Reflections on Week 7 – PLEs Please Me

The discussion and readings on institution centric VLEs and personally owned and controlled PLEs, and all things in between, has been useful to draw out some of the argumentation behind the gut feeling I have for personal curation of one’s own personal information, data, resources, etc.

Please Me – Personal Means Ownership

It was a natural thing for me to set up a “Personal Learning Environment” in the form of web area and entry web page that brings together a lot of the scattered entry points, summary links pages and shortcuts I have to reach web sites, blogs, discussion forums, WallWisher walls, VLEs, etc for the MSc in e-Learning courses, as well as pointers to my own assignment contributions. Although I created this as part of exploring VLEs vs. PLEs for the IDEL11 course, it has quickly turned into my single point of entry at work, at home and on mobile devices for access to my educational resources and work areas for the MSc. I have refined the style sheets I used to give a simple flexible width style that gives a maximum view of the core content and works well on a range of browsers and devices with large and small (e.g. mobile device) screens. This work space is at

Freedom to Peek

Since I cannot resist looking ahead, I also have the EDC11 “Post-Human” WallWisher board embedded on my PLE page at present. This is a good example of how a PLE can reflect current focus for an individual learner. A more controlled VLE approach would definitely not have focused something for the following week on its front page.

Moodle as the VLE

In discussion with Jen Ross we agreed that I could utilise Moodle rather than use the personal WebCT scratchpad course creation area we all have for IDEL11. Moodle may be chosen by the University to support distance education, so it is useful to have a better look at it. I set up the Moodle site at such that Jen Ross, and others on IDEL11 by invitation, could join in as course creators or students. So I was able to do some work on this and blog and comment in the IDEL11 discussion forum about our experience with Moodle and the contrast of that to a PLE, and how the two could work together.

In this IDEL11 block, Moodle was therefore my example of the VLE approach. It let me engage with others on the course in the discussion forum, where it turns out a number of classmates have significant experince of Moodle already. I needed to understand something about Moodle course setup and admin. I am especially interested in quizzes and questionnaires use in Moodle and in the Virtual World classrooms linked to it. I did several Holyrood Park blog entries on the experience of using Moodle and the SLoodle module to connect to a virtual worlds classroom. They also described some of my fighting with the layers of administration settings to get simple things working like student permissions and roles, and to test notifications of course participation messaging. It let me give timely feedback of a number of issues to the SLoodle developers who are near to moving their code for SLoodle for Moodle 2.x from alpha test to beta test level.

I did in fact set up a WebCT course too and put in a few sample resources, and look over the course creation tools, just so I had dipped into that specific platform as well. this could be relevant longer term as the University is about to update WebCT to its “Learn 9” successor for on campus course support.

And Beyond – On Another Planet

I like to plan well ahead, so I have looked across all three MSc courses I am doing this semester, and have started note making and resource building for all the final assessments, and indeed beyond that to the main MSc dissertation. I had some discussions with Hamish MacLeod on a number of these options… and he “helpfully” gave my dozens of new papers and relevant references 🙂

I have begun hinting about some experimentation with a concept I am developing for work on “Another Planet”. The involve some exploration of an alternative to a linear text essay style by creating a non-linear “Neo-Grammar” that uses a visual and typographical style with hyperlinks to present “Connectors”. Nothing concrete yet, but ideas being formed.

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