Personal Learning Environments and eLearning


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In a relentlessly technological developing world, it is quite inevitable that e-learning may be the foremost contributing factor towards either our success or failure in the future workforce and in society in general. E-Learning refers to the manipulation of handheld technologies that provide access to wireless and mobile phone networks that aim to support and extend opportunities for learning. Personal Learning Environments (PLE’S), concern a new approach to using these technologies for learning, by which consumers become the producers of their own online learning environment. (Attwell, 2007)
Attwell (2007) theorises that Personal Learning Environments play a significant role in lifelong learning and informal learning and account for all different styles of learning. For example, in order to remain an active and relevant member of the workforce in the changing world, constant updating of skills and development of knowledge is of growing necessity. Personal Learning Environments can provide this ongoing learning, allowing workers to maintain their employability through assembling their learning from a variety of contexts and learning providers; including formal and informal education and practical training, into the one place. Attwell (2007, p. 3) also suggests that PLE’s ‘could allow a learner to configure and develop a learning environment to suit and enable their own style of learning’. That is visual learners for example could organise their information to be visually appealing and stimulating whilst auditory learners may choose to use sound recorders and audio features to present their learning. Each to their own.
Whilst e-learning and PLE’s provide learners with a more holistic, personalised and accessible learning environment where students are responsible for their own learning, the limitations of this pedagogy must also be recognised. This form of learning environment can pose a great level of distraction to students, with the possibility the focus being lost to the technological side as opposed to the content being presented. A heightened risk of cyber bullying and reduced internet safety is also an issue, with an inability to access the required devices also a problem for some families. It is also essential that there be curriculum to support the device, in order for the online learning to be of some relevance to the immediate classroom learning.
Attwell, G (2007). The Personal Learning Environments – the future of eLearning? eLearning Papers, vol. 2 no. 1. 1-8 . ISSN 1887-1542.

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