A comment on PLEs, ZDPs, heavy-switching and translearning

Easton Phidd commented on my “pre-paper” called Personal Learning Environments and the revolution of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development — “pre-paper” as it later became a full published paper Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning. As the questions he is putting are very interesting, and my answers were getting longer and longer, I thought I’d better share them on a new post.

Is there any empirical research on substitution patterns?

My own experience / applied research — which depicts (in Spanish) these processes in my own teaching in a graduate programme on e-Government — can be accessed here:

Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo i Martínez, A. (2012). “Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación”. In Cerrillo i Martínez, A. & Delgado García, A.M. (Coords.), La innovación en la docencia del Derecho a través del uso de las TIC, 143-157. Actas de la III Jornada sobre Docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación, 8 de junio de 2012. Barcelona: Huygens.
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo i Martínez, A. (2011). “Herramientas 2.0 para el desarrollo de competencias profesionalizadoras”. In Cerrillo i Martínez, A. & Delgado García, A.M. (Coords.), Las TIC al servicio de la docencia del Derecho en el marco del EEES, 89-102. Actas de la II Jornada sobre Docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación, 6 de junio de 2011. Barcelona: Huygens.

On the other hand, an (almost) complete list of works around the area (most of them with a theoretical approach) can be found at The Personal Research Portal: related works, a collection of works related with personal research portals and e-research (as enhanced research).

Another option is to navigate this collection of works related to Personal Learning Environments penned by yours truly.

In a more informal way, I’d say there are lots of examples out there:

  • There are many examples were usual textbooks are being substituted by open educational resources. I’d dig in OER repositories for experience of reuse.
  • There are also examples of university-enterprise partnerships that can be understood as shifting some formal teaching towards informal training/learning.
  • And, last, but not least, cMOOCs are definitely a transition towards total hybridization.

Definitions of heavy-switching and substitution pattern

Heavy switching

Heavy switching is a way of denying multitasking in pedagogical terms — it already has in psychological terms by evidence. And of proposing tearing down the walls of compartmented learning.

I would define heavy switching as the constant interaction between learning actors — resources, environments and institutions — that takes place once planned and unplanned learning, and structured and non-structured teaching take place simultaneously and seamlessly, thus blurring the boundaries of time, space and formality that usually artificially compartmentalize learning.

Substitution pattern

A substitution pattern is the path that one goes through to replace a methodology, tool or technology in actual use by a new one. A substitution pattern will very likely have four stages:

  1. The appropriation of the new methodology/tool/technology.
  2. The adaptation of the novelty to the traditional use.
  3. A phase of improvement of the tasks performed.
  4. A transformation in the very essence of the tasks being performed.

How does the heavy-switching/translearning model can impact second language (L2) learners?

I, in fact, made a proposal/reflection on the topic of Personal Learning Environments for second language learning during the “II Conference on language learning: environments, tools and learning resources” in 2011. My keynote was Native Latin teacher wanted. Linking personal teaching and learning strategies on the Net.

My reflections were published at that time, but I may reproduce some of them here for the sake of easiness:

  • The teacher is a researcher, a student, and should thus make their learning strategies explicit so that students can copy them or be inspired by them.
  • Read a lot. If you’re a knowledge worker, you have to read.
  • Read thoroughly: analysis, synthesis, abstraction are a requisite for juicing a reading.
  • The best way to learn is to teach something. A Personal Learning Environment is also about teaching, or about learning by teaching, not only “just learning”.
  • In a digital world, everything is connected.
  • Thus, inside/outside is a false dichotomy, artificially created to raise walls were there were none. Ask yourself why someone would try and build such walls.

Related downloads

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Peña-López, I. (2013). Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning. In On the Horizon, 21 (2). Lincoln: NCB University Press. [FULL TEXT]
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Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2011). Tools 2.0 for the development of professional skills. II Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación. 6 June 2011. Barcelona. [SLIDES]
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Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2011). Herramientas 2.0 para el desarrollo de competencias profesionalizadoras. II Conference on Law teaching and Information and Communication Technologies. 6 de junio de 2011. Barcelona. [FULL TEXT & SLIDES]
logo of PDF file
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación. III Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación . 8 de Junio de 2012. Barcelona. [SLIDES]
logo of PDF file
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación. III Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación . 8 de Junio de 2012. Barcelona. [FULL TEXT]
logo of PDF file
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging in the classroom. From information to participation. III Conference on Law teaching and Information and Communication Technologies. 8 June 2012. Barcelona. [SLIDES]
logo of PDF file
Peña-López, I. (2011). Es busca professor nadiu de llatí. Enllaçant estratègies personals d’aprenentatge i docència a la xarxa. II Jornades d’Aprenentatge de Llengües: Entorns, Eines i Recursos Didàctics, Generalitat de Catalunya, 24-25 de febrer de 2011. Cerdanyola del Vallès: UAB. [SLIDES]
logo of PDF file
Peña-López, I. (2011). Native Latin teacher wanted. Linking personal teaching and learning strategies on the Net. II Conference on language learning: environments, tools and learning resources, Generalitat de Catalunya, 24-25 de febrer de 2011. Cerdanyola del Vallès: UAB. [SLIDES]

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

Peña-López, I. (2013) “A comment on PLEs, ZDPs, heavy-switching and translearning” In ICTlogy, #121, October 2013. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4129

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2 Comments to “A comment on PLEs, ZDPs, heavy-switching and translearning” »

  1. Greetings Ismael,

    Thank you for your in depth response. Much to ponder and reflect upon. I marvel at your ability to navigate this domain in two languages.

    As a teacher/mentor/advisor and learner, I am coming to terms with this digitally mediated duality that is transforming my personal and professional practice. Zimmerman (1998, 2002)makes note of a rather convenient dual distinction between the “naive” and “skilled” self-regulated learner. While I question the rather simplified notions of “dualities”, his distinction does help us to undertand the challenges the multilingual learner (L2 learner and/or user) faces in developing their own PLE. Your “takeaways” highlighted by the notion of “learning by teaching” and self-monitoring a productive PLE speaks to a “naive” versus “skilled” approach to building one’s personal knowledge management system.

    Some critics would suggest that a PLE is a glorified personal information management system (IMS) and that managing one’s knowledge as a tangible resource is not doable(William Jones). I suspect you would disagree!?! I am not qualified to make a judgement on that, but I favor your approach nonetheless.

    Progressive academic institutions are presently engaged in building “analytics interface” into their LMS/VLE that creates analytic data (diagnostic, formative and summative assessment feedback and feedforward information). It is hoped that this “diagnostic data” is shared with the learner so he/she can interface with it and integrate the “formally” acquired diagnostics into their own PLE (hopefully, as you suggest, a “skilled” self-regulated learner would indulge in their own self-evaluation/ assessment diagnostic tools).

    Question, do you see the benefits of analytics for academic institutions; and would an analytics interface work well located in the ZPD between the LMS/VLE and the PLE (VLE analytics interface/ZPD PLE)? or am I off base here?

    Regards,
    Easton

    • Hi,

      About the “naive” vs. “skilled”, I’m not sure that I agree with you. I tend to think that people have to actually be quite “skilled” in terms of self-learning, but I do take a “naive” approach in terms of digital skills. In other words, the self-learners to whom I speak (or which I have in mind) are experienced self-learners, but just fund out a new digital scenario that is unexplored terrain to them. Which means that they have to learn new skills, reshape their strategies, adapt their goals… but they do already have self-learning skills, learning strategies and learning goals.

      About personal knowledge management (PKM), I think I speak more in terms of personal information management (PIM). In any case, I am more interested here in the flows, the processes, more than on stocks. That is, how learning (and then the conversion of information into knowledge) happens rather than knowledge (and its management) itself. In any case, I would definitely not confuse information with knowledge.

      On learning analytics… I think they can be useful for teaching institutions. But I think the word is misleading and it is more about teaching analytics rather than learning analytics: closed environments, a preset syllabus and combination of educational resources, a common and clear learning/teaching goal, etc.

      I’m sure one can also use learning analytics in combination with PLEs in order to improve one’s own learning, but I am not that sure that this is where “learning analytics” as a “discipline” is heading to.

      Thanks for your comments/questions again :)

      i.

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