Are PLEs still relevant?

From his brand new home on the web, Martin Weller asks Why don’t we talk about PLEs anymore? and then provides a handful of reasons. He is mostly right if one accepts his idea of the concept which, in my opinion, is  an oversimplified view of what a PLE is, focusing on the tools only. Although some people have taken that perspective, many others who developed the concept offer a much more complex understanding, including besides the tools also the resources you interact with/explore and the people you connect to – this would be the PLN . (personal learning network) part of your PLE. Furthermore, it has also been construed not as a set of tools a user prefers, but more as a personal approach (a “life style”, if you will) to your online actions and interactions (with people and resources) from which you learn (informally, non-formally and formally).

PLE anatomy

Steve Wheeler (click on image to see original post)

In that sense,the concept of PLE embodies the very essence of (yes, I am going to say it) web 2.0 – user control, ownership, users as producers as well as consumers (prosumers), personal choice, decentralization and rhizomatic nature, participatory culture, etc. At a pedagogical level, it means learner-centeredness, learner control, autonomy and independence, create more than reproduce, curate more than memorize, reflect and practice more than process and apply. It is related to visions of a free, user oriented web, and of meaningful and relevant learning experiences. It relates to what Stephen Downes has been saying for a long time, to Connectivism, to Jim Groom’s Domain of one’s own, to Project Reclaim, etc.

So, yes, the PLE concept has faded and now the talk is all about MOOCs – unfortunately, not the original idea, which, again, was very much tied to PLEs, but to its simplified reinterpretation by elite universities and subsequent followers (dump content on platforms for a mass of people). I bet that if someone in Silicon Valley comes forward and claims to have invented it (again), offering a simplified and monetizable version of the concept, it will become the next buzz word :-).

+George Siemens puts it clearly – Udacity’s failure is just Thrun’s failure, nothing else.

+George Siemens puts it clearly – Udacity's failure is just Thrun's failure, nothing else.

Well, there it is folks. After two years of hype, breathless proclamations about how Udacity will transform higher education, Silicon Valley blindness to existing learning research, and numerous articles/interviews featuring Sebastian Thrun, Udacity has failed. No one did more of a disservice to …

CRUP | Escolas públicas preparam melhor os alunos para terem sucesso no superior

Público. 18 Janeiro 2013. quadro desempenho_universitrios As escolas privadas preparam melhor os alunos para os exames, mas não para terem um bom desempenho na universidade. A Universidade do Porto (UP) analisou o percurso académico de 4280 estudantes admitidos no ano lectivo 2008/09 e concluiu …