Scott Wilson, April 16, 2007
PLE as conceptual intervention
A worthwhile observation by George Siemens on the nature of PLE: PLE is a concept, not a product. Its an unfortunate tendency especially in our sector to take a concept (PLE, e-Portfolio) and attempt to reify it as a product.
In my own view, the PLE is different for each individual, but can make use of common tools and conventions. One of the aspects of PLE that hasn't been elaborated on much is the establishment of conventions - as it is these that make 'interoperability' even worth considering. For example, it is the conventions of 'blogging' (the process) that makes the interoperability of blog content via Atom and RSS meaningful.
The scope and nature of the interoperability we can provide to connect different PLEs is in one sense determined by the conventions that emerge in the practices of personal learning. (In another sense we make new practices and conventions possible by offering new tools and interoperability features)
What has been emerging in the past year or so has been more about conventions than technology as such - the educational use of blogs, use of bookmarks, and use of tagging and filtering. These conventions are emerging from the use made of the technologies by pioneering teachers and learners.
What are far less developed are the conventions of association and rendezvous - the conventions and patterns for coordinated activity such as community-forming and collaborative work using distributed technologies. Distributed identity (e.g. OpenID) provides one of the important building blocks for the technology base that would allow such conventions to emerge, but there is a lot more work to do.