PLE’s et al

“But it’s alright now, I’ve learned my lesson well.
“You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself” Ricky Nelson

I’ve been getting some questions about personal learning environments and of course hearing and reading lots about them in the past few months. If I thought about the PLE, it was a concept around the use of tools and processes to be a better learner. The PLE was akin to the process of personal knowledge management (PKM), in that it was a sense-making effort.

Some of the discussions around PLE’s seem to be going in the direction of PLE-as-platform, like a learning management system (LMS).  Having a “PLE in a box” might please everyone, but learners have to please themselves.

Tom Haskins has been adding excellent insight into this conversation, first with The LMS vs PLE Debate and then  Growing PLE’s from Seed and now PLE’s come in sizes :

When we think of Personal Learning Environments as things, we are on the same page as construction workers, factory stewards and warehouse operators. We are dealing with the components to assemble a PLE. We describe the PLE as “what we’ve got in it” like Web 2.0 tools and archives of our own creations.

When we think of PLE’s as processes, we’re on the same page as designers of architecture, software interfaces and customer experiences. We’re dealing with what components do, how they function, what purpose they serve, and which difference they make. These intangible qualities are more difficult to visualize.

It’s like electricity, which can be thought of as particles or as a current. PLE’s, in their current free-form, are what individuals are putting together because the tools are cheap and available. The processes are drawn from many fields – knowledge management, cognitive science, information architecture, etc. These processes, with newer tools every day, are fairly ill-defined.

Who knows where the PLE will go, but let’s give it a chance to grow first. Seeing how various artists use some kind of PLE would be fascinating and much more informative for our field than any standard PLE format selected by company ABC for all of its employees.

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