Registration for PLEConf 2014 now open!

The registration for the 5th International Conference on Personal Learning Environments 2014 is now open!

Go and get your ticket while they last.

We offer an “Early Bird” regular registration for 220 Euro and a student registration for 120 Euro.
Note that for the “Early Bird” registrations your bank transfers have to be received by June 25th.
[Early Bird registration is closed]

After June 25th regular registration is Euro 270 and student registration is Euro 170.
Both types of registrations include the admission to all conference sessions, coffee breaks, and lunches.

Tallinn Old Town

We are looking forward to welcoming you in Tallinn in July!

Dr. Sebastian H.D. Fiedler – Tallinn Conference Chair

International scope of accepted contributions

Just a short note on the international scope of all accepted contributions to The 5th Personal Learning Conference…

We will have contributions from researchers working in
Brazil, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Come and join us in Tallinn this summer!

Dr. Sebastian H.D. Fiedler – Tallinn Conference Chair

The Personal Learning Environment and the Institution of Education

In a recent post Mark Johnson (Bolton Univeristy, UK) shares some thoughts on “The Personal Learning Environment and the Institution of Education“:

Learning and Education are not the same, although they are often confused. Whilst technology has augmented and transformed the means by which individuals can do the work of learning, the institution of education has developed in different ways, harnessing technology to increase their dominance and power in the lives of more and more people. This appears contradictory: how can a technology which makes the means of learning more available contribute to the rise educational institutions who, despite rising costs borne by students, take a stranglehold over the business of education, and the lives of learners the world over?

To understand this, I think the economic critique of Higher Education by Thorstein Veblen – a critique whose pertinence to the current situation is remarkable – and the recent work of John Searle on social ontology are both very useful. Both Veblen and Searle are united in a particular focus on ‘status’. For Veblen, Education is a status game played by the aspirant members of the ‘leisure class’ in their effort to imbue their lives with meaning through becoming admitted to the ‘priesthood’ of knowledgeable people. Veblen documented and satirised transformations to educational institutions at the end of 19th century which could easily apply to those today: the pathologies of managerialism are now new (Veblen called it “absentee ownership”). Having said this, it is not entirely clear what Veblen means by status.

Searle’s recent work on social ontology discusses what he calls ‘status functions’ – particular kind of speech act which relate to networks of rights, responsibilities, obligations and commitments. Searle explains social phenomena like money (e.g. “I promise to pay the bearer..”), nation states and institutions in this way. The analysis is useful when we come to look at the relationship between ‘personal learning’ and University degrees. There are fundamental differences between the patterns of rights, responsibilities, obligations and commitments between ‘personal’ or informal learning and a University degree, despite the fact that there are similar end-results in terms of skill acquisition and learning. If it is the case that institutions are increasing their power and that students are not turning their back on them to self-educate, does this tell us something about the power of status declarations in society more generally, and whether Veblen is right that the principal driver of education is in increasing status rather than increasing knowledge?

I think that this is an important question with far-reaching consequences for the way that we think about the future of education. Many advocates of the PLE assumed that the purpose of education is learning, and that technology can serve that purpose as well as institutions (if not better). But what would a PLE look like if its focus was on increasing status, not learning? Can technological forms of personal learning, or even learning through MOOCs, ever be functionally equivalent to institutional education? And what are we to do with those powerful educational institutions for whom initiatives like the PLE might ultimately only serve to drive more people into their clutches?

[via Mark Johnson’s Weblog “Daily Improvisation“]

Why coming to the PLE conference?

Linda Castañeda is sharing her thoughts on why one should be coming to the PLE conference:

Every time we meet for organizing the next PLE Conference, there are some –typical I guess- worries in the air: We are not a “serious conference”, yes we have papers (published in our proceedings), and we published some of them in relevant journals, but we are little, we have not “proper” sessions of presenting, we normally publish every single part of the conference online, so

Why people would like to spent its time and money on coming to the conference?

Because the main idea of the PLE Conference, is being a REAL opportunity for learning together.

The majority of us –academics… ish- are tired of being in big conferences were the only important thing is being on it, having a paper, listening to the keynote and getting the certificate.

I’m one of them, please do not misunderstand me, I love to be on conferences :-), I normally like to be there, to have the opportunity of showing my work, listening to other experiences and listening to great speakers speaking about relevant topics.

Unfortunately, from our experience, there are too many conferences where we cannot discuss, there are too many presentations, speakers are quite inaccessible, the topics some times continue being in the “same place” because of the “mood” and the audience is just this, the audience.

THIS is our challenge every PLE conference, “flipping” the conference (using one of the “meme terms” of our time): you can read the papers by yourself in the proceedings @home, you can read the Speaker’s book (papers, blogs) without coming, BUT you CANNOT be part of the discussion.

The main objective of this conference is having a pulse about the state of the art of research and thinking around Education and technology with the excuse of speaking about PLEs, as well as having good discussions about what are the next boundaries, the last challenges, the abandoned ways, the feeling we have.

All these past years we have tried to do it. We have re-opened the spaces and contexts in the conference in order of having more and better conversations and networking. So, we are –and we want to continue being- definitively not a “normal” conference, if you want to go for a normal one, don’t come to PLE Conference, we are a space for learning and if you come (we would love you will do it), you will be a part –a crucial one- of it.

From the concepts around learning that has been potentialized in the last years, is that learning is something that could happen beyond in our minds, it is something that could be done in communities AND this is one of our challenges here, learning together, speaking, discussing, arguing, laughing, eating and more together, trying to envision what is the real next step.

And for envision it, we really need you, SO, please, come and join us in the discussion, come to the PLE Conference!

[via Linda Castañeda’s Website]

Final Call for Papers – deadline for the submission of extended abstracts: April 22.

PLE 2014 is shaping up nicely. We have already received a good number of proposals for “academic paper” and “alternative session” contributions that will go into review shortly.

Since we have been informed about various conflicting submission deadlines in March the conference committee has decided to issue a Final Call for Papers for PLE 2014.

The final submission deadline for extended abstracts is April 22, 2014.

So, come and join us for one of the most interactive and conversational conference events in the field.

We are looking forward to welcoming you in Tallinn this summer!

Dr. Sebastian H.D. Fiedler – Tallinn Conference Chair