Tag Archives: personal learning environment

Drafting a personal learning plan

I have never been better at accountability than when I was working three jobs and a volunteer gig seven days a week and taking two online college classes, all while trying to maintain something close to normal relationships with other human beings. (As Lucille Ball has said, “The more things you do, the more you can do.”)

Although I have effectively no desire to return to that particular state any time soon, some accountability would nevertheless be welcome in furthering my self-educationĀ goals.

To that end, I present version 0.1 of my personal learning plan, articulated for my own benefit and articulated publicly for my further benefit. The plan wants tinkering toward version 1.0, but anyhow is better said than sat on:

Learning Plan (March 2015)

Learning by doing is…hard

After many, many months of playing with various ways to “roll your own” on the Web — including using Google Drive as a site host, installing a slew of open source scripts to my local machine, and running a few websites from my desktop for an audience of exactly one — I have taken the plunge into a hosted server environment.

What a weekend. The image of the hand-coded index page reveals more of what I cannot do than of what I can. I managed to knock at least some of my server properties out of commission for still-mysterious reasons (but clearing the cache and refreshing the DNS entries at least did not make it worse, whether or not they helped). The past couple of days have held a lot of uncomfortable learning, which is simultaneously the very best and least welcome kind.

At least I accomplished the choosing of a server and the spinning up of this very WordPress blog. Advantages of the server company I chose include “unlimited” this-and-that, a “free” domain renewal each year, and especially monthly billing, so that I can throw in the towel any time I like. Disadvantages, however, include a relative dearth of one-click script installs, the benefits of which are quickly becoming evident.


  • One domain, two sub-domains (so far)
  • Apache, PHP…the usual — but no ability to customize the server environment because it is shared



This is the same software familiar to those who use Wikimedia properties. Configuration is a bit frustrated for a layperson, but using it as an end-user is easy enough. A Wiki is both simple and flexible; achieving that can result in alienating casual users, since “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy”. There is a reward on the other side, however.


Still one of the best, and with Jetpack, even a self-hosted instance (like this one!) can take advantage of a bunch of quick integrations — social sharing, Markdown, basic stats, and so forth.


After asking to be one of the Beta kids, and after receiving my invite, I promptly put off signing up until a couple of days ago. Known offers both free and paid accounts, but also is available as an open source script. My attempt to install it — and then trouble-shoot the installation — was unsuccessful, unfortunately; unlike both MediaWiki and WordPress, this script was not a supported one-click installation. Known is social networking that caters to the person rather than to the platform, encouraging both individual ownership and considered openness.


Ah, Moodle. Almost as prickly on the back end as MediaWiki, and every bit as robust. I have run this on my local machine, but have yet to try for a proper installation.

Some things that make me sad:

Ghost runs on Node.js and is generally not supported in a shared server environment. Meanwhile, the hosted version offers no freemium. Ghost is a beautiful, elegant, simple, Markdown-driven blog platform, but one that eludes me. At least one WordPress theme mimics the front-facing glory of Ghost, if not the back-end joys, but, alas, does not quite offer the menu I want without PHP fiddling.

Some things that make me happy:

Markdown syntax in the WordPress editor? Nice! Moreover, users of Draft get a small win in being able to create WP posts and pages in the comfy Draft editor and send the content back to WP with a minimum of fuss.

Next up…


To be learned!


To be re-attempted!


I am a curator without a collection…or am I?


Clearly, I will never get anywhere without this…

Achievement Unlocked: HTML and CSS

Today, at long last, I have completed Saylor Academy’s PRDV251: HTML and CSS for Beginners course (CC BY 3.0 wrapper, comprising both open and closed resources).


The course requires some light hacking; in particular, figuring out how to use a text editor and browser to create a cohesive website from local files is largely up to the student, but there is no shortage of help available from the Web. In any case, I regard this friction as a good thing, driving learning and retention.

Rather than take notes in an outline format for this course, which is my wont, I decided to create a website that would serve as both sandbox and documentation for what I learned. The result, written in a series of lightweight text editors and published via Google Drive is this:

PRDV251: HTML and CSS for Beginners | Demonstration Site

Demonstration Site: PRDV251: HTML and CSS for Beginners
Overall, the course is very good and recommended not least for its introduction of other useful resources. Finally, a confession: the code is messy and not really all good HTML5; one develops best practices along the way and earlier work is inferior to the later stuff. So it goes. Some things got fixed, some things got commented out, and some things are there to stay as a permanent reminder of what not to do in the future.

The Dreaded First Post

Image of books arranged to form a tunnel, from a library in Prague
Book Tunnel by Petr Kratochvil | CC0

Best to get it over with, of course, so here it is: the dreaded first post. An introduction is in order.

What is it?

This blog is a response to two distinct, if related needs. The first need is for an outlet to talk about technology, particularly educational technology, and digital culture, particularly that of online learning (to include the wild world of MOOCs). The second need is for a personal learning environment, or PLE — a place to gather the courses, credentials, and activities that relate to my informal, ongoing digital education.

My hope is that by responding to the first need, I will reach an audience interested generally in news and discussion of online learning; by responding to the second need, I will reach an audience interested specifically in how to manage one’s learning to best effect.

Outside of these needs, of course, I will probably deal with all sorts of topics as they occur to me or otherwise suit me. I will ask questions in search of an answer, provide answers in search of a question, and by entertaining myself, maybe — just maybe — entertain others. Any enlightenment will most likely be incidental.

Why ‘OER Educated’

Well, the title is a pun, of course, which might need no explaining (cue explanation): ‘OER’ stands for ‘open educational resources‘, which are free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-speech learning resources available on the web. So the title intends both ‘educated by OER’ as well as ‘over-educated’, which I certainly am not, overall, though I may have too much of some sorts of education and too little of other sorts.

My Expertise

Why should you listen to me? Maybe you shouldn’t. I will try to be entertaining, informative, and compelling, however. Also, I know a good deal about OER and MOOCs and Creative Commons and all kinds of fun stuff — I’ve worked in the open online education world for nearly three years, and I’ve been in education for about eight or nine. Take from that what you will, but I carry at least some small bit of authority, and make up for what I lack with a charming mix of bravado and diffidence.
Finally, the aesthetics of the blog are very much in flux…I didn’t want perfection to be the enemy of posted. So, here we go!