Which bring me to Leigh Blackallâ€™s
polemic against the LMS/VLE/PLE. Iâ€™m a big fan of Leighâ€™s writing, but i have to say that this time, i have a few problems with his position, and iâ€™d like to start a little healthy debate on the subject. I have two main subjects that iâ€™d like to cover, one concerning relative computer literacy and the other about what the school and learning is all about.
Who needs ALL of the internet
Why do we need a PLE when we already have the Internet? The Internet is my PLE, ePortfolio, VLE what ever. Thanks to blogger, bloglines, flickr, delicious, wikispaces, ourmedia, creative commons, and what ever comes next in this new Internet age, I have a strong online ID and very extensive and personalised learning environment.
I think that Leighâ€™s logic here is solid insofar as his â€˜Iâ€™ is concerned. This is true for me as well, and for most of the people that are likely to be reading this blog. The majority of people will NEVER have an internet presence. By definition, there is no room for the â€˜presenceâ€™ of 6 billion people. Some people, like Leigh, will do enough good work to have room on the internet for Stephen Downes to read their work and post it, most will never. Community environments like elgg allow for them to be noticed, and interacted with, by their peers. Itâ€™s a safe, controllable environment, away from the chaos and uncertainty that is that rather long list of tools listed. The PLE and to a lesser extent the VLE/LMS provide some security, some much needed structure and most importantly guaranteed interactivity. Technorati is claiming 21 million blogs or so (i have 4 or 5) where will the interactivity be when there are 200 million or 2 billion. A PLE like elgg allows for focus.
Learning from life
My thinking is that we need to build media literacy in our institutions, and not prevent it by building replicas.
A PLE is not a simulacra. There are many instances in this â€˜real worldâ€™ that Leigh is refering to where the PLE is being used. I have several friends who have installed moodle and elgg as training and communication platforms for companies, from restaurants to government agencies.
So while I whole heartedly agree with the PLE and Scottâ€™s reasoning for rejecting the LMS/VLE, I canâ€™t say Iâ€™m with them on their alternative. In my view, the VLE, LMS and PLE are the same. A suggestion that the Internet, and informal networked learning are not enough. That people still need to come to school to learn. That people need to distinguish learning from life, that people need to download and install an application that will solve their learning needs.
If I understand correctly, â€˜informal networked learningâ€™ as it appears in the internet context, is â€˜real lifeâ€™ and the LMS/VLE/PLE are artificial. Iâ€™m not sure that i understand how someone would start informal learning in a â€˜natural way,â€™ but i would love to have this further elaborated on.
My real objection to this is the part about â€˜coming to schoolâ€™. I donâ€™t think that people come to school to gather knowledge in the traditional sense. In an ideal world they learn how to learn, they learn to work together, they learn how to kiss behind the water filtration system, they learn how to fightâ€¦ and eventually how not toâ€¦ they get the opportunity to know more than their parents do on all the above subjectsâ€¦ school still has this power (if used) to level the social classes. Now weather or not we replace the military classroom with another free, government sponsored place that isnâ€™t called school but still allows them to do the things above and many more, we still need them.
A friend of mine was called by another parent from the community about something her son was doing on the internet. Suffice it to say that he was about ten and he was emailing porn to his buddiesâ€¦ This will happen. Kids will publish porn, just for fun, to push boundaries, to experiment, all part of the natural experience. How do we teach appropriate behaviour on the internet? How do we pass our cultural values on to the wired generation? In these PLE/VLE environments, where we guide by example, where we leadâ€¦ where we teach.