This week we were asked to create a product that is representational of a Personal Learning Network (PLN), Communities of Practice (CoP), and Connectivism. My first reaction was that I already had a solid foundation of what these terms mean, but after doing some needed research, I realized I did not have all the facts. According to Jordan Catapan (2016), a PLN means ”an individual has developed their own personalized “network” of fellow educators and resources who are designed to make them a better teacher.” I personally started developing a PLN for exactly this reason. I wanted to be sure that I was constantly learning and gaining the resources needed to become a better teacher. My PLN consists of my fellow teachers and online communities of educators. Communities of Practice are a group or network of individuals who share a common goal or passion and interact to improve their practice or common concern. It consists of a “domain” or shared interest, a “community” that does not necessarily physically work together but shares discussions and activities so they can grow from each other, and the “practice” where “they develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice.” (Wenger, 2011) This group can consist of many different people from many different backgrounds as long as they are communicating towards a common passion or concern. Connectivism is a debated learning theory that reflects today’s changing technological world. This theory by Stephen Downes and George Siemens states that learning occurs through an individual’s connections to a network. According to Siemens (2005), “Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired.”
The product that I created is a slideshow of different color stick figures. Each stick figure represents a PLN that has something in common and connects to others to gain their own professional knowledge. The color of the stick figure is an individual PLN. The stick figures (PLNs) come together to form a brain that is questioning together. They form a thumb up as they share resources and hold discussions. I feel this represents Connectivism where people are constantly learning through a shared network. In the end, the stick figures form a rainbow or Community of Practice where they all work together towards a common problem or interest. In this particular case, the goal is to create a harmonious song. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow represents the professional growth gained by participating within these communities. The music also reminds of a PLN or CoP because it starts as one person playing music and strengthens as other participants of the PLN join in adding their instruments to create a more accomplished song. The sound of the music also increases in intensity as the participants slowly begin playing together, which reminds of the intense process of sharing and growing as everyone contributes within your PLN. Together they were able to solve the problem of creating a song, such as a CoP may solve a problem or concern. I learned so much more than I expected this week, and I positively enjoyed creating this project. The assignment required examining each term discussed in order to increase my understanding of each word before I was able to represent it artistically. I sincerely hope you enjoy my presentation as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Catapano, Jordan. “What Is a PLN? Why Do I Need One?” TeachHUB. K-12 Teachers Alliance, n.d. Web. Retrieved on August 31,2016. From http://www.teachhub.com/what-pln-why-do-i-need-one
Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved on August 31, 2016 from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm
Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved on September 2, 2016 from https://www.ohr.wisc.edu/cop/articles/communities_practice_intro_wenger.pdf