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PLEs – impressions from #TICEDUCA2010 in Lisbon

November 22nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Last weekend I spoke at the #TICEDUCA2010 conference in Lisbon, Portugal about PLEs. I greatly enjoyed myself and even may have developed a couple of new ideas (more on this later this week). But first a few impressions. I have to say this is a very subjective viewpoint as only the keynote sessions – mine and Helen Barrett’s were interpreted. Having said this, I had the perfect excuse to hang around the coffee bar and ended up having many fasci9ntaing conversations – some of which I am now continuing by email.

Firstly something about the composition of th3e conference. from a quick straw poll it appeared a majority of the participants were teachers. Thus many of the discussions I had were closely related to the practice of teaching and learning. And there was certainly great interest in the idea of PLEs, even if there was some confusion about how exactly a Personal Learning environment differed from say Moodle.

Most of the teachers I talked to were enthusiastic about the potential of using technology for teaching and earning. This may to some extent due to the Portuguese policy of providing subsidised laptops and broadband  connections for  teachers, school children, and adult learners.According to Dan Tapscott nearly nine out of 10 students in Grades 1 to 4 now have a laptop on their desk. Don also points out that there has been heavy investment in teacher training to use the technologies for teaching and learning and I found teachers ready and eager to discuss pedagogic approaches. Having said that, some pointed out to a continuing gap between the policy aspiration and the reality, especially when it came to how the computers were being used.

Many of those I spoke to saw PLEs as a fresh approach, particularly for linking learning in school with informal learning outside the institution. Yet the issues and barriers were only too familiar. How do we motivate students who may be disillusioned and disengaged with schools and formal education? How do we develop a more expansive enquiry based pedagogy whilst at the same time delivering a prescribed and more limited curriculum? How can we develop collaborative learning whilst meeting assessment regulations focusing on individual competence?

None of these questions are new. But it is encouraging that so many teachers are engaging with these questions. I came away impressed with  so many ideas from researchers and teachers I was lucky enough to talk to – but still wondering how we can harness their ideas to make change happen?

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One Response to “PLEs – impressions from #TICEDUCA2010 in Lisbon”

  1. Heinz says:

    Hi Graham,

    is there a way to see your slide from this event?

    Greetings from the snowy Black Forest


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