Archive for the ‘Personal Learning Environment’ Category

Well worth the read for the K-12 perspective.

Abstract: “Directors of the federal Office of Educational Technology both past and present—as well as a range of ed tech leaders nationwide—predict what the digital revolution has in store for the next decade, while taking account of its impact to date. Plus: a timeline of learning technologies.”

2020 Vision: Experts Forecast What the Digital Revolution Will Bring Next


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If you’re super connected to social networking, use different instant messaging products, have several email accounts, or want to toggle between texting to/from your cell and your computer, the first tool may be for you. It gives you instant access to, and a running stream of your Facebook updates/feeds, blends all of your IM buddies regardless of source, and provides access to your different email accounts, in one neat cockpit.

If you subscribe to several RSS/news feeds, want to read the top sports stories, see the weather, or if you use Mapquest, Wikipedia or visit YouTube frequently, consider personalizing your own Web portal by using the second tool.

Thanks to my colleague and revered tech guru (not his real job), Todd Digby (only coincidental name connection), I configured the following tools just yesterday to streamline many of my Web surfing activities.

  • Digsby: is a proprietary multiprotocol instant messaging application (from Wikipedia). So what does that mean? In about five minutes, you can set up a downloadable piece of software to connect all your instant messaging tools (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, etc) along with your email accounts, and social networks (Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter only). My complaint is that I’d like to see other social networks such as Plaxo and LinkedIn offered as well. Here’s what the cockpit looks like:
























When you scroll over the “F” icon -at the left – for Facebook, it brings up your feed, from which you can access your profile, messages, friends, photos. And it all sits down in your icon tray.





  • iGoogle: It’s a personalized Google page, where you can add web feeds and Google gadgets. Much like NetVibes, PageFlakes, MyYahoo. use it as a portal to most of your most valued sites and feeds, saving gobs of time. For us educators, I think it has critical importance for the future of eLearning systems, in that it teaches us how to set up a carousel-like page, with multiple offerings to the myriad tools students can use to construct knowledge. That is how experimenting faculty (such as M. Wesch) are beginning to set up their classes — where the LMS becomes just one tool, not necessarily the centerpiece, functioning more quietly as an operating system (to collect dropbox items, as an electronic gradebook and to issue quizzes).


These feed-driven portals go far beyond the present LMS capabilities, so if faculty want to use them, they’re on their own presently, to set them up and help their students use them. I predict that iGoogle, NetVibes, and the like will become the templates for the next design iteration of LMSs everywhere. That may not be a bad thing, as LMS companies start redesigning for extensibility. I surely hope the next LMS (if there is to be a single entry point), goes  beyond adding only internal/proprietary tools but instead is redesigned to more closely resemble a customized learning space where each faculty member can add external widgets deemed the best for engaging learners and improving outcomes. 

This is just a prediction – but all instincts say I’m on target. Anyway, here’s what my iGoogle page looks like (click on pic to get a larger view):



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Minnesota State Colleges and Universities logo 

I went to our annual RSP/ITeach Conference this past Friday. The conference sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning (of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system), was held last week at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. The conference brought together more than 1100 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities faculty to:

  • Discuss teaching in their disciplines
  • Demonstrate best practices in teaching
  • Present the results of innovative experiments in instructional development and instructional technologies

True to form, the conference was inspiring and provided a great opportunity to network with colleagues.  

I conducted one of the 100+ sessions and am uploading my presentation slides below.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable – the Landscape of eLearning is Changing

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As indicated in earlier posts, I will continue to explore the topic of personal learning environments. Since this is at least my third post on this topic, the PLE tag in my blog tag cloud ought to be growing larger.

I found a great contrary opinion on PLEs, posted by Leigh Blackall of New Zealand. I can’t tell what his profession is for sure, but I suspect he’s in higher ed. At first glance of his blog post title (Die LMS, Die! You, too PLE!), I was thinking that Mr. Blackall was no great proponent of the new learning technologies or the existing eLearning products. Either that or he was not in favor of student-directed learning. I’m not entirely sure I’m wrong on the first part, but he is definitely all for student-directed learning. He just asks a great question about whether we need to invent something new called a PLE. His question has given me great pause and I’m inclined to agree with him. Particularly because things are changing so rapidly.

So what, we develop new carousel type portals. How much time in development costs, time spent integrating PLEs with existing software, and local campus technical support will be needed? I think moving to a PLE is already possible, but it’s a decision if not change in mindset the instructor has to make. I applaud Mr. Blackall’s gumption to question something that otherwise seemed so reasonable. Read on… or go directly to his blog post. 

I should note that the picture below is not a photo of Mr. Blackall.


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Phil Ice posts on PLE applications 

Just yesterday, an individual named Phil Ice posted a comment on a Sloan-C wiki, which I think repesents the best explanation of what a true PLE (personal learning environment) would or could be. He thinks it may be 2-3 years before anyone truly gets there.

PLEs will be an perpetual topic of this blog, as I continue to scan the Web for good information contributed by our own peers in education.

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Scott Wilson, Future VLE http://octette.cs.man.ac.uk/jitt/images/b/ba/Wilson_future_PLE.jpg 

Diagram above by Scott Wilson, http://octette.cs.man.ac.uk/jitt/images/b/ba/Wilson_future_PLE.jpg


I’m keeping a watchful eye on what direction the CMS (aka LMS, IMS) is heading. Those of us trying to look through the Magic 8 ball are prophecizing a significantly different role for the CMS in the not too distant future. What is likely to happen is that it will stand alongside other Web-based applications, quietly doing and/or crunching the administrative functions, such as gradebooks, accepting homework assignments and enrolling students into a courseshell via integration with an SIS. But the portal or first point of entry may not actually be the CMS interface.

So what might it be? I was inclined to write about PLEs (personal learning environments) but realized that there are way too many good sites and resources out there both in text and graphical representation about how the PLE might work. One goal this year is to find out which faculty within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system may already be using or approximating a PLE with their students.

So, if you’re tracking all of the TLEs (three letter acronyms) in this post and want to read on, feel free to graze through some of these resources on PLEs:

Visual Presentations of PLEs by various authors

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