Monday, February 25, 2008

Febrile ramblings

Fever I'm feeling definitely suboptimal today with a head cold, so instead of discussing whether an outage of a few hours is enough to cause the death of Bloglines*, I'm going to push the frontiers of academic blogging by investigating whether a blog post in the form of febrile incoherent ramblings has any value, or whether all blog posts have to be highly polished multimedia productions.

Some of the initial enthusiasm for one of my current projects is wearing off in the cold light of day (or maybe it's just because I'm feeling like tshi [anag] today). Problem I was thinking about over the weekend:

We can't push a PLE onto students or it's no longer a PLE, it's in danger of becoming a VVLE. So how do we "teach" PLEs while avoiding falling into the next silo?

* In case you were wondering, the answer is no.


  1. That would be in accord with my expectation/experience/advice received from others (and I'm not being Mr Smug). There's probably some fundamental law of human behaviour rattling round there, perhaps to do with diminishing returns? I don't think that stops you preaching the gospel of connectivism or whatever you see as implicit in a PLE. Just don't confuse medium and message.

  2. Surely the way forward is not to teach it?

    Just require one or more deliverables, say 'here are some tools you may or may not want to use, now go figure...'


    ps here's one take. The whole PLE thing is like typing - and we donlt teach our students to type..

    pps.... hmm, though we do make a typing teacher package available... so maybe you need to point to some different tools tutorials...

  3. @Peter: Isn't it inherent (at some level) that PLEs do start to confuse (or "blend" if you want a more acceptable term), the medium and the message, e.g. by altering styles of working, attentions spans, etc?

    @Tony: Sadly, we are resigned to the fact that if we do not "teach" a topic, i.e. deliver information in some form on which students know they will be assessed, then a significant proportion of our students will simply ignore that topic, thereby failing to gain any benefit. I'm not happy about assessessing "competencies" which might contribute towards the development of a PLE, but it's the least worst way I can think of to make progress in this area.

    "we don't teach our students to type" but maybe we should (actually, I think primary (grade) schools should be doing this, unless we really believe speech to text interfaces are going to make keyboards obsolete before the present generation of students reaches the end of their formal education (which I don't).

  4. I tend to agree with Tony but the analogy's actually worse, viz that your're taking someone who's been two-finger typing for 15 years and trying to get them to touch-type in two weeks. There is inevitably some resistance until the benefits flow. The message is that there is a lot of useful resource out there, the medium is somewhat secondary (use Facebook if you must).

  5. Darn, forgot to check for "actually" :(

  6. The typing-PLE analogy is interesting. We'll be taking students who have been using technology with two fingers (in many cases), and been quite happy with that, and saying Thou shalt use Web 2.0...

  7. I don't think I was completely fair. The majority will be reasonably conversant with a number of Web 2.0 sites (Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia). Maybe it is a matter of working out from there and exposing new capabilities/services incrementally?

  8. The point I'm trying to make is that they are conversant with a limited range of tools because (i) they provide not *all* but *enough* of the required functionality, (ii) they can't cope with the hassle of more services, (iii) their mates are using them. You know/can guess the rest. They have to appreciate that there *are* additional services they will need to be aware of, that their present strategies do not scale, that many academic sites support the same distributed goodness as their faves, that they can manage them in Facebook but there are alternatives. Get them to build a couple of mashups, at least one involving a chart or a map, maybe the other using a pre-built Dapp or Pipe. Or something like that?

  9. I like the mashup idea - I'll definitely put thast on my list, thanks!