Author: Geoff Walker
Editor: Joe Corneli
How does a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) relate to Peeragogy?
Redecker et al., (2009) indicate that social networks give rise to innovation in teaching and learning by:
- Increasing the accessibility and availability of learning content;
- Providing new formats for knowledge dissemination, acquisition and management;
- Allowing for the production of dynamic learning resources and environments of high quality and interoperability;
- Embedding learning in more engaging and activating multimedia environments;
- Supporting individualized learning processes by allowing learner preferences to be accounted for;
- Equipping learners and teachers with versatile tools for knowledge exchange and collaboration, which overcome the limitations of face-to-face instruction.
So, examination of these six areas could reveal how a PLP for self-learning may be developed.
When we refer to content in social networks, we are usually referring to User Generated Content (UGC). UGC is content generated by members of the network for other network members. UGC is often seen as ‘conversational media’, but, it is often the case that ‘connectedness’ is seen as more important than ‘conversation’. If we are to use conversational media appropriately and effectively we need to connect to content in ways in which the connection and the content combine to produce conversation: a kind of network triangulation. The micro-blog Twitter has become very effective in making such a triangulation. It is essential that learners have available and accessible content which reflects this triangulation and PLP need to demonstrate how this triangulation is taking place in any chosen social network.
Each learner’s learning is shaped by a variety of influences — for example, family, cultural, peer, school, religious, local, and global influences. The PLP supports each learner to shape plans and to achieve success in education, the community, work and training. Through participation in the program of learning, each learner can build into his or her plan opportunities to:
- Identify and develop his or her capabilities;
- Consider and access the range of learning options available, both inside the curriculum and externally, to develop and achieve personal learning goals;
- Interact with a range of people with relevant expertise, including teachers, peers, mentors, and employers;
- Learn from experience how to develop, implement, review, adjust, and achieve his or her goals and to plan and make decisions accordingly.
Designing and developing a PLP for self-learning
A PLP is designed to develop a learner’s learning and teaching capabilities. Learners learn how to develop, implement, review, and adjust personal learning goals. The PLP supports learners in developing knowledge and skills that will enable them to:
- Identify appropriate future options;
- Review their strengths and areas for development;
- Identify goals and plans for improvement;
- Monitor their actions and review and adjust plans as needed to achieve their goals.
CASE STUDY: SUKDEV SINGH
Suk wants to improve his social networking skills. Where should he start as a self-learner? A PLP should be designed and developed which takes account of the four areas above.
As a starting point, he needs to reflect on previous learning, in particular, to understand his learning style and how this can be applied to the self-learning process. An important starting point is to write a learning autobiography which illustrates learning-to-date and projects patterns of future learning. The autobiography should also include details of relevant qualifications and details of key skills.
The next stage is to create a learning progression plan which could take the form of a timeline. This would show where Suk would like to be, in say, one month, three months, six months and a year.
Suk should now map out a support network to underline the self-learning process. The network can include learning peers, professional colleagues, friends and relatives.
Drawing upon learning style, past learning and projected patterns of learning, he needs to design and develop a timetable to programme his learning. A self-learning timetable should be divided into date, time, location and session with space for personal evaluation of each session.
The PLP should also include a section for review and reflection and comments of this kind should be written in such a way that they can be shared for evaluation by both peers and mentors.
Three key steps to be followed when drafting an appropriate and effective PLP
Key Step 1 – Learning needs:
What do you most need to learn about in the time ahead?
Key Step 2 – Learning activities:
What are the best ways you learn, what learning activities will meet your learning needs, what help will you need and how long will it take?
Step 3 – Evidence of learning:
What will you put into your personal portfolio to demonstrate your learning progress and achievements?
Questions for Step 1: Figure out your learning needs
What do you most need to learn about in the time ahead?
- Build on any previous PLPs!
- Focus on areas of weakness and not only about the things you are good at!
- Think about all aspects of your work!
- Include things which will raise your confidence and self-esteem!
- Is there any need outstanding from your last plan or recent events?
- What needs do I have arising from instances when my work has seemed difficult or less satisfactory?
- What do I need to learn about to feel confident and fulfilled?
Make a note of your most important learning needs, then proceed to step two.
Questions for step 2: figure out suitable learning activities
What are the best ways you can learn, what learning activities will meet your learning needs, what help will you need and how long will it take?
- Build on past experiences and consider a wide range of activities!
- Pick the most appropriate activity for each need!
- Include activities you are already doing regularly!
- Be realistic about the time each activity will take and the help you will need!
- How have I learnt best in the past, can I use methods which have worked well before?
- What learning methods and activities are readily available to me?
- Is the activity I have chosen appropriate?
- How can activities I am already involved in, and wish to continue with, be incorporated into my PLP?
- What help will I need and who will provide it?
Make a note of your chosen learning activities and number of hours you think each will take.
Questions for Step 3: How will you demonstrate evidence of learning?
What will you put into your portfolio to demonstrate your learning progress and achievements?
- Think about your learning and how you will do things differently in future!
- Share some of the things you have learnt with your colleagues!
- Look for ways that your learning has actually benefited others!
- Organise the evidence you collect in a folder so that it can be presented when needed!
- How will I show that I have benefited from my learning?
- How will I show that others have benefited?
Make a note of your ideas about what evidence to collect.