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Learning requires readiness, preparedness and motivation

September 25th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Please don’t groan at yet another post on Personal Learning Environments. Well – I hope not becuase there are a few more in the pipeline. Why am I so focused. Besides my interest in how to change what I see as a grossly unfair and non-functional education system, because I am a partner on the EU funded Mature project which seeks to use PLEs to foster knowledge maturation.And I am using this blog as a jotting pad for confused ideas!

The problem with much of the debate for me, is that it is focused on hwo we use PLEs in education – or more narrowly in higher education. As such it is about replacing VLEs, letting go of control, providing services etc. Indeed we spend much of our time defining PLEs by what they are not! But what about those not in education – or at least those for whom formal learning is a episodic event? And what about using PLEs in the workplace? There has been very little dicussion around these issues and yet I think this may be where the real power of PLEs lies. Of couse everyone has their own PLE – if we take the widest sense of an enevironment in which we learn and if we accept that all working environments foster or constrain learning to a different extent. So one issue is simply how to design learning conducive working environments. But in a study we have undertaken for the Mature project (not yet available) we found that individuals have highly idiosyncratic ways of developing, managing and sharing knowledge, ranging from post-it notes and carrier bags to PDAs and voice recorders. On the one hand they are concious of their need for information and knowledge, on the other hand spend little time considering just how they meet such a need. And of course ICT comfidence and competence varies greatly.

We face a number of challenges in introducing PLEs for these knowledge rich workers. To what extent do we want to challenge the personal strategies people already have – especially if they are working for them? How can PLE tools be made to integrate within the working environment? At a more funadamental level what are these tools? What added value will they produce?

Yes – we can develop a range of services – calenders, access to research and resources and can provide these in flexible and multiple formats. But services alone do not mean learning. Much of the present learning is informal and much comes out of involvement in multiple networks – both organisational and personal. How can we build on the power of networks to enhance learning?

What is necessary for learning to take place? In a recent skype channel chat Jenny Hughes suggested that learning depends on readiness, preparedness and motivation. Readiness, she said, is about prerequisite skills and knowledge and physical and intellectual and emotional state or stage of development; preparedness is about having the time, the technology, the environment etc. and motivation is will or desire. If there are opportunties for informal learning in everyday work, then a PLE can assist in the preparedness for learning but can do little for readiness for motivation.

To be continued……

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