In this second post on my Personal learning environment I shall start to deconstruct the network to look at some of its constituent nodes.
The strength of the network and by association; my knowledge construction lays within the inter-nodal connections. I believe that these connections need to be personally manageable in order to be effective. The ‘personal’ nature of this environment is however not merely about the choice of nodes originally but also a longitudinal construct relating to when I choose to access the information, how I choose to share it, and with whom. I use the idea of push and pull to delineate between different types of nodes (although at a higher meta level I feel all nodes are potentially pull – each allowing us to pull some element we need to continue learning). In this post Push nodes will refer to those nodes which I (or a student) are expected to regularly check in order to receive information which is pushed to them by another i.e. course notes upon a VLE. Pull will refer to those personally chosen nodes which an individual has decided to assimilate into their network for a particular reason i.e. to pull specific information when they need it, not when it is decided by an external that it is needed.
I shall start by looking at what I believe to be the most useful online node in my network; this is my personalised Yahoo homepage – MY Yahoo (pictured below). This is admittedly an example of the traditional ‘single space’ PLE which I discussed in the previous post, my point again here is that it is extremely useful as a hub, but that at the end of the day it is not the entire PLE rather just a single node in a much larger environment.
I have come to view this page as a kind of mission control. Upon the page I have many self chosen portlets through which I pull information from sources which I have chosen. In the top left I have my Twitter feed more - on the use of twitter in a PLE in later posts. I also have my Email, these portlets mean i do not need to switch between multiple tabs in order to pull information from these nodes – they are constantly updated upon a single sheet. The main body of the page is constructed as an rss aggregator – this area allows me to pull (or have pushed depending on your thinking about rss subscription) new posts from blogs and websites which i have decided to assimilate as nodes into my network. All of these nodes allow me too constantly and consistently review new published information, and in turn constantly re-evaluate my knowledge and understanding. These nodes could potentially all sit out in the cloud waiting for me to remember to go and check them – MY Yahoo has allowed me to ‘tie down’ these satellite nodes into a singular space which I can easily check whenever personally necessary. The final portlets are feeds from the delicious site of members of my network (again more on delicious later) these are fantastic portlets as they allow me to pull sites which other members of my network have decided are interesting – this cloud sourcing of information allows me to cast a much wider net and pull information from a great many new nodes thus constantly widening my network. I believe that the true value of a personalised homepage such as My Yahoo is that it allows many many potentially difficult to connect to nodes to be aggregated together into a simple easily used single node, a result of which is the ability to negate alot of potential ‘virtual leg work’ when looking for new ideas or information in a constantly shifting and changing sector of research.