Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Why I love PLEs and hate VLEs (or LMSs)

Attended a great talk by Terry Anderson and it really made me think deep about the strength of PLEs. Tens of millions of people have PLE (Personalised Learning Environment). Hardly any of them see it that way – but that’s their strength:

MyYahoo – 50 million
MyMSN – 12 million
Googe personalised homepage – 10 million
Netvibes – 10 million

The personalised homepage with calendar, alerts, links, feeds, news, to do lists, weather, stockprices, gadgets and knowledge sources is fast becoming the norm. The point is that the learning is part of the doing – it’s next to your calendar and things to do list. It’s part of your everyday life.

Why do I like them?
Well they conform to my needs as a person and learner, I don’t have to conform to the system, it conforms to me. It gives me a sense of freedom and control as opposed to the sense of big brother surveillance I get with LMSs or other top-down content management systems. An LMS/VLE is teacher-centric about push and top-down control and dissemination. They’re course-centric and get bogged down in dull and destructive debates about IP. Content is no longer institutional – it’s increasingly abundant and free.
As we’re now witnessing the death of the compliant learner, learner control and freedom are essential. The contributing student is the future and PLEs along with web 2.0 can do the business.

Thanks again Terry – wonderful talk.


Andy Tedd said...


LMS's are not just trainer-centric - they are organisation and vendor-centric too! And this conflict is usually all too apparent...

Anyone but the poor old learner.

I for one, will be glad to see the back of them, except the bits that let you know who many people took the course and at what point they got bored.

Andy Tedd said...

Can I just add how much I enjoy this blog - its 'Grumpy Old Men' meets 'elearning' and long overdue. :)

Donald Clark said...

Nice surf pics.

How about a PLO?

A terrorist Personal Learning Organisation dedicated to destroying all things daft and dull in learning.

The grump

Anonymous said...

Terry Anderson's summing up for the theme "Next Generation Technologies" at the 2006 ALT Conference is availabe (PPT and MP3) on the ALT web site.

At the 2007 ALT Conference, where Peter Norvig, Google's Director of Research, will be one of the keynote speakers, there will certainly be workshops on PLEs. Here is the intro to one that I am hopeful will be accepted for inclusion in the programme:

All users of search engines are learners. Search engines are being augmented with tools that though primarily designed to support information discovery also support learning. One example of this is “Google Personalised Home Page”, which allows users to customise their Google home page by adding a range of tools and services, thereby creating a browser-based desktop that takes some of its content from the Internet in real time.

Aims of workshop

This workshop will help participants:
a) create and experiment with a personalised home page
b) explore and categorise the tools and features that might be valuable to support formal and informal learning;
c) examine the feasibility and practicality of the tools that are put forward in the workshop.

Seb Schmoller

Anonymous said...

The non-functioning links in the previous post are:

http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2006/ for the Terry Anderson material, and

http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2007/ for the 2007 ALT conference.


Andy Tedd said...

>>A terrorist Personal Learning Organisation dedicated to destroying all things daft and dull in learning.

:) I've just been writing about 'guerrilla learning' for something I've got to do next week for another kindred spirit.

I'm overdue for a visit to Line ( I need to keep an eye on Gareth...) and it would be good to meet up - are you in there most days?

I probably owe you a coffee for dobbing you in for that talk at the beeb.

(In the general scheme of things the balance of blogs about learning vs blogs about surfing is too far in favour of learning)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words Donald, insightful comments and the links Seb.
I have posted a slideshare link to the PLE talk (well the last, Oxford version) as well as two other slides sets- one on Design-Based research and the final on Community of Inquiry research. These were presented at various schools on my grand tour last month. The links are at my Virtual Canuck blog http://terrya.edublogs.org/2007/03/23/slides-and-reflections-on-the-keynote-scene/

Terry Anderson

Mike Gambale said...

Hi Donald,

I completely agree with your assessment the personal learning environment confirms to me. There is no real "personal learning environment". I realized this when I tried to cauterize my RSS feeds. I placed 90% of them in a learning category!!! I learn things from many different areas from every part of my life because as humans we have the ability to take an idea and turn it on its head to apply it elsewhere.

So I have started to use PageFlakes and generally speaking cauterized the important things in my life including My Page (my virtual desk with pictures of my girlfriend, calendar, etc), Love (a page dedicated to my girlfriend and my family), Spirit (just a notepad and a simple interesting picture), and Knowledge (where I can see a preview of my blog, search other blogs and search wiki's).

My point is that within each PageFlake tab represents some information that interests me and I learn from this information. I learn many different things by making the system ( in this case PageFlakes) conform to me. Of course you would have to consider books I read as a part of my personal learning environment since I learn a lot from reading books. But similar in concept to PageFlakes, I choose when, where and what books I want to read.

"To attain knowledge add something every day, to attain wisdom remove something every day"

-Chinese proverb

Mike Gambale

Anonymous said...

Terry Anderson will be doing a keynote at the 2009 ALT conference in Manchester on 8, 9, or 10 September 2009. From that link you can sign up for conference updates via a low volume email list.


Unknown said...

And of course, even a PLE can be used in a 19th Century 'top down' way when the learning community using it is still centered on the teacher. How many times have we seen blogs, Wikis and other 'personalised' spaces and tools simply used to post information by teachers for students? It's about people and their approach to learning, not just the new tools and 3 letter acronyms we sit them under.

Unknown said...

I come from China and I have experienced a very “traditional” teaching style in China before. I don’t know what LMS/VLE is. But according to your description, I think it is very similar with Chinese teaching style-teacher centered. This teaching method has many disadvantages, such as limits students’ knowledge exploration and blocks students’ interest development.
This is my first time to use PLE and I love it so much. By PLE, students can be their own master in learning, controlling and managing the knowledge by themselves. PLE offers students a spacious room to discover the world. However, at the same time, I am also wondering whether “teacher-centered” teaching method is useless at all. Facing too much information, students still need teachers’ guidance; or they are very easily to lose their ways. Therefore, do you think we can combine these two teaching methods and keep a good balance between them in the classroom?