Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mile High

It's Festival time in Adelaide and I've been reviewing some of the shows on offer so I'll drop some of them here. Here's the first one:

Holden St Theatres (The Arches), Sat Feb 24

Dan and Daisy set out for New York with the usual feelings of anticipation and trepidation as any couple might at the prospect of a two week dream holiday preceded by an 18 hour flight in economy class. Dan (Sebastian Goldspink), the nervy but experienced flyer, and Daisy (Megan Alston) the excited and excitable newbie, begin as normal – discussing the food, the cabin staff, past memories, Americans, plans for New York – and then the alcohol kicks in. After an eventful high talk drifts inevitably towards the relationship, and stuck like battery hens in the middle of the night they have to face the storm. Directed by Byron Kaye, this racy little play is very engaging. Despite their differences the chemistry between the characters is palpable. It’s as if you’re a fellow passenger observing them slyly without being seen – a kind of sneaky privilege. I’m tempted to down a few Bloody Marys and regale the person next to me the next time I’m on a long flight to see what happens. Really enjoyable.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Leo Kottke

Tonight I went to see one of my musical heroes – Leo Kottke. I fell in love with his music when I was in my 20’s and the love affair has never ended. This clip shows Leo as a very young man but he plays even better now. No one plays like this guy. Thanks Leo. (There are lots more Leo clips on YouTube if you look around.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

PLE - process not product

PLEs and their companions, ePortfolios, are back on people’s radars at the moment. I had a go at spotting the difference between the two some months ago, and Leigh Blackall and Mark van Harmelen have being describing PLEs on the TALO list this week.

Leigh wrote:

"First and originally there is the software development line largely coming out of the UK and Europe that is looking to develop a single solution in terms of software that captures the intent of a Personalised Learning Environment. Things like ELGG. Through both the name PLE and the software developmental approach it is easy to see the influence of the Virtual Learning Environment or Learning Management System. It is this association that critics use against this approach.

The second, more recent, and deeper line of thinking with regard to the PLE ……is more interested in the PLE as a process. A process of establishing an online presence (with what ever is readily available), expressing yourself, and collecting tools, information, finding channels.... and in the process building relationships and networks around your expressed interests so as to develop a personalised learning environment.

To me, the second line of thinking is near enough the same to Networked Learning: Networked learning is a process of developing and maintaining connections with people and information, and communicating in such a way so as to support one another's learning. Wikipedia Feb 2008."

Mark adds:

"The integrated systems approach to PLEs (eg ELGG) is not at odds with the view of assembling resources, and the two co-exist well. In fact jumping over to wikipedia you'll find a definition (of mine) that captures the conjunction of the two 'views':
"Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to
• set their own learning goals
• manage their learning; managing both content and process
• communicate with others in the process of learning
and thereby achieve learning goals.
A PLE may be composed of one or more subsystems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services."

What I'd particularly like to point out is that the PLE movement, whatever its 'guise', has settled on an approach that stresses independent learning (ie self motivated, often self directed) learning rather than teacher controlled learning. Teachers can assist and facilitate, but not control. Peers can assist and facilitate. This to me is the real nub of a PLE, as a tool / set of tools that enables this approach. So I'm not hung up on precise system characteristics, and I'd suggest that a system classification sidesteps the real and deeper and more meaningful and enduring value of the PLE movement." (my italics)

I’m not hung up on system characteristics either – a single all encompassing tool or a collection of web applications are both fine – but we all know that the organizations we work for are going to push option 1. They will want their staff/students to use the tool they have paid for or developed so they can control security, standards, etc. I guess in the spirit of PLEs as expressed by Leigh and Mark, students should be free to choose the endorsed tool or their own collection of scattered personal artefacts, and be supported in whatever choice they make. It is about process after all, not end product. Though I find that hard to accept sometimes. I love the process, but I also get a lot of satisfaction from looking at end-product I have created. For example, I’m gonna love proof reading this post and seeing it as a end-product that represents people’s thoughts on this topic right now, but also feel excited at knowing that it will be superseded within days. Such is our ‘habitus of learning’. (Norbert Pachler) But I’d hate to see Blogger fall over and never be able to find this post ever again!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Classroom of the Future

Over at is a wonderful example of how Voicethread can capture multiple voices on a topic, and a great selection of opinions on mobile learning and the role of the teacher/classroom in a digital world. Courtesy of webhead Dave Winet the founder of EFI (

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My Facebook Friendwheel

Originally uploaded by mikecogh
Ever wanted to be at the centre of the universe? Facebook has made it possible.


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