The number of opnions about what a PLE is quite staggering. EdTechPost wiki has a long list of these by many people, only some of whom you might have encountered. Even more alarmingly, try a Google search for ‘personal learning environment‘ and Google thinks I need to be allowed to see 15,000 more possible instances (Anyone who asserts Google search returns universal-pages should update their thinking).

By connecting yourself to several layers and actively trying to map them yourself (finding people, topics, feeds) you are mapping yourself to an ever narrowing environment – where less learning is just as likely as more. I’d argue the PLE is self-determining and limits the capacity to learn new things, but re-enforces old assumptions and errors. Of those 15,000 returns, which page carries the first challenge to the term? A PLE is not as good as a personal learning network – because a PLN has over 3 million returns of course.]I don’t doubt that humans have put to work technologies that allow rapid, flexible and highly personal communications (using network sponsors)  it is the world ‘learning’ that irks me.

Support Networks? Expert systems? or just Networks to carry inter-personal opinion and artifacts? .Doesn’t effective citizenship require well developed interpersonal skills?

Is it no shock that those people we may have encountered at work (the office bully, the dominating supervisor, the opportunist carreer-suck-up) don’t use PLE’s as it would simply amplify their un-reasonable nature. A more specific question is what distinguishes good PLE/PLNs from bad ones?
To me, I find Twitter in particular is heavily loaded with confirmation bias and increasingly less subtle attempts to ‘sell’ ideas rather than discuss them. If you are not a ‘connected teacher’ then you not only incompetent but a poor (cynical) nihilist.

The PLE to me (appears) to function at it’s best when it is acting as a Penny University and at its most biased and deceptive when assumed to be of a free and open public discussion.

Try an experiment: Rather than see all results, let’s use Google’s “I feel lucky” button. Go to Google.com (the homepage) and type in the world ‘cat’ in the box. Where did the button go? The web vanishes.

A fantastic post for those remaining open to the idea the Internet should be a place for freedoms to thrive is “rebuilding the web we lost” – it’s a powerful reminder of how quickly we can follow a crowd.

Create public spaces. Right now, all of the places we can assemble on the web in any kind of numbers are privately owned. And privately-owned public spaces aren’t real public spaces. They don’t allow for the play and the chaos and the creativity and brilliance that only arise in spaces that don’t exist purely to generate profit. And they’re susceptible to being gradually gaslighted by the companies that own them.

Most significant of the points made to me, was Insularity. To me vast sections of the now well-established “web2.0″ gatekeepers are as insular in their connectivity, conversation and openness to new ideas as the very people they have made a decade long career over cynically criticizing.

How do we discover the edge, when both the network owner and their cronies have a gravity gun?

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