Tuesday, 15 June 2010

H800: Week 18 - A1: The challenge for educational institutions

Reading Weller (2009) ‘Using learning environments as a metaphor for educational change’, in On the Horizon.

I actually thought this article was really interesting and thought provoking. I realise that the world which Weller envisages may be some way off at the moment, and I accept that Universities (and consequently their employees) will have to go through a considerable amount of pain and discomfort, but I do think he presents quite a strong argument. He articulates something which I have felt as a gut feeling for some time, namely that Web 2.0 will have a dramatic impact on HE. Currently, most universities, when they develop online provision, simply replicate traditional delivery in an online environment. Hence, VLEs effectively deliver material in a linear sequence, replicating the centralised approach of the physical learning environment.

Weller's simple example of referencing is a very pertinent one. The referencing method we require students to use (e.g. Harvard) will have been designed for "physically located resources" and is by no means the most appropriate method for referencing web-based resources, where hyperlinks would be much more effective.

I agree with Weller that universities must face up to the challenge, and this will require the development and acceptance of new pedagogical approaches. However, it seems to me that universities are in a very difficult position here. How can they plan for something which is by its vey nature independent of central controls? I actually quite like the concept of the personal learning environment (PLE) which he sets out, and the potential for lots of different tools to become inter-connected. But such a de-centralised approach will require a whole new way of operating on the part of universities, and that's not going to happen overnight.


  1. Hi Tony

    Thought you might find the following link interesting reading
    Roder, J. & Brown, M. (2009). What leading educators say about Web 2.0, PLEs and E-portfolios in the future. Proceedings of Ascilite, Auckland. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/roder.pdf


  2. Thanks for the link, Andy. It's funny - I think I mentioned in a forum post that I wasn't really familiar with PLEs, yet I am actually familiar with e-portfolios (or at least I thought I was). However, I had never really considered the two things together, and the possibility that an e-portfolio can effectively become a PLE. Our students actaully prepare e-portfolios but they seem to be little more than online CVs. This has opened up all sorts of new possibilities!

  3. Again I thought you might find this visual representation, maybe useful and perhaps a blending of both eportfolio and PLE.


    I n one of my TMA choices I touched on PLEs and the viability of iPLEs - institutional PLEs linked to individual student PLEs with access restrictions on students private data and more open access to a linked learning environment. Interesting ideas and alternatives/additions to VLEs.

  4. Thanks again, Andy. My latest blog posting describes how all this has been quite a learning episode for me!