Peregrinating the soul of the matter…
Discomfit. That’s what it’s all about. This state of perplexity … and perhaps a tad of embarrassment…about how to mount a Personal Learning Environment that fits my personally established criteria: embark on a journey through the far reaches of the Web to discover and uncover the most pertinent, thought-provoking, instructive information about Instructional Design Technology and post it on an appealing, easily navigable space created by moi.
Not a hard task? That’s what the twenty-something staff members at SailAway Academy assured me. Well, not so certain for me, a digital immigrant. This post chronicles my journey thus far into the world of blogging, a vast unknown prior to this assignment to create a Personal Learning Environment for my IDT class.
Peregrination is about travels and journeys. I began this one by visioning what this trek would entail. After all, it would be similar any other journey, physical or intellectual, I had taken before. A quick recollection of actual journeys sorted them into planned and spontaneous, structured and unstructured. My youngest son’s five-week wanderings in Europe last summer were meticulously planned, tickets purchased and reservations made weeks in advance. It was a great trip. On the other hand, one of my most memorable peregrinations was a trip to Cape Cod. It was so spontaneous we couldn’t find a room so we slept on the beach, under the stars, lullabied by lapping waves, well guarded through the night by our faithful Pekingese. A fabulous trip. I wanted my PLE to reflect the dichotomy of my personal peregrinating preferences: obsession for structure cycling with pure impulsivity.
So, I decided this space would have two intentional elements: structured and unstructured. Structured in the sense that there would be one place devoted to the learning theories, Instructivism, Constructivism, and Connectivism, I was studying in my class and how to apply them to instructional design technology. This portion would have a rather academic feel, take on a more direct instructional identify, and extend my classwork learning. The unstructured components would be fun posts about cool things about IDT or learning that I tripped over as I peregrinated the web less intentionally. Both seemed to me to be valid and necessary, an honest reflection of my very own virtual personal learning space.
Intellectual excitement for this new learning adventured bubbled within my being. Then, I landed on the technological shores of WordPress, unprepared to do what I passionately wanted to do, even though it was a required assignment for an IDT class in preparing to teach others to create and manage a PLE. I just couldn’t find a way to make the technology do what I wanted: I hadn’t acquired any level of ability. Nonetheless I trucked on.
The first few weeks I managed to post what was required with limited success. All the while capped angst about my digital inadequacies and tense frustration fomented under a feigned all-is-well veneer. Accomplishing that initial task didn’t illicit that sense of elated satisfaction I get when I work a stats problem correctly. Stats is difficult for me but when I wrestle with a problem long enough and figure it out, even if the simple arithmetic trips me up…wow! what ecstasy! The mistakes aren’t monumental in those stats problems either, unlike they were for me trying to build the Peregrinating the Web site. I would take an action and it would either not look like what I had expected or it would disappear! Once, in an attempt to up the design ante, I lost the sub-title. (I’ve now regained it, stumbling across an editing page that allowed me to reclaim it.) Then, there is the issue of time, that limited commodity of which there is never enough. What I felt should be a quick post to share some interesting thoughts or websites with classmates turned into an hour-long, nail-biting episode. “Well,” I thought to myself, “It’s up. That’s progress.” Then that modicum of success wilted as I visited my classmates’ appealingly formatted PLEs, teeming with interesting, informative, mature blog posts populated with graphics, and videos, and links, and all manner of good stuff to feast the eyes and mind on.
I take a stand: the phase of timidity in the face of challenge must end; how to peregrinate well through this new land must be confronted. So, structure begins to emerge from the mists of confusion.
I make a decision: forget formatting and look for now. That’s a world of skill acquisition unto itself. For now, only content counts. And surely as the content gets pasted to the site, through the process of just doing, the skills to do it well will follow. They must. That’s the thesis anyway.
What is it then that I want this space to BE in the vastness of contemporary connectedness to myself and my learning, and how that part of my being intersects and interacts with others who are also developing and defining their being and their learning in digital conversations and communications?
THE PEREGRINATING THE WEB MANIFESTO
1. Assist other digital immigrants (poor souls!) develop Personal Learning Environments that will satisfy their individual learning needs (a place to park information as it’s funneled through a sieve of questioning-to-clarity) and be instructive, helpful, affirming, ____________, ____________, __________, (blanks to be filled in as the process unfolds) for others.
2. Be accessible with an easy-to-navigate format, content rich, compellingly written, and visually appealing.
3.Tame the *@!* WordPress program so it will do what I want it to do so others will know they can, too.
4. Chronicle the raw data of emotions of discouragement and success as unashamedly as possible along with the information about learning and teaching and how it’s done in the digital age.
I think it’s doable.