Tuesday 2 February 2010

Cloudy with a chance of Change!

...in the way we provide online learning environments within our institutions.
...in the way we see and form our learning networks.
...in the way we become and continue to be lifelong learners.

In my previous post, Cloud Learning Environment - What it is?, I discussed how a CLE is different from a VLE and a PLE. This caused a lot of debate on twitter and on my post. Here is a summary of the main points as I see it.

Gauging the mood

Confusion in the use of terms: In the UK we call our institutional "walled garden" as the VLEs, where in the US people call it the LMS/CMS, ILE?. Some comments gave the impression that in the US the term PLE/PLN is synonymous with the term VLE in the US? On the whole the term VLE seems to have multiple meanings and causes confusion in what it actually means. While the term PLE is relatively better understood and is a term synonymous to informal learning and lifelong learning.

Poll and comments: Through useful comments from several people, it became clear that a vast majority of our students are still in the process of (to quote one comment) "developing digital citizenship", in other words, are still developing their personal online learning skills, networks and environment. It also became clear that what is in the way of all this is the "walled garden" approach to the "Institutional Learning environment". The poll results show this clearly (12% chose VLEs as what they would rather have for their institutions, most chose CLEs-46% and then PLEs-34%; at N=47). The poll asked about "what would I rather have for my institution?", with VLE/CLE/PLE/Chalk&Talk as 4 options.

What emerges from this is that a majority of the people are accepting of a new term CLE. It represent the openness, individual control and choice within an educational institution/formal learning. Some still argue that this open-ness is what a VLE should provide, no need to call it by another name i.e. CLE. Others in the US see no difference between a VLE and a PLE. No doubt there is confusion in the use of existing terms. Calling for a fresh start.

Even if we put together the votes for PLEs and VLEs, the votes for CLEs are still a greater percentage. This makes sense as with CLE we are talking about a system for use within our institutions AND one that accommodate/integrate PLEs of learners. A CLE is not like a PLE i.e. purely for informal or lifelong learning. It is also not like VLE/LMS/CMS purely for formal education.

What of PLE then?: PLEs are for lifelong learning and informal learning. 34% votes are in its favour. There are two issues here and I hope that at least one of these will resolve with time:

  1. Integration of PLEs with the institutional LMS/CMS (US usage) / VLEs (UK usage). maybe PLEs dont need to be integrated - but I sense that people want to be able to do so. reasons?
  2. Currently students seem to be still developing their online skills, networks and personal learning environments.

Finally I ask myself and othersCould a CLE (or an open VLE) help in the integration of student PLEs with the institutional system? Where a PLE is not already in existence could a CLE encourage students to use other cloud based tools and build their PLEs? (Setting our students up for life-long learning.)
Learning networks formed within a VLE/LMS/CMS may thrive and disintegrate from start to the finish of a course. Importantly, after the completion of a course, such systems do not always allow maintaining the networks for life. Creating barriers to lifelong learning opportunities within learning networks formed during formal educational years. Will a CLE change this by allowing PLEs to mix with and across institutional systems and with other cloud based inter-operable services? Such that when students graduate they can still access their learning network they formed during their course be it inside or outside of their institution.

Posted via email from manishmalik's posterous

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