• 16Jul
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Mind Amplifying Tools Comments: 5
    My PLE

    Click on the image to view full size.

    Having played my role of a learning technologist, I am quite familiar with the concept of the virtual learning environment (a.k.a learning management system). It’s quite a controversial topic these days. Sclater provides a nice overview of the issues being raised by both sides of the growing debate.

    My experience has afforded me with proof that VLEs can work – students get more (but not always easier) access to resources, students and teachers can communicate with one another outside of a classroom, and the institution has control over who accesses what information (a neat and tidy way of managing the copyright dilemma). However, this sensitive point about control also forms the basis for an argument against VLEs. Some argue that VLEs fundamentally represent the opposite of what the web is all about – freedom to access, share and create whatever content you want. Enter the Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

    Similar to Martin Weller, I did not start off by thinking about what elements I needed to include in my PLE in order to make it work. I’m conscious that the integration of technologies is a continually evolving process. Some tools have become part of the foundation of my PLE, while others didn’t quite seem to fit and were subsequently dropped. I’ve noticed that this evolution is made more and more complex as collaborative technologies get better at ‘speaking’ with one another.

    When creating a map of my PLE, I have to admit that I had a hard time separating the technologies that I use strictly for ‘learning’ (the definition of which I’m still not clear about!) from those that I also use for plain old socialising or getting around in life. And then there are the ones that I use to build my professional online brand which also didn’t quite fit into the learning or socialising categories. That’s why I’ve chosen to kind of bunch up every technology I use into one overall picture. This way, it seems a bit more reflective of the interconnectedness that many of us are experiencing.

    Looking at my PLE map, you’ll notice that I’ve included the software applications I use, as well as the web-based technologies to which I subscribe (is subscribe the right word here?!). I don’t think that a personal learning environment has to necessarily be ‘connected’ at all times, so I didn’t want to limit this map to just the tools that are fashionable now, or that focus strictly on the social aspects of the web. The more I think about it, the more I’m discovering that I tend to collect information from various corners of the web, but most of my reflection (or digestion) actually takes place using disconnected tools like word documents or plain text files. Whether I choose to share these reflections is another story, but when it comes to my process of developing understanding, it often starts with the web, then goes into software applications, and then sometimes flows back out into the virtual space.

    Although challenging, it would be interesting to have a snapshot of my PLE at different points in time. For example, prior to starting my MA with the OU, I didn’t even know what FirstClass was. Today, it represents a very powerful connector to my classmates and tutors. It would also be interesting to see a map of the tools that didn’t make it into my orbit – and consider the reasons why they failed to make the cut.

    Who knows what my PLE will look like even a few months from now!? For example, I can only imagine how it will change once I finally get an iPhone and the world of developer’s apps opens up to me!

    Oh, and yes, I’ve also include a MMORPG in my PLE because sometimes, learning how to take a break is part of learning how to learn!

5 Responses

  • Mark Collins Says:

    Hi Katherine,

    Enjoyed reading this piece on your PLE; fabulous mind map. I too had difficulties trying to decide the criteria for inclusion in my PLE diagram. Without much thought I guess I took learning to mean anything I feel I get value from both in a formal or informal environment as we are probably learning all the time. Its difficult to step off the learning curve unless you are sleeping. It would be interesting to see what criteria others use to include or chop from their PLE.


  • Karl Duff Says:

    Hi Katherine
    Enjoyed reading your blog this evening, when we have a blog related task I often come to yours first. I also enjoyed looking at your mindmap, i recently did a mindmap for the course I run for new learners to get an idea of all the activities involved and it looked quite like yours! unfrotunately my PLE for weeks 21/22 was quite a boring but clear Compendium map focused mostly on formal learning with refernce to informal areas: http://learn.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/view.php?user=451652 I hope though week 23 will bring my PLE back to its creative routes!

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  • Michael Says:

    Very jolly posting, and blog.

    Stuff I’ve been reading recently suggests that learners augment their institution’s VLE with other technologies, but I’m beginning to think it’s the other way around. Learners have their palette of technologies and then draw in resources from their institution’s VLE where necessary.

    I taught at a university in London where our dept had an expensively assembled VLE (including 30k spent on courses supplied by an outside provider). We achieved fair results, but when we used WordPress to start up an ‘online bulletin board’ it was more successful, and yet there was no expenditure in setting it up.

    Right now the base of my screen shows that I’m running Outlook, a task list, two working documents in Word and my OU student profile. I always have a range of resources available for whatever projects I’m engaged in. All I need now is a screen in the shape of an artist’s palette.

  • My PLE | Joe Testing Site Says: