Thursday, November 18, 2010

Modelling PLE based learning

InWednesday's  #PLENK2010 session Sebastian Fiedler gave us his thoughts and ideas on Personal Learning Environments. He moved the discussion from the technology to the concept and made us think about the personal learning, rather than the learning environment in PLE. His model to analyse personal learning looked like this:
During the discussion following his presentation quite a few questions were asked about this framework: would people move from 1 through a continuum to 5? How would this work?  Howard Johnson in his blog pointed out that PLE based learning is very much embedded in the context in which it takes place. Learners are in a constant flux, working here, playing there, interacting on Twitter, drinking coffee in the local community centre. That is also my problem with this model: it is all about the self, but this self doesn't operate in a vacuum. I would prefer to see a model of learning that encompasses the context and interactions that people engage in. I produced a model of PLE based learning a while back that incorporates the learning context. It has Kolb's learning cycle at its heart, but also shows the process of aggregation of information, relation of the materials to earlier experiences and knowledge, creation of digital artefacts and sharing of these with the wider world and communicate about them with others.

Of course while learners are going about their lives and are involved in activities that make that they learn, their personal development continues and I have found the Perry stages of development, as described in an earlier post, helpful in understanding how this might work.


  1. After reading Sebastian Fiedler's paper I realized that the numbered layers were not intended to track a chronology or progression. I think he was trying to tell us that in the session, but we didn't understand, perhaps because we had't had time to read it. If I understand his paper correctly, these layers or systems represent personal decisions about managing the time we allot to a PLE based on short term issues and/or longer term goals. Decisions at several layers can occur simultaneously, or interactively in any order. That they are represented by layered and numbered rectangles leads us to the incorrect initial assumption that it is a progressive model about stages of learning. I think your model DOES represent the process of learning very beautifully and accurately, but Sebastian was talking about something different.

    Sebastian's main contention was that learning institutions fail to take any but the first level or system into consideration in their attempts at assisting students to manage their learning. I think PLENK facilitators did a good deal better than Sebastian's view of courses in general. We were repeatedly reminded that we needed to pace ourselves and make choices about where to engage. We were even given a fairly accurate model predictiong initial feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed, followed by trying to do everything, to finally settling into a sustainable pace.

    I wish I had been able to read the paper before the Elluminate session. I would not have felt as lost during Sebastian's presentation if I'd had the benefit of his written explanations. I want to go back and listen to the recording again, once it becomes available, now that I've read the paper.