Personal Learning Environments (Domain of One’s Own, LMS, etc…)
The Personal Learning Environment
Convener: Phil Windley
Notes-taker(s): Ben Werdmuller
Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:
Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:
The Personal Learning Environment is VRM for education.
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a course management system with quizzes and a gradebook. Faculty puts content into the LMS; students consume content. Occasionally students add content, eg quiz answers, but mostly the LMS is about the faculty.
In truth, Learning Management Systems aren't managing learning: they're managing course content.
In most LMS systems, anything students add disappears at the end of the term. This doesn't do the students a lot of good in terms of lifelong learning or building a portfolio of their work. They need something else.
Imagine if there were multiple Learning Management Systems that the students had to deal with. If you give faculty the choice, they won't all pick the same LMS software. (80% of faculty in practice choose one LMS, while the other 20% pick a variety of others.) So now students have multiple systems they have to interact with - but they don't want to log into a lot of them and have to manage each one in turn. Instead, it's better to give them a unified dashboard of their learning.
A student dashboard is a way for a student to see their upcoming learning activities: including but not limited to calendars; upcoming class events; notifications about their assessments.
From the dashboard, students participate in learning activities, which result in learning artifacts (pieces of work they've done and feedback on that work, grades, etc), which sit in a portfolio.
The dashboard + learning activities + the portfolio = the Personal Learning Environment.
Why distinguish between faculty and students? One reason is that the activities of students and faculty in an institution are markedly different. But one could certainly have a personal LMS that other individuals interact with.
The PLE could also potentially contain informal "paths" of learning, with peer certification of accomplishments, that could be shared between individuals. Startups like Degreed and Gibbon are working on this kind of technology, although are concentrating on corporate HR training rather than crowdsourced courses.
Every student gets their own PLE: it's not one big monolithic piece of software. Each student could potentially use their own version or select their own vendor. Students can potentially take their PLE with them when they graduate.
The PLE might have links to external tools that are used as part of the learning activities. Similarly, the portfolio may be a collection of links to resources actually stored on services like Dropbox, Google Drive, YouTube, etc etc. The value is in collecting these artifacts in the context of the student's learning. (Could there be value in providing a marketplace for both tools and places to store artifacts? This freedom of tools, loosely joined via the student's dashboard, could also free faculty to use the teaching tools and Learning Management Systems of their choice.)
A student's portfolio of artifacts and grades could flow back to the institution, with student permission, for accreditation.
One interesting missing piece: the mismatches in what the students have on graduation and what they need to learn to get a job are not captured as feedback that returns to faculty.
The ultimate goal of a PLE is to support lifelong learning.
BYU is starting a pilot of Domain of One's Own, a project that gives every student their own domain name and web hosting. They can install a selection of applications including WordPress and Known, install subdomains, and use it as their personal space. After graduation, the institution would prefer that students host their PLE elsewhere, so that the overhead of hosting is outsourced.
The PLE may turn out to be the largest deployment of the VRM model to real users.