Personal learning environments (PLEs), please

The term PLE is going to come into its own in 2009, because of the prominence of the digital literacy/academic literacy and lifelong learning debates. There has been much discussion of PLEs over the past four or five years (yes, that long). I was led to this reflection by Graham Attwell’s post, How my Personal Learning Environment is Changing.

As is so typical, this reminded me of something I read recently but couldn’t remember what: someone else discussing their PLE. So I flipped over to my delicious to see what I had bookmarked. While I was there searched “PLE” and noticed A collection of PLE diagrams from Scott Leslie’s edtechpost near the top of “everybody’s bookmarks”. Anyone entering into the PLE discussion in or out of an educational institution, regardless of their perspective, will find the background here invaluable. Like I said, the conversation has been going on for longer than I remembered. JISC commissioned the CETIS PLE report in March 2005.

So, why just now? On the technology side, because:

  • the LMS/VLE/MLE has become embedded and ubiquitous in institutions; the PLE has not and no-one really knows what “it” is, or if it is everything;
  • Web2.0 applications are maturing and people are using them;
  • Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are starting to break open the browser;
  • Feeding and feed aggregation are becoming widespread practices;
  • [more reasons?]

And on the learning and teaching side because:

  • debates about the VLE are no longer proxy for or productive of educational innovation; but, the PLE debate is productive of and proxy for a discussion of educational innovation
  • digital literacy is among key skills at all levels of the curriculum, from primary through postgraduate education; Oxford University Computing Service annual elearning conference, Shock of the Old, this year is, Digital literacy in higher education; at the other end of the spectrum, according to the ESRC, “Digital literacy starts at a very early age“: Plowman, L., J. McPake, et al. (2008). “Just picking it up? Young children learning with technology at home.” Cambridge Journal of Education 38(3): 303-319 reported on an ESRC funded project with preschoolers.

By the way. I remembered, what it was I was reminded of.

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