Personal Learning Environments June 4-24, 2007

Into tools . . .

Into tools . . .

by Derek Chirnside -
Number of replies: 35
From Re: Welcome . . . by emmadw on Monday, 4 June 2007 8:31:00 a.m.:
That's where I'd see something like Elgg, Plex or Facebook being the starting point.

Pretty quick we have got into a discussion of tools. The technical side of things. 

I'll add one more: James Farmer makes a case for WPMU - Wordpress Multiuser as an option.  Wordpress is one of the most popular open source blogging tools, but it has incredible flexibility to add pages, and from the dashboard to add items (like feeds, links etc) to the home page)

In fact, I reckon that right now we’re limited pretty much only by our imagination and ambition, and in tools like Elgg and WPMU we’re not far off cracking it. Yeh, major institutions aren’t going to start switching their LMSs to our PLEs any time soon and yes security, ip, maturity and (above all IMO) the structuralist transmissive models that LMSs on the whole play up to and re-enforce make this a difficult journey, but having said all that…. stranger things have happened.
[http://incsub.org/blog/2006/the-inevitable-personal-learning-environment-post]

But: this begs the question.  What is a PLE?

Derek is actually writing a short paper as part of his normal day job that may appear here soon.  But a little preview.

There are clearly at least two views of PLE's on we we get technical.
  1. An application.  (Please correct my lingo here Derek)  Like Elgg, Plex, Facebook, WPMU.
  2. Or a collection of tools.  Just have a home page of some sort (like Netvibes as Derek suggests) where you link to your suite of tools.
    Stephen Downes is strong on this view.
Maybe Emma is on the right track: a starting point.  From there on - into the hands of the student/learner.

Brenda's question From Re: Welcome . . . by harpsouth on Monday, 4 June 2007 5:15:00 a.m.: Is there a place where one might see a sample? does not quite have a simple answer.  I had this romantic view of a few field trips to vist during our time together.

So to with Amy's question: From Re: Welcome . . . by ajs on Monday, 4 June 2007 10:14:00 a.m.: Can an LMS (Learning Management System - or a VLE - Virtual Learning Environment) be extended to provide some of the benefits of a PLE as well?  :-)

Comments?


In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Into tools . . .

by Michele Martin -
I'm with Stephen on this that it's a collection of tools. I think that people need to have maximum flexibility to pull together the tools that work best for them. I also think that they need maximum portability to carry and use these tools throughout their lifetime, no matter where they are, which means not tying people down to an institutionally-based tool.

I think we should be focusing on helping people become self-directed life-long learners. We may guide them in selecting tools that work for them to accomplish different learning tasks. We may provide support in thinking about different learning activities in which to engage. But in the end it has to be left to individual choice and control, I think, or else we'll have something that no one really wants to use.

 
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Into tools . . .

by Heather Ross -
I've looked at Netvibes and haven't seen a real difference between it and the personalized Google homepage, so that may be another option to consider. Per Sylvia's recommendation I checked out pageflake, which also reminds me of Google, but allows for sharing, which is great (it doesn't let me add my Google Reader to it though). This may make me look at Google in an entirely different way.

I have noticed that whether we're talking about "applications" or a collection of tools, we seem focused on those that are Web-based.
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Into tools . . .

by Glen Davies -
>I have noticed that whether we're talking about "applications" or a collection >of tools, we seem focused on those that are Web-based.

Good point - in my view the daily paper spread on the kitchen table and being browsed over with breakfast (much more forgiving of spilt milk than an online version) is as much a part of the PLE as a nifty web based aggregator.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Into tools . . .

by Ron Lubensky -
I wrote about PLEs as part of a university class assignment about emerging trends in edutech back in August 2006 when the term "PLE" was just gaining traction. A copy of my article is here.

We can debate the merits of whether a PLE should be a neat platform or an emergent mess (like my real desktop). I reckon we'll always have both kinds of solutions.

What we need is enabling technology to allow both to occur. We already have mashup APIs to hook into online services. To complete the picture we need hooks and placeholders into VLEs and LMSs that allows our PLE to access and retrieve resources and replay experiences from those monoliths, even after we've moved on to new things. IMO, no PLE (however it is assembled) is complete without this capability).

The main barrier, as I wrote, is control. How do we motivate university or corporate ICT administrators to open up a walled garden that they believe is theirs to control and keep safe?

At the time, I received a distinction but little comment back from my professor (a respected academic) or my cohort. Perhaps at the time they thought I was just "out there". Ahh, the perils crossing the Shift! I mean really, people should organise their own learning resources? Web 2.0 for learning (which is exactly where I went to source the article)? Cutting into VLEs? How ridiculous!
In reply to Ron Lubensky

Re: Into tools . . .

by Derek Chirnside -
Ron, I actually posted on your blog today, I had one little question about your PLE definition.  I was curious why you limited it to digital stuff..

But your comments about VLE's: Agreed!!  This is a link to Leigh Blackall's internet comic.

http://flickr.com/photos/leighblackall/sets/1733041/show/  There probably is a way to embed the slideshow, but I don't know how to do it.

You say: From Re: Into tools . . . by rlubensky on Monday, 4 June 2007 7:30:00 p.m.:
The main barrier, as I wrote, is control. How do we motivate university or corporate ICT administrators to open up a walled garden that they believe is theirs to control and keep safe?

How indeed!!  ??
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Into tools . . .

by Ron Lubensky -
My definition was a synthesis of what I gleaned from others in the blogosphere. I still believe that everyone is seeing the PLE as a digital tool. But a real thing like a textbook can be represented in the digital realm by metadata which describes something about it that is important to me, locates it in my hard copy, and links perhaps to a common source of metadata about it like Amazon. To get at artefacts down the track (why else would you have a PLE?), the PLE could either link directly to those items if they are digital, or indirectly through metadata.
In reply to Ron Lubensky

Re: Into tools . . .

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Ron said: To complete the picture we need hooks and placeholders into VLEs and LMSs that allows our PLE to access and retrieve resources and replay experiences from those monoliths, even after we've moved on to new things. IMO, no PLE (however it is assembled) is complete without this capability).

The main barrier, as I wrote, is control. How do we motivate university or corporate ICT administrators to open up a walled garden that they believe is theirs to control and keep safe?

It's certainly an issue linking current VLEs into a PLE - as most VLEs tend to be very restrictive. You've already mentioned adminstrators opening up walled gardens - the other hurdle is opening up the software. We're using WebCT - and are in the process of moving from WebCT 4.1 to webCT Vista. There's not much I can do about that, in particular the difficulty of getting information out of it. (It's a bit like a cage). However, there's nothing to stop the reverse happening. It is possible to add feeds coming into WebCT & have students see them as if they are in WebCT.

There are several aspects, of course, to the control. There's the fear of getting nasties into the system, the fear of material that gives the University a bad name getting out - and also practial issues of getting ensuring that only internal students can host files etc. on the Uni servers.

I guess marketing would have differing priorities to computer support!
In reply to Ron Lubensky

Re: Into tools . . .

by Derek Wenmoth -
Hi Ron
I've had a good read of your article online - and really like it. You've captured the essence of what I see happening in the PLE space. I like your definition, and, while it can be argued that we should be taking account of non-digital resources, the reality is that we're talking about the online space here, and an increasing dependence on digital artefacts.

I like the way that your interpretation of an artefact appears to include the record of conversations and interactions online. For me it is important that a PLE addresses both sides of the eLearning equation - that is, the resource and the discourse elements - thus the capabilities of a content management system must sit alongside synchronous and asynchronous communications tools in a PLE.

The final bit of reflection (for this post anyway) relates to your reference to the concept of "mashups". This is certainly becoming increasingly referred to as various people attempt to descibe what they are trying to achieve in "joining together" a whole lot of disparate tools. Helen Barrett, of e-Portfolio fame, discusses this from the point of view of portfolios at the centre of her world in her post at http://electronicportfolios.com/blog/2006/10/eife-l-conference-2006.html

Seems to me that Helen is also talking about a PLE in this regard - but has chosen to put the portfolio at the centre because that is her focus of concern.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: tools, an attitude or lifelong learning

by bronwyn hegarty -
It is fascinating to see so many perspectives on the topic of PLEs. When Glen mentions the newspaper as a valid PLE he is missing the point. Didn't PLEs come about as a result of web2 technobes wanting to break away from the rigid mentality of using a LMS or VLC for learning? Thus moving us onto web 2 ways of interacting and as a lead up to web 3 - even more intelligent ways of organising and using information to extract meaning. So PLE does refer to web-based learning.

From Wikipedia: "There is also debate over whether the driving force behind Web 3.0 will be intelligent systems, or whether intelligence will emerge in a more organic fashion, from systems of intelligent people, such as via collaborative filtering services like del.icio.us, Flickr and Digg that extract meaning and order from the existing Web and how people interact with it.[5]"

I believe the PLE was born from a need to harness the freedom of the web and to help us escape from being trapped in a web warp experience such as that provided by LMSs such as Blackboard, Moodle, WebCT etc. ePortfolios were the interim measure and were in favour for a blink of a second....there are some people still murmuring about them...quietly.

PLEs in the true intention of the term are web-based environments which we construct using our own choice of socially networked tools. aren't they?

But big names are now trying to build them for us so we can slot neatly once more into a comfortable cyber existence. Isn't the Google interface and other facilities such as pageflakes, Facebook, netvibes etc just another trap to get us comfortable and organised. I find firefox and having lots of tabs open works pretty well so my organisation is dynamic to fit the situation and my need at the time. Bloglines does help me organise RSS feeds....

I believe this relates to Complexity learning theory which I have written about on another post......
Bronwyn

In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: complexity theory

by bronwyn hegarty -
...If you believe in the Chaos theory of learning or Complexity learning theory -you will see the relevance of learners constructing their own learning pathways in an environment which may be quite discombobulated...not managed neatly at all in a one page/site fits all mentality. i.e. a LMS, website or PLE - in the strict definition of the term.

Surely we need to flow as our learning needs change by the hour, by the day? If I get slotted into a neat PLE system whatever that is, I have already constructed walls and barriers to some extent. The very act of selection has reduced my perceptive field of vision. I have become set in my webways, my pre-determined feeds and structures and tools. Complexity may be eliminated and in doing so I have reduced my learning potential. A PLE has now become a lineated web ...a contradiction in terms really.

For more on complexity theory you may like to read Developing Online From Simplicity toward Complexity: Going with the Flow of Non-Linear Learning by Renata Phelps

"Complexity’s perspective is that teachers need to accept students’ ability to organise, construct and structure learning, combining supportive and challenging behaviour; equilibrium with disequilibrium. ‘Curriculum becomes a process of development rather than a body of knowledge to be covered or learned"

Renata Phelps found in her phD research that complexity theory underpinned the building of capability in computer learning (diagram p184) - we have to branch out and explore to develop capability otherwise we become stuck in the land of competency, a linear existence, but one which can suffice. "Individuals on the capability path, however, may have undefinable or unpredictable skills, knowledge or abilities and there is far less control over the learning process." (p185.)

I wonder who agrees with the complexity theory idea for learning and is willing to toss the PLE idea out the window with me?

Bronwyn

In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: complexity theory

by Inge Ignatia de Waard -
I completely agree on the relevance of learners that need to construct their own learning pathways. Any package PLE can only decrease the ability to express your own learning path and experience.

Thanx a lot for the links on complexity theory, I am going to read it now.

But could not it be possible that it depends on the type of learner you are, that you benefit from either non-constructed PLE's or packaged PLE's? I can imagine that structured learners have more problems in constantly looking to change their PLE in opposite to learners who just cannot accept rigidness (me included). Maybe the learner tools should be in function of the type of learners there are?
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: complexity theory

by Andy Roberts -

"willing to toss the PLE idea out the window"

I'm willing ultimately, to reduce the PLE down to something so simple as to be almost meaningless, such as "the browser" or "the internet". But perhaps there is a case for  pragmatism and looking at where a lot of intitutional learning is currently at, and how far it can be pushed in one phase without appearing to threaten their very existence too obviously.

In introducing the PLE concept there are already attempts to contain it within an intitutional framework. "Here is your PLE which we have supplied for you, and now you are required to use it if you want the accreditation". Developers seeking to "implement" PLEs because they've been asked to build one by somebody who will never really accept the idea of student autonomy which is inherent in the curriculum based on process rather than content described above.
 
Yes, I was a student myself quite recently, and I was able to use my own "PLE" as the basis for learning and even assesment which suited me finel. So at the end of three years I came out with a history of accounts with various online services, but also an established blog and a chaotic wiki  both running under my own domain which I think is important. I'm a great believer in the "small pieces loosely joined" approach but there is also a danger in encouraging people to hand over control of their PLE  to the service providers such as Google, Facebook etc or even James Farmer.

So I say, encourage them to buy and set up their own domain name and installed applications as early as possible, then they will have genuine ownership of a useful and enduring set of tools for lifelong learning which nobody else can delete at the end of the course.
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: complexity theory

by Ron Lubensky -
Hi Bronwyn,

Complexity learning theory
was a new one for me, although the underlying ideas are not. In the adult world there are so many examples of outcomes-assessed,  competency-based, objectives-driven, behaviourist, teleological, deterministic learning that profoundly squash innovation, creativity and problem-solving ability. Surely the ideal for life-long learning is student-centred under a broadly constructivist epistemology, with modelling and scaffolding (ie teaching, mentoring, resource availability) that reinforces a systems view of the world where outcomes emerge from complex interaction. Of course, this is a challenge in K-12 where the capacity for unstructured, collaborative, open-ended learning needs to be built up.

With respect, I think you are misunderstanding the mission of a PLE. I don't think those who are considering its merit (we're not talking Blackboard Inc) are imagining that it should impose a reductionist approach. Does your timber desk stop you from taking a systems view of the world? No, although if you spend too much time behind it you might not experience enough of the richness of life. Similarly, you don't experience everything about the world through your PLE, rather a PLE is something you come back to, with links and artefacts found in your greater life, which you can archive, link, catalogue, blog about, reflect on, elaborate on, and otherwise organise so they remain meaningful and accessible to you. As a life-long learner, you should still seek new sources of information, perspectives and relationships between things, some of which might be made easier with online tools accessible via your PLE.

Any PLE that forces a logical organisation of artefacts isn't a PLE, as far as I believe most see it. Rather, it has to be dynamically configurable, personalisable. It should be as deep and as wide as you want, as long as you have the time to maintain it. This goes with that today, tomorrow I throw that out and replace it with something else, which I relate to this. That feed is live, this one is suspended until I change my mind.  It's your surrogate memory, a digital whiteboard, online diary, subscription monitor, cognitive garden for a complex world.

Of course, that's the ideal. Remains to be seen if this is just too ambitious for either the average learner who doesn't know what RSS is, or the application builder who thinks flexibility is too complex to implement.
In reply to Ron Lubensky

Re: complexity theory

by Emma Duke-Williams -
From Re: complexity theory by bronwynh on 04 June 2007 22:03:00:
I wonder who agrees with the complexity theory idea for learning and is willing to toss the PLE idea out the window with me?

Sorry, Bronwyn, No. But, thinking about Ron & Andy's comments,

From Re: complexity theory by rlubensky on 05 June 2007 04:31:00:
Of course, that's the ideal. Remains to be seen if this is just too ambitious for either the average learner who doesn't know what RSS is, or the application builder who thinks flexibility is too complex to implement.

From Re: complexity theory by andyr on 05 June 2007 02:34:00:
So I say, encourage them to buy and set up their own domain name and installed applications as early as possible, then they will have genuine ownership of a useful and enduring set of tools for lifelong learning which nobody else can delete at the end of the course.

if we're really thinking about a PLE, the doscombolbulation that you mention should be workable, once we have helped students to know what RSS is & how they can best use it to suit themselves - and to suit what they view as important, today.

I'm not sure I agree, either, with Ron's point about the builder thinking flexibility is too complex to implement. All she has to do is to find a new application - and ensure that what is generated is integrable with everything else. They haven't got to build the framework to hold it all together.

Others have mentioned Netvibes vs. iGoogle vs Pageflake (I've not tried the latter), and the difficulties of getting Google reader to show up in Netvibes etc. That's where the application builder hasn't thought about the external interface (or, perhaps he has & didn't want to have it working with anything other than iGoogle!)
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: complexity theory

by Ron Lubensky -
From Emma Duke-Williams - Tuesday, 5 June 2007, 11:37 PM
I'm not sure I agree, either, with Ron's point about the builder thinking flexibility is too complex to implement. All she has to do is to find a new application - and ensure that what is generated is integrable with everything else. They haven't got to build the framework to hold it all together.

I was referring to the software development of a platform PLE which might semi-automate artefact linking, aggregating, archiving, etc. as well as hooking into services and VLEs.

In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: tools, an attitude or lifelong learning

by Glen Davies -
> When Glen mentions the newspaper as a valid PLE he is missing the point.

No I wasn't missing the point, and I wasn't saying that the Newspaper was a PLE, but that the newspaper spread across the table and being scanned while eating breakfast was part of my 'Personal Learning Environment' - the table and the breakfast are just as an important part as the newspaper ;-)

The people that are trying to define the PLE as some web based thing, or trying to define it as anything are the ones missing the point. The P stands for Personal. If part of my daily learning involves reading the paper over breakfast everyday then that is part of my 'Personal Learning Environment', just as much as my rss reader, my email, etc. As I stated in my previous post, the only reason you would want to try and define a PLE, or wrap it up in a sexy web 2.0 wrapper and put PLE(beta) in big letters on top is if you were a developer looking for some JISC funding, or an academic looking for a new paper to write and present at the latest conference.  Going down this line will just end up trapping us in the same inflexible 'learning' systems that we may be trying to escape from. I agree with your complexity theory post Bronwyn - we need to throw the whole PLE concept out the window before higher education in general get their teeth into it.

regards
Glen
In reply to Glen Davies

Re: tools, an attitude or lifelong learning

by Nick Kearney -
Not sure we need to throw PLE out the window. But it seems to me to be a concept rather than a tool, and we need to insist on thinking about it in those terms. It isnt a question of designing or finding or implementing a PLE, because each of us already have one, whether we like it or not!!

The conversation about PLEs is interesting because of the way it reveals and makes explicit the ways we use the loose aggregation of tools that we use to manage our learning, and how we behave within that combination of tools, and in that sense it gives insight. And that conversation may throw up useful combinations of tools that we can adopt for ourselves.

Unfortunately the terminology we use is problematic. It seems to me that in this context (education, learning, Internet) there is frequently a process in which a term is coined which originally is provocative and emphasises the way the new idea differs from previous ideas by similarity, usually the term changes one element or adds something. For example, e-learning or Web 2.0. and now P (as opposed to V) LE.  For a while the terms are useful,  but then through misunderstandings, the desire to commoditise them, or simple overuse they become reified. It seems to me that the term PLE frames the discussion in unhelpful ways, we are too used to seeing LEs of any kind as tools. Perhaps it is the term PLE that should be ditched, but it wont be, it is too late. What we can do is focus the discussion on uses and behaviours rather than on the idea of a PLE as a unified tool.

The other assumption that derives from the term that the PLE is online, or on a computer. Some of my work happens in environments (contexts if you like!!) into which it would not be sensible for me to take a computer. I take notes on paper, and that is part of my learning. I am still looking for ways to integrate that easily with the stuff on my computer ( I would welcome suggestions), but it isnt just a question of uploading, there are ways in which I think about that material, the way I record it, the way I process it that seem to me different to the ways I work on screen. It seems to me that that integration isnt just a technological issue. Emma mentioned baths and beaches, perhaps the way we think, turn over ideas in those contexts is different. How do you integrate that kind of learning with the rest?
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: tools, an attitude or lifelong learning

by Emma Duke-Williams -
From Re: tools, an attitude or lifelong learning by bronwynh on 04 June 2007 22:00:00:
PLEs in the true intention of the term are web-based environments which we construct using our own choice of socially networked tools. aren't they?

I think that that's what PLEs have come to mean, though there are several different takes - if we're concentrating on "Personal" - then, as I & others have said, the amount you want to let others in is going to vary. Some people are very sociable, some are hermits. Most of us have times when  we're one & times when we're the other. Most of us have different personas we present in different situations.

"Learning" - well, I need several things - a computer is only one of them. Books are useful, the computer doesn't have to be connected, if, for example, I'm leaarning to program. On the other hand, at that stage, someone looking over my shoulder telling me I've forgotten the ";" at the end of the line is very useful.

"Environment" - perhaps I learn best on the beach, in the library - while thinking in the bath. Etc.

However, combining them all together we do have the connotation, now, that a web-enabled computer is there, tying it all together. What we have to ensure is that "personal" and "learning" are crucial.

That probably means that we can't dictate too much to students, but we are going to have to help them. Often a lot. Students may have come to university to learn about History, and to learn about themselves, not necessarily to learn any more computing than they absolutely have to.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

graphic web2.0 tools?

by Inge Ignatia de Waard -
Browsing the net for web2.0 tools left me with a void: what about my graphic diary - PLE?

since I was a child I make bad drawings in my diary. Now that I have crossed the digital bridge, I blog, but I just cannot seem to find a tool that enables me to make a graphic evolutionary diary.
You know the Chinese/Ethiopian scrolls? The really long ones that have a book-like feeling. I have diaries just like that on which I add images that build the comic book of my life. But ever since I crossed over to the digital diary - which also mapped my learning progress - my life's scroll has somewhat come to a halt.

Does any of you know a tool that makes this possible?
In reply to Inge Ignatia de Waard

Re: graphic web2.0 tools?

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Do you want something that would let you upload images to the blog, but rather than having one image per post, have an ever elongating series of images?
I guess that could be do-able (sort of) if you were able to play with the code of the blogging tool & hide most things (like the headings etc).

Or, do you want an online drawing tool that will let you create an ever growing image? For the latter, I've just experimented with Gliffy, I've been able to create an image, save it & re-open & elongate it. I think that 9999 pixels is the longest, and that's quite a bit of scrolling. Whether or not the drawing features of Gliffy are up to what you'd want are another matter!

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: graphic web2.0 tools?

by Heather Ross -
I'm making use of Gliffy in some of the courses that I'm designing. Students need to be able to collaborate on creating floor plans and they're all over the province. We haven't gotten to the point where the students are using it, but the instructors think it's great.
In reply to Inge Ignatia de Waard

Re: graphic web2.0 tools?

by Nick Kearney -
Evernote may be able to help you with some of that, Ignatia. It could be used as a diary, and does support simple graphic drawings, you could perhaps link to scanned versions of the more complex ones.
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Into tools . . .

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I've just read an interesting post on Rick Lillie's blog at Eduspaces. (Good example of an Elgg install, if you've not seen it before)
He was discussing Google Notebook & Flixn I've experimented with Google Notebook before, but Flixn is new. If it's also new to you, it's site where you can record yourself on your webcam & it converts it to a flash based video, which is hosted, pretty much like YouTube.

One point he raised, though, and it's what I commented on:
However, both online services are plagued by significant bugs and silence on the parts of the developers.  While I appreciate the immensely creative efforts of the developers, their unwillingness to respond to problems greatly reduces their product desirability and usefulness.

Many of the tools that we've talked about are free, or have free versions. How do we best defend their use to both students and to administrators. What do we do when the hosted sites go down/ disappear/ whatever?

I know that in the past, when students have asked me this, I've then asked them how many of them have ever photocopied the notes that they write in class and/ or backed up what's on their computer at home. I've yet to have a student who has done the former; most students have done the latter at some point - though often after a friend has lost their hard drive and/ or not done it for months (I better do a back up myself!). Pointing out to them that it's a good idea to back up *all* electronic stuff, whether it's on your hard drive or on someone else's server is a good idea.

For material that the University hosts, though, the expectation is that the Uni will backup. At what point should we expect the University to take over & at what point should students take responsibility?
(On a somewhat related note, what happens when the library burns down? How long would you expect the Uni to take to rebuilt / restock? What about out of print copies / student dissertations?)
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Into tools . . .

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Into tools . . .

by Julia Hengstler -
Deidre,
I would add to that list a new tool i-Lighter (http://www.i-lighter.com). I was just emailed a link and am playing with it now. It looks handy--and you can share your i-lighted materials with others--post to blogs, email it, etc. I'm not sure re. its status--bound for freedom or commerce--but it is interesting.
Julia
In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: Into tools . . .

by Michele Martin -
Hi Julia--I tried i-lighter, but found that I really missed actually seeing a yellow highlight on the page. At least when I was using it, i-lighter was more like Google Notebooks where it cut and pasted info, rather than physically highlighting it on the page. Now I use diigo, which I personally prefer. I have a couple of personal reviews on my site of i-lighter, Google Notebooks and Diigo that give my perspective, if you're interested in looking at other tools.
In reply to Michele Martin

Re: Into tools . . .

by Julia Hengstler -
Thanks, Michele. They must have listened to feedback, because the released version actually highlights the selected items--so far in yellow. I haven't checked to see if that can be changed. I'll check out the others you've mentioned as well. I think that checking back--collectively like this is a bonus--is critical as software develops and it's hard for individuals to keep up with all the changes!
J
In reply to Derek Chirnside

MS Groove and Open University's Compendium.

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I have just put Office 2007 onto my laptop & have found MS's Groove. I've also been experimenting with the OU Compendium.

I rather like OneNote, but that isn't really that collaborative, so wouldn't, I suspect, fit the model for the sort of PLE that people are looking for (also, you can't import RSS feeds - unless I've not found that option in 2007, it wasn't there in 2003). It's useful as a souped up notebook, but not a PLE in the way it's generally seen.

However, from what I have read, both Compendium and Groove might serve the PLE role:

Compendium:  http://openlearn.open.ac.uk and the two linked sites - Learning Space  - which has a lot of the learning resources (see under Knowledge Maps to download compendium. I think it's also linked to elsewhere - just can't remember where). There's also the labspace, where they have more tools.

Groove is a MS product - so has all the info on the MS Office 2007 site.

Has anyone tried using either as a PLE - either Personally / with colleagues, or encouraging students to use it?

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: MS Groove and Open University's Compendium.

by Julia Hengstler -
I've been lurking---until now. Prior to MS purchasing Groove, I used it in Beta around 2002 as a platform to collaborate on a M.A. thesis. My partner and I loved it--although there were some glitches at the time. We allowed professionals in the field to come in an comment/review our work in process--as well as our advisors, of course. We had sections that were only accessible to my partner and I as well. The application was highly customizable and had a great deal of functionality. Unfortunately, like much freeware (as opposed to free software), after leveraging the initial user community to work out the bugs--the software went commercial and required licensing fees, etc. Our use was no longer supported without payment. It was subsequently bought-out by MS.

My advice when selecting platforms for PLE or any other use--if you want "free" software, beware the lure as a marketing test-bed that later forces you to purchase licenses. If you want applications that will remain free to you, I would suggest looking at materials licensed as Free Software or Open Source under terms such as the Free Software Foundation's General Public License. Then you can be assured of future access. Otherwise, if you are content with commercial applications--buy licenses and upgrade at will.

Julia
In reply to Julia Hengstler

Re: MS Groove and Open University's Compendium.

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I agree to a point about the Free software - but the draw back of that is that it's hard to guarantee that it will be continued. It's always a difficult one to do, I think.

I've only used popular open source software - like The Gimp, Open Office & assorted Mozilla apps. I've never tried any of the less used software, so haven't had to experience something that's stopped being supported.

I've had experience in the past, as you mention, with software that starts being  beta - and starts to become commercial. MindMeister  and Gliffy are two tools that have started doing that - only limited accounts for free.

I've also read that Google is starting to offer premium accounts for Google Docs. Wonder if they will maintain the free ones forever ...

It's very hard to know what to do if we're thinking long term.

IN my case, I think that all students will have access to Groove - I'm not certain (we have two versions of MS office 2007) One for installing on Workstations - which I've not tried yet as it uninstalls Office 2003, and one for laptops - which I have tried, as you can maintain the two ... so I don't know if Groove will be on all PCs. But, of course, that's only when they're on campus, using University owned PCs. They don't get to install on their laptops, as they don't have University owned ones as I do. And I don't know enough about Groove to know what impact that will have!