Personal Learning Environments June 4-24, 2007

Near the end . . .

Near the end . . .

by Derek Chirnside -
Number of replies: 3
Just a few days left until this seminar draws to an end.  Out official title was this:

A personal learning environment refers to the tools and processes that enable us to take greater control over our learning experiences. How does this change the way we teach and learn?

I think we have teased out a few issues.
  • Tools.  (pageflakes, evernote, delicious, netvibes, google docs)
  • The P in PLE and morphing into PWLE (Ron, your article was quite important here - thanks)
  • The attitudes.  A pervasive theme. . . .
    I think we are agreed here . . .  :-)
  • Providing for the tools and attitudes in schools and businesses
    Not sure if we have got this clear.
  • teaching and PLE's
    See Bron's summary: From Re: teacher presence and PLE summary by bronwynh on Sunday, 17 June 2007 3:18:00 p.m.:
    It looks like overall that people see the PLE as a self-directed learning tool which works best when shared with others so we get the advantages of social interaction and comment. So the teacher is probably not vital but could contribute to the learning experience for the PLE user.
  • Assessment eg Emma - From Re: learning in isolation by emmadw on Monday, 18 June 2007 6:48:00 a.m.:
    but students should be able to identify those sections that are for assessment - or, better, use what they have learnt in their learning to create the artefact for assessment.
Some of these ideas are pretty scattered over the forum.  I'll not attempt a summary, Sylvia asked me about the future of the wiki, I'm not really sure.  There are actually some better summaries and wikis out there.
I actually don't feel  like I've quite been present as a facilitator as much as I could have, I've been trying to process a few things.
There is great stuff here, but it may remain here.  Unless anyone wants to compile some of these themes??

The first is the attitudes.  Because of a workshop next week, I've revisited Nancy White's Seven Competencies for Online interaction.  Which has actually now become 8)
Here are a few at random (and I mean really random) from the 18 points on Bev Tarynors Phonesis. A few random highlighted bits . . .

1. People think that going online will solve their problems, but you get online and it's not that easy. Among other things you are bridging literacies, bridging belief systems and bridging languages.

2. Interacting online involves thinking/moving laterally not hierarchically. <snip>

3. We have to be able to read a hell of a lot more; we need to be able to scan and see patterns.

6. Interaction is emergent and multi-contextual.

7. We have to be able to write. And we have to be writers, beyond words including images, music etc.

9. An important competence is to be unknowing. <snip>

10. Blogging is going to increase our online competencies - it will change the way we articulate our ideas.

12. The power and importance of the lurker.

(This would be a fun topic to talk over, but a digression here - you get the idea)  This is actually a big ask for many people.  In some respects, this is the 'problem' with managing a PLE (however we define these) in an age of hugely scattered identity.  I had this sudden insight last year

( GEISTESBLITZ, (noun, m.) ['gæstes blîts]: literally translated as mind flash, is a sudden insight or idea, often brilliant and unexpected. Consisting of the German words Geist (as in Zeitgeist) and Blitz (as in Blitzkrieg), it is probably best translated into English as brain wave or flash of genius. - this arrived in my e-mail today.  I bet it was in most of yours also.)

I was having trouble with facilitating the use of web 2.0 tools.  I was a bit slow I guess: I now think this was partly because the attitudes and the thinking habits were NOT present.  Like Sally in Peanuts said: "How can I do New maths (Web 2.0) with and Old maths (Web 1.0) mind".  I did some videoing of teachers explaining things in 1999.  They'd miss out a critical step because they just 'assumed' it as being so obvious.  eg.  delicious.  How do you explain tagging?

I've been surprised so few of you posted on your own use of PLE.  We have Ron, Ray and Michelle's contributions and some fragments elsewhere.  Derek's been ill, but he did send this as a suggestion for a ending:

From Derek W: From by dwenmoth on Wednesday, 20 June 2007 3:13:00 p.m.:

I can't help wondering if there might be an opportunity here to pick up on an idea that I think Sylvia and you have each mentioned in earlier posts - that we need to hear more of the 'stories' about how people are using their PLEs - both teachers and students - in order to really begin making sense of what in fact a PLE is or could be.

I've been doing work along these lines in the school sector for a while, where we've seen an enormous uptake of Web2.0 applications by teachers, and where patterns of use are beginning to emerge that, for me, point to understandings of what a PLE might be. Take for instance these two TeacherTube videos that have been created by NZ teachers who I know well and have worked with:

Allanah King - a teacher's journey with Web2.0
http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=93fe8abcfe3ce2003e5c

rachel Boyd - why let our students blog?
http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=be6ec9b852b0a542e2f3

Illustrative stories like these are very useful in helping us "see" what the emerging patterns of behaviour are, and, in turn, think about the conceptual and practical design of the systems we build to support them.

Imagine having some of our tertiary educator colleagues creating similar 'stories' to illustrate? Just a thought.


So onto my second thought: research on PLE's in people
I decided to do some anecdotal research this week. Putting  a PLE lens on, as I wandered around my day job I tried to find out what I could.  The news is NOT good.  Random contacts:
  1. Placing a job advert with student job search: "Oh, no I haven't done it.  I asked if I could fax it in, but they said no, I had to create a user account and fill in a form.  Too much trouble, these things never work for me"
  2. "I lost my password" (Why didn't you just click on the lost password link?) "Oh I thought it was easier to wait until xx came to visit and to get her to help me"
  3. Several people described how they have dabbled (delicious, netvibes etc) and lost passwords, and described their passwords as a mess.  Password management/account management is a big issue.
  4. "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be using delicious for xxx project" (As a result of this call, 9 people and I meet for a show and tell of delicious in 60 minutes)
  5. ""Why didn't you just click on the 'tour' link.  It's there at the top of the screen." (Oh, so that's what a tour is?!!)
  6. 4.00pm.  Panic call.  "I only just got xxx's e-mail to put the brochures in the courier and I've missed the deadline"
  7. "No, I don't read blogs - full of crap"
  8. "No, why should I blog?  If I take three hours to find an article, why should I tell someone else about it?  Literature reviews take a lot of time you know"
  9. "No, we do not need a threaded forum for our dept website.  No-one in this university uses forums" (Oh?  You have talked to all 1134 staff and all 11,000 odd students?)
  10. "I could not ever think of a situation where I would use computers in the seminar room.  I bring my lap top in if I want to use the data projector"
  11. "There are two pages of spam in the wiki.  You need to clean them up now"
  12. "I've signed off all my lists.  I was just getting too many e-mails"
  13. "What is an (e-mail) filter?"
  14. "Yeah, my kids use bebo.  What's it all about?"
  15. "Dad I need your memory stick to take this to school - I can't burn a CD.  The machines have no CD drive".  (And gmail is blocked, the students have no e-mail . . .)
So I guess it's little by little.  If you have somehow missed out on the basics - like attitudes to e-mail (skim/scan, knowing when to go deeper), awareness of filtering (yes, it removes clutter), and passwords (adopt a habit and stick to it, learn to get them if you loose them etc) just to take one little trio, you can be quite unable to move onto some of the other nice things about web 2.0 etc.  True with some students, some workers . .

Sketchy, no-scientific survey no doubt, and I'm sure oyu have a lot of similar stories.


Well, we have a couple of days to follow up on anything you want here. . .  bring closure for now - read the tags you have posted for follow up . .  or just smile and move on to USE your PLE's . . .


And, starting Monday . . . (no doubt Sylvia will send a reminder)
Teaching and Learning Centres
Facilitator: Vivian Neal
This seminar will combine reports and reflections via Vivian's blog on her journey to Universities of Sussex, Dundee and Strathclyde with other stories from the field to learn about the compliment of services various teaching and learning centres provide and how their organizational structures impact the way we go about doing our work.





In reply to Derek Chirnside

The end . . .

by Derek Chirnside -
It's now the 24th June here, the last day for this seminar: I realise the sunrise will take a time to reach a number of you guys.

I leave town in a few hours and will likely be without e-mail for about 30 hours.  dead Got three days away from the campus to meet with friends and do some fun things (hopefully) at efest, a conference in Wellington.

Some interesting, wide-ranging and challenging posts.  Also, as is usual at the end of a seminar, some loose ends, some unfollowed up links, some pending thoughts, remaining questions - but that's all part of being online.

Thanks for all your posts - Derek
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Thanks everyone!

by Sylvia Currie -
Derek C. and Derek W., thank you so much for taking the time from your busy schedules to facilitate this seminar on Personal Learning Environments. And of course thanks to everyone, it's been such an interesting exchange, with so many dimensions to consider. This discussion really helped us to move away from the PLE = tools mindset to revisit the things we really [should] value in education. Even up to the final hours of this seminar we have questions, models, reflections, observations... floating in. These are the "loose ends" Derek C. refers to -- a very common and important aspect of SCoPE seminars. We certainly don't want to FINISH discussing a topic! :-) These seminar discussions always remain open for afterthoughts so don't hesitate to pop in as the impulse hits.

As Derek C. mentioned, we're moving right into our next seminar:
Teaching and Learning Centres, facilitated by Vivian Neal. Alongside the seminar Vivian is blogging about her experiences as she visits several teaching and learning centres in the UK. Many of us either work in such a centre, or are directly influences by the services they offer. Hope to see you all there!

Sylvia Currie
SCoPE Coordinator
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Thanks everyone!

by E.A. Draffan -
Thank you from this part of the UK - wet and very muddy - but I have really enjoyed lurking over the last few weeks, as it was a subject I had not explored and I look forward to learning more.   smile  Happy summer holidays if they are on the cards!