Curious B’s PLE and Peer Analysis

Curious B's PLE
Tasked to create a visual representation of my Personal Learning Environment excited my creative juices. I explored the exemplars and tried to find what resonated with me. As classmates posted, I determined a plain background just would not work. I needed something to connect the whole.
Throughout my journey through the MET program, I feel like a cross between a Blue Man from Blue Man Group and a character from the storybooks of my childhood, Curious George. For those unfamiliar with any of the Blue Man shows, all things we take for granted in our environment fascinate the characters. They act as though they have never seen any of any of the objects they bring to stage. Their naïve, child-like discovery reactions are priceless and part of the charm of the show. Exploring all the new skills and tools, I often feel like a Blue Man in brand new-to-me territory. I identify with Curious George. Again, he explores his world with a naïveté that is part of his charm. His mistakes become teachable moments. I felt it crucial to my diagram that it contain a strong central connecting image representing my Connectivism influence developed through my MET journey and my long-standing student-centered Constructivist nature.
Both characters were neck and neck until it came to the background image needed. I sought an image that would show connections to all parts of my PLE whole. Blue Man offered no help here. However, a banyan tree just leapt into my head as I shifted to Curious George. I searched through Creative Commons until I found one that had the sun backlighting the tree. Rays of light burst through seeming to illuminate this journey, missing only the dramatic punctuation of the organ music from the B movies of my youth.
Moving to the execution phase began as a productive struggle. There were eighteen sample tools. As I moved through those familiar and unfamiliar, I hit a wall as to whether the tools would allow my own image use. Either it would not or would only allow it if I upgraded to a paid account. “Even a fool learns after the second time.” Those words from my grandmother rang in my head. After trying twice the fool criteria, I took my concerns to the class Facebook page and received the help I needed.
I hung the images throughout the tree quickly reaching the 20-image limit of piktochart. There were images left on the cutting room floor as I simply exhausted my choices. Thinking my banyan tree was showing the connections enough, I posted. Soon after, Matt Smeller posted comments that though he enjoyed the image, identified weaknesses in my visual communication. Questions of hierarchy and placement needed answers. Taking my cues from Matt’s notes, I made corrections and reposted. I made changes and added text that I feel added to the whole and made the placement and purpose clearer.
The entire process offered layered learning for me as I utilize the computer to represent the type of educator I have been in-person on the little screen. The following compare and contrast exercise afforded me the chance to analyze the assignment through the eyes of my classmates.

Jody Beesley-Lazarski – PLN Partner
We both used groupings. However, Jody does not delineate which is placed where and why. I do not see group headings, which would have made that clearer for me. Also, beyond the similarity of color bursts I do not see how they each connect to the whole. The image does remind me of a Venn Diagram and if that is the case, I do see where some overlap would naturally occur. The central connection of the banyan tree links all icons, and categories together for me and I looked for a similar connection with Jody’s. She made selections placing certain icons together on specific bursts of color. Her talent in the digital world is obvious and I am often jealous of her skills. This assignment is no exception; however, helping me to see the grouping choices would make this excellent image explode at a new altitude.

Alissa Blackburn – PLN Partner
I feel we used a lot of the same icons. Also, we each placed value on a background image to connect the whole. Her use of many hands layered on the screen in a circle certainly provides a strong connective image. She labeled categories, though for me it was hard to see where one ended and the other began. Though I don’t see where exactly she is in her PLE, and I do see where I am in mine, her image was still quite strong on the page. That is not a negative, just an obvious difference in how we viewed the task. The quote added a thought-provoking layer absent in my own.

Matt Smeller
Matt, like me, chose to use a strong background image to connect the whole image for the viewer. The use of a choir lends itself to a natural grouping of icons by voice: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. As such, I looked for groupings that did not manifest. Part of me likes the image not being grouped, as mine had no groupings at the outset. We had some similar choices of icons and a few I did not use simply due to the platform I chose. I think Google Slides was a great vehicle and cannot believe I overlooked using Google Docs.

Andrew McCrae
Andrew, like me, chose to place his likeness in the middle. Like mine, his image showed a playful side. The overall whole was connected like a recipe. The concept was readily understood and how the pieces fit the whole just added to the quality of the overall image. We had a few common icons and some that were different. One choice, the hashtag icon, required me to research what they were. I always enjoy when my peers make me research their own choices as I deepen my own understanding. I often compare the modern teacher to an alchemist or chef as student-centered learning requires more of a shepard than the sage center stage. I enjoyed seeing what I feel is a similar view expressed in Andrew’s design.

Amanda Hatherly
Amanda chose an aloe plant as her background image. Mine used the icons as leaves on the banyan tree. I am not sure what each of the icons represents on an aloe plant. Amanda placed herself at the center, which I appreciate. All of her icon choices surround her and for that I certainly identify and appreciate. She used groupings, which were readily apparent and easily processed. The spiral image of an aloe plant certainly added a layer to her image and I am a fan of the impact of visual imagery. She chose icons that encouraged work on my part to discover what they were. I appreciate having to explore new areas to understand my peers. I enjoyed that quest. I think her image is effective and the purpose of the assignment met and done well.

Sarah Baughman
Sarah chose an image that I perceive meant to represent her. She also chose a central placement and that resonated with me for making a similar choice. She has categories or purpose of use delineated to the side, which certainly helped my processing. However, the icons are listed vertically and not grouped per se. This left me to question where each icon belongs, and what the hierarchy may be for the placement. Given the totem pole representation, I wanted to ask if one is more important to the other. I felt my own achieved that by using clear groupings. Containing all her images within her human frame connected the individual icons to her whole. Her creativity and image choice was not lost on me as that added a thought-provoking layer I hope I replicated with my banyan tree and Curious B imagery.

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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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