7 things you should know about... PLE

7 things you should know about...
Personal Learning Environments


For the fall semester, David signed up for a digital photography course, and during the first class, he was assigned
to a critique group with four other students. The professor explained that students would be creating personal learning environments—exploring free applications and networking sites, sharing what they learn with each other, and submitting work for feedback from those in the critique group. Each week students were to photograph something in a public venue and upload the photos to a website where the group could view them, critique and discuss the images, and blog about what they learned. 

David enjoyed looking through the blogs of his fellow students and subscribed to the RSS feeds of his favorites so he would know when each was updated. David found the feedback from his in-class critique group so useful in improving his photography that he created an open group in Flickr for his growing collection, inviting the wider photo community to comment on his work. During a zoo trip, he photographed a llama that looked oddly taken aback. Everyone smiled at the comic expression, but the image was a chance shot with hasty framing, so his in-class group suggested cropping
and minor clean-up work. Then he asked his group on Flickr to suggest titles, from which he chose his favorite, “Whoa, Dude.” He later sold the photograph to a newspaper editor who had seen it on Flickr. It ran with an article about an upcoming music festival at the zoo.

The final course assignment was a joint photojournalism exercise for the class. Students were to cover the local Trout Day Parade along the riverfront, where floats and costumes took an aquatic theme and the river offered a consistent backdrop. Images would accompany a brief article or interview to be posted on student blog sites. One student compiled the articles and ran the text through Wordle, posting the resulting word collage.

Two other students used the collage as a background and pasted all the class photos on top. When the completed group project was published online, several images received outside recognition. Students gathered
those comments for Wordle, too, using the result as a sidebar for a page of final reflections on the course.

The following semester, when David submitted some of his work for a fine arts student fellowship, he felt confident
about his submission, having integrated input from his group at Flickr, which now included several of his former classmates.


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