Mashing up the PLE (Tony Hirst)

Notes from a seminar (slides) by Tony Hirst.

PLE=Personal Learning Environments.

Gilbert Ryle – notion of category mistakes (in The Concept of Mind); happens when people talk about PLEs as things – they’re not, they’re environments: you can’t point at them.  Also figure/ground illusion (vase/faces) – edges are the key.

Contrast to VLE – which is a thing (e.g. Moodle).  A PLE is not (just!) the personal version of one – but there’s a figure/ground thing, the VLE could be part of it.  A PLE is the students’ bag of stuff: literal stuff (laptop, phone, bits).

PLE is open, controllable, public; VLE is closed, private, you-can’t-edit.  [But: control/privacy to enable experimentation for learning – safe to get it wrong.]

Edges between VLEs and PLEs. OpenLearn has made a big effort to make the content portable.  Materials are stuff in a learning environment, and have alternative formats: print (single HTML file); XML; RSS feed; OU XML; IMS Content Package; IMS Common Cartridge; plain ZIP of all the html files and media assets; Moodle Backup. This export bit is the edge – can do the figure/ground swap here.

Mashups – using Glue Logic (not actual glue).  Live demo of sucking content from OpenLearn – leaving a trail of bookmarks as he goes on Delicious, tagged ‘elcple’. Copy RSS link from OpenLearn course/module.  Use in places like PageFlakes, Netvibes, iGoogle

Uncourses blog – trying to do in real time as a blogged course: ten weeks to study, so ten weeks to write. All done on WordPress at Digital Worlds. Category and tag feeds so it’s “self-disaggregating”. Link structure is emergent (in the sense that he didn’t plan it in advance).  Categories and tags are … basically confusing on WordPress.  Module coming to deliver posts (RSS items) as a drip-feed over time, starting when you want it.

(Flock and Firefox tip: can right-click on any search box on any site and ‘Add a keyword’ for that search.)

Mashups are not production systems, they’re flaky.  (Pageflakey.) – in response to having Yahoo Pipes problems in his PageFlakes setup. is like MyStuff that works” – can share files, make them droppable, clicking in a browser will ‘just work’.

Grazr as an RSS reader on turbo – can wrap RSS feeds together in to OPML files.

Glue Logic – lives here (aka – takes parameters and produces OPML feeds out of, say, all comments on posts with a particular tag. “It’s easy to use” [But not documented anywhere?]

Microsoft Live Search – you can add search results as a feed by adding &format=rss to the search URL.  E.g. orange smarties.

Autodiscoverable feeds – your browser can subscribe to it.

Tony’s OPML dashboard as a way of messing around with RSS/OPML files.

StringLE – a String-and-Glue Learning Environment.  The sample site sort-of works but is suffering from linkrot somewhat.

Pipework – Yahoo Pipes.  Live demo of taking Wikipedia data on city populations and putting them via a Googledocs spreadsheet on to a map.

Author: dougclow

Data scientist, tutxor, project leader, researcher, analyst, teacher, developer, educational technologist, online learning expert, and manager. I particularly enjoy rapidly appraising new-to-me contexts, and mediating between highly technical specialisms and others, from ordinary users to senior management. After 20 years at the OU as an academic, I am now a self-employed consultant, building on my skills and experience in working with people, technology, data science, and artificial intelligence, in a wide range of contexts and industries.

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