I really identified with the Bobby and the Mustang example of Connectivism provided by Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman (2008), in which Bobby uses various aspects of his personal learning network to learn about restoring a 1967 Ford Mustang. Like Bobby, I start expanding my personal learning network whenever I am attempting to learn something new, and my network has grown increasingly digital. Web 2.0 tools like blogs, RSS readers, and social networking applications facilitate learning best for me because they integrate text, audio, and video, and because they help subscribe to, save, and organize information that interests me.
A few months ago I watched the movie Forks Over Knives, and I was so intrigued by this movie that ever since then I have been learning everything I can about plant-based diets.
I started with the Forks Over Knives website, looking for recipes and more information, and through some postings on this web site, I found various blogs authored by people who follow plant-based diets. Sometimes I would also do Google searches for certain recipes and discover blogs that way. I started following these blogs through Google Reader.
Most blogs have Pinterest widgets, so it was easy to start “pinning” recipes off the blogs…soon I was using Pinterest to save and organize all my recipes, and then I started following the Pinterest boards of the various blog authors I follow.
Most blogs also have Facebook widgets, so I also started to follow various people on Facebook who post information about plant-based diets and vegan recipes.
I started trying various vegan recipes, and around this time, I got an iPad, so I was looking for ways to use the iPad in ways that would be meaningful for me. I first searched online for free vegan cookbooks to put on my iPad via the Kindle app. When I felt like I knew which recipe sources I liked best, I felt comfortable purchasing a cookbook. I recently purchased my first Kindle book from Amazon. I am excited about making the move to a healthier lifestyle and going digital with all my recipes! Recently I even downloaded one of our weekly course readings as an eBook via the eBrary app for the iPad.
In the past, my learning involved a lot more printed books and printing things out. I would have invested in numerous printed cookbooks and printed out various recipes. I might buy a cookbook and then end up not using it much. I used to have binders of printed recipes, and more cookbooks than my bookcases would hold. Today, thanks to blogs and the other tools I mentioned, I am able to learn a lot about a topic like vegan cooking without spending any money until I am comfortable doing so. I also don’t have to waste any paper, ink, or take up space in my house.
I feel that my personal learning network has made so much information available to me that I otherwise may never have encountered. I would go as far as to say that this topic may never have been introduced to me at all, if not for the way the Internet and Web 2.0 tools make information widely available.
My personal learning network has also put learning in my own hands. I no longer have to wait and rely on someone else for knowledge, such as by taking a class, purchasing a book, or completing some sort of training. I can seek out a lot of information on my own—in my own time and at my own pace. I can choose my own opportunities for hands-on practice and integrate the hands-on practice at any point that I want to. Having said this, I do feel that because information is so widely available you do need to be critical of your sources and evaluate whether they are reputable and reliable, and that is why I take time to follow sources and get to know their content and reliability.
Just like Bobby and the Mustang, my personal learning network supports the central concept of Connectivism that learning is “distributed within a network, social, and technologically enhanced” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism