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A Post-Postscript . . . My Learning Ecosystem November 15, 2009

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, TELIC.
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A postscript to my last post . . . does that make it a postpostscript?

My Personal Learning Ecosystem

My Personal Learning Ecosystem

I wanted to create an interactive online version . . . truly I did!  One that I could keep up to date as things change (and as I think of things which should have been there in the first place!) and one which permitted some degree of interactivity for the viewer (zoom, rearrangement of nodes etc), but in the end I ran up against a time imperative for the course I’m on and in the end that was that.

So here it is  My response to a request to create a diagram of what a learning environment looks like.  I decided to personalise it because learning environments are . . . personal; different for each person.  Oh sure commercial, institutional LE’s or CMS’s are largely set up and you takes what you gets.  But the learning environment you access as a student on a course (or you use to support your students) is only part of the larger environment which nourishes your learning.  I’ve chosen the term ‘ecosystem’ in preference to environment for reasons given towards the end of the last post to reflect the greater complexity that constitutes a personal learning space.

My first thought was that my learning ecosystem has two distinct communities: the online and offline.  Each of these is composed of various populations and/or individuals with which I interact.  However the relationship between us is often a two-way pathway – I learn from them and in some instances, I help them to learn.  The red and green arrows indicate the direction of that knowledge transfer and the relative sizes of the arrows suggests whether I’m a net giver or receiver along that pathway.  Some of the pathways are many-to-one paths, whilst others are one-to-one (actually one-to-many in the wider context beyond my ecosystem) and in a few instances (my Blog and Flickr) are one-to-many.  Some populations are composed of several individuals as in the RSS feeds, whilst others are complex, interwoven networks like Twitter.

The crucial element arising from this ecosystem is the richness brought by drawing from eclectic sources.  We also have to recognise that this is simply a snapshot in time; in six months time my ecosystem may look very different, adapting to meet changing demands . . . just like a real ecosystem?

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Comments»

1. Nick - November 19, 2009

Hi Ian
Can I ask – what did this teach you? I sort of imagine that spending the time reflecting on these connections helped you understand them and the way you gain from them, which is interesting but not actually important beyond itself. So what did it make clear or more overt for you and, more importantly, how will it be useful in future? I ask because I’m sort of thinking that maybe I ought to undertake something similar and would like to be clear about exactly why and what I’ll gain.

ianinsheffield - November 19, 2009

Now that’s the kind of question my course peers or tutors should be asking! By heck you’re a hard taskmaster, sir! But very valid points and well worth answering.

The reflection process is unquestionably important – I think (hope!) I’ve developed in my role as a consequence of becoming a more reflective practitioner. We invariably perform post-mortems on activities or projects with which we’ve been involved, but turning the spotlight back on ourseleves and the influence we had . . .and indeed the way in which we were affected all contribute to doing a better job next time. But you know that already.

What this exercise did was to clarify (if indeed I needed it) the degree of importance I now attach to the network I’m building through the online world. It also made me quantify, albeit crudely, the relative importance of the different information streams . . . currently. And with that of course whether I’m a net contributor, so that I can choose to redress the balance if I feel I need to. Armed with that visualisation, I’m now much better placed to take the next steps – do I look for alternative but complementary streams or do I seek to increase the biodiversity in my ecosystem, thereby ensuring ricness in the gene pool (OK I’m twisting the metaphor again!) In the short time since making this post, I’ve got a diigo account up and running which will provide new, collaborative, social bookmarking capability and you (and @markfromlondon) introduced me to wonder that is EtherPad. If I can keep my ecosystem map up to date, I can monitor which streams to focus on . . . or which streams to allow to dry up. Had I not produced the map, I wouldn’t know where I stand. I guess the exercise forced me to look back to see how I got to the present and armed with that, I feel more confident about looking to the future for my next steps.

2. Nick - November 19, 2009

I should add – good post! But you knew I thought that – mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery (which is said to make those who have been ripped-off feel better about it, I guess!) after all!

ianinsheffield - November 19, 2009

Thank you for your kind comments, but many thanks for taking the trouble to read and comment on my post.

3. Nick - November 20, 2009

To first reply – sorry, didn’t mean to be a pain! But there’s a total gem in your response. I paraphrase but you say that this sort of analysis lets you look at what you give and what you receive from any given ‘channel’ and decide whether to get more out you should put more in or whether you should direct efforts elsewhere… I think that’s really interesting. Like you say, it needs to be ‘live’. A MindMeister mindmap, perhaps?

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