A group of educators has gathered to redesign the District’s middle school (sixth grade) computer education course. I am a member of that group leading the module on Personal Learning Communities (PLC). Each Module will be allowed 220 contact minutes a week (four 55-minute class sessions).
As I think of Personal Learning Communities (PLC) they don’t fit within four 55-minute classes. To me developing a PLC is and ongoing and continuous process – something that you strive to strengthen and develop over time. Can anyone give me some advice on what to tell the school district about this module? They are looking for the traditional, “learning objectives,” “Exemplar / student samples,” “activities.” What do others think?
I am hoping that by using the Classroom 2.0 community I can demonstrate how connective learning works… so give me feedback and I will incorporate this discussion into our district meetings as we develop these modules. Thank you in advance for your time...
The other modules being developed for the course are…
Module 1: Personal Learning Communities
Module 2: Digital Photography
Module 3: Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship
Module 4: Web Site Design
Module 5: Online Research and Using Online Databases
Module 6: Data Analysis
Module 7: Introduction to Programming
Module 8: Digital Video Production
Module 9: Google Earth and GPS
Honestly, I'd skip it. It's just the latest buzzword and your instincts questioning this are good. What are the kids going to learn, really? It's not enough time, as you point out, and I think it's even worse as an opening module, too abstract.
I'd start with online research since that can be built on for all the other modules and include time at the end for kids to do some culminating projects that draw from the modules.
If you start with online research, you can do a little bit on finding networks and forums that touch on the same content as PLN would. Then it fits in a context and is something that they can use in upcoming modules.
I want to come back and comment more about this when I have a few more minutes...but my initial thoughts are, move module 3: Internet Safety to your first module. I agree with Sylvia, that online research is important and should have a bigger role and move up earlier in your scheduling, but if kids are going to do any kind of work on the internet, they need to know how to safely do it first. But make it fun-maybe a webquest could be involved.
Then move onto online research and maybe do PLC's after that or as one of your last modules. I think it's an interesting idea to teach students-although this definitely has given me ideas for how to teach this with teachers too!