• How might we use technologies that we have seen so far in this course (wikis, blogs twitter) as a PLE?

A PLE, for me, is all about creating connections with people. Wikis, blogs, Facebook and Twitter are tools that allow us to build learning communities with like-minded professionals, fellow learners and our students. We can share information, ideas and resources freely and easily over the web. These tools, to quote Selwyn (2008), are “…‘interactive’ rather than ‘broadcast’ forms of exchange, in which information is shared ‘many-to-many’ rather than being transmitted from one to many. Web 2.0 applications are built around the appropriation and sharing of content amongst communities of users, resulting in various forms of user-driven communication, collaboration and content creation and recreation.” Through “following” people on twitter, making “friends” on Facebook, joining wikis and having RSS feeds from blogs we can build our own learning environments and personalise it by deciding what information we want to “pull” to us. We can also “push” out content, information, thoughts and reflections via our own blog posts, wiki edits, “tweets” etc and enter into a conversation with anyone with web access.

  • What has been your experience of this distributed learning space so far? (Honestly!)

I like the concept of the wiki. It is democratic. We can all add content and contribute resources – we all can contribute to development of each other’s knowledge. The wiki itself is not a closed space, anyone can read it (though not everyone can edit it) and therefore our reflections, discussions and debates, as well as the content, are open to a much wider audience. I find with the wiki and the blog I am using my own voice whereas on Blackboard my register is more formal and in keeping with the “academic” register of a university learning environment. Being myself helps me in my learning.

  • Do you think that a VLE/MLE would form a good basis for a ‘Personalised Learning Environment’? (With reasons!!)

I think it can form part of a PLE (see the diagram of a PLE above) and my reason for this that a VLE, such as Blackboard, is a closed environment; there is no direct contact with the wider world. Of course, there is the opportunity for critical thinking and reflection within a VLE but audience is limited to those that are doing the same course as you.

Another criticism of a VLE is that there is an element of “top down” learning. The course tutor decides on the content of the course, there is less opportunity for learners themselves to add content and contribute to the knowledge base.

There is little possibility in a VLE to personalise your learning space both in terms of being able to choose the tools you prefer to use and also the look and feel of those tools (the choice of skins on Twitter or “themes” in blogs).


5 Responses to VLE and PLE

  1. Aileen Silver says:

    Oh James I do like this. My own observations today are rambling and not at all focused so I was really glad to read your blog. By answering Cormac’s questions you’ve given me a bit of what I miss from Blackboard (did I say I miss BB – surely some mistake!!!)

    Having said that I don’t actually like the BB environment much although unlike you I think I find its formality aids my learning – perhaps that’s a throwback to my schooldays (though as I was a miserable student in those days that seems unlikely). Perhaps it is just that the formality helps me to focus. But this just shows that we’re all individuals and what suits some will not suit others. It’s good to know that we have choices!

    And talking of choices I too appreciate the opportunity to personalise my learning spaces – hence my own sunrise photo in my blog header.

  2. Breege Loftus says:

    There is food for thought there.
    I liked it. As Aileen wrote, it answered the questions and is so well structured.

  3. This quote from Attwell (2007) http://www.elearningeuropa.info/files/media/media11561.pdf from the Readings for week 5 resonates very strongly with me “Personal Learning environments are not an application but rather a new approach to the use of new technologies for learning. There remain many issues to be resolved. But, at the end of the day, the argument for the use of Personal Learning environments is not technical but rather is philosophical, ethical and pedagogic. PLEs provide learners with their own spaces under their own control to develop and share their ideas. Moreover, PLEs can provide a more holistic learning environments, bringing together sources and contexts for learning hitherto separate.

    Students learn how to take responsibility or their own learning. Critically, PLEs can bridge the walled gardens of the educational institutions with the worlds outside. In so doing learners can develop the judgements and skills or literacy necessary for using new technologies in a rapidly changing society.

  4. Aileen Silver says:

    Thanks James for the link to Attwell which I had managed to miss in the course materials! Interesting reading which supports my nascent understanding of PLEs.

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