The PLE Conference is intended to produce a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experience and research around the development and implementation of PLEs – including the design of environments and the sociological and educational issues that they raise.
We have identified seven aspects where these changes are most obvious and/or important. To sum up, learning with PLE leads to changes concerning: (1) the role of the learner as active, self-directed creators of content; (2) personalisation with the support and data of community members; (3) learning content as an infinite “bazaar”; (4) the big role of social involvement; (5) the ownership of learner's data; (6) the meaning of self-organised learning for the culture of educational institutions and organisations, and (7) technological aspects of using social software tools and aggregation of multiple sources.
The vast number of tools, supporting collaboration on the web is an indicator that PLE and social software tools are not only a flash in the pan, but lead to a new notion of learning and a measure for sustainable competence development. Nevertheless, the existing approaches and ideas for PLE need further development and elaboration. With the discussion of the related shifts from LMS towards PLE and their challenges, this paper may serve as the basis for learners, teachers and educational institutions decisions for (or against) the technological concept of PLE, on a general level and taking into account its pedagogical implications.
iClass is an integrated project which is partially funded by the 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technology Development of the European Commission. Although it started off to develop a user-centric intelligent tutoring platform, the educational vision of the project was updated during the third year and bringing support for self-regulated personalisation on mainstream virtual learning environments became the objective.
In this paper, formative features of the visual interface of the iClass Web-based RIA will be explained as signifiers of typical regulatory structures. Semiotic principles underlying each signification will be described and the role of visualisation in operant conditioning and empowerment will be discussed.
It goes on to consider some of the pressures for change in the present education systems. The idea of a Personal Learning Environment recognises that learning is ongoing and seeks to provide tools to support that learning. It also recognises the role of the individual in organising his or her own learning. Moreover, the pressures for a PLE are based on the idea that learning will take place in different contexts and situations and will not be provided by a single learning provider. Linked to this is an increasing recognition of the importance of informal learning.
The paper also looks at changing technology, especially the emergence of ubiquitous computing and the development of social software.
The paper believes that we are coming to realise that we cannot simply reproduce previous forms of learning, the classroom or the university, embodied in software. Instead, we have to look at the new opportunities for learning afforded by emerging technologies.
Social software offers the opportunity to narrow the divide between producers and consumers. Consumers themselves become producers, through creating and sharing. One implication is the potential for a new ecology of ‘open’ content, books, learning materials and multimedia, through learners themselves becoming producers of learning materials.
Social software has already led to the widespread adoption of portfolios for learners, bringing together learning from different contexts and sources of learning and providing an ongoing record of lifelong learning, capable of expression in different forms.
The paper considers how Personal Learning Environments might be developed through the aggregation of different services.
The final section provides examples of practices that show how PLEs may be used in the future.