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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Personal Learning Tools and Technologies

I just saw a post by George Siemens discussing evolution of PLE concept and pointed me to two posts by Chris Lott based on his initial question - "What does your PLE look like?" - Tired of PLE Flak and I'm not interested in the PLE which then pointed me to a bunch of other posts as well - on the PLE and An audit on where stand with PLEs.

Unfortunately, Chris got some flak based on his initial question. The problem is that the question is somewhat complex to answer for any individual and so not something to be done lightly. It's easy to list a set of tools. Jane Hart has done a great job collecting individual answers to what learning tools and technologies that people use. But, that doesn't get you very far.

More important are the methods. But probably most important are the mental models or frameworks that people use to understand what they need and turn it into methods and tools.

The question is a bit harder than Chris expected. At the same time, I agree with his call for sharing on these things and "learning over the shoulder" of others.

And I also sympathize with the "no its personal" beat down he took. There is certainly value in sharing methods and models.

I ran back through some previous discussions on PLEs and found that much of it focuses on tools and technology. A little on methods. Very little on models or frameworks. Here are some of the links: links:


Anonymous said...

Tony, I appreciate your perspective and I enjoyed meeting you (along with many people) at the last ASTD session.
I have a question related to blogs and "training".
Our company recently launched a new, relatively small model or process. Training for this process was planned to be available on blog, in terms of documents to read, videos to watch, and other narrative.
My stuggle is, while I like blogs for sharing and building on content, my current thinking is that "blog-delivered" training lacks a few key components that a more traditional WBT might offer, such as:
1. Clear learning or performance objectives (instead the blog delivers presentations (via video) and leaves the learning up to the individual. This may be fine for some learning, but is it the best for initial basic knowledge?
2. Planned design of the training (or instruction), in terms of at least sequencing the material or the inclusion of activities for people to "do" as part of the learning (other than simply listen).
3. Any evaluation of the learning, in terms of what a more traditional WBT could offer, such as questions or drag and drop activities to check comprehension and ability to apply.
4. A record of who has completed the learning, since our blog does not track who visited.
5. Specific training versus a larger storehouse of materials related to the model or process.
I am not trying to "pit" blogs against more traditionally designed instruction (probably delivered via a WBT). I searched google and a libary site for research on blogs used for training and found nothing.
I think my current position is that blogs are wonderful for building corporate knowledge and even storehousing support materials (although I am thinking a traditional web site might be better), and that more traditonal WBT is a good choice for lower level knowledge and comprehension training.
If anyone has other information or perspective, I would like to know.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi, I was very interested in reading your blog and the answer to it about using blogs to provide education courses.

I have just completed a course that was provided using a blog as its core delivery platform (Facilitating online learning communities):

and about to start another one (Designing for flexible delivery):

Granted, it also incorporated a wiki and an email discussion group. But I found it to be a very effective tool for delivering education content. And was much more attractive and user-friendly than BlackBoard.

Both courses are open access.
regards Sarah

Anne said...

This post is a fantastic resource on PLEs, thank you!

Unknown said...

Great set of links Tony, thanks. I
think the debate illustrated that maybe we're talking about slightly different things. At the very personal extreme there are people who happily accrue their tools over time. As Scott Leslie says in a comment on Chris' post we don't need to worry about these. But they won't be everyone. I tried to articulate it as a continuum of personalisation:

Tony Karrer said...

Rob - great questions. Some quick thoughts -

First - the term "blog delivered training" is interesting (almost an oxymoron). I think of blogs as discussion - most often it's partially formed thoughts, questions, etc. The core of training content I expect (like you do) to be vetted, focused, likely aim at core knowledge.

Could you use blogs to deliver the core content? Sure, but I wouldn't think of it - just as you wouldn't.

Would I use blogs as a discussion vehicle for a course? Yes. Just like you might use discussion in a classroom. I might also use it for getting peer comments around assignment answers.

The other items you list are definitely drawbacks (tracking, evaluation) of trying to deliver content via a blog.

Also, I'm pretty sure that there's quite a bit of discussion out there of using blogs alongside other forms of delivery for training and/or education. That's a fairly common model.

If you are searching for blog-delivered training - I would guess that's not going to be easy to find.

Tony Karrer said...

Sarah - thanks for sharing the links. Good stuff!

Tony Karrer said...

Martin - I think we are on the same page, and I agree that there are aspects of PLEs that can be provided and taught, especially for beginners.

I like that you are separating a bit some of the approaches to where elements of the PLE comes from (how much you choose vs. others suggest and you accept) - but is this all that important of an aspect?

Also, there's an assumption that how you get to elements of the PLE determines how personalized it is - i.e., the more its suggested to you, the less personalized it is. Is that really true? Is personalization in this context truly that you self-select?

Something seems weird about this.

And I'm not sure how much I should care.

Unknown said...

Tony - oooh, good questions! I'm thinking this through as I go, so may not be great, but here goes:
yes, I think if someone selects for you it is less personal. BUT, you may then go on to use it in a particularly personal way. I would suggest however that the same people who go on to use tools in a personal way also start to find new tools they prefer, because they are engaging in the technology-personal-social interaction game. Those who use the provided tools in the 'prescribed' manner will tend to stick with them.
So I think what I'm saying is you can give people the opportunity, and the motivation to develop a PLE, but not all will take it (which is fine) - and this will be less personal as a result.

Tony Karrer said...

Martin - great point and thanks for helping me think through this. Can't say my opinion is all that well formed.

For me personally, I have an adoption style where I like other people to have used something and see how it works out for them, then I adopt. Have I lost anything because I adopt only what other people are showing and recommending to me? Is the resulting environment less personal? Do I care? Should I care?

As you suggested, I have a tendency to adapt as part of adoption. That likely makes it more personal for me. Hmmm ... where was I going again?

lorlarz said...

Universal Automatic Drag-and-Drop Activity Builder (builds the code and web page):

lorlarz said...

... the last part of the web address of this free tool is: