Saturday, August 04, 2007

Following the links...

So this morning I started reading my learning-related blogs and I didn't get far into my read before I was off for a half-hour following the links. I began at my Google Reader and I started at Stephen Downes' feed titled "Going After Grandma!" What caught my eye was the first line that read:
I think I like the term 'Platform of personal Expression' (PPE) better than 'Personal learning Environment'...
Being extremely interested in personal learning environments I continued reading his post. Which, unfortunately turned into a rant against an extremely long post by Wayne Hodgins who was responding to another long blog post by David Berlind at ZDNET regarding the inventor of the blog and the role of APIs in making publishing on the web transparent enough that your grandmother can do it.

By following the bread crumb trail from Stephen's post to Wayne Hodgins post and on to David Berlind's post I probably learned a lot more about the history of web publishing and the future of APIs, but in doing so I expended more than an hour by following the link of a single blog post. And if you count the time expended composing this post to my own web log, it will be probably an hour and a half. I've learned a great deal on a single topic simply by keying in on a phrase that is a focal point in my learning: "personal learning environment."

As I write this I am extending my research as I seek out links to connect people to concepts that they might not be fully aware of, such as "personal learning environments." This means I'm branching off even further. In the end one blog post in Google Reader took me to eight different sites (roughly). There was no curriculum, no formal lesson plan, just plain, old-fashioned curiosity fired up by a single phrase. In essence, informal learning. My path looked like this:
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