Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

Creating Personal Networks as Learning Outcome

Thanks to Stephen and Graham Atwell, I discovered a fascinating development in the Personal learning Environment development. To date most of the PLE implementations I have seen have been aggregators of RSS feeds, with not much more functionality than a iGoogle or Pageflake portal. The paper “Designing for Change: Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments” by Fridolin Wild, Felix Mödritscher and Steinn Sigurdarson introduces (to me) a markup language by which designers or learners create scripts of learning activities that in room time mashup a host of Web 2.0 tools that allow individual or groups of learners to create their own learning context and content. In the process, of course, they gain skills of media production, increase their social capital by expanding and deepening personal networks and create archives of artifacts available for retrieval by themselves and others.

The background to the paper overviews the importance of the creation of an adaptable context that the learner creates to support and retain their own learning. They note ” It is not about learning design it is all about learning environment design”. By letting learning emerge from rich inquiry, collaboration and publication tools, learners are able to play active roles in the creation and sustenance of their own learning contexts. These skills, the contexts and the products of course do not end when the course LMS site is closed, but rather become life long learning attributes and capacity. Thus the creation of a rich learning environment that the student creates, owns and continuous to build with is the major learning outcome, the specific knowledge domain outcomes are useful but less important outcomes in a life long learning context.

Wild, Mödritscher & Sigurdarson Iintroduce the Learner Interaction Scripting Language (LISL) which they argue is less cumbersome and more easily configured by users to create and exchange learning activities. The model derives from activity theory with roles for tools, actors, activities and actors and grows from a bottom up perspective as opposed to the top down perscriptions associated with IMS Learning Design. These are scripted and supposedly a run time engine mashes various applications (such as Wikis, schedulers, link aggregators, mindmap tools etc in real time. The activities can saved and edited in chunks the size of patterns.

While the article is not detailed on the availability of a run time engine to execute the scripts, the work seems very promising. Beyond the pedagogical insights of environmental development, is the promise of learning activities that can EASILY be created, shared, contextualized and exchanged.

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