The Personal in PLNs

I will teaching two open online courses next semester, and I have been brainstorming a number of ways to do things a bit differently. In both courses, students will go through the process of forming their own personal learning networking. “Their own” is key here and is something I have been struggling with. In the past, I have just given students a list of people from within my network, but I am beginning to think that this practice may be problematic. First, is this not a bit contrived? Or is it? Is this an accurate way of representing how learning networks form? Maybe. I am not sure. Second, does this not just lead to replicating well-formed, existing networks? Or, does this contribute to the dreaded “echo chamber” effect?

Sure, I know that if I give a short list of network contacts to my students, they are not by any means going to form the same exact network that I have, but I would bet these would be very similar. And I am not by any means trying to criticize the members of my own PLN. In fact, I wouldn’t be connected to you if I did not feel that it was a positive connection. But I am curious of what I am missing. I want to understand personal learning networks not only by the connections that form, but also by those that are absent.

So, help me out here. What if I gave each of my students a single point on the the network, a single individual (probably via a blog address), and made all attempts to keep these points as unrelated as possible (yes, quite difficult in our x degrees of separation world). What networks would students form? How similar would these PLNs be? And what could we learn about how educational PLNs form?

Most importantly, if I used this approach with my students, would this in any way disadvantage their learning opportunities?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Behind Every Tweet: K12Online Presentation Teaser #2

My K12 Online Conference Presentation 2008 will be released one week from today. The conference has already started with Stephen Heppel’s Preconference Keynote and there are so many great presenters scheduled. To keep you interested, I thought I would release my second teaser. This one looks at the mystery behind every Tweet.

If you missed teaser #1, here it is. You may also be interested in the original teaser for my online graduate course.

I’ll link to my K12 Online Conference presentation when it goes up. Thanks for watching!

Self Child-Pornography

Here is another interesting case for your digital internship discussions, one that shows that our legal systems are not always equipped to handle issues arising from emerging uses of technologies, especially by teens.

A 15-year-old Ohio girl was arrested on felony child pornography charges for allegedly sending nude cell phone pictures of herself to classmates. Authorities are considering charging some of the students who received the photos as well.

The unnamed student from Licking Valley High School in Newark, Ohio was arrested Friday after school officials discovered the materials and notified police. She spent the weekend in juvenile detention and entered a plea of “deny” on Monday, according to The

Charges include illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material and possession of criminal tools. If convicted, the girl could be forced to register as a sexual offender for 20 years, but because of her age, the judge hearing the case has some flexibility in the matter, an official told the Advocate.

Full story here.

Canadians In Space Project

Diane Hammond recently sent me notice of this exciting opportunity for grades 4-12 students.

Registration is now open for the Canadians in Space project!

2009 will be an exciting year for the Canadian Space program! Two Canadian astronauts are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station ‑ Julie Payette on Shuttle Mission STS‑127 and Dr. Bob Thirsk as the first Canadian on a long‑term post aboard the ISS!

YES I Can! Science is thrilled to announce that we will be working with the Canadian Space Agency this coming school year to bring the Canadians in Space Project to teachers and students from across the country and around
the world! Have your Grades 4‑12 students take part in the project blogs research activities, classroom experiments, and web conferences to learn from Canadian scientists, engineers and astronauts what it’s really like to live and work in space.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and supporters, there is no cost to take part in the project.

See you online!

Please pass this around to teachers in your school.

Help Stop XDR-TB

This video is from, an organization attempting to raise awareness about extremely drug-resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB). The video tells a powerful story. Do visit the website to find out more about how you can spread the word, and support this important cause.

From the website: is an extraordinary effort to tell the story of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) and TB through powerful photographs taken by James Nachtwey. XDR-TB, or extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis, is a new and deadly mutation of tuberculosis. Similar in creation to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) but more extreme in its manifestation, it arises when common tuberculosis goes untreated or standard TB drugs are misused. James’ photographs represent these varying strains. Learn more about TB, MDR-TB and XDR-TB, and learn how you can take action to stop this deadly disease

Academic Integrity and the Culture of Sharing

I recently gave a keynote presentation to help start off Academic Integrity Awareness Week at the University of Saskatchewan. The presentation, titled Academic Integrity and the Culture of Sharing, covered traditional approaches to academic integrity, described an emerging culture of sharing among students, and discussed how this culture can inform our notions of academic integrity, honesty, cheating, and student collaboration.

Academic Integrity Keynote

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: academic integrity)

Here’s a great article covering the event by Rory MacLean of The Sheaf.
Sheaf Article - Copyright Versus Copyleft

If you want video, a recorded Ustream video of the event is available here. I start at about 19 minutes in.

Below is a link to the audio provided by Ginger K.

I sincerely want to thank everyone who attended, live or via Ustream. I love having supportive people in my life that enjoy listening to what I have to say. Thanks especially to Tereigh at the U of S, Dr. Jim Greer, Dr. Ernie Barber, and to my friend and hero, Dr. Richard Schwier.