32 Comments

  1. Won't you add a category like Pedagogy or Theoretical Educational Framework? something to apply on the theories on which PLEs are based…

    What do you think?

    • George

      I think that is an underlying consideration for the entire concept. I am wondering though since pedagogy is directly related to education, that it may leave out many other professionals that could further their own learning. I have no idea how medical practicioners use PLE's to further their own learning, but I am sure it could be beneficial. Now you got me thinking…

      • Hi again,

        Yes, I see what you mean and what Critina says too. And I really understand your point of view and your contention.. I agree, I like your answers.

        Anyway, let me insist just once more: even a medical teachers should be able to know the theoretical framework to apply to when trying to network their own students,future doctors…

        But it is a simple thought so let's keep reading all participants to see if any other category is finally needed or not!

        hope to see you all on Wednesday!!!!

  2. After a day of working, I'm probably too tired right now to answer this question well, so I'll make sure to retweet your post so that you get some better answers too.:) That being said, the only thing that I would love to see is Technology woven into the three other categories instead of as a category of itself. I see Technology as a tool to help with Learning, Social Interaction, and Delivery of Content as well as Content itself. It's a very powerful tool, but it's one that I always like to integrate whenever possible.

    Hope this helps and I can't wait to read some of the other responses to this blog post too! Good luck with your presentation. I'm sure it will be great!

    Aviva

    • George

      I think that is a wonderful and very valid point. It is essential but agree that it might not need a category of its own. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  3. When I think on an environment my surroundings always come to mind. During the summer my PLE in a cozy corner of my sofa in my family room. I curl up in one corner with my laptop and read blogs, books. articles, watch videos, and interact with my PLN online (usually through Twitter). During the school year my learning environment is my class during the day, meetings or professional development venues in the early evenings, and my sofa most nights.

    I've taught students who wanted their PLE to be under a desk instead of sitting at one. Some like sitting on the sofa in the corner, others are happiest lying on the rug, and some are content at their desks. Some like music playing and soft lighting while others prefer a quiet area and strong lighting. Some what water and a snack to be readily available, while some could care less about that. Some of my 4th graders want tech to be a big part of their PLE and others are okay being low tech. Some students love a lot of interaction with others within their PLE while some are quite solitary. I definietly think a PLE is msotly about the "P" – personal. What makes the learner most comfortable will be what (s)he wants to include.

    Have you seen this video about a 7th grader's PLE?

  4. I'm not exactly sure what the difference is between Learning and Content in your model, unless you are trying to draw a distinction between the process of learning and what you learn. Could you be a little more explicit about that?

    I'd like to see the concept of responsibility addressed somewhere in your model, perhaps as a main topic or as a subtopic of Social Interaction–the idea being that developing and maintaining a PLE engenders some responsibility on the part of each member to interact and contribute and not simply to ask for help.

    Finally–the term "technology" bothers me somewhat. It's another example of separating technology from the process of learning and interacting. What if you used the term "Tools" instead? Not every element of a PLE necessarily involves a technology solution, although it's clearly the glue for the whole process. Is Skype technology, or is it better thought of as a tool for person-to-person communication? It's a fine distinction, admittedly, but lumping all of the potential tools under "technology" strikes me as unnecessarily off-putting to some folks who may be new to the concept of PLE.

  5. @Emma et al

    the way I see it everyone has a personal learning environment… and none of this is rocket science really! …nor should it be applied to just one field. Learning is an intrinsic ability/trait of the human being.

    What I am curious to know is how each participant will view this concept/idea/ or whatever you want to call it (PLE).

    I don't want to influence anyone with my own take at this stage, but I just would like to point out, as I think George has already done, that these 4 categories are there just to quick start the discussion. They are not static nor mandatory on any group's mindmap, and the negotiation of what your categories will be, will be pretty much dependent on how each individual will negotiate their ideas with the group they will be taking part in.

    I am really looking forward to this now! :-)

  6. Remember to keep the main thing the main thing.

    We are teachers. That implies our main thing is students. Therefore everything we do should be for the benefit of those students, preparing them so we can confidently hand over control of our world to them in the future.

    While the term "personal learning environment" may seem new, I believe the concept really isn't. Good teachers are have always been lifelong learners, reaching beyond themselves and their sphere of influence and looking for new knowledge and new experiences. If I were teaching 100 years ago my idea of a personal learning environment would have been the books I've read from others whose influence and experience reached beyond my own. I would bring that knowledge back to my students in the classroom to stimulate their own curiosity and encourage them to read and explore more themselves.

    My personal learning environment today looks drastically different, but I don't believe the main purpose has changed. The technology we use today removes the barriers of time and distance allowing me to connect, communicate, and extend my learning way beyond books and written correspondence. How I choose to use it or define it may vary greatly from others depending on own needs as an educator, my learning style, and my personal interests, but I am still a lifelong learner and my "main thing" should still be my students and how I can use what I learn – however I choose to learn it – to prepare them for next generation.

    I'll be curious to read about the discussion and how your panel chooses to define "personal learning environment", but I also encourage you to remember to keep the main thing, the main thing.

  7. George,

    You have certainly elicited a great many thoughtful answers. I agree that technology is an important part of a PLE but is a tool used to facilitate the other main functions.

    I also have the same question about the distinction between content and learning. Is content the "resources" and learning more of the process? As far as subheadings, perhaps under the social interaction heading you could dicuss the different tools as well as different levels and locations (live vs. online).

    Hope this makes sense. Great questions beget more questions!

  8. The one aspect that seems to me to be missing is Time. For any of us to actually have a PLE or PLN, we have to devote time and energy to it. I don't know that it needs to be on the chart, but it has to be a part of the conversation. Anyone who wants to take on being a part of a learning environment has to accept that it will require time, and lots of it in my experience. All learning and all growth takes effort. It is not a form of professional development where you go and listen, and that is it. It has to be active, or it will never become significant.

    Also, I would keep technology as a separate category, because the tools are changing so quickly that unless we make sure that we stay on top of what is out there, we will not know what is the best tool for the needs of our students. Sometimes, it is the same tool that we have used before, but at other times, there is something new that will support their learning and their growth as 21st century learners.

  9. Hi George,

    Lots of interesting discussion on this topic. I do like how you post the ideas out there for other people to respond to.

    I see PLEs as synonymous w/PLCs in the broader peer-reviewed educational literature and the concept is probably pre-dated by another version of it. It lives on as a concept because it is so important. (I wonder if Socrates' was the first documented PLE? Since you are of Greek heritage, you might know this??)

    I would like to see 'personal' or 'idiosyncratic' as a branch of its own; people have their own preferences for how they want to learn (via Twitter or other) and what they want to learn (the content.)

    I see the technology (the how) and the content (the what) subsumed by other categories.

    The environment or milieu could be a broader category with social interaction as a subset because, if you subscribe to a Vygotskian view of learning as requiring a social context, the learning milieu must include other people in order to bump one out of one's status quo way of thinking, ie. to push teachers into their ZPD.

    Learning certainly deserves to be in a category of its own. Learning cannot occur without content. Even learning about learning is metacognition. I don't see how the learning and content can be separated.

    I disagree a bit with SkipVia about adding a layer of responsibility on this model. How can it be a Personal LE if someone else is imposing it either with sticks, carrots, guilt, etc? The motivation should be (mainly) intrinsic. Perhaps SkipVia meant a continuum of degrees of engagement?

    I would be curious to know who came up with the model. You said 'we.' Was that a royal we (me, myself & I) or a group?

    Always interesting to read & respond to your posts.

    Cheers from Richmond,

    Ingrid @mmeveilleux

    • George

      The model was made by a few members in a group that I am part of in Barcelona. It was put together as a starting point but as in any good learning experience, it can (and will) be modified.

  10. Ilona

    I am so glad George will be moderating this session! The discussion here shows me how important it is to talk things over we take for granted, how individual and rich each personal meaning of the PLE concept is. I am looking forward so much to exploring the world of personal concepts and searching for similiarities, key elements and the common denominator.
    @Paula – nice how you describe your environment, seems so similiar to mine :) and I like how you describe how personal learning is, we should really appreciate this diversity and reflect it in PLEs

  11. Hi George,
    Wonderful comments here. There are a few medical practitioners/teachers in my PLE who clearly use their own PLEs – mainly on Twitter.

    I think one related pair of underlying sub-categories (or, rather, concepts for discussion) are trust and reputation.
    These are probably clearest in the social interactions. Trust is needed if you are going to rely on another person, and reputation allows you to gain a measure of them through the opinions of others (whom you trust).
    But the same can be said of technology – you need to be able to trust it (or, to be able to trust a particular 'instance' of technology) in order to be able to use it effectively as part of your PLE.
    Again, with content, you trust those sources you can either rely on because they (or their authors) have a good reputation (widely cited, or for other more organic reasons).
    I think the interesting one, for me, is the relationship of trust and reputation to learning. I don't think you have really learned something until you have trust in the 'knowledge'. Reputation, in this case, can be seen as the measurable outcome – the results of assessment which can lead others to trust you.
    You also need to be trusted by other members of your PLE (and that grows as you learn) and even, to some extent, by the technology (in terms of authorisation, and not trying to hack the system!)

    Trust and Reputation – these are about Identity, and in the digital world, that means Digital Identity.

  12. George

    I stepped out of my hotel and am so glad about the conversation that is happening here! Thanks so much for your comments!

    It is ALL about the students and how we can be better for them. That is why we do what we do in the first place. I appreciate Dennis pointing this out. Clearly all that have engaged in this conversation have benefited and learned from their own PLE (and it SHOULD be personal) so if we truly want to better education, this is important in how we bring others into their own PLE so they can improve their own practice for the sake of students.

    I agree with the comments that the term "technology" is probably not the best and I appreciate Skip using the term "tools". For example, on Friday we will be using non-tech tools to improve our own PLE through discussions with one another.

    Content is what we take in and what we share. For example, this blog is part of the 'content' and it is my own way of contributing, but we cannot expect the ones that are reluctant in the first place to start blogging, sharing, right away. We have to give them content where they start learning and feel comfortable. This is about creating the best learning environments for educators and our students so it is important that when we present this there is 'content' that is relevant to what they do, in whatever form that is (twitter, blogs, youtube, etc.).

    A lot of what I would love to say has already been said and I encourage you to keep on with the discussion. It was said that these environments have existed for a long time with good teachers and now it is just changing. This change however, as least from an administrator's point of view, shows that we can improve practice in a widespread manner to ultimately meet the needs of our students.

    Thanks again for your contributions and keep on with the discussion as it is highly important!

  13. Thanks, George. I think I understand why you separated Content and Learning in your model. Should be a very profitable discussion. Even if it bombs–hey, you'll be in Spain!

  14. I'd like to see some specific mention within the diagram that relates to the "methods" aspect of the learning — procedures and processes, frameworks, learning and reflection cycles, metacognition — routines and habits of mind that will guide and support the PLE. It may be that the "Learning" element in your diagram encapsulates these elements in general terms, but I would suggest that the effectiveness of the existing four (Learning, Technology, Content, Social Interaction) will only function at a truly high level if the individual learner has developed (is concurrently developing) an awareness of how to navigate through the learning process within said Personal Learning Environment.

    I've intentionally NOT used the word pedagogy here — I leave that to the domain of teaching. I'm partial to the notion that educators need to continue to emphasize the notion of supporting learning as a focus separate and distinct from "teaching." I think we will all be well served by stronger learners in our schools — rather than stronger students. To make effective use of your PLE, you need to be a learner first.

  15. Hello,

    interesting thoughts / comments. Can't wait to see all them live at Barcelona!

    In our opinion, as letters says, PLE is like a three-dimensional space:

    – LEP: Learning the Environment Properly (the tools, the technology)

    – EPL: Empowering / Enhancement Professional Learning (for our students, for us as teachers) and finally

    – PLE: Personalize onLine Experience.

    Gabriela and Carmen

    • Such a nice comment! I've never seen this combination of letters before and I really like it! Is it yours or have you based your comment in any other source? could you tell me, please?

      Cu tomorrow!!!!!

      • Hi Gemma,

        our paper is based on anagramming the PLE in a microblogging environment: the Personal, the Enviroment and the Learning dimensions are like the core of a Rubik's cube (this is our approach – the weel-known game used in the costruction for a PLE model / learnign scenarios on a microblogging platform).

        Now it's time to pack for Barcelona!

        See u all there!

  16. First, I like that this is a building point. I know you were asking about presentation tools and I think it would be amazing to add to this with the audience's participation in real time. You can show the PLE at work and it would be a hands-on experience.

    Everyone else has covered many of my thoughts. Paula's comments on her student's PLE reminds me of research by Rita Dunn. I think many new people to the PLE concept may not make the connection to how it revolves around personal choice. Rita Dunn has a Learning Styles survey that asks about environmental preferences such as lighting, time of day, time spent studying, how much space, etc. When I took the survey it made me reflect on how I like to learn. I think many of us don't reflect on how we like to learn or how we choose to learn. We can definitely learn through blogs, Twitter, webinars, and other social networks. We can choose to go to conferences and make choices about which people we learn from or add to our PLE. I have technical experts, linguists, marketing experts, and other subject matter experts that add to my PLE aside from educators. I know many med students who learn in Second Life. Second Life is definitely a giant leap for some but I think somewhere the audience should reflect on these personal choices. Sometimes audience members feel as if the presenters are shoving technology down their throats when really we are offering more choices and making them aware. I think time is a choice as well and that is an important concept that is difficult to grasp for many who think we are advocating spending an enormous amount of time in their PLE when really learning is around us and we are constantly immersed in learning opportunities and environments. We like to teach our students that they are surrounded by learning, but sometimes it is difficult for us to grasp. The reason we make choices about our PLE is because it isn't supposed to be stressful. It should be fun, inspiring, and motivate us. So I guess I'd like to see a point in the model where the person reflects and sees that a PLE is continuously evolving and adapts according to our reflection and choices. At anytime we edit and add to our PLE.

    • George

      I love this quote from you Shelly:

      The reason we make choices about our PLE is because it isn’t supposed to be stressful. It should be fun, inspiring, and motivate us.

      That is huge! I have been thinking a lot (obviously) about this over the last day and I think that the term, Personal Learning Environment makes a lot of sense because it is what we create around us. It is not something that we have to do, but it is something that we can create so we will want to do it. This is the exact reason why so many people are in engaged in their own way; it gives people their own professional autonomy in their learning environment.

      Your points were great and I appreciate your comments!

  17. I have to agree with Andrew, the methods are important. I think the meta-learning I gain through observing the members of my PLE is probably the most important learning I do – learning how I learn, and how to learn 'better'.

    I also agree with Shelly about making the choices about our PLE not being stressful – but also on the other hand, one of the learning outcomes I have found from making decisions about tools, people etc in my PLE is when there is a degree of concern raised by having to make the decision.

  18. Susan Monday

    Interesting and thought provoking blog! I think a point should be made that each person's PLE can be fashioned to meet their own needs. I teach at a PYP IB world school in the south. I mention this because we teach the action cycle: REFLECT, CHOOSE,and ACT. We teach that by reflecting on learning, social situations, behavioral issues, students then can make a choice and take action. PLEs should empower, inspire, and help you think outside the box enough so that you want to test this new information yourself. PLEs help us to become more global in our thinking.

  19. Kathrine

    I might consider putting the learner in the middle and constructing a slightly different model, perhaps?

    I like the video The Networked Student to illustrate how a personal learning environment can be constructed.


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