Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I miss OLDaily. Not in a crying-in-my-beer sort of way, just feeling the absence.

Electronic Portfolios for Whom?

Javier I. Ayala is looking at the literature on e-portfolios and seeing that the current research focuses almost entirely on assessment and meeting curricular outcomes instead of student-centered learning: Electronic Portfolios for Whom?
"To date, administrators and other change agents have capably articulated the importance of electronic portfolios; hence you might infer that the talk is matched with a walk in line with student needs and concerns. I argue that this is far from the case. In fact, much of what passes under the rubric of student needs and concerns in relation to electronic portfolios is nothing more than an attempt to solve curricular issues that have plagued higher education for decades, the least of them being student learning."
Thanks to the FutureMeter at XplanaZine. I keep rediscovering it, thinking how awesome it is, and then forgetting to subscribe -- a reminder from think:lab finally sealed the deal today.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Emergent Learning and Connecting with the Field

My friend Chris Corrigan shares some of his family's experience with unschooling in emergent learning and connecting with the field. The unschooling label scares many people, even more so than the homeschooling label. But what the Corrigans are doing isn't scary at all -- it's a rich, varied, caring approach to learning that really rings true for me.
"So this is what my kids continue to teach me. Create a caring and supportive environment, live by the principle that whenever it starts is the right time, and watch as learning happens."

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Space on the Web That We Control

Elgg is getting some much-deserved positive attention these days -- this mainstream article from the Guardian gives a nice overview of the basic uses: A Space on the Web That We Control.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Individualized Education Plans

I Speak of Dreams links the concepts of the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) with Individual Education Plans (IEP) and Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) in her post about Differentiating Education. IEPs have traditionally been used for special-needs students, but she points to a charter school now offering/requiring a version of them for every student -- and really, why shouldn't every learner have an individualized plan for what they're going to be learning and how they might do that best?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Classrooms as Studios -- Personal Doing Environments

Great thoughts from Remote Access (bouncing off an excellent post from David Warlick) on the idea of classrooms as studios:
"It is an intense, team-oriented, creative space where people are driven to create high-quality products. Studios are focused areas, and unfortunately in the case of the classroom, they may be too much so. In our splintered systems where kids need to 'cover' hundreds of outcomes in a single school year, the studio may provide too much depth and not enough breadth to make legislators happy. Make no mistake about it, kids can focus and be creative for long periods of time if they are working on issues they are concerned with and about."
So here you've got a motivated, innovative teacher who wants to let kids focus on the stuff that matters to them...but is finding it at odds with the goals of the system. I love the studio metaphor, and you could add others as well: lab, workshop or any other place where you learn the things you need to know in order to actually do something of value, to accomplish a goal you care about.

Perhaps this is the real model for the personal learning environment -- an organizing concept for an individual's physical and digital spaces containing the physical and virtual tools they will need to accomplish their goals. In an educational mindset, we might think the learning itself is the important thing, but really we're talking about doing, with learning as something that happens in the process of pursuing meaningful goals. Sometimes learning for its own sake could be the goal, but I suspect that most people aren't motivated in that way. Working on projects, creating new things, solving difficult problems -- these all require learning, but if I could accomplish those things without learning anything, I'd still do them, as long as the projects and problems were worth spending time and energy on.

This wouldn't interest me quite so much if I wasn't immersed in the idea of learning goals. I'm studying explicit learning goals in 43 Things, goals like "I want to learn to surf" and "I want to learn to speak Spanish". But when I think about my own experience, I realize that learning can be painful and disruptive and embarrassing enough to make me not want to try something in the first place. My actual goal is probably more like: "I want to surf" and "I want to speak Spanish". The learning might be what will get me there, but it's not the goal itself.

Thanks to George for the pointer.

Update: Clarence is reflecting more this topic...great stuff.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Seblogging PLEs

Sebastian Fiedler captures much of the recent PLE buzz and offers his own excellent take on the topic:
"I treat personal learning environments more as a psychological perspective. What forms my 'personal learning environment' at a given point in time, and for a particular purpose or goal (that drives a learning project), is largely determined by the range of resources that I am able to perceive, locate, link to, access, manage, and so forth."