Week06 Insights:
During the CKK11 Elluminate session from February 25, 2011 George Siemens and Stephen Downes underlined some of the aspects of Personal Learning Environments & Networks.
Key elements of PLE: Self-created environment where the learner manage-share-recall-connect resources (including both information and people). PLE is a model for education that addresses learning in a distributive environment.
Content in the Centre: There is nothing new with learning in social networks through information exchange (i.e. don’t eat this plant – You will get a fuzzy head!). Originally it was through direct communication based on experience, but with the industrial era learning was situated in the classroom and controlled by institutions. Information was scaled for society with a content focus created by experts. Learning is achieved when my knowledge base is aligned with questions in the test (that someone else has decided are important) and the outcome is then measured with accreditation. The instructional design process became focused on organizing the learning outcome (i.e. rigid design and syllabus, linking teaching methods to assessment) in an institutional infrastructure. When we have structural defined design and methods the tasks and roles are fixed and content centred.
Learner in the Centre: When we take on learner-centred lifelong learning in the ‘Knowledge Era’, the sense of understanding emerges when we interact in a meaningful way. Characteristic is increased quantity of fragmented information elements harvested in distributed tools and resources that we are dealing with. We need to find ways to create a ‘Narrative Coherence’, since in an early stage the coherence isn’t there (we have fragmented information elements). Learning is achieved when we pull together and connect the various information elements in such a way that it reflects our life experiences, circumstances or type of work currently involved in.
What is New with PLE? Today’s online environment has so far measured capacity by means of activities we engage in (i.e. the tools instead of underlying concept). Educators still define the process learners need to engage in and the task are most of the times limited to mechanical connecting (Ex. create, use and evaluate or define the needs, find and interpret). The ‘new’ idea is that a PLE will support pattern recognition. You are not simply aggregating the input sources, or trying to remember/organizing/processing content. What you are doing is some sort of cognitive work or pattern recognition analysis, coming out with your account or version of rules you see in operations, similarities, processes or principles.

Mechanical Process: Creative Work:
1. Aggregate  
  2. Remix
  3. Repurpose
4. Feed Forward  

•I think this figure Rita Kop presented in Valencia summarize “The Design and Development of a Personal Learning Environment”:

Week06 Thoughts:
I came across this quote from Linda Harasim “Knowledge building occurs as students explore issues, examine one another’s arguments, agree, disagree, and question positions. Collaboration contributes to higher order learning through cognitive restructuring or conflict resolution, in which new ways of understanding the material emerge as a result of contact with new or different perspectives […] Collaborative learning is predicated upon interaction” (Harasim, 1989, pp. 55)
She focuses on online collaboration and knowledge building and analyse and apply these concepts to the study of social media. In her book “Learning Theory and Online Technology –How New Technologies are Transforming Learning Opportunities” (released in 2011) she summarizes ‘Online Collaborative Learning Theory’ with this tag cloud [click on the image to get better resolution]:

Harasim, L. (1989) On-line education: A new domain. In R. Mason and A. Kaye, Mindweave: Communication, computers and distance education. p. 50-62. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Harasim, L. (2011) Learning Theory and Online Technology: How New Technologies are Transforming Learning Opportunities. New York: Routledge Press.