of a zillion online communities.  The social aspect of this kind of learning is its own reward and I am quick to count those I learn with online among my friends.

So I go back to the question: since we know that the most powerful learning is self-selected, personalized yet socially connected learning, how do we convince someone who is still content to sit in the corner and just read instead of interact to start interacting?

* The P2PU course is entitled Empower Your Personal Learning (for teachers) and it will last 3 weeks. It just began on Monday so you can still join in if you’d like!

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4 thoughts on “Personal Learning: #slice2012

  1. I have no idea the answer to the question but would love to find out. There is a teacher in my district that would fit the “lurker” description. She is kind-hearted and loves her students. However, she is teaching with massively outdated ideas. She’s super self-concious about her teaching but doesn’t want to go learn more for fear that she is “doing it wrong”. She won’t leave to go to conferences and doesn’t seem to want any help in learning new ideas. So frustrating. I can’t wrap my mind around it since, although I can be shy and more reserved, I love changing, learning new things, etc. :) Let me know if you get any great ideas!

    • I have been pondering this all day. Considering this a work in progress. But I’m right there with you – I love learning new things, changing things up. I think it’s part of the reason I like being a teacher. I rarely teach anything the same way two years in a row – there is just too much opportunity to switch things up and challenge myself. Of course, I do keep what seems to be working and try to refine it.

  2. I find this personal learning continuum very compelling and a great springboard for discussion. In fact, I’m going to try it out in a workshop this weekend.
    Some questions and food for thought:
    – While going to a f2f conference has potential for social learning, is it worth breaking out the stage(s) where the learner actually socially interacts?
    – For the last 3 or 4 bullets, is there a distinction between f2f engagement and online engagement? (Perhaps you meant the latter?) It seems to me that there is a different level of risk/comfort involved in each.
    Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. I’m looking forward to working with it to see if writing and discussing it produces any a-ha moments with people at different points on the continuum.

    • I love it when someone challenges me to refine my thinking.
      I think think there *is* a difference in having the potential for social interaction and actually choosing to interact socially with other attendees at a conference. I have been to some where I have lurked in the corner (usually with a whopper of a migraine); I get information – but I rarely get the same level of understanding that I would if I had interacted with others.
      In f2f courses/conferences/etc., there is a difference in the level of involvement that you could/would have with people while you’re there and beyond. Taking the NWP Summer Institute – huge involvement, high follow-up. A day-long conference – probably not a huge amount of involvement or follow-up…unless…
      Well, unless you are already connected/networked with others who are going. My first NCTE I felt like I didn’t know anyone. I went from session to session and I felt very out of the loop. The last two I have been to have been entirely different experiences; they feel like reunions and I have the social connections to sit and reflect on the day’s experiences or to enjoy sessions with others I know as well as those I do not.
      I think that there is a different level of risk for f2f and online interactions – but I think the continuum would be similar. There is an additional risk for online interactions in that they may be public – BUT they can also be made anonymously (lower risk). F2F interactions have a certain amount of risk to them also — depending on who you are talking to. For some this might be even more stressful.
      This isn’t perfect. In fact, I don’t even know that I’m anywhere near done thinking about this yet. But I’ll keep tinkering on it and let you know where it goes. I’m excited that my ideas may be a springboard for others. The more the merrier! Let me know how it goes!

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