While creating a visual depiction of my Personal Learning Environment (PLE), I gave a lot of thought to how I connect with other people in my learning community. The co workers at the school where I teach connect mainly through email (Microsoft Outlook). Most of our correspondence is related to the day to day operations of the school and not so much on my growth as an educator. Most of my professional development, I have completed independently of my work environment. I have attended a number of EdCamps where I have met and connected with many wonderful educators in my field. We have shared ideas and continued our learning journey together. I have also connected with many innovative and inspiring educators through Twitter. I would say this is my primary PLN connection.
I decided to use clouds to illustrate my PLE. Since so much of what we do today is “in the cloud”, I thought this was appropriate. I divided my clouds into the following areas: curate, connect, and share as these are the most active areas of my PLE. Curating content is something I have always enjoyed doing. A Content Curator is defined as “someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online” (Gaasterland, 2011). In the past I have relied on YouTube, Diigo, and RSS feeds. Most recently I have been using ScoopIt to curate content. As mentioned above, Twitter is my go-to social media networking tool. I also connect professionally on Facebook and Google+. In order to share with others in my field, I rely on Google Drive, WordPress, and VoiceThread.
I enjoyed comparing my Personal Learning Environment with those of my colleagues in EdTech 543. Specifically I looked at the PLEs of Josh Haines, Kristin Castello, Kathleen Johnson, Michelle Hughes, Ariana Pyburn and Lindsay Hoyt. I noticed that we all centered our drawings around 3 or 4 main areas. Creating, collecting, communicating or collaborating, and sharing were the common threads in all of our PLEs. I especially liked how Kristin used a continuous circle for her PLE. I think this really speaks to how our PLEs are an intertwined community that flows together. Michelle centered her image around a Bitmoji with the word “genius” in order to demonstrate how we all benefit from one another’s collective knowledge and ideas. I also thought Kathleen’s use of the Connect 4 board was a fun way to illustrate her PLE. Ariana’s and Josh’s PLE diagrams focused on the four C’s but included a few tools I didn’t think of such as Digg. The fun nature of Ariana’s four Ninja Mutant Turtles shows how much fun we can have with our PLEs. Even though the content of this reflection is on the content of my classmates’ PLEs, I have to give notice to Lindsay’s fantastic illustration. Many of the tools we chose were the same, however Lindsay illustrated her PLE in such a creative way! She focused on her Michigan roots to demonstrate the connections in her PLE through a beautiful drawing of the Great Lakes. She named her Great Lakes Create, Communicate, Connect, Reflect, and Curate using the analogy of flowing water to show how her PLE is connected and flows together.
A few tools I did not think to include in my PLE diagram were Blogger, Google Hangouts, Moodle, and Flickr. I have tried Blogger in the past as a blogging platform but do not use it consistently. I have also used Flickr for images and Moodle for all of my grad school work. After seeing Google Hangouts on a couple of the PLEs, I wished I had added it to mine. I have used it numerous times in the past couple of years to “meet” and collaborate with others in the M.E.T. program at Boise State and really enjoy its features. In summary, even though each of our PLE drawings are unique, I think they show how connected through social networking we all are. Below is a Google Slides presentation of my classmates’ PLE diagrams.