TIES2012 (III). Present and future of PLE: conceptualization, practice and critic of Personal Learning Environments

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By Ismael Peña-López (@ictlogist), 01 February 2012
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Notes from the III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight, in Barcelona, Spain, in January 1-3, 2012. More notes on this event under the tag ties2012.

Present and future of PLE: conceptualization, practice and critic of Personal Learning Environments

Torres-Kompen, R. (Citilab)
Personal Learning Environments, the state of the question.

What environment? What kind of learning?

Traditional learning usually means time and space constraints, a scheduled structure, lack of flexibility and a given period of time.

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PLEs are systems, based on social media, or web 2.0 tools, and many see them as a unique point of access to our digital persona. Other think of PLEs as a way to manage one’s knowledge and to monitor or track our personal learning process.

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PLEs are usually defined as dichotomies: object vs. concept, personal vs. personalized, PLE vs. VLE, PLE vs. iPLE (institutional/institutionalized), lifelong vs. project-related, aggregation of free tools vs. mash-up system.

There are recurrent concepts around PLEs: web 2.0, e-portfolio, long-life learning, etc.

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Most of the earliest literature was about defining what the PLE was and proposing structures or architectures for practical PLE. After that firts phase

Casquero, O. (Universidad del País Vasco); Peña-López, I. (Universitat Oberta de Calalunya).
Technological challenges (and strategy) of the PLE in educational institutions.

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PLE (Adell & Castañeda, 2010): “the set of tools, sources of information, connections and actgivities that every person uses frequently to learn”.

PLEs have a place in higher education, and can be fostered by institutions: SAPO Campus, southhampton Learning Environment, SocialLearn, Google Apps for educatgion, VLEs “on steroids”… They all integrate external services, connect different tools, etc.

When institutions face fostering PLEs, they have to face two kind of users: the ones that already have a PLE and just have to connect to the institutional sphere, and the ones that do not have one and/or do not know how to build it. To the latter ones, the institution can provide an already-built PLE that the user will then be able to appropriate and customize: the iPLE (institutionally-powered or institutionally-enriched PLE).

But this does not only mean that the institution provides or allows third parties’ services within the institution, but also that the institution opens up its own (information) system so that it can be accessed from outside. This way, information can both flow inbound and outbound.

Strategy to put up an iPLE strategy:

  • Creating a collective intelligence.
  • Letting the community provide recommendations and resources, identifying resources and users that are critical for success, visualizing onw’s own activity, etc.
  • An infrastructure based on nodes, connections amongst nodes, learn-streaming (automatically generating a record of one’s personal learning process).

Castañeda, L. (Universidad de Murcia); Adell, J. (Universitat Jaume I)
Methodological challenges of PLE.

PLEs should generate new methodologies. To do so, we have to know how knowledge is build. And knwoledge nowadays is extremely fluid. Learning has evolved from a cognitivist approach to the edypunk DIY, the Do It Socially, the Learn It Yourself and, at last, to the Learn It Openly or Social networked learning.

PLEs are — or should be — enriched learning environments. And enriching means, above all, decentralization, fragmentation. To be able to manage the decentralization of the sources of information/learning we have to be able to be autonomous in the management of these sources.

If sources are multiple, disciplines have to give way to more multidisciplinary approaches and ways to learn.

Again, the dichotomies: flexible vs. standardized, open and fluid vs. closed, integrated and competence-based vs. compartimentalized, independent vs. alone, autonomous vs. chaotic.

It is not about putting the PLE into the methodology, but that our methodologies take into account the students’ PLEs.

Ismael Peña-López (Universitat Oberta de Calalunya)
The PLE as a personal tool for the researcher and the teacher

logo of PDF file
Slides as a PDF:
Peña-López, I. (2012). The PLE as a personal tool for the researcher and the teacher.

Adell, J. (Universitat Jaume I); Castañeda, L. (Universidad de Murcia); Casquero, O. (Universidad del País Vasco); Peña-López, I. (Universitat Oberta de Calalunya); Torres-Kompen, R. (Citilab).
The future of PLE.

We should get over the conceptual debate, the acronyms, the nature or the concept, etc. and switch towards a theoretical expansion, a technological development, and, especially, towards context of application.

Theoretical expansion: deal with other educational theories.

Technological development: the LMS still is the core, but the architecture and the technological environment will be “2.0”. There is an urgent need to tear down the walls of LMSs, integrating tools 2.0, e-portfolios, etc.

Contexts of application: the revolution of e-learning, the training of educators, the educators’ professional training and long-life learning, etc.

The main challenges are how to drive changes within institutions and, most especially, within methodologies, the changes of role of teachers, etc.

III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight (2012)

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

Peña-López, I. (2012) “TIES2012 (III). Present and future of PLE: conceptualization, practice and critic of Personal Learning Environments” In ICTlogy, #101, February 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=3893

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About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. Since november 2013 I am on a partial leave to join Open Evidence as a senior researcher and analyst. I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.