Martin’s Weblog

Education and MASH – the rise of the PLE

There is life and there is learning. Learning is often regarded as the thing that happens in a special learning environment such as a school classroom or more recently mediated by the Internet in a VLE (Virtual learning environment) or MLE (Managed Learning Environment). The student leaves behind the burden of everyday life and passes through a “portal” into educational space – a place managed by educators for education.

Recent technical developments on the Internet and awareness of the need to link learning and life have created a new possibility for internet mediated education – the PLE (Personalised Learning Environment). In a sense this is a development within what I call Paradigm 2. Traditional education pushes mass produced education to the student and education is carried out on the terms of the educational system. Within paradigm 2 we would expect the student to DIY their education and to “pull” in and mash together the necessary components – the concept of the PLE allows the student to do just this.

Michael Webb at the University of Wales has developed an early prototype of what a PLE might look like – the “Mynewport” application for Facebook. He argues that instead of expecting students to have to go the VLE they provide why not allow them to access the VLE from their normal environment – in this case Facebook.  

One possibility is that future learning environments will not be environments at all – instead they will be toolboxes of widgets and applications that can be mashed together with other widgets and applications and each student can create their own unique personalised learning environment – or rather just Personalised Environment in which life and learning take place.


September 16, 2007 - Posted by | IT and education, paradigm 2


  1. I think you can over-egg the horrors of traditional education though – there’s merit in rote learning (and web2 enables that too). Most of the physical trades (brick work to cake decoration) certainly demand repeated practice of simple skills to attain fluency, and web2 requires that as well – that’s why I think everyone should be blogging :). I like the Newport application because it takes the institutional focus (here’s your timetable – here’s the steps you have to take – here’s the targets you have to meet) and makes it freely available in a more chaotic learning space. Cool.

    Comment by rdsc | September 20, 2007 | Reply

  2. All the evidence suggests that the current generation of students don’t want this. They want social networks to remain as social spaces where formal education does not intrude. That may change in the future, or it may not.

    Comment by ajcann | December 15, 2007 | Reply

  3. Ajcann,

    I have found indeed found this with students and staff – many are reluctant to combine work and play in the same space.

    I have also found others that object to having to leave their personal environements to use institutional resources.

    A conundrum.

    However, allowing people to access information from their own pesonal information environments has great potential and worth experimneting with – at least to offer the opportunity.

    Comment by martinking | January 5, 2008 | Reply

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