Wednesday, May 21, 2008

'Defining' my personal learning environment

I have just had an abstract accepted for a book chapter that talks about my personal learning environment (PLE). The focus of the chapter is to explore how web 2.0 technologies and social networking contributes to my learning and professional development as a health professional.

This post is the beginning of a series of posts in which I will work through the issues of how I integrate my PLE into my professional life, which will ultimately become my book chapter.

What is a PLE?
The last time I looked a couple of weeks ago, there was no mention in 'conventional' health literature about PLEs. Nevertheless, there is a glimmer of interest amongst health professionals in exploring the concept of PLE.

Bill Perry is a nurse and Clinical Information Specialist and has the same interest as me in how PLEs impact on health professionals. He has clarified for me that a PLE is not a specific place or technology, but rather it is a concept about how we gather information and process it. Bill has listed a number of places where one can go to learn more about PLE.

I have been confused at times when people have talked about a PLE being a specific technology or 'thing' such as My Portfolio or learning management system like BlackBoard. To my mind, my PLE is a loose, evolving network of places, tools and people. Alan Levine puts it in his comment to a post by Chris Lott:

Frankly, the “PLE” to me is like air, its just there. Its the way I operate, think work, live, goof off, and obviously, sometimes manage to piss people off. Its not really a thing to me with a name.

Open environment
It is essential to me that my PLE is in an open online environment because my learning and professional development comes about by being able to freely access people, networks and information that would otherwise be unavailable to me in a closed learning management system. Presenting the outcomes of my learning in a PLE allows for peer review and ongoing development and learning. In other words, as Darcy Norman says in his post "on the PLE", my PLE is ultimately about people - technology give me the means to communicate with people, exchange and process information.

Still a little confused
I am still getting my head around this idea of a PLE and occasionally someone throws in a question or comment that gets me thinking again. For example, in a reply he wrote to a post by Brian Kelly "PLE 1.0 and PLE 2.0", Tom Franklin asked:

what is special about a personal learning environment that distinguishes it from your personal work environment, your personal entertainment environment, your personal community environment etc

I do not have the answer to that question especially as all these 'environments' are so closely intertwined for me these days. For example,I use Twitter to ask questions and seek information but I also use it to have social interactions. So maybe I should be talking about 'my environment'. Or should I talk about my 'online environment'? Is a PLE just about how I am in the online environment or is it about how I learn in the 'real' world as well as online?

Taking control
What I am sure about is that I agree with Screensailor in the post "A PLE of one's own": my PLE is all about me taking control of my learning, identifying my own learning needs and goals, and working to achieve them in a way/time that suits me, and is not dictated by a teacher, professor or university committee.

What do you think about any of these issues I have discussed? If you are a midwife, how would you describe your PLE? Does PLE have any relevance to midwifery or any other health professions?

In my next post, I will talk about the tools that make up my online PLE.

1 comment:

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