Professional Learning Portfolios…and questions

I recently enrolled in Jane Hart’s online workshop on Professional Learning Portfolios. What I was thinking about when I enrolled was that I wanted some ideas about an e-portfolio system to put in my website so that I could show samples to potential clients—i.e., a portfolio in the traditional sense of an outward-facing body of evidence that I can do what I say I can do.

There’s still a lot of value for me in doing this aspect of a portfolio, of course, but I’ve found even in the first few days of the PLP workshop discussions and suggested activity that my thinking has gone beyond that. The first thing I did was download the suggested WordPress theme for the portfolio and play around a bit with it (, but then I got stuck. So instead of continuing to work with a tool, I took a step backward and reread our workshop introduction and documents…and realized I needed to do some thinking and planning first. I can get too caught up in cool tools, so I went back to what helps me think best, mapping out ideas on paper with different color pens.

And I realized while doing this that probably the most important thing for me, before trying to organize materials, is to determine my goals. My learning goals will be tied to the new areas I want to do work in. But I have to figure those out first!

I know that they have something to do with helping people learn what’s “out there” in terms of online resources and tools and, more importantly, convincing them that they won’t break the internet if they try to participate in it. I guess a term for marketing would be digital literacy; although I’m not crazy about that term, it may be a useful way to communicate what I want to do. I wrote in this blog for the Connectivism course about Ohio Computer Tutor, a goofy name for a serious idea. It’s morphed a bit into ways to help businesses support staff learning and development.

My biggest roadblock is that I have to “sell” this. If I take time to work on a new business area, then I am literally taking time away from earning income with the things I already do. I can’t tell you how scary that is for a freelancer—I just cannot say “no” to work! And I already take time away from my personal life to do business stuff, so it seems unfair to take even more time away from real-live relationships. Perhaps the biggest roadblock—as it always, always is—is simply fear.

Final Personal Learning Environment

I really like the CMap tool, which I’ve used before. I like the fact that the links can be labeled and thus clarify the relationships between the concepts (usually via verbs). In addition, it’s easily used to convey information but also to organize it because each concept is a kind of container. You can add links, images, and other types of files.

I learned doing this that for communicating and adequately capturing something like a personal learning environment (PLE), what I long for is a moving concept map that shows change over time and thus could identify things that fade in and out of importance (sort of à la Hans Rosling). Ideally, this PLE should also use layers to make three dimensional connections between concepts. When I started, I realized that what’s interesting to me is how the “past” stuff forms a clear link to something I do now: for example, the connection I have to database publishing using FileMaker databases (circa 1995 or so) means that HTML and XML make sense to me. Looking further backward, HyperCard was my first introduction to databases, so it set the stage for my 17-year use of FileMaker. It would be great to show clearly that kind of “ancestral” link because it shows what I keep thinking of as networked-learning curves.

(Clicking on this brings up a larger version that’s easier to read.)

Video Communication with Screenr

Below is my midterm presentation for Introduction to Emerging Technologies (98908) at the University of Manitoba. Please be aware that this presentation should run itself once you click the arrow, and it does have audio attached. There’s a bit of a pause before it gets going, too. Any feedback or comments are welcome!

Personal Learning Environment

One of our tasks in the Introduction to Emerging Technologies course at the University of Manitoba is to create a diagram of our personal learning environment (PLE). My problem with the many PLE examples I’ve found in the last couple of years is that they

  1. do not show how PLEs change over time
  2. are static diagrams rather than active, flowing animations

I’ve tried to address my first concern by playing with a timeline-based PLE map using the online (and free) tool MyHistro.   

What I like about this is the timeline approach as well as the ability to add pictures, maps, and other multimedia. I’ve set this example to “play” automatically, so it’s sort of non-static as well. What I don’t like about it is that I cannot (or haven’t figured out yet how to) make connections between the timeline events. For instance, in this small sample, I would want to connect HyperCard to the beginnings of the Web (jumping over several years, but having stuff in between such as email, FTP, gopher, etc.). The “story” one creates with this tool is quite linear, as timelines are wont to be.

Last year I started with a Prezi-based PLE diagram, and I think I may go back to that for my course project. However, I’m happy to have learned a little bit about MyHistro (although it doesn’t work as well as I might expect; for instance, no matter what, I can’t seem to get the timeline events to “play” in order).

For University of Manitoba ETL program course 98908