Tag Archives: graphics

The PLE as a subset of the PLN

At the end of last year, Alec Couros led an interesting Twitter conversation about the definition of a PLN. Or a PLE. Are they interchangeable?

I was pulled into the conversation via @bookjewel, as she re-plurked Alec’s questions on Plurk. Somehow her question crystallized my thinking, and rather than responding in 140 characters, I quickly fired up PowerPoint and used its SmartArt (I’m a big fan) to create a visualization of the relationship I see between the PLE and the PLN. Alec then kindly included my graphic in his blog post. And as of this posting, it had been viewed 742 times, which makes it my most shared artefact on the web by quite a stretch. As I’ve never blogged it (it’s only ever existed on Flickr) I thought I would post it here, to re-start my own thinking about PLNs where it left off, in December 2008.

PLE as subset of PLN

I’ve split up the technological connections (in the PLE) from the inter-personal connections (in the PLN). I think of the PLE, the environment, as the ‘hardware’ of the PLN. The PLE can exist as interrelated links, feeds and profiles on a myriad of sites, but it is nothing without the encompassing PLN of the person, their personal connections with others and their interchange of ideas to make meaning of it.

Those were my initial thoughts back then. I’m hoping to do more work on PLNs soon, by running a pilot project implementing PLNs as a staff development tool for teachers.

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Visualisation – Exploratree & Periodic Table of Visualisation Methods

As an instructional designer some days you are more creative than others. I’m afraid that after a day of project planning or strategic meetings, teachers who meet with me about their online or blended course design run a particular risk of getting short-changed.

Coffee helps, but what you really want is a menu – a range of options to get you started. I’ve found that Exploratree and the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods are two inspirational sites which can help me break through ‘designer’s block’. Each provides a list of visualisation methods, which can provide the basis for a learning activity at any cognitive level from remembering through creating.

The Periodic Table created by Ralph Lengler and Martin Eppler, is a listing of 100 methods, including methods like the Cycle Diagram, the Evocative Knowledge Map or Mintzberg Organigraph (and that’s not the only one I’ve never heard of). On hovering over the method, an example appears in a pop-up. Chris Wallace has created an accompanying page which links each method to its Wikipedia page and a stand-alone version of its example.

Exploratree goes a little further. Although you can certainly use the ‘thinking guides’ just to spark ideas, with a free account educators and/or students can create, edit and save the thinking guides online. Users can share guides and so collaborate on projects.

The two sites above contain many methods that can help a teacher and students explore, critically examine, fully map or actively discuss almost any topic. And provide a kick-start for an instructional designer with designer’s block. Usually once I’ve created the first activity, it’s all downhill from there.

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