Web 2.0 and Personal Learning Environments (PLEs)

Crazy week this week. First I was sick as a dog with some crazy bug where I could hang on during the day but at night I would get this killer sore throat that kept me up all night in bad pain. That would be OK except that this week I had to be in NY and Boston all in the one week.

Anyway enough about me and my woes. Onto the good stuff….

I was fortunate enough to be asked to contribute at the e-Learning Guild in two different forums this week:


Tony Karrer, hoodwinked Brent Schelenker, Steven Downes and yours truly to talk about Web 2.0 (and a bit of 3D) meets Corporate Learning — or if that is not what it was he wanted us to talk about it is certainly where it went.

I’ve known Tony for a while….and I am a big fan of both Steven and Brent’s via daily reading of their Blogs. I think because of this, we were kinda able to get right into it and riff because we each knew where each other stood and we got to take the conversation into the generative learning and co-creation stage very quickly.

This is also one of the coolest things about Web 2.0 that we talked about on the panel. First and foremost Steven made the point that your approach as an educator should not be “OK let me figure out what blogs, wikis, social tagging, You Tube, Second Life and Moodle mean for my learning strategy or my learners.” Instead Steven suggests you start in the most obvious place…Where might that be? you ask…Why YOU and your own learning of course Steven says.

Time is on the same channel here:

First, get an account on blogger and start to converse publically. This is step one in what Steven calls your Personal Learning Environment (PLE). BTW Jay Cross is on a similar trip here and both Steven and Jay acknowledge they have not Grokked the solution but they are equally passionate about the idea.

We then got into….once you start with a blog, (Hello WordPress/Blogger) your learning starts to take off. You start to get motivated to want to find a tool that helps make your space more conversational and co-creative/crowsourced in terms of production/interpretation of content/ideas (Hello Wiki). You then want to throw in some pictures (Hello Flickr/OFoto) and inevitibely want to find (or create) audio (Hello Odeo) and video (Hello Jumpcut, Eyespot and YouTube/Google Video) that further emphasize your point. You then want to take all these different piece parts together into a single place that is just for you (Hello MySpace….oh that is so yesterday why not build it out in 3D in Secondlife)…and suddenly you start to understand that we have finally tipped on a number of fronts:

    Web services meets Web 2.0 which means that it becomes easier for people (not just programmers to be prosumers)
    Centrally Created Content/Control moves towards User Generated Content/Sharing
    Content is king but Context is the Kingdom
    Power on all levels is moving towards the consumer (kinda like banks with ATMs only about everything) but consumers are also becoming producers.
    Consumption moves towards Prosumption

In double-looping on this I ponder….Is it just me or did you notice that either Google or Yahoo is snapping everything up this food chain. So Rupert did interrupt the cycle and Cisco did Buy WEBEX…but how ’bout the 3D space. If you think about it 2D interactive platforms that have aggregated eyeballs (either Myspace in the Consumer space or Webex in the Corporate space) are, IMHO, all going to end up in the 3D space. All you gotta do is look at what is going on in Korea with CyWorld to see that. And Korea is the place to look to as they are the leading adopters in this space as it was with DoCoMo in mobile many years ago in Japan.

Anyway enough about that. Those of you who are either digital natives and just do this or digital immigrants like me who work like the dickens to live/learn/work this way know that the learning (and responsibility to contribute..which is why I am sitting here exhausted on a Friday night but feeling the need to share) is so poweful that it literally changes the game.

Keep a watch on Jay and Steven to see where they go next on PLEs…it is good stuff.

Leave a comment


  1. Corporate Support of PLEs

    As a manager of a large program and one who very firmly advocates fully personalized approaches to meeting learner’s needs when possible and appropriate, a PLE is a great start and I consider LMS’s in today’s learning space fairly inadequate of fully meeting this capability. Beyond the limitations posed by simply having learners assign themselves (or have their corporations or supervisors assign) learning activities, I long for the day where social networks fully allow the interaction of a secure Active Directory where ALL is allowed.

  2. Tony – it was fantastic having you on the panel. Wish we had more time. Got great feedback on the session. Thanks!

  3. Goerge Siemens recently pointed out (again) that PLEs are not necessarily ‘things’ we can build instituionally, a position I agree with.
    I do however think there may be some mileage in insitutions providing shells or containers within which users can aggregate the tools that are included in THEIR OWN ple – which is the approach I’ve been following with stringle (string’n’glue learning environment – http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/stringle ).

    One thing insitutions might offer are PLE patterns that describe the sorts of tools you might want to include in your PLE (general student PLE: an online wordprocessor, online storage, a social bookimarking service etc) and then exemplar tools within those tool/application classes.

    Ideally, combinations of tools might support interoperability/shared storage, roundtripping (the ability to send a file from one service to another and back again) and single sign on (eg using openid, yahoo or google authentication, etc).


  4. Tony, It was a pleasure and an honor to sit between two of my favorite thought leaders of learning. I certainly could have chatted for hours.
    Sorry you were sick and missed out on the Unibroue blogger beer tasting. Not only did Tony K pull off moderating us mouthy bloggers but he pulled off the best blogger beer tasting ever, and committed himself in the process to do it at all the conferences 😉

  5. Good introductory thoughts for the process of getting started with online education..or rather, taking education online. I went through the same process moving from blog to wiki and onward. I had the added benefit of a M.Ed in Online Education along the way, of course.

    I think that a new breed of teacher will start at the other end of this spectrum, however. They will be very comfortable with being online – and online socially. They will need to move toward the centre where this online savvy will be a set of experiences that need to be applied to learning – versus older educators who are struggling to make sense of applying online tools to their current pedagogies. From either end, considerable sense-making must be applied to get make the (al)most of online opportunities for learning.

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  8. I consider PLE as a powerful internet tool which provide opportunities to learners to learn actively. And I also believe it should be recommend and wide-spread.

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  1. lauren’s library blog » Blog Archive » links for 2007-04-16
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  4. PLE « juandon. Innovación y conocimiento

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