Some thoughts on PLE_SOU

The past few days have been very interesting. I attended the PLE conference at Southampton (#PLE_SOU) and really had some nice conversations and met some very interesting people.

On Monday I took part in the Workshop on Awareness and Reflection (#arple11) organised by Wolfgang Reinhardt (@wollepb) and Thomas Ullmann (@thomasullmann). The workshop had a simple format, in which we were asked to come up with research topics and challenges for this field of awareness and reflection. One debate that emerged from this workshop was about the role of engaging with different types of media in the process of reflection. This really set me thinking, and I am planning a separate post to explore this in more detail.

My further discussions during the week were very much influenced by this debate. Especially, the role of textual expressions as indications of (digital) identity are relevant for my research work, as I hope to use natural language processing techniques to support learning.

To what extent can and do texts represent my identity and thinking? What role do other types of media play in building my digital identity? And does an automated analysis of snippets of text not just abstract further away from the content of the message in these media?

Other conversations with Peps McCrea (@pepsmccrea), Matt Jenner (@mattjenner)and Mónica Aresta (@maresta) triggered me on thinking about the role of the teacher in this networked way of learning. What is the role of the teacher here? Is it someone who brings in new content to learners, or someone who teaches them how to use tools, or someone who is a role model in this type of learning? Or someone who does all of this and more? And how are these roles translated into a lifelong learning context? Who are my teachers?

What I really learnt at #PLE_SOU is how passionate teachers are about their teaching. These are really amazing people, who are very aware of their responsibilities towards their students and they want to be the best they can be.

And this makes me think: if I am designing technology to help these passionate people, don’t I have a responsibility towards them too? And towards their students? And to all those sophisticated and inexperienced learners who are taking their own learning decisions?

Especially when designing technologies supporting awareness, be it of learners’ personal networks, or some interpretation of learner behaviour or group behaviour such as the ones presented in the #ARPLE11 workshop (see firehouse presentations of papers of the workshop). These technologies can offer learners different (augmented) perspectives on data from their learning activities. The filters and methods that I (and other ed-tech designers) build into this type of technology will affect the view teachers and learners have on their own learning and that of others.  This will consequently affect their learning decisions.

Hmmm….. My question to teachers and learners would then be: What kind of augmented views do you need? What kind of augmented views make sense? And what kind of training would you need to use them?



Filed under PhD musings

2 responses to “Some thoughts on PLE_SOU

  1. ‘These technologies can offer learners different (augmented) perspectives on data from their learning activities’

    what do you mean by this… intrigued and want to know more to be able to answer your questions

    • krajagopal

      Thanks for the comment!
      I’m thinking of the kind of little widgets shown by Rebecca Ferguson in the ARPLE11 workshop (

      They are little widgets meant for the teacher, in this case, to monitor how the students in the class are progressing, what they are discussing (or not discussing), and how their mood fluctuates during the term.

      Another example could be the Conspect widget ( ) where learner’s texts (such as blog entries) were analysed and represented in a visualisation (concept bubbles). These representations could then be used by teachers and by students to make comparisons between the performance of two students, or between the student and the average of the whole group. Or also follow one student’s progress over a few months.
      The underlying assumption here was that the blog entries of the learner on a particular topic were representative of their understanding of the domain; and that the structure of these bubbles could tell us something about how their understanding progresses.

      I think it’s more than a pure representation of the data, because we are adding extra dimensions to the pure texts, by the ways the data are analysed and visualised in.

      But is it useful in practice? 🙂

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