Following the Learnscope event on Tuesday but seemingly independent of it, discussion around the concept of PLE's and related concepts (like e-portfolios) seem to have reached fever pitch in the edna forums. Unfortunately unless you are prepared to create an account and then join the groups, the conversation is hidden to the outside world. And as is the case in many of these forums, there are powerful voices ready to "tell it like it is" and impose their perspective on others.

But onto the discussion - there are two forums in debate over what a PLE actually is and I waded into one behind a Stephen Downes post, possibly shielding me from others poking holes in my meek opinions. Not surprisingly there were various points of view. These included:

  • a PLE is the property of a school or educational institution
  • a PLE can only exist in places you personally can control, like your own computer, your own server
  • a PLE is a great big nothing
  • a PLE is a whole heap of sources and content aggregated in a personal StartPage like iGoogle or PageFlakes
  • a PLE can only be defined by official refereed academics
  • a PLE is social networking tools leveraged for learning

If that sounds like a whole bunch of viewpoints at odds with each other, then I think you're right. Makes me wonder if I even know what I was talking about in my slidecast. With so many "experts" weighing in and sounding authorative, what hope would my ideas have of surviving in that forum environment?

One time that helps me is the knowledge is that even if "my PLE" isn't a real one according to some of the proclamations in edna Groups, it seems to be working for me.


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5 thoughts on “PLE-laboration

  1. Carole McCulloch

    the debate (or spirited discussion) over in the edna forums was purposefully initiated as a sounding board before and after my presentation on PLEs, so I’m glad that it has sparked such interest. CC

  2. lucychili

    hi Graham
    I’m not in the forums but think that what is useful for me in the idea of a ple is the opportunity to think about teaching and learning from the students perspective. frequently tools are not chosen from that perspective.

    Stephen Downes had some criteria for web2 tools a while back which feel like they fit into this conversation. The criteria for useful tools and processes and course approaches from the student perspective. eg. who owns the information made, is it mashable, is it reusable by the student outside of the course, will the material be gone if the course finishes or funding changes. If the student has accessibility requirements can they adapt their choice of tools to get access to information and participate.

    I think this perspective thing is useful because it is easy to be swept up in the here and now immediacy of some tools but to not give them the kind of vetting which would normally happen when planning a face to face room or other kind of course facility for learning?

    there is some kind of equity and access thought sitting under those ideas for me.

  3. Alexander Hayes

    The interest is not what in fact a PLE is rather how the hell can we rid of the idea of turning what started out as a term to describe “small pieces loosley joined” into a shallow rendition of the latest e-portfolio ….proxy LMS…..blah.

    I wonder how many countless hundreds of thousands will be thrown at designing PLE’s for schools, for VET and for learners when they already have their own repositiories worldwide, chosen, protected, selected and networked ?

    I like you take on things Graham and feel heartened that those on the “inside” are begining to realise that the budget choices of the present are under greater scrutiny than ever for the future.

    Lucychilli raised some great things in a G-chat the other day and all I remember is one thing – sense of community. When all else fades into a digital oblivion then at least this networked machine has proof of our interaction.

    I cant say the same thing of the ten years of tertiary online interactions I had with students and colleagues alike……we were using the latest PLE at the time too.

    I also notice that you’ve ommitted ‘PLE’ from your categories…..that amuses me more than anything 🙂



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