A PLE DESIGN PROPOSAL TO UNIFY STUDENTS’ INFORMATION SPACES
University of Geneva (SWITZERLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:We propose a design for a Personal Learning Environment that takes into account the actual students’ practices in order to smoothly bring them to develop their own student-centric environment with a perspective towards life-long learning.
We argue that students are currently staying in the centre of the triangle of three spaces of digital information resources: the local, the university and the global spaces. The local space is made of the local resources that students produce and store: project reports, home works, course notes… these resources are mostly directly produced by students with desktop office suites. They store them on their personal computer, laptop and on memory sticks. The university space is composed of resources that the institution provides to students: LMSs, digital libraries, document repositories… The global space consists in all the external resources worldwide: the Web 2.0 ecosystem.
A recent survey at the University of Geneva confirms what teachers can notice everyday in the field about the actual practice of students with regards to their management of information for knowledge processing and discovery:
-Students have nowadays multiple accesses to the information technology at their own place (desktop and laptop computers, network access) and at the university place (computers, wireless network access). They even have more and more access to mobility technologies, from simple memory USB sticks to smartphones.
-Students are currently massively using the two first info spaces (local and university). Few early adopters are introducing the practice of global resources such as web apps.
The third space is complex to get into and filtering the available huge amount of resources is required to retrieve the full benefit. However, there is no doubt that it contains lots of useful resources. Students are in the optimal technological settings to access these resources but they are under using them.
We can emphasize the situation with the conclusions of a survey stating that “there's a gap between the youngsters' experience of the Internet and Society's expectations. The youngsters' Internet experience mainly pursues communication and entertainment aims. This gap between the youngsters' skills and the requirements posed by the socioeconomic sphere is sometimes considerable.” It confirms that enabling students to the whole digital ecosystem is required.
It is impossible to introduce new practices without taking into account the existing ones. Our purpose is therefore to smoothly extend the current digital practices. We introduce a design that unifies the access, processing, management and sharing of the three info spaces. The resulting environment offers a hub to the different resources poles and a way to interconnect them in order to circulate and process the information among the poles (i.e. write a report with a word processor, then store it on a web app for collaborative editing, include external references and submit it to a LMS).
Our current prototype is based on available technologies that are familiar to students. It is widely based on “portable” technologies as it best fits any student’s technology setting. The main components are a suite of portable desktop applications, a suite of portable web apps including a personalizable webportal acting as a dashboard and a portable dedicated web navigator with extensions to enable the flow among the info spaces.
Keywords: Personal learning environment, web 2.0.