Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments and the Future of Schooling

5 October, 2007


[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=4152559760003745761" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /] 

Just a short blog post about my contribution to the UOC Unesco Chair Fourth International seminar on Web 2.0 and Education. My paper and presentation is entitled Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments and the Future of Schooling.

Some of the ideas are included in the short video above. And of course you can read the full paperw hich is attached to this post. But here is a short summary of my ideas.

Firstly, I suggest that schooling systems evolved to meet the needs of dominant forms of organisation of society in particular periods. At least in the UK, the model of schooling is based on the industrial model of society which emerged following the industrial revolution of the 19th century. However, the present industrial revolution – which, based on the impact of digital technology. started some in the early 1990s – demands new skills and competences and even more importantlynew forms of organisation.

Young people – but not just young people – are increasingly using computers for learning in new and different ways. Especially important is the use of computers for social networking and for participation in communities of practice through Web 2.0 applications.

Our school systems have been slow to respond to these changes. Indeed we ban the use many of the most powerful communications tools – including digital phones. Faced with the changes in the way people are learning and teh new needs of society our schooling system are increasingly dysfunctional.

The development and use of Personal Learning Environments offers a potential for the modernisation of learning. In particular it can support a move towards learner centred learning and away form the managerial approaches of VLEs and LMS systems. However, the implementation of new technologies by themselves is not enough. To overcome the dysfuntional schoolings system requires wider reform including changes in the organisation of school, curriculum and assessment systems. There are many examples of innovative practice in this regard. But this practice has not been generalised.

Educational technology is a fast moving field. There is a tendency to look at every new development or trend and pronounce this to be the answer to the future of the education and learning Nevertheless Personal Learning Environments are a significant move forwards for three reasons.

Often the introduction of new technology in education has tended to inhibit pedagogic innovation and change. In contrast, Personal Learning Environments they can stimulate the development of new forms of pedagogy and facilitate the introduction of social forms of learning e.g. use of social networking.

PLEs, by themselves, do not represent a new practice in teaching and learning. But PLEs can enhance existing best practices and speed up the rate of change.

Thirdly PLEs bring into sharper focus issues around the shift from teaching to learning and may provide some solutions to some of the problems in this area.

You can download the full paper here

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