It is Personal

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An alert from OLDaily on 16 July sent me off to look at personal (rather than personalised) learning environments.

Stephen Downes has shared two recent presentations that explore personal learning. As usual with Stephen’s presentations, I was fascinated by his synthesis of ideas.

In Beyond Free (8 July 2014), Stephen points to “a world of free and open resources” that include:

This is an abstract of the talk:

As the concept of ‘open learning’ has grown it has posed an increasing challenge to educational institutions. First admissions were open, then educational resources were open and now whole courses are open. Proponents moreover are demanding not only that open learning be free of charge, but also that the resources and materials be open source – free for reuse by students and educators for their own purposes. This formed the basis for the original design of the Massive Open Online Course as a connected environment in which participants created and reused resources. In such a learning environment, the provision of education moves beyond the programmed delivery of instructional resources and tasks. Education is no longer ‘delivered’ (for free or otherwise) and instruction is no longer ‘designed’ in the traditional sense. Institutions are no longer at the centre of the ecosystem; their value propositions are challenged and new roles for professors and researchers must be found if they are to survive. In this talk Stephen Downes outlines the steps educational institutions must take to remain relevant: embracing the free and open sharing of knowledge and learning, underlining their key role as public institutions, and engagement in the lives and workplaces of people in the community.

 In Beyond Institutions (9 July 2014) Stephen emphasises the self-organisation of personal learning. It is what I think Stephen calls elsewhere, prosuming (students produce and consume their own education. They access experts and learning resources directly, and organize these themselves. They form their own communities, work at their own pace, and share extensively with each other).

This is an abstract for the presentation:

In a networked world people become less and less dependent on institutional learning begin to and begin to create their own learning. This creates challenges for institutions, but it also creates challenges for students. In the past, personal learning has been represented as a form of autodidacticism where students either read books at random in the library or at best studied programmed education texts and videos. Today personalized learning is supported using adaptive learning and interactive digital resources. Neither offers what we would call a complete learning experience, as we know there is a social and supportive dimension that must be included. The challenge is to design learning systems that are supportive without asserting control, providing access to a wide range of resources from multiple institutions, but in addition, scaffolding frameworks, access to social and professional networks and support though personal and mobile computing devices, devices and tools, and in workplace systems generally. In this talk Stephen Downes discusses developments in a personal learning infrastructure and outlines how professionals, as both teachers and learners, can take advantage of them.

I finished my reading with a look at some of Alan Levine’s work cited in one of Stephen’s slides.

Alan is discussing his work on the Thought Vectors site with the Living the Dreams: Digital Investigation and Unfettered Minds course facilitated by Virginia Commonwealth University.

I thought this was a great way to finish this skywriting journey. It underscores for me how self-organising, personal learning can flourish through the connections we make as learners.

Photo Credit

Alan Kay and Doug Engelbart (Jean Baptiste, CC BY 2.0)

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