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John Pallister :: Blog :: It is what the learner does in their Personal Learning Environment that is important.

October 19, 2008

I feel the need, prompted by Cristina’s Post, www.tinyurl.com/5flo7d to over-cook the PLE thinking a bit more!


I distilled, from an earlier attempt at summarising the PLE discussions that I had followed , www.tinyurl.com/57eugd that it is what the learner ‘does’ in their Personal Learning Environment that really determines what they will learn.  What they do in the environment is more important than the environment itself. [I take the environment as meaning where they work/operate/learn, in its broadest term.]


Individual will learn something from any environment that they operate in. It is our job to create/contrive the physical environment and then cajole, encourage and support our learners to ensure that they encounter the experiences and stimuli that we hope will result in learning taking place. Not any old learning, but the learning that we, or ‘somebody’, thinks will be important to them.


While the physical environment provides learners with access to the tools and resources it will be the ‘teaching’ that will provide the experiences, activities and support that will supply the opportunities for learning. The ‘teaching’, in whatever form it takes, will: create the climate for learning; wet the learner’s appetite; create the need for learning; encourage learners to recognise when learning has taken place and encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning. It will need to create the space that will allow learning to happen and hopefully and provide learners with an experience that will enable them to be creative and that they will enjoy.


The bad news, or the big challenge, is that this is unlikely to be what the majority currently accepted as teaching, where large groups of students arrive every hour, expecting to be entertained, expecting to be taught a separate subject and expecting to be examined every 5 minutes. Re-stating the obvious, but creating a Personal Learning Environment for every learner, that is delivering the required shift in emphasis from teaching to learning, will need commitment, imagination and resource.


So leaving the hard bit, for now, and moving on! How the learner operates in this new environment, how they behave, how they use their initiative, how they interact with others, how they manage their time, how they support others, how they employ their different learning styles and how they deploy their different intelligences will affect how and what they learn.


To be able to survive and learn in the environment Learners will need to develop a set of skills, the Personal Learning and Thinking skills, the Functional Skills and, another skill set, yet to be defined, that will enable learners to use the tools and approaches that we are beginning to recognise as having potential to support learning.


Back into the loop; learners need to work in an environment that provides the appropriate opportunities for them to operate as independent learners – the environment needs to exist before they can work in it – what they do in the environment determines how and what they learn – to function in the environment they will need to develop a specific set of skills.


How do we break-in to the loop?

Posted by John Pallister

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