The exercise to collect as many PLE diagrams as I could was not an end in itself, as interesting as that might have been. In doing that, I was hoping to learn from how people conceived of their PLEs and use this as the basis for an attempt to illustrate my own PLE.
Looking at the collection, what struck me was that there were 3 main ways people oriented their PLE diagrams: by tools, by uses, or by people. I added a table of contents to the top of the wiki page that organized the diagrams around these orientations.
There are a few (interesting to me) outliers there as well, ones that combined a number of these orientations into a single diagram. These appealed to me, because I don’t see a PLE, even my own specific one, as being just a single set of tools; we do choose a specific set of tools, but often replace them with others that fulfill a function better. But in addition to the tools and the functions, an important aspect to me is the different ways we can use these tools based on levels of trust/online identity & reputation. That’s why the slogan “PLE is People” isn’t just a joke, funny though it might be.
So with that in mind I set to using my limited drawing skills to visualize my PLE in a way that captured not just the tools, but the uses and the trust relationships as well. I’m hoping the diagram is self explanatory (otherwise, well, what was the point!) but a few explanations:
- the circles extending outwards from the centre represent different levels of trust/relationships. They are dotted lines on purpose – these are not fixed; relationships change, you get to know some people better etc.
- the two headed arrows are meant to express the flow of information and learning – it is not all one way. You *can* just read blogs. You *can* just use del.icio.us without using it socially and following others. But I have always maintained that if we view these as actions (‘blogging’ instead of just ‘blogs’) it helps us understand they as conversations, as the “read/write” particpatory web.
Please have a look. Would love to hear some feedback. Does this help illustrate the practice of a PLE any better? This is another one of my diagrams that percolated in the back (and I really do mean the back) of my brain for a while and then last week the specific way to visualize it just popped into my mind. I am not a great artist, indeed, every time I do a diagram like this it reinforces my need to better master a drawing tool (this was done in powerpoint!!!). And while others have ridiculed the term PLE’s in the past as being “just a bunch of drawings” I think that misses the point. A PLE is clearly not just a set of drawings, but the act of producing such a drawing, such a conceptualization, is an incredibly valuable one, not just for any educational technologist but indeed, I’d argue, for any learner, regardless of whether they conceive of it as a “PLE” or not. Knowing how you learn, and how you conceive of the structures and relationships that support your learning, is an important step to becoming a master learner. – SWL