If I were to design a new online program today I would choose to focus on PLE’s and social networking tools as the basis of delivery and practice. But in my college, I know that would not work for some of our students who don’t yet get social networking as a learning process, and who have not broken from their previous learning history where teachers directed the show. I understand this is a popular topic and I would choose the PLE over more traditional centrally controlled LMS’s. But if I tune in to all stakeholders I would have to blend the components of a PLE with a more centrally controlled LMS. The LMS can satisfy most academic stakeholders (leaders and students) who are not ready for transformation, yet the use of social networking and a focus on learner control of their learning can still function with some reporting back to a central system.

I find that there is a need to “train” or perhaps transition our learners in the use of social networking tools as learning tools, and to facilitate their understanding and experience of developing a PLE. Once they are on the path of quality research, aggregation of resources, use of multiple types of search engine tools, collaborative communication and communities of practice, and management and organizational tools, then they begin to grasp the potential of a more efficient and practical personal learning environment.

Hopefully there are existing situations and institutions where the PLE is system-wide and all faculty participate in encouraging the shift to learner controlled environments. That is not the situation I am experiencing and the reality is to blend until it begins to become a part of the learning culture. The PLE hopefully will become the dominate culture of our schools, but in the mean time…”less is more” as we say in the design world!

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