#PLENK2010 Institutional Learning versus Personal Learning

Here is an interesting post by Rita contrasting institutional learning from personal learning environment

Rita says:

“My research highlighted the importance of communication in learning to create a high level of social ‘presence’.  An LMS/VLE is problematic in facilitating this.”

I do see this pattern recurring in MOOC since CCK08, 09, EdFuture, CritLit2010 and here PLENK2010. How did this occur? Wasn’t it inherent in the design of a MOOC? Why LMS/VLE may not be ideal in supporting some learners in MOOC?  I think we (Jenny, Roy and I) have attempted to research through our Blogs and Forum as Communication and Learning Tools, and some common themes emerged that did reveal many of the issues and challenges you mentioned.

May I summarise as follow?

(1) Teaching (LMS/VLE Moodle) versus learning (Blogs, Twitter, FB).

(2) Participation via active participation (LMS/VLE Moodle) & Blogging versus lurking through reading, listening etc.

(3) Self-directed learners (lots of bloggers) versus social learners (may be forum posters, FB, Twitterers).

(4) Power relations (instructors, peer learners).

(5) Confidence and affective issues.

(6) Levels of knowledge displayed.  To this end, we have found some significant differences in views and perceptions between instructors and participants in forums versus blogs.

(7) Feedback from others (instructors, in particular, and knowledgeable others, including other guest speakers, more experienced teachers and learners).

(8) Level of presence of instructors and participants in LMS/VLE Moodle.  This could be contrasted with the presence of instructors and participants in blogs, Twitter, FB, SL, Amplify, and collectives (Delicious, Google doc, wikis etc.).

(9) Large numbers of participants – I could see many participants would like to try the Moodle forum, posting their views, questions, and concerns.  There are however, a number of participants who raised the question of how their voices would be heard, if they were to do it in their own blogs.  Would the bloggers be speaking to themselves? Would forum be a better central stage or shelter for new comers? How to use some of the tools like CMAP? What are the differences between CMap and MindMaps etc.? So the more participants there are in the Forum, the more challenges there are for participants to filter their “ideas” and information, as many people may not know who are talking to whom. Also, the diverse advice and opinions could also be coming from instructors, knowledgeable others or many who are still trying to find their ways.  So, whose opinions should one trust? What is the truth? Which group should one join?

(10) Dispersed learner groups, which could lead to “disaggregation” of networks, and the development of conflicts within and amongst groups and within group members, when each one wishes to have his voice heard, acted upon and responded in reciprocity, and the differences in views and perceptions which may give rise to arguments.  Here conflict resolution is not easily achieved due to the lack of consensus.

(11) The language issue and misunderstanding arising from the syntax, semantics in posts and the cultural values, as revealed in the exchanges.

(12) The pedagogy that is inherent in VLE and PLE in MOOC – PLENK2010. What sort of teaching pedagogy or learning that underpins each approach – VLE/PLE? When should each be used?

Wonderful to learn from and share Rita’s insights.


9 thoughts on “#PLENK2010 Institutional Learning versus Personal Learning

  1. Hi John,

    I do not distinguish between institutional and personal learning. though I may use a different style of communication and/or interaction in a formal as opposed to an informal learning situation. I set my own goals, have reasons, make plans, and regulate my learning both in institutions and in social situations. I consider my own and other people’s interests in mind when I am in an institution or online. I tend to be more formal in informal learning situations, such as the MOOC. A kaleidoscope of ideas and information, and behind that, a person, no people connecting, a gift.

    In responding to your blog post today, I am announcing to you that I have read your post, which is your restatement of some of Rita’s ideas. I am interested in your thinking, too. The post for me led to questions: Do you experience a difference between institutional and personal learning? How does on define social presence? What brings people together?
    About the differences between forum dwellers and bloggers. It is easier for me to check the forum and to participate in discussion there than to create and maintain a blog. I prefer to read the Daily and explore the blogs and to correspond with others in that way. I have limits on my time.

    I have been in meetings all day. I planned and coordinated a state-wide conference for literacy educators/researchers at my institution, which started at 9 and ended at 1. Learned a lot. I shared some of the courses that I have put into the LMS since 2006, demonstrating how to design learning in a way that enables learners to use the affordances of the Internet to improve literacy and learning. They were quite surprised. While they have technicians who “put their courses into online format” and locate “content”, and they “skype,” they are astonished by the innovative approach to learning –an approach that is immersive, engaging, and that allows choice, accommodates diversity, and fosters collaboration. I am invited to present this to a national group and at a conference. Folks want to know how I learned to do that. There is a tendency to want to label and package “stuff.”

    There is a tendency to seek quick solutions and easy answers to problems in education. When asked how I learned how to do this, I credited the group of people–too many to name– I have met through CCK08, CCK09, CritLit, ad PLENK.

    I am struck by a tendency for researchers to base their findings on negative evidence. In other words, if I don’t see something, then it does not exist.

    At 1, I went to a meeting in which we drafted an ad for a dean, which will go to the provost, various councils, and the faculty next week.

    At 2, there was the International Ed meeting. Our university is hosting the Midwest Council of International Education Society meeting in October. I will be sharing what I learned through this very interesting project.

    It is 4:49 on Friday afternoon. I am getting back to my real life now.

    Knowing knowledge is being able to do something well. So many people in this network do things well, things I am only beginning to learn to do well.

    Thanks for keeping me in on the loop.

  2. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for your good questions. May I share them here?
    1. Do you experience a difference between institutional and personal learning? Under an institutional learning environment, mandatory grading (i.e. part of the outcome of learning) in most educational systems diminishes the prospect of a risk free environment (Anderson, 2008). Thus a student would likely learn through the teachers’ recommended resources and information provided through the lectures or tutorials, as it is likely that any assessments are derived from such sources of information. Thus, when the teacher provides information, the teacher will then be exercising power and control over the student. The premise, then, that education can be neutral and non-value laden with a knowledgeable teacher, becomes a paradox. Personal learning, on the other hand could mean that the learner now is empowered to assume part of the role of the educator, where s/he takes up all the responsibility of learning, using PLE/N to sensemake and wayfind independently or interdependently with others in networks. I had experienced such journey after finishing formal university education, where I conceptualised that “authentic and pragmatic education” started with the social university (i.e. the community and networks) that I am immersed in, supported with numerous artifacts and resources that is all under my control, enabling me to become a truly autonomous learner. I developed my own learning action plans – with goals, objectives, strategies and activities for each year, and my own assessment rubrics on gaging my learning throughout the years. Some of these have now been documented in my blog here (as a form of eportfolio).

    2 a. How does one define social presence?
    I would define social presence as one’s involvement and engagement with others at a social level – as actors, nodes of the network. The notion that one is not merely interacting with a technology, but that warmth of human contact exists at the other end is vital for the success of most remote learners (Wallace, 1999). To me, social presence reflects my (as a learner) perception that I am communicating with people in this course or community through the technology (Short et al., 1976). Achieving an effect of social presence is important in distance education (like this MOOC/CCK), for without it, students (or me) can feel isolated.

    Personal communication, immediacy of response from instructor and peer group, and a common sense of purpose within a community of learning are all features that contribute significantly towards strong perception of social presence (Wheeler, 2006). To this end, the social web has the potential to deliver these features.
    This also stimulates me further to reflect on the question:
    2 b. Is social presence important for independent learner?
    I reckon this is a hard one for me to answer as I think learning has always been social in some respect, except for those learning on specialized domain which deals mainly with facts, without any human elements. However, I reckon that I could sometimes prefer to learn in solitude, especially when that involves a deep reflection about values of life and faith etc., which are not easily shared in public, as they are simply too personal.
    3. What brings people together?
    This could be the most challenging of all. I think we have attempted to answer this question in our research papers in MOOC – on the motivation behind learning in the course, as networks, groups and collectives – i.e. need to connect with people, ideas, to learn the technology and tools (technology affordance), to learn about connectivism, to learn and share our common interests, to advance our skills individually and collectively (through cooperation and collaboration), to participate in networks and communities, and most important of all, I think would be to satisfy our curiosity, and to communicate – our needs, our passion, and expertise that would lead us in becoming a better learner.
    I will continue to share my views on research in my next comment.

  3. Relating to the preference of forum (posters, dwellers or readers) versus blogging, our research with CCK08 indicated a higher preference of blogging to forum, with some preferring to use both. Your preference seems to be with the forum. As you shared, you preferred forum rather than the creation of blog.
    For me, I prefer both. I must admit that it is extremely time consuming to work on blogs, as sometimes it could take me a few hours just to identify, aggregate and filter information, before I could think and reflect on what I could write in my post, by referring to others. I am still slow in blogging 🙂

    “I am struck by a tendency for researchers to base their findings on negative evidence. In other words, if I don’t see something, then it does not exist.” I am unsure if I have fully understood your message here. Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by “if I don’t see something, then it does not exist”?
    Researchers should report their findings based on evidence – both positive and negative ones, in order to prevent and reduce biasing. There are implications if researchers are simply basing their findings on positive evidence and not the negative, as they could be perceived as being unprofessional and unfair to the respondents who had provided those responses and evidences. That’s also why a communal approach towards research might be an alternative way to scrutinize the research process and findings. However, such an approach was seldom adopted due to the constraints on the researchers, and possibly conflict with the research policy of the institution relating to the privacy and confidentiality of research, which are bound by “grants” and the governing of committee supervision.

    I am still learning if community research (on top of the peer review) could resolve some of the issues relating to the “biasing and confidentiality” of research. There are always “yin and yang” with each approach of research, and what we could do is to minimize the risks and biasing of such research.
    What do you think?

    We are all learning together, progressively in our life long journey.
    May I share this post on learning in a complex world with you?

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