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How can we use the VLN / Enabling e-Learning for our own learning?

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Started by Enabling e-Learning 23 Feb 2012 9:01pm () Replies (23)

I thought I'd start this thread is for anyone who is still interested in working out what this community space can do for their learning - for example, you might be working out how to tailor your emails, or whether to use a blog or a discussion forum for your questions.

If you are/have attended the free Enabling e-Learning workshop on how to use the VLN Groups (24 Feb), you may still have a few questions - and if you missed it, you can ask for help here instead.

So, ask away - or share how you have set up and are using the space. The only silly queston is the one not asked;-)

Cheers, Karen.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 28 Feb 2012 10:37am ()

    Following on from the first Enabling e-Learning workshop on how to use the VLN Groups, we are also running a live workshop today at 3.30pm for anyone interested in ways to support their own and others professional learning in the Enabling e-Learning groups. You are welcome to join us.

    Event: What does online professional learning look like for learners and leaders?

    Again, there may be more questions before, during or after this session, so please feel free to add these here.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 06 Mar 2012 11:38am ()

    Over the past few weeks Enabling e-Learning has hosted two live online seminars to unpack the value of using the Virtual Learning Network as a professional learning tool or network for educators.

    Following on from that, is a great blog post, PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy which clearly defines what a personal (professional) learning network is online and how it can help you as a teacher and a life-long learner. The post also outlines a directory of tools/websites/networks that can be used to develop a Personal Learning Network.

    I found the 'Stages of PLN Adoption' particularly interesting and the following diagram useful as I reflect on how I use the VLN as my own PLN.

    • Immersion – immerse yourself in your network and make it a new habit
    • Evaluate – focus on the networks that really work for you, sort and organize your information
    • Know it all – comes with feeling overwhelmed by it all, what am I missing out on?
    • Perspective – taking a break, stepping back a bit from being connected all the time
    • Balance – getting a balance back between learning and living, realizing you can’t know it all and that’s ok


    Where do you think you might sit on this continuum? Which stage might you focus on next?

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2012 11:00am ()

    Right - Where am I?  I would say moving into Stage 2.  I'm not overly excited to check on every discussion post notification that I'm receiving but do try to do a quick read over....to see if it aligns with my own interests and mahi.  I like the short entries -....that may link on to something bigger if I choose to go there.  There are times where some of what is shared is like WAY over my head...but hey I'm keen for a challenge and if someone hooks me in...I'm in!

  • Melissa Moore (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2012 11:13am ()

    Great post Moana... this is exactly how I use it Smile

  • Suzie Vesper (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2012 11:35am ()

    Brilliant diagram!  I think I am on about a second or third cycle of this. I have belonged to different networks and have engaged with them furiously for awhile only to step back and reassess and in the meantime another network comes along and I start all over again. What I've realised is that I can't maintain all of my networks at once and that it is therefore quite valid to move in and out of them in relation to my needs and interests.

  • Diane Henderson (View all users posts) 08 Mar 2012 11:05am ()

    A very useful diagram!  Very realistic - interesting to note, that when I finally tried the Perspective Stage, it was really really scary!!  I feel as though I am right back at Immersion.  It is hard to leave, and let go.  Bring on the Balance!

  • Phoebe Davis (View all users posts) 16 Mar 2012 1:30pm ()

    Probably falling into stage 2 but clinging onto some of stage 1 Surprised

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 12:47pm ()

    Hi all, more than a year on...and I wanted to take some time to reflect on how the VLN/Enabling e-Learning groups are helping us as a Professional Learning Community (PLC) online.

    It's recognised PLCs enable us to reflect on our practice, through on-going collaboration with colleagues. By participating, we become less isolated and are able to:

    • talk about instruction/delivery
    • analyse student data
    • moderate OTJs
    • reflect on assessment
    • share effective practices
    • collaborate in planning/curriculum design and teaching
    • discuss classroom management and any other relevant issues

    ...in order to improve learning outcomes for students. 

    Online PLCs (VLN/Enabling e-Learning community groups, Twitter, Ning) give us the flexibility to engage with others in our own time, our own space, or even in our PJs. We get to map out our own personalized, just-in-time professional development.

    Time is an issue:

    Time is an issue I’ve often heard people say they don’t have enough time to engage in an online community. If this is the case, we need to make sure that any time spent collaborating online, is time well spent. The benefits (relevant discussions, resources) need to outweigh the costs (time needed to participate). 

    If the purpose of collaboration in an online PLC, is to make an impact on classroom practice (in order to achieve better results), how might we do that in the Enabling e-Learning Community groups?

    Three things might help us when considering a response:

    1. Content: what content, goals are discussed
    2. Structure: how do we engage - discussions, posts, live events, F2F
    3. Tools: VLN, Moodle, Google hang-out, Skype, Twitter, Facebook 

    Your input needed here:

    • If we invited teachers (you) to share practical examples of planning/curriculum design, what structure would work best for you?
    • If you wanted to see lesson sequences shared (with examples of specific learning outcomes achieved), what format would you like to see this in - so you could discuss this further?
    • If you could collaborate and co-construct content (that could be used straight away), what online tools would you use to do that?
    • If you enjoy engaging in conversations about the benefits of e-learning on diverse learners, what would work best for you online?
    • If you wanted to discuss and reflect on teacher delivery/facilitation, classroom management - when/where would you feel most comfortable doing that?
    • If you were brave enough to invite feedback on your own practice online, would it be in an intimate setting, or a shared platform? What online tool would you prefer?

    And most importantly:

    Contact us What would you like to see in Enabling e-Learning Community groups (more, less or different)? How can the online facilitators help?

    You can either add your responses in the comments box below or message me directly. We’d love to hear your ideas.

    Have a great day everyone.

    Tessa Gray 

  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 4:37pm ()

    I think the VLN facilitators and Enabling ELearning folk like yourself do it just right now.

    I have time to comment when it's in my face - not when I think, "Oh, must visit the VLN" or Twitter.  So for the VLN, new discussions are in my face as the notifications come to my email.  I can choose to join in or delete; a great starting question works wonders to get me involved. I've set up student blogs like this at my school too, so that teachers, parents and I see when students post on our email so that our feedback can be timely.

    Smart phones and portable devices are the secret too.  My phone goes around with me so my learning is ubiquitous and continuous.

    It's about the experiences I've had already.  I know how wonderful my online PLN is.  I communicate, share, laugh and learn with them daily...and the beauty is that the answers are so instant.  When others get this immediate, powerful feedback, they join in too.  It's up to us as lifelong learners to leap in and feel the joy!

  • Monika Kern (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 5:03pm ()

    I completely agree with Annemarie, this is how I try to use the VLN. Does this come with the progression through the stages on below diagramme??? At the risk of sunding arrogant, the terms in Stage 5 Balance resonate with me. There are quite a lot of things I don't know, and sometimes this feeling can be overwhelming, but I have gotten to a point where I know I can tap into the knowledge, skills experiences of others, esp. on the VLN.

    My question then is what do those that are starting out need? How do they get 'hooked in'? I believe that for our busy educators there needs to be a hook for them to connect with an online PLN - with the double emphasis on online and on PLN. As an example, why do people sign up to FB initially - maybe to see friends'/family's photographs? Once someone is hooked they will look beyond.

    The friendly welcomes and friend requests of the online team are brilliant hooks, also the suggestions to join certain groups, and again the welcome messages when joining a group. But then you are talking to the converted :-)

    What about the people who have signed up to VLN but are not participating (I mean not even lurking). Is there a way to approach them and ask them why this is not working for them as their PLN and why? 

    I hope I haven’t veered this topic off track too far ;-)

  • Ra Ellingham (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 4:07pm ()

    New to the VLN and looking for some feedback on implementing how I set up a flipped programme to give students a running start into technology design. The actual time I have with students is only 12 hours. This seems like a great conversation to support my learning around how I can establish a programme for a diverse range of learners.

    I'd be comfortable with asynchronous online conversations, supported by a blog or wiki that I would provide a link to. Google docs work well for sharing outlines of plans. I have recently started looking at Edmodo and this seems to have some active groups as well.

  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 4:25pm ()

    Sounds like you are on your way to solving this yourself.  Edmodo and blogs are great solutions.  To support learners who don't want to wade through text, why not film yourself talking and or the activities and steps you want them to follow?  Students love the ability to "rewind" in their own time and go over things at their own pace.  You Tube, for example, has been used for all sorts of things like self teaching the guitar or building projects.

  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 5:41pm ()

    Agree with Annemarie, Ra.. I used youtube in my classes, and if you want to do a screencast, to explain what to do on the computer to students, then Jing is a great freebie.  Good on you for joining the VLN, and get in there and lurk, you will find so many ideas.. 

  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 5:51pm ()

    Regarding curriculum resources on another thread, Tessa, I wonder if good practical things to do could be organised into timeframes

    eg 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours 1 day and open ended. Then people could tag the resources as well to indicate if it is from a certain area of the curriculum or a key competency that is being developed.. The curriculum levels could also be tagged.. Mainly I think teachers want a searchable database in just about any area they could think of with a bit of structure say around inquiry, something that there is not a lot of out there. For example if you search for photosynthesis of course you get a lot of content around photosynthesis but do you get an open ended inquiry lesson?

    This is what I hope(d) that N4 L might provide but maybe it is going just to be a network of fast pipes through which we can access the VLN for uploading and downloading???. I could go on, but hey, someone else might have better ideas.....

    And finally RSS rules, keep in touch with the VLN by using it! Sob, google reader is dying.

  • Roxy Hickman (View all users posts) 08 May 2013 6:04pm ()

    Hi Ra, 

    Great to see you jumping in on the VLN - Following Annemarie's comments on video, maybe setting up video tutorials could be something that a group of your students could be involved in (from your current technology class). They would be able to share the process along with what they have learned in your class, while having a purposeful audience.

    You mentioned Google Docs, videos can be uploaded and embedded into blogs, wikis, google sites to be shared with your students. 

    For further information Ra, have a look at the threads on flipped classrooms: Homework and authentic learning and Do you flip your classroom?! 

  • Ra Ellingham (View all users posts) 09 May 2013 3:50pm ()

    Thanks Roxy, had a look at the Google sites as you suggested. Thanks for the other links. I like the idea of an explanation of the flipped learning process for students and whanau.  Tessa, here's a little more detail: year 7&8 composite groups. We have five 1-1 device classes. Still a minority. I would like students to have access to tutorials that will take them through the basic physical skills involved in the sewing and construction of a doorstopper (square pyramid with applique) plus the stages of an iterative design process. My concern is around keeping it from being really lecture orientated - more constructivist.

    Ideally it would be great to have a conversation around their designs happening before they hit the actual class for construction. Sharing photos of their design work and seeking feedback from others.Encouraging greater collaboration among students also.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 10 May 2013 10:21am ()

    Thanks Ra, this explanation really helps, I hope other technology teachers see this thread and offer their support as well.

    In terms of content, structure, tools

    Content:  Somthing like..student’s gain knowledge and capacity of sewing techniques as well as developing an understanding of design principles/processes (sourcing ideas, developing ideas, crafting/composing, revisiting/reworking, reflection).

    Structure: Mixture of instructional delivery as well as co-constructed, collaborative, peer mentored processes. Like this diagram from Best Practice Models for e-learning: Principles (click on the image to see original).

      Best practice models for e-learning

    Tools: Youtube channels (like eHow or cyberseams) or from a channel you have personalized for this group (requires an account) can help build the knowledge.These can be viewed individually/peers/groups – new ideas, wonderings could be discussed F2F, or in social networking space (Facebook, Edmodo). Comments could go under the YouTube clips themselves (if site is appropriate). Students might have their own journal/blog. 

    Like Roxy and AnneMarie have said - Google docs or Etherpad can be used for constructing or collaborating during the design phase. Photos can be inserted of pencil drawings. During the formative feedback phase, peer mentors/teacher/parents can add comments as text (and now voice recordings in Google docs).

    Practice and processing done in class (on the sewing machines). Reflections of progress made in reference to discussions etc.

    If you’re building in a presentation phase, any number of digital tools can be used for this (print media, multi-media, video, online tools like Voicethread) and webcams/video for refection.

    You might also think about how you’d organize these e-tools (central, easy navigation, access) in a timeframe, with guidelines that support  scaffolding increased learner independence

    Students may need to have technical capacity and adequate access to Internet outside the classroom. See examples of blended platforms here: Myportfolio and Moodle.

    Here’s a very useful paper Blended learning & learning platforms with practical ideas, top tips and examples on station rotations and blended learning design. Thanks Amanda OConnell for this link.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2014 9:22am ()

    Enabling e-Learning screenshotApologies for cross-posting...

    Professional learning in a digital age, means we can be more in charge of our own learning - when, where, how and with whom.

    Personal Learning Networks (Twitter, Facebook, Instragram, Pinterest), allow us to engage in learning for both personal or professional reasons. But what about Professional Learning Communities like the Virtual Learning Network? What can these do for us?

    Good timing! This week Enabling e-Learning is hosting a LIVE webinar:


    Ways to build your online professional learning network using VLN/Enabling e-Learning communities, Wednesday, 26 March, 3.45 - 4.45pm

    Ever wondered where to go, faces to know, places to be? This webinar is free to anyone interested in ways to build an online professional learning community, to help with their own professional learning and development. 

    Tessa Gray will explore the purpose and potential (as well as some top tips) for how the VLN/Enabling e-Learning community groups can help you as teachers and leaders - as you integrate effective e-learning pedagogies into all areas of your practice.

    We'd love to hear how you use the VLN/Enabling e-Learning community groups too, so bring your stories too. See you there!


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