Are PLEs the inflection point?

I did some thinking about the development of learning. Back in the ancient Greek the teacher had a group of a couple students and taught them the absolute basics, meaning philosophy, maths and physics.
The teacher had the chance not only to adapt the topic to the recent situation but to every student. He knew every student, his strengths and his weaknesses. He could create different examples for different students providing them with the first kind of personalized learning.

During the industrialization the industry needed a vast amount of standardized trained workers for their machine halls. The design of studies changed from personalized to job-centered. Only classes that are needed on the job are being taught. The result is a student that can do exactly what he is trained for, but nothing more.

My complains are that these fact hasn’t changed since then. Soft skill classes had been introduced once “team ability” has been identified as key value for employees. What studies are chosen by students are guided mostly by the fact how much money an according job is generating, not by interests or talents. In my opinion this is the fist step towards “unhappiness” and in extreme cases even burn-out-syndrome.

The motivation for learning should be a passion, a vocation not thrive for money. In other words it should be an intrinsic motivation, not an extrinsic motivation.

Viktor E. Frankl pointed in his talk 1972 out that the percentage of students that name “make a lot of money” as their dedicated goal for life was 16%. 78% specified “finding a purpose and meaning to my life” as their goal.

I’d say this percentage clearly has changed since then. Learning went from beeing a desire and priviledge to a tool in order to “make a lot of money”.

The upcoming of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) could mean an inflection point of this development. PLEs in my eyes is the summary of all your tools, habits and sources you use during your personal learning process. In adapting new tools and habits one is structuring and creating a learning process. In doing so he is getting in touch with new topics and areas. So in using a PLE instead of the traditional frontal lecture type of learning, students could build up or rediscover responsibillity for their learning process. The earlier a student feels responsible for their “path” of learning in their life, the earlier they can take action and steer their path towards their interests and talents. This will also help them finding out what their “Element” is, as Sir Ken Robinson calls the true vocation,

In using and creating PLEs we also express our believe in people that they are willing to develop and learn, or as Goethe did say: “If we take man as he is, we make him worse, but if we take man as he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be”.

What do you think PLEs are good or bad for? What is the future of PLEs? Please comment.

2 Responses to “Are PLEs the inflection point?”

  1. This is a useful perspective on personal learning Tillman. I agree that a kind of synchronisation of behaviour and massification of education (call it training) was instigated because of the needs of the Victorial Industrialisation of society. Such work practices are long gone, and society now needs workers who are able to team work, think critically and act creativly to work smartly. Our education systems are changing slowly to adapt to these new needs, but not fast enough, and we are now stuck with the paradigm of mass education, because it is ‘cost effective’. We are now in a position to create (or support learners in creating) personal learning environments, through the new social media and Web 2.0 tools that are available. Will schools catch up? We shall see….

  2. We cannot nor should we depend on thers all our lives to motivate us to act. If we do, our acts lose value since they don´t come from our own personal conviction. True freedom consists in choosing what we do and not having someone to choose for us. When soemone does things in order to be appreciated by others and recognized, it is evident that he doesn´t know why he´s doing them. When we are able to reason, to have objectives for our lives and work hard toward them, then we can give a direction to what we have to do. That´s why I love social media and Web 2.0, because I can teach and learn in my own pace.

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