Digital Economy USRG

Reflections on the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) Conference #PLE_SOU

Avatar photoJuly 22, 2011
by Lisa Harris

Last week Hugh Davis, Su White and I hosted the 2nd International PLE Conference in the brand new Life Sciences Building at the University of Southampton.

The event provided a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas and experiences around the development and implementation of PLEs, including the design of such environments and the sociological and educational issues that they raise. There were around 90 visitors from all over Europe and as far away as New Zealand and Pakistan.

The event included a number of innovative features:

Un-Keynote sessions in “Fishbowl” formats: a small group of participants move in and out of chairs in the centre of the room when they wish to contribute directly to the debate. This enables the whole audience to experience a lively and intense discussion that is facilitated by the presenter.

Bring Your Own Laptop: for practical real time participation in a specific topic.

Speakers Corner: a time and place is announced for informal discussions on a particular theme.

Pecha Kucha: a simple presentation format where you show 20 images each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically so the presenter has to be concise and stay on track 

During the event, a number of additional useful tools also emerged. Standouts for me were: (via @pgsimoes) which is a curation service that allows you to find things that interest you and gather them all into one place or showcase on your blog (via @torresk) = Twitter + Delicious. It automatically saves tweets or retweets with a url to your Delicious account

Debategraph (via @thanassis_t) enables communities to visualise, synthesise and evaluate contributions from its members and facilitate constructive dialogue around the issues raised.

We had an active backchannel including Tony (@aeratcliffe) who stayed up all night in Canada two nights running to watch the livestream and contribute via Twitter. There were some interesting combinations of online and offline communication. During the first unkeynote, two backchannel participants from different countries were introduced to each other via Twitter by a delegate in the room. On another occasion, delegates moved from the café area into the conference room part way through a session, intrigued by the content of tweets coming from inside the room.

A big THANK YOU is due to all the tech support guys from iSolutions who enabled high speed *reliable* wifi connections (how rare is that?!), live streaming and video capture of sessions (including contributions via Second Life and Skype).

You can watch opinions and insights from presenters and participants , read presentation slides on Slideshare (thanks to David Delgado), see photos on Flickr and read full papers.

Twitter provided some great feedback (and speculation about the location of PLE2012!) 

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