Reflections on Collaborative Learning & Personal Learning Network

In this topic, we learned more about learning in communities, networking and collaboration. Alec Couros shared different ideas and examples how collaborative learning took place in his course and provided tips on building personal network learning. This topic caught my attention because the ideas shared were relevant, practical and straight to the point. It made me reflect on my own experience as a participant/learner in ONL171 course.

Personal Learning Network (PLN) is described as one aspect of PLE where the individual has a group of people within his or her virtual professional network, and the relationship with each is based upon a common interest, collaborative project or research. Communication and connections are made via social media platforms such as Google + Community, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs, etc. to help us form connections, grow our knowledge base and develop ourselves professionally through continual learning. It is based on the theory of connectivism, a learning theory conceptualized by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. The idea of connectivism is that the learner connects with nodes within a network, and subsequently develops knowledge and experience through this series of connections. (Siemens, G. & Downes, S., 2005)

Just like here in ONL171 course, a Google + Community has been set-up to gather all the participants together. This is a place where we all connect. We meet new people, check relevant information about the course, attending webinars, access resources and share our new ideas to the entire community. Within this community, we formed subgroups which we refer as PBL groups, consisting of 6-8 members where we discuss about specific scenarios for each topic in the course, guided by our facilitators. Each member take turns to lead a topic and the tasks are shared and distributed among the team. The PBL group meet twice a week on average to discuss how to go about solving the case scenario following the FISh model (Nerantzi and Uhlin, 2012). We also maintain a personal blog to reflect about our own learning. All these information are being shared in the Google + Community to gather feedback and learn from one another.  

Developing a PLN requires a huge commitment of time and energy, but I would say that the rewards are abundant. I learned a lot from each topic with the help of my team members and the support from our facilitators. While it is true that another person maybe more knowledgeable and may come with more experience than us. One should not feel intimidated. Instead, we need keep an open mind and accept that we have more to learn. I still believe that there are many people out there who are willing to share their expertise or at least connect us to the right channels, so take the opportunity to meet new people, make new connections, learn new courses and take new challenges.  

The following links below suggest some ideas on how to start building your PLN:


Siemens, George (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.

Downes, S. (2007). Learning Networks in Practice.


First week reflections

I am a person who likes to explore online tools and see its potential in teaching and learning. I have been running courses on blogs, some of the common Google apps for communication and collaboration, developing e-learning resources, etc., but this is the first time I am experiencing all these as a student. This reminds me of a wonderful advice given by my previous CDTL director, A/P Lakshminarayanan Samavedham, during the e-learning week exercise we had a few years back in NUS. He said sharing your knowledge through workshop is good, but in order to convince your audience that this is the way to go, you need to walk the talk. Going through the entire process allows one to understand the ups and downs the users will experience, and having that experience tells a lot.  This is my inspiration to take up this course in spite of all the worries I have in my head – time, meeting expectations, perceptions, and deliverable. I told myself, I am here to learn and to gain that experience, so I just have to give my best and be brave. (jia-you!)

So, how did the first week go?  I was completely nervous! There were seven of us from my department (CDTL) who joined the course, but we were assigned in different groups. To avoid the web traffic, we decided to sit together as a group during the first webinar. We experienced some delay and sound issues at first, but it went on smoothly afterwards. In general, I would say that the session was informative and engaging. We get to meet the participants from all over the world. We were in different timezone, but everyone made an effort to be there during the session. We were also oriented about the platforms that will be used for the course (Google Plus, ONL171 WordPress blog, PBL community, etc.), where to get the resources, course requirements, and there was a sharing of experiences from the previous batch of ONL course which was encouraging.

The same day, 10pm-11pm, Singapore time, our PBL group met. It was quite rush for me because we had a student activity on campus until 10pm that day and our daughter didn’t want to sleep yet and was very curious about the people we were talking to online. For the very first time, we get to meet our facilitator and groupmates up-close. There were still issues on the connection and sound, but everybody stayed calm, friendly, and supportive. Most of the time, those of us with poor connection were relying on the chat. As a group, we discussed about our first task on self-introduction, which we decided to use Google slides to share a little information about each of us, and shared it to the ONL community. It was nice to see the diversity from each group. Our group also distributed the topics that each of us will facilitate and ground rules. Some of us were a bit hesitant to choose a topic that is unfamiliar and the date that some of us find a bit too close, but we really appreciate the support from all the members and scaffolding provided by the facilitators.

Looking forward to learn more insights from the rest of the groups when we start discussing and sharing on Topic 1: Online participation and digital literacies.