What are Personal Learning Environments?

Personal learning environments (PLEs) are often described as systems for enabling self-directed and group-based learning, designed around each user’s goals, with great capacity for flexibility and customization. PLEs are conceived as drawing on a variety of discrete tools, chosen by the learner, which can be connected or used in concert in a transparent way. While the concept of PLEs is still quite fluid, it does seem to be clear that a PLE is not simply a technology but an approach or process that is individualized by design, and thus different from person to person. It involves sociological and philosophical considerations and cannot be packaged, passed out, and handed around as a cell phone or tablet computer could. Widespread adoption of PLEs, once the tools and approaches are clearer, will almost certainly also require a shift in attitudes toward technology, teaching, and learning.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • Learners would be able to request (or simply navigate to) a customized selection of objects, exhibitions, and other learning resources that directly respond to their specific interests. Museums' resources would be easily accessible, with sufficient context, to respond fluidly and quickly to a learner's needs. In addition, the learners themselves would be able to tag and add information to the information they receive from the museum. The museum would be "there' for the learner, 24/7. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Aug 30, 2011
  • The customization of knowledge and information will be the criterion for the success of museum documentation and education in the future. And PLE will be the right strategy for this. The demands on the quality of information and so the quality of learning will be formed more and more by the user. - harald.kraemer harald.kraemer Aug 31, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Learning is just one aspect, research is another one. - harald.kraemer harald.kraemer Aug 31, 2011
  • another perspective here.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • More and more highly individualized learning experiences would require many new ways of slicing, dicing, remixing, and repackaging the educational and interpretive resources in the museum. More need for quick and fluid response. More museum educators becoming 'knowledge navigators' who are more like reference librarians with virtual reference services. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Aug 30, 2011
  • PLE will allow the creation of user-oriented content for different needs and will support learning, teaching and research in many ways. - harald.kraemer harald.kraemer Aug 31, 2011

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • The Swiss Institute for Art Research, located in Zurich, is planning a Virtual Institute combining the different needs of their target groups (Swiss artists, museum staff, museum visitors, teachers, students of art history, professional academic researcher) with a Forum, a Center for Research and Center of Compentence. So e.g. for the students learning about works of art will be part of teaching in a museum as well as part of research in art history. The boundaries between the disciplines will fall. - harald.kraemer harald.kraemer Aug 31, 2011
  • another perspective here.

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