The Hybrid Institutional-Personal Learning Environment (HIPLE) into practice: an example with Twitter

NOTE: this is a two-part writing on the Hybrid Institutional-Personal Learning Environment (HIPLE). You might thus be interested in reading part I: Introducing the Hybrid Institutional-Personal Learning Environment (HIPLE).

In Introducing the Hybrid Institutional-Personal Learning Environment (HIPLE) I dealt with the different profiles, behaviours and needs that concur in online education (or online enhanced education). I also asked for a way to be able to give a satisfactory answer to all the problems that arouse with that concurrence while being able to swim and keep one’s clothes dry at the same time (as we say in Catalan).

Let us put it into practice with a totally applied example using Twitter.

The typical situation

The context is an online course on e-Government. There is a character (ONcampus) which is a student that, for unspecified reasons, just wants to access the virtual campus to study and that everything that happens on the campus remains unknown for the outer world. There is a second character (ictlogist) that is also a student and uses several Web 2.0 tools for learning (call it a Personal Learning Environment or PLE), amongst them Twitter, and just does not want to use two nanoblogging tools, one on-campus and another one off-campus. A third character (OFFcampus) is a professional working on eGovernment and, as such, uses Twitter to interact with other people on the field.

What you usually would have is two conversations:

  • Inside the campus, a closed conversation that neither benefits from “outside” conversations nor contributes to them. Including the student remaining unknown to other people on the field.
  • Outside campus, an open but not-permeating-the-campus conversation and that forces some people to attend two conversations on the same field mostly with different people but similar purposes.

The HIPLE to the rescue

Imagine a nanobloging tool (e.g. StatusNet) installed inside the virtual campus classroom. Everything that happens in there is invisible to the outside world. But everything you tag with #uoc_egov (the “official” hashtag for the course) is published on Twitter.

In fact, everything you publish on Twitter with the #uoc_egov hashtag is imported onto the nanobloggin tool installed in the virtual campus, so everyone can see it. Thus allowing people to participate in the closed classroom from outside of the campus.

In fact, messages from other people alien to the closed classroom can also be seen inside the classroom, provided that (a) they add the #uoc_egov hashtag and (b) we have not added a filter to the closed nanoblogging tool that not only filters by hashtag but also by user (in this case, students could participate from their Twitter accounts but the classroom would only be participated by enrolled students).

Benefits

  • Students can opt to participate only in the classroom and be invisible to off-campus users.
  • Students can opt to participate from outside the classroom and with their own tools. In the limit, they will only participate from their own PLEs and not from the virtual campus.
  • Off-campus students engage in real conversations with “real” professionals and experts in the field. Exposure is likely to be good.
  • Faculty and managers can, if thus desired, use the closed environment to “contain” what is to be monitored or assessed, and without the need to wander around “chasing” spontaneous and ubiquitous contributions from their students.

The increase of open APIs shouldn’t make these kind of developments very difficult. Of course there are thousands of applications and one will always have to choose which ones to “bridge”. But (a) there are not many really popular applications and, in fact, (b) that is what standards are for.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2010) “The Hybrid Institutional-Personal Learning Environment (HIPLE) into practice: an example with Twitter” In ICTlogy, #81, June 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=3393

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11 Comments to “The Hybrid Institutional-Personal Learning Environment (HIPLE) into practice: an example with Twitter” »

  1. Pingback: More on cost control in education reform

  2. What about the personal touch, on line learning sometimes can not offer the Question and Answer environment quickly enough.

  3. Jono: yes they do, and there are plenty of ways to do it.

    About the personal touch, there are several opinions stating that there is indeed much more personal touch in online environments, among other reasons because relationships are more horizontal.

  4. The idea is very attractive: everyone gets what they want, either privacy and publicity, outside experience sharing and inside protective conditions. So I ended up wondering where the compromise is, as our world is still far from ideal. My guess is that either such an environment is too difficult to build or it would not produce the too good experience suggested. A loosely connected bag of content, such as a Twitter, might just provide extraordinarily good conditions to explore the HIPLE idea, but how coherent a discussion/wiki would be if constructed by selecting scattered bits from another one? How accurate could the scissor be to cleanly separate what should remain in from what wills to fly out, while preserving coherence?

  5. Dear Rafael,

    First, on this statement: “My guess is that either such an environment is too difficult to build”. Well, I don’t think Facebook is too far from that: I can update my status from several platforms, and update several platforms from my FB status line. I can also update my blog (in e.g. WordPress) and see my post appear on FB, and then people commenting in that post of mine in FB and see their comments in my WordPress blog hosted in my own domain. Open APIs are the key, and they’re becoming mainstream.

    Then, on your other example with the wiki, I agree with you there. But then the problem is not the wiki, but the concept itself: the content in there is 100% pure collaborative work, thus the problem of telling which is which (yours or mine) is independent from the platform.

    But let’s give it a second thought. Imagine that, instead of a wiki, it is a Google Document. Unlike a wiki (which implies having to explicitly visit the wiki’s host), any Google Document is accessible through your own Google account. Yes, it is the same document and it is actually hosted in Google, but you have the feeling that it lives in your own environment. Do neither need to visit Google, nor your uni’s virtual campus, but your own account. And this is my point: I’m not talking about what content is whose, but what environment is whose :)

  6. I am not quite convincing by your examples, as my concerns are not on the viability of more or less complex PLE but on the possibility of institutional & personal hybridisation. My argument was that relying on individual tagging of what is mine and what is yours would split a conversation into two incoherent sets. So, probably the hybridisation has got to rely on heavy collaborative work, but the point then is whether it would be worthwhile the effort.

  7. Rafael,

    I agree that there are some… OK, many weaknesses, especially when one has to rely on the “user”, which we know to be the weakest link of any chain.

    I am assuming a certain degree of digital competence which we have evidence is still scarce. Indeed, it is just because of low levels of digital competence that I am proposing this hybridization of models between the traditional LMS and the bold PLE.

    I don’t think I am too daring to assume that heavy users (i.e. PLE users) are already capable of tagging or do an active linking between in- and off-campus.

    On the other hand, there are always incentives to be put to strengthen that behaviour: “I’m giving you freedom of choice, but we will only assess what’s on the campus, so be sure to tag properly” ;)

    Last, about incoherent sets of conversations. I actually see it as two overlapped conversations: in- and off-campus, with some people (PLE users) seeing both and acting as a bridge between both scenarios. And I think there are two, because we’re keeping in-campus a full conversation, and the hashtagged one in Twitter will be a second one. And I think they are overlapped because we built them to be.

    So, summing up, I’ll end up commenting your last sentence: probably the hybridisation has got to rely on heavy collaborative work, but the point then is whether it would be worthwhile the effort. I think that more than heavy collaborative work, the hybridisation relies on an expert Internet / Social Media user, and that is, by definition, the PLE student/teacher. So provided he behaves like he’s supposed to, I don’t think there’d be major problems.

    Which doesn’t mean we should not think and try and foresee them, of course.

  8. I agree with you that we need to foresee new scenarios for learning, as you do in your note. We want to give freedom to learners of choosing their tools, and we know there is a limit to the number of social networks (blogs, wikis, twitters, facebooks, etc.) we can participate in, so in this sense it would be better if we could have a HIPLE. What I am questioning is the possibility to such a thing to exist and, if it does, to produce good results.

    I found it contradictory that you first state that it is just because of low levels of digital competence that I am proposing this hybridization of models between the traditional LMS and the bold PLE and later concede that the hybridisation relies on an expert Internet / Social Media user, and that is, by definition, the PLE student/teacher, but I agree on the later, as far as the notion of an expert Internet / Social Media user includes that of an “expert collaborator” for whom collaboration comes out naturally and effortlessly.

  9. Oh, ah, about digital competence:

    – “low levels of digital competence” of some students and faculty, that still need an institutional, don-t-bother-me-with-geeky-stuff, top-down solution
    – “expert Internet / Social Media user” for other students and faculty (a minority, but growing) that are pushing institutions outside of closed platforms

    Sorry if that was confusing :)

  10. Im found myself here doing a university task, ironic knowing what this is all about… As a software developer I find APIs the best resource to make transparent applications interacting with differemt well-known systems.

    The main concept here is “the cloud”, where we can own everything but, surprisely dont actually HAVE anything. I think u are offering a really good way to just let people decide who they want to interact with in their way to knwoledge. Let everyone decide how to buil his mind. I completely agree with the solution and the quote “I’m not talking about what content is whose, but what environment is whose”.

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