Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (IV): Graham Attwell: Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments and the future of schooling

Keynote speech: Graham Attwell, Director of Pontydysgu (UK)
Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments and the future of schooling

We are probably in the biggest Industrial Revolution, and we’re living it [I couldn’t agree more].

In Wales, the First Industrial revolution (1830-1950) took 50 years (1890-1900) to impact education: universal education, etc. In this industrial revolution, the impact has taken place in just 10 years maximum and in a broader scope and deeper changes. BUT someone from the XIXth century would enter a XXIth century classroom and recognize it: classroom has changed very very little in more than 150 years.

Bizarre effect: while in the instructional technology debate there’s an agreement that Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are dead, our schools, universities are probably spending more money on VLEs now than ever. Change… speed of change…

Not technology, but the changing ways in which people are using technologies to communicate, to exchange knowledge.

We ban new technologies at school — e.g. cellulars — because they are disruptive but we teach them, at school, how to learn to use new technologies. How do we cope with this?

Key point of Web 2.0: enables learners to be cocreators of their knowledge.

It is not lack of technology that stops people from using computers for learning, as a survey on SMEs showed.

  • Much informal learing using ICT in the workplace
  • The main ‘e-learning’ application is Google. Not the VLE (well, normally there’s none)
  • Informal learning driven by problem solving
  • Learning motivated by personal interest
  • Learning usually takes place when it is needed
  • Highly influenced by context
  • They’re social
  • In time learning
  • Is it e-Learning? Is it learning?
  • Learners structure their own learning
  • And there’s many types of learning

These diverse ways of learning do make a difference: you can be guided by an expert (Lev Vygotsky), learn socially through judgement and exploration (John Seely Brown), searching, lurking… And lurking is learning.

Hence, a problem is created: how do we recognize these different ways of learning? We’re no doubt confusing recognition with certification. We should come up with ways of recognizing learning without certification, without exams.

Learning takes place in enterprises:

  • where employees have more freedom
  • where there’s more change
  • where there’s technology
  • where there’re networks

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) might not be the answer to these questions, but they do point the trend.

We need to bring the learners in the process of design of learning but also in the process of the design of technology and the design of institutions.

The role for teachers will be mediating, engaging, monitoring, helping, motivating…

More info

Communities of Learning vs. Communities of Practice? Learning itself is not a practice in itself, so they have things in common, but they are definitely different.

My Comments — his answers

Q: What about assessment in PLEs? or even in e-Portfolios, the blood brother of the Personal Learning Environment?

A: Do we really need to assess someone’s knowledge or capabilities? Assessment is actually a barrier for both learners and pedagogists. What about self-assessment?

Raquel Xalabarder reads my mind and states that, outside of the educational system, you maybe need some assessment to give guarantees to an employer, to a customer — e.g. a physicist’s patient.

A: Not that assessment is a thing to avoid, but it should be taken outside the learning process. On the other hand, self-assessment is reflection and thus becomes part of the learning process.


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fourth International Seminar. Web 2.0 for Education (2007)

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

Peña-López, I. (2007) “Web 2.0 and Education Seminar (IV): Graham Attwell: Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments and the future of schooling” In ICTlogy, #49, October 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from https://ictlogy.net/review/?p=646

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