Communities of Practice, Connectivism and PLNs

This week in the first part of Module 2 EdTech 543 was divided into two parts. Part I challenged us to create, find or locate a visual image that represented all three. I chose a tapestry created by my sister. It uses yarns of different densities/colors. For me it shows how collective whole represents the Communities of Practice is the commonality of all yarn. PLNs are the smaller areas of color as they are small groups of focused learning. They are different colors because PLNs are indeed those you trust. Connectivism is represents by each strand connected to the other and woven intricately throughout the whole.


Personal Artwork owned by David “B” Bernheim

Part II tasked us to research 10 resources for CoPs, Connectivism and PLNs. Additionally, we were to read and reflect on 5 posts by our cohorts. The class implemented new skills sharing on Diigo, Facebook and tweet which of our classmates’ posts in Twitter. Lastly, we were to actively seek partners to form a PLN for the the next part of the module.

Part of the initial work required us to find unique and new-to-the-group posts that were not part of instructor resources and if possible, new to the Diigo EdTech class site. I was successful for all but one. The one had been used by a cohort from another earlier semester. It was worth re-using because it resonated with me. Responses not only required reading the post; but a short, detailed analysis on Facebook; but also the Twitter aspect. Teaching us tasks in context made this lesson worthwhile for me as I am not a frequent Twitter user. I read posts my cohorts shared and though we were given the same task, I read articles I might have skipped otherwise. That aspect was not lost on me and reminded me to reach outside my box to learn and grow.

My 10 posts in Diigo:

1 – Habits of Effective Connected Learners with Stephen Downes – 0 views

  • There is an introduction you could possibly skip, though I learned some new things about Downes I did not previously know. If you are skipping, go to the 5:10 minute mark and start when Downes comes online. He addresses the Symantic Condition (where meaning comes from networks) and being a highly connected learner in context of Connectivism and for me seeing that correlation made an impact. He uses the group to whom he is presenting to get answers to questions he poses. He poses that a successful network is one that is dynamic and an unsuccessful network is a static, non-moving network.

2 – Learning Chaos – George Siemens Stephen Downes Connectivism Mix – 0 views

  • This is a mix of Stephen Downes, George Siemens and others discussing Chaos and how it relates to our learning and Connectivism as whole. Downes mentioned that in the last decade he has posted over 16,000 posts on learning. That is a stunning chaotic number for me to try and filter. Siemens uses working on a automobile engine and have bolts left over. Downes mentions that if a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Central America it causes a thunderstorm in Central Park. This cause and effect on our inter-connected universe gives me pause to think about my own information filtering and what I try to absorb.

3 – The Network Is The Learning – 1 views

  • First, I am struck that this seven year old video is still current in light of all that changes with knowledge. Second, Siemens explains Network, Node and their importance to Connectivism. He also addresses this need for us to remain current. He mentions that more important and quicker means of staying current is through our Networks. He further mentions the point that if we don’t keep up with what is going on in education we become obsolete. Lastly, he mentioned dropping links that direct you away from your knowledge quest.

4 – Networks vs Communities of Practice – 1 views

  • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach explains the clear distinction between networks and Communities of Practice. She addressed that her Personal Learning Network has a lot of different non-educators from all walks of like helping to frame who she is and who she is not. The difference is in a Community of Practice, “we are all educators, we’re all shipbuilder, we’re all dry cleaner workers interested in improving over time.” She makes the point that members of a CoP are committed to each other and to growth. She also stresses Co-Created Content and Co-Created Community in a CoP.
  • I selected this article because I was looking for “newer” articles. Teresa Byington defined Communities of Practice in a way that resonated with me, addressing the disconnect that often exists between the special education and the content area teachers. Additionally, she underscores the benefits of collaboration between educators. The DCP explanation also resonated with me. The latter part ventures into “how to” and why for using blogging to create your CoP. Since I still do not care for blogging, I needed the extra explanation of the benefits.

6 – Personal Learning Networks and Your Personal Expertise – 0 views

  • I was reminded that Google tries to rank sites for me based upon what it thinks I want. David Loertscher addressed siloing, which means your information group is too small and possibly too like-minded. Loertscher advocates that one should open your net just a bit. He suggests seeking diverse experts to follow on the Internet and identifies some of his favorites to gain a variety of voices.

7 – Communities of Practice (CoPs) – 3 views

  • If one is exploring how to join Communities of Practice, University of Washington hosts an extensive grouping. The target appears to be those students/professors who either learn differently or teach those who learn differently. I could not find something similar on BSU’s website.

8 – Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow – YouTube – 2 views

  • The video by Bruce Knox helped me to reacquaint myself with Communities of Practice. I like how he explains the parts to consider and if one already exists.

9 – Interview with George Siemens – 1 views

  • Dr. George Siemens offers his backstory on how he came to create the theory of Connectivism and how it really relates to learning. He articulates why Connectivism is different from Constructivism or any other previous theory.

10 – Connectivism – YouTube – 2 views

  • This is a short video that may help one grasp Connectivism and how it applies to students in the classroom.

My five responses to my cohorts:

1 – How Technology Helps Build a Personal Learning Network | CAREEREALISM – 1 views

  • This short article emphasizes how social networks can build your Personal Learning Network. One great advantage is that your PLN can be accessed 24/7 The article suggests the use of Twitter, blogging, and other Social sites to connect with other education professionals to collaborate and learn.
  • I appreciate learning in context. Seeing how the PLN functions through Facebook and Twitter certainly filled in more blanks for me. Even though I am not a great blogger, the articles focus on student, parent, teacher, administrator communication hammered the value home.

Twitter –

2 – Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator: Teen explains the power of a student PLN – 0 views

  • This article is a guest post by a student who describes her PLN. It is an interesting self reflection about how this student realized she had a PLN without ever actively creating it. The article goes on to discuss how she developed her PLN and the major pieces that are in it.
  • Bryan, I really appreciate this article. Maybe because I can identify with Conner Wood’s journey into blogging and PLNs. His revelation of a group of people he can trust thousands of miles apart connected by the Internet and his desire to meet them resonates with me. Many times I have wanted to meet my own cohorts. Wood’s reflection on the quality of his selection of progressive educators is not lost on me either. His desire to opening your PLN to a variety of fields mirrors my own. “One can have a network of the top people in one’s own field, but if one cannot talk to those people about anything else, what is the point?” Pinging your PLN for the “personal” as well as “learning” seems a recurring theme.

Twitter –  ·  8h

Bryan found great article-Student reflects on PLNs

3 – 7 Things You Should Know About Personal Learning Environments – 4 views

  • This is a link to download a PDF that gives goes in depth about what a personal learning environment is, how it compares to a LMS, and even gives some downsides. I really like this document as it increased my knowledge of PLNs.
  • Sarah – I think you found a gem here. When I began to read the article, I felt that the writer was advocating a narrow focus – solely academic contributors to a PLN/PLE. As I read, the writer added the need to have a variety of contributors in a PLN. The writer addressed the need for members of a PLN to possess information fluency to distinguish a contributor speaking from a position of authority vs someone writing a narrative opinion. I hope (speaking with what little I know) to expand and grow a PLN that has both elements.

Twitter –  ·  3h

7 Things to Know About PLEs. Great find

4 – Connectivism: 21st Century Learning in Action – 0 views

  • This is a one-page graphic that describes the nuts and bolts to the connectivism theory. Produced by Western Education, it concludes that this theory was successful in a controlled study in which each student chose 10 modules to study from a longer list. With the use of a group to share ideas, each student became a vital cog in the experience, not just bystanders.
  • This graphic depiction of the Connectivist Theory gave me pause at first. I was not certain what I was going to gain. However, in the Conclusion portion I noted the group discovered Growth, Enrichment and Cognitive Dissonance. The conclusion found value in each group member and applied dissonance as part of the success through the study. It makes sense that if we all viewed things exactly as the other, or if we only kept to our specific content area, we would not see when the “Emperor is naked.” Thanks for finding this, Kyle.

Twitter –  ·  1h

You found a great article. Connectivism: 21st Century Learning in action.

5 – Community of Practice – 1 views

  • Summary:
    This is a site that provides a community of practice startup kit. This site walks through with detail the process of starting a community of practice. The visuals are great, and there is a ton of valuable resources provided. The page is a bit old, “2000” but much of the information is still pertinent today.
  • Todd – What an AWESOME find. I am just not sure just how current all the information is. Many times the article references the “Winding Down” of CoPs, mainly because this seems to be more of a corporate-type CoP model. As educators come and go from a CoP, I am not convinced it would wind down. Also, this article references the value of the telephone and Convergence since 2000 has increased the values of Podcasts, SKYPE, Google Hangouts, blogs, glogs, Facebook, Twitter, and online chat as nearly replacing the phone. The guidelines posted in the article have a great deal of value. The Venn diagram on page 9 and the indicators of a successful CoP on pp. 9-10 resonated with me. I will be interested to see how they mesh with our coursework.

Twitter –  ·  2h

Great find by Todd Svec Composition of CoPs

Twitter Screenshots

Twitter Screenshot

Screenshot of Tweets I

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 8.07.17 PM

Screenshot of Tweets II


About "B" Bernheim
“B”, his nickname, returns to the other side of the desk after many years. Graduating from UNC-Charlotte in 1983 with a BA in Education (K-12), he entered active service with the US Army. He began teaching high school upon completion of his tour of duty. B taught Language Arts and Social Studies for one year at the middle school level. English, Composition, Public Speaking, Theater, Forensics, and Technical Theater are among the subjects he has taught in public high school settings. Most recently, he was a Strategies of Instruction teacher, Assistant Dean of Students, dorm parent, girls’ hockey coach and rock climbing instructor at The Forman School in Litchfield, CT. The Forman School is a 9-12 boarding school specifically targeting students who learn differently.

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