Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Case Study of Personalized Learning Environments (PLE)

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To be an active participant[edit]

To understand the concept of PLE is not difficult, but how to put it into practice for everyone is not as easy as you think. As the name suggests, PLE is personal and differs individually, but that doesn't mean that the process is non-cooperative and conducted just by one person alone. On the contrary, the process is social and cooperative. And to be an active participant is the key of the process for everyone.

Here is an example to demonstrate why being an active participant is the key of the process of PLE.

During the course delivered by Miss Zhuang from Beijing Normal University in the fall semester in 2007, she initiated an activity to help the students to master the use of some tools of WEB2.O. The activity is conducted on the platform called Haokanbu in China. What makes Haokanbu differ from Blog or Flickr or other social software is that Haokanbu provides the user with the function to create stories using different images together with text and audio. It is easy and interesting to create your story here. The process of creating a story is also the process of using images together with text or audio to organize and express one's thoughts.

The content of the story is about how to use these tools or what you get from using tools. At first, Miss Zhuang took the lead to issue several stories about the WEB2.O tools operating methods. As we know, to build PLE, you should grasp the method of using social network software first. Under the lead of the teacher,the learners choose different software to use and create stories according to their own interests. Thereupon, the activity started, everybody practiced and recorded the practice process and harvested or demonstrated how to use the software with the story. Very quickly,the students' first batch of story creations were published, and they were extremely excited because they made them by their own. They also watched others' stories actively, and discussed them, asked questions or gave comments on others. Others in the network community were also attracted by these stories, they joined in the discussion and the activity. During the discussion people established study partnership and friendship. Thus, there had formed a study mass organization, when someone has a question he asked on the platform. In a short time, people with different knowledge backgrounds would give many different replies. Of course, he can also directly seek the experts for help in this activity.

Soon, students liked this way of study, and recorded the difficulties from the practice with stories actively. When they wanted to study social network software, they will come here look for the related stories - the more stories there are, the more the learners could learn. The teacher also kept on guiding and pushing the activity. After a period of time, when students reconsider their work, they found that they not only grasped the use of the tools, but also learned the independent study method in the network.

Now, let us look at the activity again. The teacher here is a guide and sponsor, she continued to promote activity. For the learners, at the beginning, they joined the activity in order to complete the task of study that the teacher laid out, but along with the activities carried out, students learned to use the network software to study by themselves and to work together. They used the social network tools to share, to communicate, to create altogether. And stories here play an important role as bridges, they connect different people together. The more stories are shared, the more people joined in the activity and the learners could learn more knowledge. This is a process which PLE gradually establishs. From this activity, we found that there are several key facts in building PLE:

  • Firstly, practice actively. PLE is built with a lot of practice. In practice you will be able to learn its essence ,the more you practice ,the more you learn.
  • Secondly, constructing PLE is not one person's game, it needs a lot of people to complete together. So it is a good way for you to act as an organizer in a course or activity you are interested in on the Internet and to invite other people to participate together.
  • Thirdly, you should have a personal space just like blog or haokanbu on the internet to publish your idea or share resource, so you will make other people know you and attract them to the community or work together with you. In this way you will make more friends.

Learner's Narrative[edit]

The following is the case of a learner who is establishing her own PLE.

I have learned the technology of web 2.0 for 2 months since the beginning of the fall semester 2007. During this short time, I have learned how to operate some tools of web2.0 and the spirit of practice. PLE is not a concept but a process, a movement of learning, there is no end of PLE. So we do not need to ask whether we have built PLE, the only thing we should do is practice, communicate on and on. Whether you have known or not, it doesn’t matter. You are creating PLE if you've started to practice. The only difference between us is the depth, but we can all make progress.

Now, I will talk about my experience of creating PLE, of course it is only the beginning. However, I believe I will become a PLE learner.

Firstly, I considered what I should learn. The key of learning is to creating PLE, but we should know what is the aim of our learning and what is necessary for creating PLE. First as we do not have enough time, I chose to learn del.cio.us .rss reader, blog after thinking.

Secondly, I was looking for a platform to ask and share my ideas I think people are the best resources. So we must look for people to help us and share each other, then all of us will make big progress. So I joined the google group which was built by Doctor Xiulizhuang from Beijing Normal University. I know a lot of the tools there, besides,I mastered it with the help of the members, and we can share our feelings and thoughts, very interestingly. I am glad to have such a kind of group.

Thirdly, I use the tools I have learned. I create accounts on del.iico.us,google reader; sina blog and haokanbu. If I did not use them, I will forget them and not know the value of them. After several times using them, now I found I nearly cannot leave them. It is very convenient. I would made greater progress if I lived a regular life.

Now, I have not found the person I am looking for, but I am confident I will found them and formed a group only if I keep on. Of course, there default exist along with them, so we should consider the following tips:

1. Make a plan,do not do unnecessary things. The boundaries of web will make you faint if you do not know what to do.

2. Keep on thinking. If you do not do it, you don’t change your learning style at all.

3. Don’t be afraid you are slow leaner, and do not make excuses for yourself. If you look for excuses you can always find them.

4. Don’t be shy, just practice, you will find you can learn more some day, or you will made a slow experience and progress.

References[edit]

The operating of social network tools, from: http://www.haokanbu.com/event/46/