I’ve been working for the college for almost 18 years and for the past 9 of those I’ve been the LMS developer and administrator. I’ve taken Moodle from being a web application that a few teachers used to being a mainstay of the college network. In September 2016 every full-time course at the college had a moodle counterpart that teachers could use.
At the same time, the learning management tools have moved on. I touched on this last year about how moodle needed to change to almost become the landing page for learning rather than the behemoth of LMS applications. Yesterday I was delivering training on how to use the VLE to accept student submissions and personalise their learning journey through a topic. This got me reflecting on my own journey through trying to learn something and wondering if I would use such a large application in my studies.
About 6 years ago i first heard the term Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and it seemed as though it wasn’t sure what it meant but that it was definite that it didn’t mean a single application like Moodle or Blackboard.
So, back to yesterday and i’m sat in a classroom with 15 other members of staff and i’m working my way through explaining how to create a moodle lesson when one of the teachers asks me how to provide help to a student who still doesn’t get the concept. This made me think how I would go about getting more information on something I was struggling with. Probably the first thing I would do would be search around on youtube to see if there are any videos which expand on the concept. Then i’d probably ask on twitter if anyone could answer my question. This got me back to thinking about the PLN. For me a PLN is not the same thing all the time. I enjoy learning about how people learn so I like to read blogs from people such as Hannah Tyreman and Scott Hibberson to get ideas about how to get myself focused to learn things. But I also use applications such as twitter to find out information and ask questions of my peers around software development; I use technical forums and youtube videos to get in depth tutorials and guides on how to do achieve my learning goals. In fact the only website that could be classed as a LMS that I use frequently is Lynda.com to watch full courses on things I am interested in learning, but I still go back to the other applications to ask around the edges of the content.
It is apparent to me that the age of the large LMS is coming to an end and the best application to use to learn is that thing that helps you the most when you need it. We can all add quizzes and lessons to Moodle until the end of time but if you as a student want to ask a question in that moment, then twitter or Facebook is going to give you the answer a lot better than pre-planned content that doesn’t provide the solution there and then. This does bring up the question of how do you know what you learn on the internet is correct? Well this is a whole other issue and during the last few months of 2016 when the buzzword was Fake News it is something that we need to educate ourselves on.
So for me, the answer to What is a Personal Learning Network is
Anything that helps you to learn how you want to learn and when you want to learn.