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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Blogging Inside or Outside the Corporate Firewall

Stephen Downes commented on my recent post - Personal Work and Learning Environments (PWLE) - More Discussion and said -
I am opposed to the trend coming from the corporate learning side of the house to treat PLEs as work tools. What is it about people in corporate learning that they feel the need to perpetuate the attitude of servitude it seems all learners must adopt. We don't exist to work for a corporation; our learning, our minds, our most valuable asset of all, ought to serve our own purposes first and foremost. But I guess it's employers, not employees, paying the bills for corporate e-learning consultants, and they wanna hear what they wanna hear. Meanwhile - for the rest of us - the reason we call them personal learning environments is that they are indended to serve our needs, not someone else's.
It was interesting to read this because when I was writing about a PLE really also supporting my work - I didn't think of it in the context of ownership of the work product. It is an interesting issue. I'm sure that some employers would prefer to own the blog, i.e., it's a Sun Computer owned blogging system, therefore when you leave Sun you leave your content behind. I don't personally think this is the right direction for individuals and in my recent presentations on eLearning 2.0, I suggested in my examples for what this looks like in a corporate environment that people use a tool like Blogger. There's a side benefit of doing this in that you can keep the content beyond your current job. You have to make the content be somewhat generic since it's public.

I did suggest that they would either use a Wiki behind the firewall or use a password protected Wiki - because that's where the work product goes.

I didn't really consider in my presentation the implications of ownership around this content, but it feels like a natural separation given the constraints of many corporate environments.

Stephen's very much correct about a PLE being for the person. It is going to be a challenge for corporations to come to grips with the ownership of the learning if it is captured in a system. Certainly, if it's in your brain, you leave with it. If it's captured in a system inside the corporate firewall, it won't go outside. I'm sure there will be some interesting discussion around this in the future.


Mark Prasatik said...

Tony I understand where where Stephen is coming from since I have created my personal learning environment without the prompting or assistance of my company. And...I created it because of work, not to do personal things even though I do that too. Most adult learning comes in the context of the work we do and therefore the promotion of the concept of PLE's will occur in the context of work as well. Ownership of content will be determined by the rules of engagement where we work.

Anonymous said...

I've wrestled with this one quite a lot in various guises in various posts. However, as I commented on Stephen's post, I categorically do not see my learning environment as being associated with my job - it's MY learning environment, it's about ME.

But the issue of boundaries, and ownership has been one I have revisted from time to time on my blog. I don't have lines around my work, my home, my studies, my blog, my faith, my hobbies. It's all just one thing: my life. The corporation does see lines, though, and they probably think I colour over the lines in my picture book. We have had a few minor headbumps over this so far, but I suspect a major one might be on the cards!

I think there are bound to be more and more of us caught in this conflict of agendas going forward.

Lee Kraus said...

I think that there is certainly more and more a blend of personal and work activity. I'm very much like Karyn that I have trouble distinguishing the lines. I think there are some new, really tough issues about how knowledge workers engage in social networks and online community during work, but I don't think broad characterizations and stereotypes help further the conversation.

As far as the software components of my PLE (this is my first time referring to it formally), if it is something that my company has setup they own, if I set it up I own it.

Tony Karrer said...

Based on these comments, it would seem that we should be recommending that people set up their own PWLE that is outside the firewall unless it gets forced inside. Right?

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I'm worried about the labelling of the various LEs. This speaks of clearcut boundaries. The separation of for-work learning from other learning. I would have trouble separating a PWLE from the rest of my life, let alone the rest of my learning.

Also, by saying that a learning environment needs to be "set up" imputes a measure of formality that I'm not sure is warranted. Because my learning journey is lifewide as well as lifelong, it existed before any formal structures were set in place - either by me or my employer. Not only does it follow me from job to job, but it follows me home, and to university and to church and behind the mic at band practice and and and....

The concept of a formalised PLE (or PWLE or PXLE) speaks to me more of training and less of learning. My employer might have a form of LMS which might include a space referred to as my PLE, but I don't restrict myself to it. Just as my life is bigger than my job, so my learning is bigger than any formalised environment that exists, on or offline.

Mark Prasatik said...

Well I have to admit that this conversation frustrates me a little bit. I think that all people have a PLE just as Stephen, Jay Cross and others have said. Nothing new there even if it's only a cell phone and TV. I also think that the explosion of Web 2.0 tools has created incentive for many of us to move much of that PLE online and at the same time add the PWLE part as well. Companies used to own the PWLE because it was on their computers, network etc., but now that it's online the genie will be out of the bottle. The PWLE will be more the responsibility of the learner and will also be more the property of the learner except where intellectual property rights are concerned. Maybe this PLE/PWLE gets taught/encouraged from within many environments (school, work, non-profits) as a way to promote a good life much in the way we treat health issues.

Anonymous said...

Why should it go inside in the first place?
Walled gardens as people tend to called are nothing but a reflection how intolerant the society still is to share content and let information flow in a friendly way.
I am all for opening areas, where our personal learning gets complemented and enhanced by others, who for several reasons end up interacting and contributing to one another's PWLE. Isn't that the real and the healthy earning environment we should all be looking for?

Just my 2 cents...

Tony Karrer said...

Cristina, I think we are on the same page. While a corporation may provide the tools, some of them, e.g., a blog, should be seen publicly. Of course, if the tool is provided by the corporation, then the corporation will control the content after the person leaves. Which is likely not optimal for the individual, but may be what corporations will be most comfortable with out of the gate.

See my more recent post:

Discussion Continues