Personal learning environments and the diversity of digital natives
Consideration of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and the implications for online learning
Personal learning environments (PLEs) are defined as an approach that integrates informal and formal teaching with tools and technologies which are part of web 2.0. Web 2.0 refers to the collection of applications common to internet users such as blogs, wikis, social media, and other forms of collaboration and instant communication. The force behind the momentum to make PLEs available to our students is a belief that students are younger and more technologically adept, sometimes termed “digital natives.” The argument is that these digital natives, who were born into a total digital age, will learn better if they have the tools they commonly use, such as social networking and IM, to complete their school work. PLEs involve collaboration among peers through a variety of technologies. While much of the academic research seems to have accepted the premise that our younger students think and learn in a unique way, other research supports the idea that a total dedication to PLEs might be an error and might work against the ability of students to learn. These arguments, pro and con, are found within this paper as well as a brief discussion of the challenges the implementation of PLEs might have on a university’s ability to support such a process. There are significant concerns about the readiness of faculty for the implementation of PLEs. There is concern, as well, regarding the ability of universities to pay the costs of modifying their online learning system infrastructure to support full access to web 2.0 within the university’s current technology and security systems.
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