#PLENK2010 is the tag for the massive open online course (MOOC), Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge. Sponsored and organized by the The Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) of Athabasca Unviersity, it is facilitated by George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Dave Cormier, and Rita Kop. In advance of the September 13, 2010, start, a discussion forum has been opened for participant introductions, and a live online introductory session was held September 10 for those anxious to see what a MOOC is all about, and others.

There are over 800 registered so far, and a previous MOOC had about 2300. Experience shows that the number of active participants will drop quite considerably. The nice thing about this free and open course is that people may take (and give) as little or much as they want from it. There is no penalty for not participating, while others may be using the work toward academic studies. Either way, the size will be overwhelming and presents an early challenge.

During the introductory session, it was clarified that it will be difficult to read every mesage and publication as well as take part in all discussions. Side groups will form, such as the one I have joined in Second Life. The advice given is not to worry about trying to take in everything. Each individual can be involved to his or own level of comfort. We were reminded that the important ideas in a network will continue to grow, so we will see them again.

So why am I in the course? I’ve been considering doctoral studies over the past year and seeking determining the research direction. Personal Learning Environments (PLE) dovetail nicely. I’m planning to build on my Master of Distance Education, and many of my areas of interest would apply if I choose to pursue PLEs as a significant part of the research. Not only would I research PLEs, but I need to explore mine in greater depth. As I maintain a strong interest in workplace learning and professional development, I have some things to say and ideas about how PLEs should be incorporated. These comments will be presented and developed over time.

It is now early Saturday morning in western Canada. I look forward to reading more introductions over the weekend, receiving an outline for the week’s readings and activities on Sunday, and commencing an active course on Monday.

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