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PLEs – Designing for Change

August 13th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Yesterday I read “Designing for Change: Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments” by Fridolin Wild, Felix Mödritscher and Steinn Sigurdarson, who are working on the EU funded iCamp project. Thi is interesting stuff.
At the core of their arguement is the idea that “by establishing a learning environment, i.e. a network of people, artefacts, and tools (consciously or unconsciously) involved in learning activities, is part of the learning outcomes, not an instructional condition.”

They go on to look at AI and adaptive approaches to learning environments.

“Adaptive (educational) hypermedia technologies all differ”, they say, but “they share one characteristic: they deal primarily with the navigation through content, i.e. the represented domain specific knowledge. Information processing and knowledge construction activities are not in the focus of these approaches. Consequently, they do not treat environments as learning outcomes and they cannot support learning environment design.”

Their approach goes beyond personalisation.

“Considering the learning environment not only a condition for but also an outcome of learning, moves the learning environment further away from being a monolithic platform which is personalisable or customisable by learners (‘easy to use’) and heading towards providing an open set of learning tools, an unrestricted number of actors, and an open corpus of artefacts, either pre-existing or created by the learning process – freely combinable and utilisable by learners within their learning activities (‘easy to develop’). ”

They go on to explain a set of tools beng piloted by the iCamp project:

“In this section we describe the development of a technological framework enabling learners to build up their own personal learning environments by composing web-based tools into a single user experience, get involved in collaborative activities, share their designs with peers (for ‘best practice’ or ‘best of breed’ emergence), and adapt their designs to reflect their experience of the learning process. This framework is meant to be a generic platform for end-user development of personal learning environments taking into account the paradigm shift from expert-driven personalisation of learning to a design for emergence method for building a personal learning environment.”

The tools and platform they have developed are based on a learner interaction scripting language (LISL) leading to a Mash-UP Personal Learning Environment (MUPPLE). I do not fully understand how the platform works (does it require users to understand the scripting language?) but it appears to be based on users describing a set of activities they wish to undertake. These activities then allow them to access a set of tools to undertake those activities. The focus on activities rather than tasks seems to me interesting.

I very much like the idea that the learning platform is seen as an outcome of learning and think the approach has great potential. I woudl be interested to hear what others think of the approach. I hope to get a look at the platform and will report back.

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4 Responses to “PLEs – Designing for Change”

  1. We at Scholar360 use the terms PLE and NLE (Network Learning Environment) interchangeably to mean exactly what is described above. Your readers might be interested to know that Scholar360 is an NLE that combines the best of LMS/CMS with all the Web 2.0 tools, a secure social network, and more to create a highly effective learning environment.

  2. Currently, MUPPLE is more a prototypic PLE solution where we experience different aspects of our idea (e.g. end-user development, personalization, recommendations, tool interoperability, and the forth). Anyway, if you are interested you can experience this prototype at http://mupple.org (registration is free).

  3. I forgot to mention that there will be an interesting event on this topic at this years EC-TEL conference: Workshop on Mash-UP Personal Learning Environments. You can find the programme here: http://mupple08.icamp.eu/

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  1. […] to know about PLEs or Personal Learning Environments, then Graham Attwell is your man. Today he posts about a PDF from the iCamp project on the subject. The only problem is that, after a long day at the […]

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