I found a really interesting podcast by Graham Attwell describing and discussing the idea of personal learning environments (PLEs) where students can build up their own online learning tools using the Internet e.g. Wikipedia, blogs, discussions, online journals to create their own learning landscape. They have come about to get away from controlling learning for students, something a f2f classroom and Learning Management System tend to do. PLEs rely on providing a learner-controlled environment rather than a teacher-controlled environment.This aligns with what is known as web 2.0 where learners search for and use Internet technologies and pick and mix so they set up their own networked system e.g. My spaces, Google, Flickr, ourmedia, MSN etc. depending on their needs. See the diagram of the future online learning environment on Derek Wenmouth's blog Blackboard and other Learning Management Systems belong in web 1.0 systems where software is provided for the learner and learning is very controlled rather than learner-centred. There are some projects underway (ELGG and JISC) to create PLE systems - a contradiction in terms really - see below.
More places to look to find out more:
- ELGG Learning Landscapes - www.elgg.net
- JISC Personal Learning Environment Project (Plex) -www.cetis.ac.uk/members/ple/
I wonder is the idea of personal learning environments realistic? Even if we take on more of a facilitation role aren't we still controlling the environment to some extent by guiding students to the content we want them to learn and by assessing them on it?