In 1991 Gerald Grow drew up his matrix of matches and mis-matches between learner stages and teacher styles and the first few days on #PLENK have confirmed to me that in any learning situation there is a need for a certain level of support to learners, also to participants in a course such as PLENK so they do not to feel that they are drowning in an overwhelming sea of information. I think that all four of us facilitators are providing support in one way or another, in addition to several of MOOC old-timers and it is interesting to see that participants in the course have their own strategies to find support. Some posted comments on the course blog containing technical questions, while others used the Moodle discussion board or email, while I have also seen questions on Twitter and participant's blogs.
To me the level of autonomy that learners have and can handle is one of the major challenges for successful learning in a Personal Learning Environment as it is clear from a body of literature that not all learners are able to fully direct their learning them selves. This can be because of age and level of maturity, but there are also factors influencing the successful self-directed learning of adults. Paul Bouchard from Concordia University in Montreal distinguished four major groups of influencing factors: 1. Related to issues of motivation, confidence and self-efficacy of learners; 2. related to organizing and sequencing resources and information and time; 3. related to language and increasingly other media used in learning; and the fourth related to economy, as people make a cost and benefit analysis about what type of learning they will get involved in, which could be in a formal course where they receive a qualification if positive learning outcomes are achieved, or informal related to interest for instance.
It is my current job with our PLE group here in Moncton to research, think about and find out what kind of support learners need in a PLE and then to translate this into a pedagogical platform and technical support structure that will enhance the learning experience. We will tell you more about our research throughout the course, but I was hoping that you would be willing to engage in this thinking process and tell us what would have helped you in this first week to find your feet, to get into the swing of things that wee bit easier. What scaffolds or climbing frames of support might help you in this process of self-directed learning?