In education, and technology, but no different from most other fields, we sure can get mired in definitions. It seems… that the mere fact of identifying something with a TLA (Three Letter Acronym), that it exists.
Like last Decemberm when I got invited to be on the planning committee for the EDUCAUSE ELI Focus Session on Immersive Learning Environments, in conversations about said ILEs, I tried pot stirring early in our teleconference meetings by posing the question, “Is there really something that is an ILE”? No one felt like playing, so we went on the merry way, so that they included virtual worlds, simulations, remote controlled instruments, computer games, and heck why not the world famous card game of Kaiser? “Immersive” can be mighty broad.
it’s not that I have an bsession to nail down definitions, but I am not sure that I can say what is an ILE and what is not. In the end, it mattered not, as the event was great, I saw and learned quite a bit, networked with colleagues. I could say there are some general aspects one could talk about in terms of the power of “immersion” but it’s not like you can say, “To support an ILE, I need X,Y, Z and we need to do P,D, Q”. It all depends what you are talking about.
And its not that I don’t find the topics interesting. I just think we starte saying “ILE” enough times, it may sound like a real entity.
I wish I had a photo of an ILE, at least there are documented photos of learning objects.
And ergo for PLEs. Now before someone tries to lop off my head by comment- I fully support, and have lived, promoted the concepts of Personalized Learning Environments. Like Small Technologies Loosely Joined. RipMixLearn. RipMixFeed. It’s not that I do not “get” the concept of using a decentralized suite of web tools to create a personal learning environment. It’s what I have done, built, preached for the last X years.
Its more like, I do not know what a PLE is beyond a collection of flowchart diagrams with connected bubbles of web 2.0 logos. And we went through this on this year’s Horizon Project– PLEs surfaced as one of the 12 finalists for the far horizon. And heck, I voted for it myself. But in researching it, beyond papers, presentations, and digrams, I could not really find something I could say, “This is a PLE” — not discounting successful deployments of learning environments using a network of blogs +/- wikis, but is every instance of using a suite of web tools a PLE? In that case, my definition of a PLE is the Internet. And what does that get us?
And again, for those rady to throw darts, I am not belittling the concept, the aim, the cool diagrams, all the stuff cited recently (and back in eternity) by Stephen Downes), just keeps me wondering what a PLE is and what is not.
I Acronym, Therefore I Exist.