Friday, 24 September 2010

PLE (1)

In certain areas and institutions within the higher education sector over the last number of years a movement has been posited and tested. This movement is away from the institutional Virtual learning environment, and towards what is being termed as personal learning environments (PLE's). A number of technologies have been used to introduce this idea – elgg, ning and even Facebook. My take on the underlying motivation behind the push for the PLE is in fact to encourage a PULL mentality from our students. The ideas behind many PLE’s being that they allow the student to choose ‘pull’ the information which they wish to receive rather than having this pushed towards them as happens in traditional learning management systems and the VLE’s. I applaud this opportunity for personalisation, and feel strongly that by offering ownership of learning back to the students, and on their terms, we will increase their motivation and subsequent knowledge construction.

I started thinking about the way I currently work, and the way in which I worked as a student. In doing this I produced the below illustration. The picture illustrated to me the difficulties we face when talking about personal learning environments; a student today has so many different areas available for them to work in, and to pull information from. I started to think that the moniker ‘environment’ really is a true description, one in which our students possibly require the use of and navigate their way through many different arenas and web 2.0 tools both institutional and personally chosen in order to best complete an assignment.

My thinking is that the ‘environment’ within a ‘Personal learning environment’ should not necessarily refer to a single customisable but limited area, but rather should refer to the wider choice of tools a student chooses to use in order to complete their academic studies. This is a much wider ranging network of services, tools and people which needs investigation in order that we can better support out students development. Why are they choosing to use the tools they do? Who are they discussing ideas with? Where do they ‘pull’ from? What do they expect to be pushed towards them? All of these and more questions need to be answered before we can truly understand the 21st century students Personal Learning Environment.

Apologies, for the small image size. In future posts I will attempt to unpick my ‘environment’ further in order to offer an understanding of the role each element plays within it, and the possible issues which could possibly arise from such a diverse environment. 

Friday, 17 September 2010

So What?

In order to allow you further inside the mind of a Dave, I feel it important to outline you my Educational, pedagogical and psychological paradigms. This is to ‘frame’ the future posts and to ground my ideas, thoughts and ramblings.

I would like to share the best piece of advice I was ever given as an undergraduate psychology student, a piece of advice I believe works across disciplines. The advice was actually a question; a question I continually ask myself and others whilst thinking about and conducting research.

This magic question: So What?

These two simple words, this seemingly flippant statement is my guiding light. So What? causes a researcher to think about the application of their research, forces us to move from the numbers and the ‘themes’ and towards the personal. Most importantly, So What? allows a researcher to dream. By questioning theory we can start to see new applications, criticisms and benefits; and this my friends is exciting.

So now if I am successful in highlighting to you the wonder that is, So what? a number of you I am sure are thinking .... Dave is writing a blog..... So What?

Allow me to answer your pertinent and well thought of question. In doing so I hope to offer more insights into my academic thinking and research paradigms. I have a number of reasons for starting this blog. Firstly It allows me an arena in which to write and to construct ‘on paper’ my thoughts and arguments. I agree I could just do this on the comfort of ‘word’ or any other word processor without inflicting them upon you. If however I did contain my thoughts, I would never receive feedback upon these thoughts. I hope that many of you will comment on my coming posts in order to point out any problems with my thinking, ideas and general gaps in my knowledge. I am looking to connect my ideas with the cloud and in doing so use the feedback to reinterpret and re evaluate my constructs and knowledge. I am looking to offer my intellectual property openly upon this blog in order to receive feedback from which I can learn and hopefully grow academically.

With this open; constructionist; connectivist paradigm in mind I invite and encourage each and every one of you to openly comment on my academic musings in the coming posts.

So What ? 

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hello blogosphere how are you today?

My first post, hmm well this should probably be an explanation of motivations and desires for this blog... shouldn't it? I think it should, so here goes. The blog will be used to disseminate and construct my academic thoughts, ramblings, likes, dislikes, and hates (hopefully not too many of these). I shall also look to give my thoughts on wider ranging interests such as photography, sneakers, music and popular culture in general (whatever that actually means). Readers (you) should expect tangents, strange thoughts and well... just expect the unexpected. These thoughts do after all come from deep inside the mind of a Dave (readers beware: awful puns and bad jokes are also warrant to arise without explanation) ..... For more information regarding the physical 'Dave' in question you should probably go and have a little gander at the profile section :)

Until next time; Fly my pretties, Fly ....