Thursday, April 26, 2007
Pickett's Charge and PLEs
I've been catching up on my Google Reader and noticed the conversation about Personal Learning Environments. I'm sure I'm misunderstanding the conversation - but it seems to me that a Personal Learning Environment should encompass more than just the blogs, wikis, rss feeds, and other tools we use to gather and process information.
Clive Shepherd notes that his personal learning environment also includes people and alternate media.
I know it would be neater if these were all digitised and processed for my easy access, but I'm not so sure I don't prefer them as they are.
I wonder if we are losing something by moving everything "online". The feel of the pages, the smell of newsprint, the engagement of senses other than sight and sound.
Langston Hughes Intermediate annually took their 8th grade class to Gettysburg. As part of that trip - they split the group and recreated Pickett's Charge. Being able to experience the distance between Seminary Ridge and Culp's Hill, climb around Devil's Den, running through the woods on Cemetary Hill finding strategic locations... I learned more about Gettysburg through that field trip than I ever did in a book, movie, online tutorial or multimedia presentation.
Today, the organization I work for regularly has people from other organizations visit to see how we are using our Electronic Medical Record software. Movies, interactive video teleconferencing, online tutorials, documents, and the like will only take them so far. Our visitors say they learn more when they can immerse themselves physically in our environment. Despite some folks efforts to script the encounter, the visitors get more when they nose around, talk to people, observe patient interactions, read body language and (at the risk of sounding new-agey) sense the energy around the clinic.
I wonder if we need more field trips. More opportunities for PHYSICAL immersion - not just virtual immersion. And I wonder if this is the type of thing that should be considered when putting together our own Personal Learning Environments and providing resources for others to do the same.