Wikiversity:Personal learning environment

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This page is to help people make Wikiversity a personal learning space - to help people develop a resource or group of resources that will help them learn about a subject of interest, in accordance with their own questions, and relevant to their own experiences and desires. It is hoped that this page will facilitate discussion, and generate resources for people to scaffold their own learning (see also examples).

Starters[edit source]

To get us thinking, read this blog post from Brent Simpson (User:Countrymike), in which he describes "setting myself and others up a space to potentially learn".

Discuss[edit source]

Personal Learning Environments[edit source]

There has been much discussion and work about Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) - but what exactly is a PLE? How does/could one work? The resources section is for collecting resources that describe and analyse PLEs - this section can organise discussion about these resources, or other relevant projects.

Discuss[edit source]

Making Wikiversity a Personal Learning Environment[edit source]

This section can serve to organise discussion and definition of a local (Wikiversity-specific) application of the term PLE.

Discuss[edit source]

With collborative PLE's, I think the collaborators should just create a PLE in the main namespace instead of under someone's account. --Devourer09 22:23, 28 September 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Difficulties[edit source]

What are the roadblocks to using Wikiversity as a PLE - both for you personally, and for the Wikiversity community at large (how might someone using Wikiversity as a PLE interfere with the ability of other Wikiversitarians to learn themselves)?

Discuss[edit source]

My personal roadblocks: (warning - potentially incoherent dump because I'm on the verge of passing out)

  • I'm on a lot of other websites. Tons and tons. I learn things there as well - and have a tough time remembering that I should be linking-back to a learning project on Wikiversity. This strain is probably an indication that this isn't the right interaction model for a Wikiversity PLE, at least for me.
  • There is often no clear delineation between what I do for "learning" and... well, what I "do." If I'm learning C, write a patch for some code project, and get it accepted, I've learned something, but I may not think of it as such at first
  • "Wah - wait, my notes are getting modified!" It's hard for me to think of a situation where I'd actually mind this, though and there's always keeping them in your own user subspace. The main issue I can think of is attribution - if you're doing a project on your PLE for something you eventually submit to somewhere/someone, how do you cite the people who helped you along the way? That's probably a more general Wikiversity question that's already been discussed elsewhere, though.
  • Hard to sync with offline work, also tough to keep your own local backups (for when you're offline, etc). The MikMik project may change that, though.
  • Not a particularly natural media for doing things like studio art, jazz piano, etc. (and if you're doing a personal project on learning a language, does it go on your native language's wikiversity, or your target language's one?)

Hm. There aren't any really good objections up here, but there's something indefinable that's kept me from doing a PLE here actively - perhaps a lack of definition of what I want the term "PLE" to mean to me, here. I'll come back to this later. Mchua 06:16, 2 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

No, thanks very much, Mel - this is great! 1) Yes, in this hyper-resourced world, it's harder and harder to manage our time and activity between various sites/projects... But I think you needn't feel that you "should" be linking back to Wikiversity from all this - Wikiversity has to see itself as simply one option among many. It's only the individual who can decide whether it's the best place for them. (Or perhaps there is a question of technological tools here - and whether some rss-type thingy that I don't understand could be made to interlink all your activity together...) 2) Learning - it's an everyday thing, and as you say, you don't always know when you've learnt something. But it can be useful to reflect on your activity in order to identify things you've learnt - a blog might be the best tool here, but I think a wiki can also offer something - even simply in terms of offering you a space to 'braindump', which can be augmented later by yourself or others. 3) Editing/Attribution - it's a central fact of wikis - but I think we're experimenting a bit with the notion of complete editability when we offer, for example, page protection options. But you're right that this becomes more complex when the issue of coursework comes into it. 4) Offline synching - yes, we really need better tools for this - for example, it really hampers my ability to write papers on-and-offline simultaneously. Never heard of MikMik, but I'll check it out. 5) Yes, there are an infinite number of contexts that Wikiversity will not be able to interface with directly, but I still think it could support you in your activity in some way - eg. offering a discursive, reflective, or 'documentary' space. And on the language question - I would again turn this question back at the questioner - ie what would be most productive for you in your personal learning environment? Or, to return to your first point, should we be thinking in terms of environment*S*? Cormaggio talk 23:23, 3 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Reflection is important. It's hard to take the time to step back and take a breather to do it, though. When I'm in flow state doing really good learning and work, the last thing I want to do is interrupt myself to pull back and write notes about it - which is why I love autologging tools (like logs in IRC, and track-history in mediawiki, and the camera I pull from my pocket to film things and shoot whiteboards I've just drawn) that (1) capture what you're doing now in a nonintrusive way, (2) store that information in easily readable/searchable/mashable data - which, right now, from the perspective of this computer/writing geek, means text-based formatting be it XML or a python pickle file or CSVs or whatnot, and (3) are transformable with minimal effort into clear, polished reflections - for example, if I take pictures of whiteboards and then have to either do some funky OCR on them or type them out by hand before I can write up my final math paper, I'm much less likely to do it. And sometimes I'm already immersed in the next learning adventure, which brings me to (4) - sometimes I have to be interrupted to reflect, but if the interruption is a gentle flag I'll notice once I look up (like an email notifying me of changes to a wiki page I'm watching - something I wish Wikiversity had, btw) rather than a May We Have Your Attention Please, Look At This Right Now slam, I'm more likely to follow up productively on it because I'll see the flag in the right context and frame of mind (a help in figuring out what to do next, not a nuisance in the middle of going somewhere.)
Re: offline synching - it's one of the main reasons I've experimented with dokuwiki, which uses flat text files as its database (meaning that "offline editing" just means "sync this folder of text files on your laptop with this folder of text files in your server, and you can use your favorite text editor now). That won't do merges, though, but it works for me because I'm usually the only one editing my personal wiki... don't think it's the optimal solution though.
I'll have to field your final question awkwardly - I know I use a lot of learning environments, and don't want to say "it must be all or nothing!" and that if I can't incorporate all my learning envs into a wiki, I won't at all. (I find it interesting you mention feeds as one solution - looking at a bunch of wikiversity projects, some are resource pools for a community based on a blogfeed... like Teemu's class on Composing free and open online educational resources. Why?)
Looking back, it's not so much Wikiversity that compels me to contribute to itself, but the Wikiversity community that compels me to contribute to them... via the mechanism of a conveniently placed wiki. (For instance, I'm editing this page right now - at 6:48am, having stayed up all night - not because I have a driving need to edit a wiki page on this topic, but because I'm responding to a person whom I very much enjoy discoursing with and admire the work of - the intellectual stimuli came from you (go stigmergy!) and I've responded, albeit with latency. This is something that's easily rendered missing from a Personal learning environment. If I interpret "personal" to mean "MINE! MINE! NOBODY ELSE EDIT!" and don't focus on really sharing things, then bam, the feedback is gone, and the wiki is just a really hard-to-use and not-accessible-offline notepad.
I suppose it boils down to "I don't know because I haven't really tried it, and I haven't tried it because I don't yet know how. (Or have a clear picture of what to do.) Maybe pulling a Jonathan Coulton and trying some sort of Thing A Week - where two things change each week: the thing I'm learning and the way I use Wikiversity as a tool for it - would do the trick. But it's one of those things I'd know I'd need some buddies, or at least some partners, to keep me going through it and keeping my own PLS up to date (probably in response to theirs).
Long spout. Any thoughts? Mchua 11:52, 4 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]
(Too) many thoughts! In fact, you capture (and clearly experience) the sheer speed of these online/technologically-mediated environments better than anyone else I've talked to. :-) And while technologies allow us to do many things, these 'environments' do pose significant challenges. (And hey, when you hear me offering a technical 'solution', you should see it as simply a blurting from a deeply techno-clueless mind, in the hope that someone more clueful can work out what's available and what's possible. :-))
A thought on the word "personal" - echoing the section below - I think it's probably not helpful to see Wikiversity as a 'private' space (and as you say you can have your own 'private' wiki/blog/website/etc). What I set up this page to explore was whether and how we could develop and support ways for people to scaffold their own learning - that gave them the freedom to carve out a space that they had some sort of leverage over, in contrast to the resolutely openly editable space that we think of as a wiki (though without diluting the concept of a wiki, or the mission of Wikiversity). There would clearly be no sense in developing Wikiversity as simply a collection of private spaces - but there is clearly an educational benefit to having a private space within a public space - just as there is educational benefit in allowing for academic freedom beyond the bounds of NPOV.
But, as you succinctly say, you haven't developed such a space on Wikiversity because you "don't yet know how". Neither does anyone (I can only assume). So hopefully this page can serve to develop some sort of understanding about the relationship between the personal and the public, and the place of Wikiversity within the the lives of its community and the world it is a part of. And please consider me a "buddy" here - I find this a compelling project, and anyone else who's interested can join in too... Cormaggio talk 15:03, 4 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]
D'Arcy Norman had a short blog post today (now linked at the bottom of this page) on PLEs. The first picture is hilarious. But my favorite snip was "...the exact technologies that are in use at any particular point in time don’t matter as much as the fact that it is people being connected through them. Tools come and go constantly, and the only constant is that the people are the important part of the equation."
Also, on a side note, this mode of conversation/writing/creation reminds me of the word game played by "espers" in a book called "The Demolished Man."
In any case, I'm starting off my Thing A Week (half-week this time) experiment on PLEs with Mediawiki. First batch of stuff going up tomorrow - I think I can handle three days of an experiment. ;-) Thanks for the nucleation! Mchua 07:41, 5 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Gahrrggh. Overload day at work. This might have to happen tomorrow. Mchua 04:21, 6 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]
That was a great post by D'arcy (on the PLE) and i totally agree with him and you Mchua for the most part. More later... Countrymike 09:39, 5 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]
I like the vision of PLE as a "constant state of flux" as D'arcy describes it, something I think has to do also with Mel's thoughts which I also share mostly around how difficult and non operative (neither realistic) it's to focus on one PLE considering all the thing that cannot be technically or conceptually fit into it. From my point of view is also a kind of standards issue, being the impossibility of defining one or finding one single survivor between many technical options (wikis, blogs, OER repositories, other XML based things?). So between all possible options: wikis seem to me the most open and "wild" one, like this conversation that is a temporary autonomous zone where I have learned my way (and I'm also contributing my way) and who knows how can evolve (not only as a conversation, but also if any specific project or theory develops from it). Lists are nice ways of making things more concrete and shared sometimes, so here I go to the one below! :) --Esenabre 02:51, 14 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

What are we missing?[edit source]

Does the term PLE provide us with all we need to set ourselves up with a productive learning space? Are there different ways of learning? Where is the social, collaborative, element in the idea of a personal learning environment?

Discuss[edit source]

Ah, I see you've beat me to the punch in noting the difficulty of having social collaborations in a personal environment. *grin* Let's see. what other personal environments inspire social collaboration? Brainstorming...
  • facebook (myspace is less so, I feel)
  • blogs (through comments)
  • "your house" in second life (no personal experience with this one)
  • my desk at work or school - I look up and can see others around me, next to me, and what (in general terms) they're working on, their state of mind. I can leave post-its on their desk, walk by with cookies, distract them all by singing. It's "my" space, but others can modify and affect it. It's easier to lock into your personal space only on a wiki - the only thing on your screen is this one page which is "yours," the work of everyone else is off the screen... the equivalent of putting up cubicle walls around desks in an open area.
  • my XO - not this particular shiny green computer, but the fact that I have some object privately belonging to me (could be a stylish purse, or a funny t-shirt, or a weirdly painted car) that generates interest by and conversation from other people. "Oh hey, you have one of those? Wow! Say, my aunt just did this awesome trick with hers..." (This makes me very likely to go home and hack my XO more so other people will think it's even cooler next time.)
  • and... I'm running out of steam and need to sleep an hour before I go to work. But there are almost certainly more.

Mchua 11:59, 4 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Well, I'm glad you're getting some sleep. ;-P Very interesting to highlight the 'cubicle effect' of a wiki environment in contrast with your personal school/work desk - though I'd say a wiki is an inherently asynchronous environment, which develops over time, through iterative changes/comments (and sometimes with long periods of silence). I think it's most definitely a social space (as I think we'd all agree), but it does have its own type of 'sociality'. Perhaps this could be enriched by integrating some other tools into this environment (such as an IRC 'tab') - something I know Historybuff and JWSchmidt (amongst others) are keen to do. So yes, I like this idea of picturing different kinds of environments in terms of how they support collaboration... Cormaggio talk 15:51, 4 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

The great thing about wikiversity is that "learning" is such an abstract and malleable concept that it has allowed us to create a space that is essentially a continual blank slate, open to all configurations of innovation that the combination of tools and imagination will allow. To me this is what differentiates us from Wikipedia whose scope is much more narrowly defined. My image of a "ple" is dependent on the potential for it to be a social space because of my belief that knowledge(s) and learning are socially constructed. So the projection of my learning (paths?), contributions, notes, reading lists, interests, degrees, accreditations, whatever... is a means to solicit interaction with others. Yea, Wikiversity kind of sucks out of the box at this (I've also previously pined the lack of email notification of pages on my watchlist), i've been looking at this a bit lately: and wondering if it wouldn't be a great attribute to Wikiversity (or not?). My thoughts are that it might be a good way to facilitate the formation of relations between individuals with similar interests automatically and in an inherently more networkish fashion rather than how we currently do it by trying to create groups (See: Currently the software relies on a lot of legwork to find the like-minded. Countrymike 22:07, 4 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks very much for this, Brent. I've added the SocialProfile extension idea to Wikiversity:Technical needs, and linked this page from discussion at Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/March_2008#Summer_of_Code (though this seems "good to go" - and perhaps only needs to be added to bugzilla). I think it would seriously improve Wikiversity to have such a 'people finder' - and imagine what it would do if it could be extended across the Wikimedia community? Cormaggio talk 12:14, 7 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]
  • (Adding to the brainstorming) MindMaps graphs can be also personal environments for learning, where you have to define hierarchies of things in order to (let's say) make learning more sexy for you neurones. You need there to know or learn the subjects enough to see what comprehends what, which ideas, events, people have a common node and which others need a different one or are simply nested... I wonder if that can also inspire social collaboration (CollectiveMindMaps?), where the consensus leads to learning/teaching (talking!) while people try to create, refine and beta-testing MindMaps about certain issues/fields/areas/subjects/facts. I know that that can be technically quite complex in a wiki way, but there is already the possibility of embedding them to MediaWiki (not editing them online, though) that let's upload and upgrade them like if they were pictures... What do you thing? --Esenabre 03:04, 14 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Examples[edit source]

These are only some examples of users who have created Personal Learning Environments in their wikiversity user spaces (or mention the term PLE). Please add more examples:

English Wikiversity[edit source]

German Wikiversity[edit source]

User views on WV:PLE (chronological)[edit source]

2008[edit source]

2011[edit source]

See also[edit source]

External links[edit source]