by Paul Ayers
Let’s consider for a moment a formal definition put forth by Alan J. Cann for Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). A PLE is:
a system that helps learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to set their own learning goals, manage their learning, manage both content and process, and communicate with others in the process of learning.
Graham Attwell also makes a strong case for PLEs in his article in his article “Personal Learning Environments – the future of eLearning?”
Both Cann and Attwell caused me to begin reflecting on the tools and activities I use to learn and demonstrate my learning, from working within my university’s LMS to using Web 2.0 tools like Wikipedia and Flickr to an old-fashioned Google search. It occurred to me everything I use to assist me daily with formal and informal learning pretty much meets the definition set above. But there also seems to be a gap. The ease and tools with which to share my learning are not as readily apparent.
Here is my take on it. We are close, but not there. We are more capable than ever of finding information and acquiring new knowledge, but how are we doing with the “reflecting on it and doing something with it” part? Do most learners really want to control their learning environment and to demonstrate knowledge acquisition to the degree a PLE might offer?
Ok…I’ll admit it…I am thrilled by the idea of a designed PLE to support learners, but I am also convinced it may not be the end-all-be-all solution to learning ownership. In an increasingly knowledge-driven society, we have to be aware of the probability that some learners aren’t as interested in showing what they know, but just knowing. The PLE of the future must make reflection upon and demonstration of knowledge as easy as acquisition. Otherwise, we may only be talking about Google 2.0.
Guest blogger: Paul Ayers holds a Master’s of Business Administration in Management and is a currently a doctoral student in the University of Memphis’ Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership. His research interests include e-learning applications higher education settings, hybrid learning environments, and instructional design. Paul currently works with International Paper as a contract instructional designer, where he is developing e-learning solutions with subject matter experts in the Environment, Health and Safety division. In his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and home renovation.