We listened and conversed with Stephen Downes this week. Two ideas stuck for me.

The first was the discussion about personal learning environments. In this course, that is what each of us is creating for our own development. We have surrounded ourselves with the tools that make the most sense to each of us, and made connections to others that have sparked our interest, challenged our thinking, aided our quests, and in some ways caused us to be courageous. It has been an intense immersive experience. I’m not sure we realize how lucky we have been. And I wonder, given that I believe immersion training is the best, how our teachers can make this same quantum leap without the kind of support we have had in this course and from each other. Stephen’s personal environment is phenomenal. He has used his talent and skill to build tools that work just for him – highly personalized. But not all teachers have these skills. How do we in our districts create these same kind of environments, give them similar supports, let them get personal and selfish (ala Shareski) so they too can embrace the possibilities for their students. I have begun this conversation in my own district. We are puzzled and perplexed, but that very dissonance is the start to our own learning.

The second idea came from the discussion about tagging. We talked about the difference between a taxonomy which are imposed categories and a folksonomy which is categorized by the people. As repositories of information and data grow, we need to find ways to access and retrieve their contents. Taxonomies are limiting (but they have worked in some ways for centuries in our libraries) while folksonomies reflect the more personal nature of learning. Services like del.icio.us are the ultimate folksonomy repositories. I was surprised to learn that IBM is using folksonomy in its Intranet. Part of my work is to lead an information management initiative, so I will be doing more reading on this topic. It fits neatly with the concepts of personalization and connectivism.

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