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Communities of Practice, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks

14 Sep

Here is my non-linguistic view for Module 2 – A Creative Expression of Your Understanding of Communities of Practice, Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks.

Communities of Practice are groups we learn from, either as an active participant or an observer. For example, take the first image in my Prezi it is of women of various ages quilting. These women not only are teaching others the craft of quilting, but more than likely sharing some wisdom as well. As the less skilled quilters watch and practice, they develop greater skills. Another example could be a new girl at school, she may often stand back and observe how the students dress, interact, and behave before engaging in activities or conversations. This behavior is also common for students who are learning the language. They are learning by observing. Whether we realize it or not, we are involved in and learning from many “communities” throughout the day (Smith, 2009).

Connectivism is all about cooperative networks. Each person may learn or take away something completely different from the same learning experience. According to George Siemens learning begins at a cellular level and builds from there. It is a social process about “how we connect, build, and improve” (Siemens, 2013). While the learning may start with face-to-face interactions, it is not limited to physical connections. The learning environment has expanded with the advent of communication technology into the global mainstream. For example, going back to the new girl, as she adjusts to her new school she begins to make friend and adds them to her social media network, sharing her outside connections and information with her new friends. As the new friends can now see the old friends, they too begin to interact blending information and forming new connections.

Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are the connections we make to enhance our learning. Going back to the quilting example, suppose one of the women in the picture is reading a quilting blog one day and learns there is a quilting expo in a town nearby. She attends the fair and meets another quilter who shows her a new technique. They exchange their contact information and begin to share patterns and information with each other, which they each in turn share with their quilting circles.

As you can see from the two examples, these three concepts do not exist in isolation; they are interwoven with shared connections. Each of our communities of practice are impacted by how we are connected to and learn from others, which builds our personal learning network, which in turn is build more connections to others PLN and communities of practice. Learning is ongoing and ever expanding process.

Resources:

Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) ‘Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice’, the encyclopedia of informal education,www.infed.org/biblio/communities_of_practice.htm.

University of the Sunshine Coast. (2013, August). Overview of connectivism – Dr George Siemens [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5VHpaW8sQ

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