I wrote about PebblePad, a Personalised Learning Environment (PLE) in a previous post. Although PebblePad is a huge step beyond Web 1.0 systems such as MyClasses, BlackBoard and WebCT, I think there are still problems with how we, as teachers and educational leaders, are approaching the issue of online learning and where it occurs in the online environment.
Basically, I’m still not convinced by the need to have everything in one spot and mounted on an institution’s own servers. And I’m not convinced educational organisations need to pay for this stuff. I think it probably makes it in some ways easier to have everything in one place, and it gives institutions greater control over what systems students use, but I believe we need to be looking further out than that.
You can do all (OK, ‘most’) of the things you can do in PebblePad for free in other online applications – applications that are often more powerful and ‘authentic’ than those found in PP. For example, why use PP’s limited blog function when students can blog via WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal and the like. Students can also share ‘experiences’ and ‘thoughts’ via a blog, and they can set up meetings through Google Calendar or Zoho Planner. And you can sort out action plans through things such as ToodleDo and Remember the Milk. Furthermore, wikis and blogs can make for highly potent and accessible webfolios. For the ‘extras’ such as adding reflections or doing SWOT analyses, well … I’m sure teachers can come up themselves with ways of integrating them into assignments or classroom tasks and should be doing so, anyway.
I just believe that schools and post-compulsory education need to get out of the mindset of having to pay for everything and having to find server space for it. Web 2.0 allows us to be much more creative than that.