Fournier kop barcelona research ple 2010 07072010 2


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This slidecast represents the Elluminate presentation, held online during the Barcelona PLE conference in July 2010, and will highlight the educational philosophy behind the PLE and the different dimensions of the first point of data collection, the exploration of ‘super-user’ needs for technology in their learning.

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  • Hi, My name is Rita Kop and I am a Research Council Officer for the National Research council and I am Helene Fournier—Research Officer with the National Research Council. We are with the Institute for Information Technology, Learning and Collaborative Technologies Group, currently working on the PLE project, which deals with the research and development of a Personal Learning environment.
  • We have outlined here the major points of this presentation. We would like to start with influences on the learning environment and learning itself. I will set out our view of a Personal Learning Environment and why we think it is worth developing one Also what we think to be the main educational challenges to a PLE and .We will continue then with telling you about the PLE research.
  • Education has its roots in age-old cultural traditions that have developed over centuries and have been in existence for thousands of years and is found all over the world. It has in fact become a universal cultural model.’ The space in which we teach and learn defines our approaches to the teaching and learning process . Peters highlighted that the space in which we teach and learn defines our approaches to the teaching and learning process . He explained that particular characteristics are pertinent to particular places and argued that traditional teaching spaces are not value neutral: ‘ Each place in the experienced space has its meaning for the person. The space does not exist without the person experiencing it.’ ‘The people in the space are at different distances to one another’ and this has an effect on the quality of the interactions. ‘The learning environment interacts with the learners and tutor’. (Peters, 1999, p.9). The learning environment is changing.
  • Every learner is unique and has unique learning experiences. Institutional learning might form part of this learning, but is not necessarily the main learning episode the learner has. That’s why we decided at the start of the project to make this Personal Learning Environment into a true PLE, not related to institutional learning, but with the learner firmly in control. It wasn’t just people working with technology, such as Sharples who realised that that might be the most appropriate way of learning organization.
  • Ivan illich in the 70s talked about similar things as learning technologists currently do. He could see how technology could help to avoid the clutches of bureaucrats. He wrote the book ‘Deschooling society’ and his ideas are currently being picked up by people interested in learning technology, as his ideas of what education should be like, eg learning on networks, and communication on community webs, fit very well with the new Web2.0 technologies. He said for instance that we should ‘ 1. To liberate access to things by abolishing the control which persons and institutions now exercise over their educational values . 2. To liberate the sharing of skills by guaranteeing freedom to teach or exercise them on request . 3. To liberate the critical and creative resources of people by returning to individual persons the ability to call and hold ... 4. To liberate the individual from the obligation to shape his expectations to the services offered by any established profession- by providing him with the opportunity to draw on the experience of his peers and to entrust himself to the teacher, guide, adviser or healer of his choice .’ (Illich, 1971, p.103) His vision was to see people take ownership of the learning process, rather than institutions controlling their education. He saw that the alternative to ‘scholastic funnels’ would be true communication webs. He saw this in a face to face environment in a community setting, while the technology has enlarged our learning environment into a global arena, which has brought forward challenges if learners are to get the best possible learning experience.
  • One of the challenges to online learning without an overarching tutor to help is the level of presence. Anderson and Dron (2008) highlighted the importance of ‘presence’ in learning. They have recently provided us with their thoughts on the distinctions between learning in groups, which might take place in an online or face to face class room, the learning taking place on online networks , such as the blogosphere, or in giant courses like the ‘Connectivism’ one that is currenly being run by George Siemens and Stephen Downes, or MySpace and FaceBook, and the learning from collectives , such as Flickr and, where the connection with others might only be through tags. The main difference between the three being the level of presence , or ‘nearness’ to the other people you are communicating with or linking to. According to them this will mean a different level of emotional engagement and willingness to invest time and energy to get involved in the activities . My own research has confirmed this . If we compare these pictures and imagine how the Internet and what it has to offer seems to a vast number of people, it seems worth considering how much of a tutor, or an expert presence is required to ensure people get involved and engaged in their learning activity, because it means something to them, more than a website to just click on, or click off from, or a social site to catch up on gossip or play games with friends (Research by Selwyn shows that that is what most young people use the Internet for, amusement) My recent research shows clearly that adult learners do not learn best or get engaged in an environment that lets them find all their own resources, nor by an environment where all resources are laid out and they are expected to get on with it themselves. They are most engaged if an expert challenges them, engages them in a dialogue, provides feedback, also in an online environment .
  • Another challenge was highligted by Bouchard (2008) and Dron (2007), who both indicate that learner autonomy is not a particular quality or level of independence in learning that people have, but a relational interplay between contextual and personal factors. Adult learners make choices about the level of control imposed by others on their learning and Bouchard (8,p123) identified several factors that are significant. He clustered them in four groups, the first one related to ‘ motivation, initiative’ and confidence ; the second to control over the learning activity and the third one related to issues of language and communication used in the learning and teaching process. The importance of aspects of ‘economy ’ in learner autonomy was recognized as a fourth category; the choice to learn for personal gain such as for future employment, and the possible cost of other study options. In short, learners will conduct a breakdown of costs and benefits that the particular learning option would bring and make choices accordingly.
  • To learn independently using a PLE people not only need to become autonomous learners, but also need particular skills and competencies . There is no ‘overarching tutor’ to guide learners and to challenge their ideas and beliefs or to help them in gathering information and understanding the media and the way they represent information. Instead, the onus is on learners themselves to make these judgments and to validate information and knowledge, and to find knowledgeable others who can help them with this . Downes (2009) discussed the concept of ‘critical literacies ’ in relation to successful learning on informal networks, while Bouchard and Kop emphasised the need for individuals to be able to ‘network’ effectively , which requires considerable levels of meta-cognition and collaboration skills that, they argue, not all learners possess (Kop and Bouchard, 2010, in press). Networks are not neutral and power free; there are influential hubs that determine what information people access   Moreover, the new learning environment requires learners to be active in their learning by editing and producing information themselves in a variety of formats and by communicating and collaborating with others in new ways. People need to have a certain level of creativity and innovative thinking, in addition to feeling competent, confident and comfortable at using ICT applications to be able to do so. Learners need to be flexible, able to adapt to new situations and able to solve problems that they come across during their learning journey. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people learn some of these informally from each other, but other critical literacies, i.e. information literacy, develop at a very early age and will be hard to acquire at a later date. Critical thinking skills and media literacy require the presence of an expert to challenge beliefs and show opposing points of view to the one the learner has which is hard to facilitate in an open online environment. Although some, eg Stephen downes, argue however that these skills will develop while engaging in online communication with others, or via challenging feedback or recommendations through the PLE system itself (Downes, 2009). Where does this leave us if we also listen to learning technologists who can see the opportunities that the latest technology offers for more personalized and autonomous learning journeys? .
  • Before I hand over to Helene who will tell you more about the research, I would also quickly like to mention how Nathan Shedroff saw the development of experiences. He highlighted s ix principles which, t ogether, could create an enormous palette of possibilities for creating effective, meaningful, and successful experiences. He mentioned for instance interactivity, intensity, time and duration, cognitive and sensory triggers as important components to create meaningful online experiences. WE found it important to create meaningful experiences.
  • Here you can see the three strands that we are researching. We started with the red box, but are now carrying out research simultaneously: Starting with a review of the literature to help identify current trends and issues, formulation questions for information gathering….. Super-users: identified from a preliminary survey used to collect information about the use of online applications, tools, and systems (e.g., social networking sites, news gathering, media file sharing/editing). Super users were identified based on criteria such as computer experience (me-high) and skill level (med-high). Summary of the project and electronic address (URL) to access the online survey was advertized through the Principal Investigator’s Online E-learning newsletter—OLDaily and circulated on PLE related networks and forums.
  • These are the components we have chosen for our PLE and together we think they can help the learner in his or her learning. Not just to work more effectively, but also to get to a more intense level of engagement and learning than without. We have developed two of the six components that we think are needed in a PLE: Personal Profiler, aggregator…. In parallel to development efforts, a second survey was launched to gather information on information aggregation tools and technologies and another for editing and publishing activities people currently engage in and what desired features in a PLE might be. Respondents shared issues and challenges based on their previous experience with collecting various forms of data and information from various sources for specific activities such as text, photo, web, video, as well as sound editing and publishing. Results from these first surveys highlight the commonalities in features end users would like to see in their PLE…with baseline data about user experiences with existing tools, applications, systems and desirable features for creating a new and improved personal learning environment Usability testing of Plearn is currently being planned Feedback on mock-ups of the PLE Testing of the PLE prototype at different stages of development
  • Here is the sample and range of qualifiers used the described desired features and options for collecting (aggregating), editing/publishing revealed in the survey responses (respondents often provided further details under the “other” option we provided). Qualifiers used to describe options/formats: handy, right for me, customized….. Work on profiles/scaffold being done to address this!!
  • Results of the first phase of the PLE research project provide important baseline data about user experiences with existing tools, applications, systems and desirable features for creating a new and improved personal learning environment. Factors affecting technology use and uptake include: demographics such as age, gender, education, experience, and specialization. Human factors such as motivation, incentive, support (organizational, social network online or in the community), perceived usefulness, ease of use, attitudes towards use, innovativeness, passed adoption behaviors, and knowledge and skill levels also need to be factored in. Consideration of these factors in subsequent surveys for additional PLE related components will further enhance the development of the highest possible specification. Efforts to gather information and perceptions related the component usability along with educational research comparing learning in the context of a massive open online course are currently underway (as highlighted in a previous slide…. This is one of 3 anticipated case studies contrasting variances instances/iterations of PLEs. Research will assess the intuitiveness and ease of use of the environment and the tools recommended to learners, simplicity in design features and for easy navigation, as well as compatibility and interoperability of tools used and recommended. At the centre of the design and development is the premise that it should be the learner who owns the PLE and who makes the decisions about its use, not an educational institution or organization.
  • Thank you!!!
  • Fournier kop barcelona research ple 2010 07072010 2

    1. 1. Researching the design and development of a Personal Learning Environment National Research Council PLE Project Learning and Collaborative Technologies Group Moncton Canada Hélène Fournier Rita Kop
    2. 2. Key Themes Why a PLE? Informed exploration phase Challenges Research outline Conclusions
    3. 3. The learning environment
    4. 4. Why a Personal Learning Environment? ‘ We learn across space as we take ideas and learning resources gained in one location and apply or develop them in another. We learn across time . . . through ideas and strategies gained in earlier years providing a framework for a lifetime of learning. . . managing a range of personal learning projects, rather than following a single curriculum’. (Sharples et al, 2005, p. 2)
    5. 5. Why a Personal Learning Environment? <ul><li>‘ 1. L iberate access to resources … </li></ul><ul><li>2. L iberate the sharing of skills… </li></ul><ul><li>3. L iberate the critical and creative resources of people ... </li></ul><ul><li>4. L iberate the individual… by providing him with the opportunity to draw on the experience of his peers and to entrust himself to the teacher, guide, adviser or healer of his choice’ </li></ul>Illich, 1971, p.103
    6. 6. Challenges : Presence
    7. 7. Challenges - Learner autonomy The four dimensions of learner autonomy, Bouchard, 2010
    8. 8. Challenges Critical Literacies
    9. 9. ‘ Design is the process of evoking meaning’ Shedroff, 2009, p4.
    10. 10. Researching a Personal Learning Environment <ul><li>Research to inform the design and development of Plearn: </li></ul><ul><li>Literature review </li></ul><ul><li>Super-users surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Close contact with PLE researchers worldwide </li></ul><ul><li>Usability testing of Plearn: </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback on mock-ups of the PLE </li></ul><ul><li>Testing of the PLE prototype at different stages of development </li></ul><ul><li>Educational research: </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison of learning without and with Plearn in 3 case studies (with different users in different scenarios) </li></ul>
    11. 11. Survey Results-First Phase <ul><li>Research involved gathering information from potential users </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Surveying “super-users” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of existing tools, applications and systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancing the development of the highest possible PLE specification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number and percentage for gender (N=204) </li></ul></ul>Gender Number Percentage (%) Female 90 44 Males 113 55 Missing values 1 0.5
    12. 12. Survey Results-First Phase
    13. 13. Survey Results-First Phase
    14. 14. Survey Results-First Phase Motivation factors n (%) Learning something new 196 96 Producing something 149 73 Finding a real gem of information 148 73 To see something really amazing made by others 129 63
    15. 15. Survey Results-First Phase Frustrations n (%) Advertising 126 62 When it doesn't work 126 62 When someone is trying to &quot;phish&quot; my identity 93 46 Telephone answering loops 67 33
    16. 16. Survey Results-First Phase Understanding and combining information
    17. 17. Highly desirable features in a PLE Survey Results-First Phase
    18. 18. Survey Results-First Phase Desirable PLE features for information search and organization
    19. 19. Survey Results-First Phase Features to support learning in a PLE Important features and issues N % Allows me to use it to learn from others 176 86.27% Allows me to structure my learning activities (e.g., in folders) 163 79.90% Features that help me to organize and plan my learning 162 79.41% Provides a way to store all my learning activities 160 78.43% Allows others to give me feedback on my learning activities 144 70.59% Allows me to teach others 141 69.12% Allows me to socialize with others 134 65.69% Provides feedback on my learning activities 116 56.86% Helps me to be critical of the information and resources I find online 107 52.45%
    20. 20. PLE Components Recommender Scaffolds Services Editor Profiler Aggregator
    21. 21. PLE Components Aggregator +Editor
    22. 22. Conclusions <ul><li>Baseline data about user experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Factors affecting technology use and uptake </li></ul><ul><li>Human factors </li></ul><ul><li>Subsequent surveys, component usability testing and educational research </li></ul>
    23. 23. [email_address] Rita Kop Hélène Fournier PLE Research Team, NRC [email_address] /