This week we were asked to think about the way that social software and the ways that it might intersect and be thoughtfully used in distance education. As described on the MDDE course site, social software "addresses social issues such as: meeting, building community, providing mentoring and personal learning assistance, working collaboratively on projects or problems, reducing communication errors and supporting complex group functions" (MDDE 610, 2016). (It then goes on to talk about MySpace, which frankly shows, again, that this course needs an update!). While many of us are undoubtedly familiar with social software in our own lives (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest...I have accounts with all!), perhaps fewer of us have experience with using social networking sites in a pedagogically-driven way. This requires careful thought from both instructors and students. When used in this way, we move beyond being a user of a single (or multiple sites) for "fun" and instead, we start thinking about how these sites might contribute to our personal learning environment.
A personal learning environment is described by Educause (2009) as "the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals". This may include an LMS, social networking sites and many other tools beyond. Terry Anderson (2016) does well to differentiate a PLE from the LMS and other social networking sites and his recent post for Contact North on this can be found here. It is by thinking of the intersections of our social networks as part of a bigger personal learning environment, that we can truly start to think about questions of digital identity, and more, be thoughtful about how these networks inform our connectivist learning experiences.
More specifically, as part of our course work this week we were also asked to spend some time on Athabasca University's social network, the Landing. I didn't love the experience, and I have written more about this in a blog post on the site, which can be accessed by clicking the very looooong menu on the left side of this page. Suffice to say that I used this image as a metaphor for the Landing experience - just "too much"....
So what did I learn?
I think I am going to handle this section of my reflection by renaming it. What it should really be called is "So what do I WISH I learned". I supposed I just feel like there is so much we could have done with this unit. Perhaps if the Landing was more thoughtfully referenced and/or integrated across the program curriculum, it would make more sense to me that we focused so heavily on it. More, as mentioned above, it would seem that this section of the course (like others) would benefit from an update. I would have preferred to have learned about emerging and innovative tools that are being used in the classroom. I would have preferred to be exposed to scholarly evidence as to how these tools impact learning. And, that about sums it up.
About (n.d.). Retrieved from http://digitaltattoo.ubc.ca/
Anderson, T. (2016). Three pillars of educational technology: Learning management systems, social media and personal learning environments [blog post]. Retrieved from http://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/how-use-technology-effectively/three-pillars-educational-technology
Educause (2009). 7 things you should know about personal learning environments. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7049.pdf
Levine, A. (2012). Got hashtag? [Photograph]. CC BY 2.0. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/cj2kcu