Learners and PLE’s

I’ve been reflecting on a panel I facilitated last week at the 2009 Canadian eLearning Conference.  Three UBC learners (Andre, Angeli and Zack) talked about their concepts of PLE – what they think is important and what they think about the relationship between learning, university and their own personal goals and explorations.

Here are some of the themes that they touched on:

  • students are inherently practical and grades are key motivators for action.  We’ve structured the education system this way, it’s not their fault.
  • PLEs will primarily include tools and approaches that support getting better grades. Tools like Quizlet, Facebook for study groups, google docs and wikis for shared work, blogs for personal reflection, IM and (sometimes) Twitter for networking with peers, etc. Not much room/time  for creative explorations with online tools, resources and social spaces unless it is part of a degree requirement.
  • disconnect between personal learning goals, choice of tools and selection of approaches. Learning goals are set by the instructor and those are the ones that students pay attention to. Connection with the personal and reflection on learning process happens with support – usually in the context of a “work” project or an instructor’s approach to teaching.
  • personal learning environments are not synonymous with technology – books, creative materials, etc. are just as important as part of a person’s personal learning environment.

So, how do we meaningfully support the learners in the activities that surround the  development of their personal learning environments:  reflection, identification of their own learning goals, consideration of the “fit” between their goals and twhat is required for their chosen field of study?  Educational reform, one interaction at a time? Lots to consider here…

Here are the slides (on Slideshare) that provided some context to our panel discussion:

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