PLE Conference at Southampton

February 15, 2011 at 11:26 am | Posted in educational | 2 Comments
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I’ve read plenty of interesting posts about PLEs (Personal Learning Environments) linked from Stephen Downes’ OLDaily blog, and now I find that the second ever PLE Conference is to be held at this University in July.

So what is a PLE? Well, that seems to depend who you listen to – to me it seems to be a conceptual understanding of individual practice rather than an assembly of  resources and technologies. That said, most descriptions of PLEs (by people who are hip enough to know that they have one) seem to revolve around the (mainly) online networks of people that Web 2.0  enables them to keep in touch with and the online systems that help them access and organise information.

If we returned to the 1980’s (when I was a student) an undergraduate student’s PLE would consist of:

  • their academic tutors, their fellow students and (maybe) their family and friends;
  • the University Library and their personal textbooks;
  • their collection of lecture notes;
  • institutional and personal learning spaces (Library, lecture rooms, labs, study bedroom, cafe, pub)

Today we can add to that:

  • new institutional group learning spaces scattered around the campus;
  • all of the information available on the web;
  • the ability to search that information efficiently and store it conveniently;
  • information from blogs, wikis, discussion forums, email lists, Twitter;
  • the ability to automatically gather relevant information via RSS;
  • discussion with people online – i.e. active use of blogs, wikis, forums, lists, Twitter;
  • easier collaboration with fellow students via VLE, FaceBook, mobile phone etc.
  • extended contact with friends (and their friends) at other institutions via FaceBook, phone etc.
  • convenient (zero physical space or weight) local storage and organisation of resources and information;
  • storage of resources ‘in the cloud’ so that they can be shared or collaborated on;
  • the ability to do all of the above using a powerful mobile device such as a laptop, tablet or phone.

And that is why we need to develop a research-led understanding of PLEs.



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  1. I’m interested – I’m running blog driven design project with MA groups at Winchester School of Art. Collaborative, organic ideas base which will translate into the physical by end of semester 3.

    • Hi Jane – I’m not involved in organising the conference, but there is a call for papers on their website. I assume you already know Adam Procter, who I think is the person at WSA most likely to be into PLEs.

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