I have been invited to participate in the II Jornades d’Aprenentatge de Llengües: Entorns, Eines i Recursos Didàctics (II Conference on Language Teaching: Environments, Tools and Learning Resources). I was asked to explain (a) how my own Personal Learning Environment (PLE) was created and managed and (b) how could PLEs help in bridging formal and informal education or how could they bridge the institutional with the personal.
The story begins in 2001, when I began working in the department of development cooperation in my university, developing ICT4D projects based on e-learning for development, online volunteering, free software and open content… when very few people spoke about that and in these terms.
The need to learn led me to explore outside of my closest environment, read blogs (which were then the most up-to-date resource available) and, finally, start my own blog in 2003. Then it came the wiki, then the bibliographic manager, then I turned a PhD student and I finally became a lecturer at university, where I try to apply the way I learnt to learn to the way I teach and help others to learn.
- Read a lot. If you’re a knowledge worker, you have to read. If you don’t, the problem is not that the PLE is time-demanding: the problem is that you’re not doing your work.
- Read thoroughly: analysis, synthesis, abstraction are a requisite for juicing a reading. Quite often reading requires writing to fix the main ideas and your own reflections triggered by them.
- The best way to learn is to teach something. Writing (a blog) is partly about this: you are writing for the future you that will be reading your own words later on.
- A PLE is not built out of the blue: do it little by little, device after device. You’d rarely use an all-tools PLE, as you’ll rarely get a definitive one.
- Building a PLE should be done according to the needs it will cover. A PLE should be working for you, not the other way round.
- Your digital identity is very important and it will become more important with time. Be proactive in building it. And your own domain is a good place to start with.
- Your portfolio speaks about you better than your words. And it does it 24×7. It is very likely that, for most knowledge-based jobs, your e-portfolio will be worth much more than your resume.
- Your network of people is as important as the objects you surround yourself with. Birds of the same feathers flock together: your network is your flesh & bones e-portfolio.
- 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.
NOTE: My gratitude to Enric Serra and the organization for a most enjoyable time at the conference.