Yesterday I noticed (thanks to tweets from Jeff McClurken and Martha Burtis) that EDUCAUSE’s “7 Things You Should Know About Personal Learning Environments” features the University of Mary Washington as one of the schools experimenting and fostering PLEs on a larger, campus-wide scale. In particular, they feature the possibilities for creating a personal learning environment through UMW Blogs. It’s odd, but I’ve never really thought of UMW Blogs as a PLE or PLN—and this is probably because I try and avoid these acronyms because the language seems so dessicated to me. However, I think there is some real truth to thinking about a blog space on UMW Blogs (or anywhere else) as an easy and supported way for entering into the larger conceptual idea of how the personal web can be traced, supported, and visualized from within an institution.
The biggest concern, however, is keeping it personal, and allowing folks to share what they are doing in their own spaces wherever they are, and intelligently feeding it back into the syndication bus. Leave the multitudinous options open, and don’t lock them into a singular campus platform. Rather, use the classroom as a space to explore and learn through these tools, while resisting the urge to get comfortable with an “enterprise solution” for teaching and learning technologies. All that said, I was pretty excited to see UMW Blogs come up in the discussion, and I think the “Domain of One’s Own” discussion we have been having here at UMW lately will really take this idea to another level for both the individual and the institutions (but particularly for the institutions—for they will be asked to let go of an outdated way of thinking that is fueled by the anachronistic logic of the LMS!).
Something comes to mind about feeds and the syndication bus, a feed engine. I’m talking about an engine used in things like games, that make the experience run. A generic feed reader and redirector, possibly with the display as part, happening server side with a personal reader and parser for personal use. Maybe I’m just reworking the idea I’ve had for mixing a blog, forum and wiki, with the feeds to go with the features.
Either way, it’s cool how much press UMW Blogs gets.
I think that is the key and the ultimate goal, having an engine without the overhead of a institutional platform. Just something that can make connections, re-direct stuff, and archive what is important. Right now UMW Blogs is in many ways a hybrid model of institutional platform and personal publishing syndication hub—the future will look more like the later and less like the former.
It’s superb to see UMW get this kind of recognition. I hope it provides some support for keeping the sandbox going. It would be foolish of the powers-that-be to take UMW’s institutional leadership in this area out of the conversation. (Though the Malcolm Gladwell article in the new New Yorker demonstrates that foolish stuff like this happens all the time, alas.)
Baylor’s right behind you, in both senses–I’ve got a podcast coming on the idea of “frames” and an essay coming on the Odyssey project, both of which have emerged in large part from our conversations and the whole UMW experience. Fair warning: you’ll see and hear that I still think teachers play a role…. 🙂
I think after Faculty Academy this year we are going to have some real possibilities for partnering more closely with Khalil and thinking through the future of this stuff together, which is very exciting. And I am hopeful that the community and the experiment you spear-headed will continue to move forward. In fact, the Odyssey project is really what the “Domain of One’s Own” is born from, just on a bit smaller and simpler scale. But the idea is very much of that move towards a personal space to create and hack. Everyone having their own CPanel is the goal. In fact, Cole Camplese was talking about something like this being possible with the setup they currently have, which would be pretty amazing. You login to you PSU home site, and you can install Moodle, Drupal, MediaWiki, LimeSurvey, WP, etc. That is the key right there, pick your own open source poison 🙂
Nice to see PSU gets a nod as well! I was humbled by my Faculty Academy experience and I have to say that you have a great crew working with you there. If the powers that be can’t see the value then they are ignoring the essence of what I observed while being there — the openness and opportunities afforded by the UMW Blogs is transformative. The work going on there is stunning. I had my eyes opened and I am thankful of the opportunity. Brad and I talked about it today — the real goal is individual control over one’s space. If we can combine an institutional identity with the freedom needed for students (faculty and staff) to express themselves, then we’ve hit a home run. We’re only a handful of steps down this path … let’s keep pushing!
I absolutely agree that the endgame is individual control over peoples work wherever they do it, although that control is ironically subverted by the fact that most of the places they do it is on corporate run systems like Twitter, Bloggers, Google, WordPress.com, etc. So when do we really own our stuff. That is one of the things I like about the self-hosted open source option. But whether or not UMW Blogs is really a PLE is questionable, I think of it as an interim step at an institution so that a group like DTLT can help start the conversation and engage these issue rather then offering a soup to nuts solution for all their needs. In fact, that is why the syndication bus becomes more an more interesting to me, I want them to do it where ever they want, but just share it back within an intelligent system of feeds, tags, and archiving.