Instructional Design


This is not my first time mapping my personal learning environment. A previous incarnation can be found discussed here and here. Looking at the diagram from 2018, I am a little surprised how much has remained, despite moving across the continent and going back to a job with an office. (I was a stay-at-home dad then.) I wanted to do something different this time, instead of the circular structure I’ve used in the past, so I thought I’d place it over a tree and group the four parts. I see now that my understanding of a PLE is kinetic: in the 2018 diagram, I used the metaphor of a wheel, with information clodding on and spinning off, maybe sticking long enough to be reflected upon; in the 2021 diagram, I am following the course of sap in a maple (or birch) tree.

Sugar is made by photosynthesis in the leaves. That’s connection. Sap (sugar water) moves down through the branches and the trunk. That’s collection—for the tree. Sap accumulates and is stored in the root structure of the tree for the winter. That’s where reflection can happen (not that a tree reflects on anything, but then there’s this). In the spring, sap goes back up the trunk to power leaf formation, and some of it is tapped off by humans. That’s sharing.

Here are two earlier drafts. In the first, I included app icons for some of the tools I use and media I consume regularly. That looked cluttered to me, so I deleted them. From the second to the third, I changed the location of the SHARE section, to better illustrate sap flowing out, rather than only back up, and to be a little less symmetrical.

Much of my PLE is mediated by my iPhone, especially in the Connect realm. Collecting and sharing happen largely on my laptop. Information comes in by email, on radio and podcasts, from Google and Wikipedia, among other sources. It goes out by email, Zoom and FaceTime, and social/professional/educational networking apps.

My reflection is hard to identify right now. As I looked at my old blog posts, I realized that I am listening to much of the same music, and I am still washing diapers, but these things do not have the same reflective effect for me that they did three years ago. And now that I work from home, due to the pandemic, my daily walking commute has been replaced by baking bread and cookies, but that is not as conducive to focused reflection. I can’t believe that I have no reflection in my PLE; but it is not focused in a way that I can identify.

As I was working on this, my wife asked me if I have an internal monologue. She had just read an article on a science website about people who have no voice in their head. My internal monologue is never silent—never. Perhaps that is my reflection, and perhaps that is why I cannot identify it.

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