Veletsianos Chapt 9: Trey Martindale & Michael Dowdy, “Personal Learning Environments”

September 13, 2010


Chapter 9 in the Veletsianos (ed.) book is the beginning of Part 3 (Social, Organizational, and Contextual Factors in Emerging Technologies Implementations).

The chapter itself, by Trey Martindale and Michael Dowdy, is titled “Personal Learning Environments” and discusses the history of the concept, its use, how it compares with Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and its future. In this chapter, the PLE is shown to have some varying definitions, and examples range from ELGG to Facebook. And in looking at how the PLE compares to the LMS, these authors provide several scenarios.

At this point I have to point to a blog post that also compares the PLE to the LMS (and has a graphic that I really like)

In a nutshell, almost everyone who compares the LMS to the PLE tends to see the LMS as more formal and structured, with the PLE being more transformative.

Basically I agree with the concept – I’d say that the LMS *can* be a bit better than “one size fits all” though, but it does take work to make that happen. I like one of the comments to the above blog — that the LMS can be part of the PLE. Certainly my work revolves around delivering courses via an LMS, but as much as possible, I encourage everyone involved to use the LMS as a springboard to developing a PLE (or PLN) because I don’t want the experience to end with the final assignment of the “course”.

Finally, for an account of a story that shows the power of making educational opportunities less formal, look to:

Using mobile phones to promote lifelong learning among rural women in Southern India

by K. Balasubramanian et al, August 2010 in the special edition of the Australian Journal “Distance Education” p. 193-209 (your library may have this journal in their online collection and it’s definitely worth accessing)

for a description of nine female goats, one buck and one cellphone and how the combination of mobile phones and goat grazing is allowing women to learn without sacrificing their employment.

Note: The PLE is sometimes distinguished from the PLN (Personal Learning Network – see my blog post on Chapter 6 where Alec Couros describes this with PLE being more focused on the technology and PLN more focused on the networking of people. But I think many of us (Alec Couros included, as far as I can tell from this link: see a lot of overlap and are interested in collaborating for learning in any way possible.

Fifteen minutes after posting this, I find a new take on the controversy here: “The institutional PLE? Impossible or feasible?”

This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).