The personal-political imaginary restructured by a universal-Turing-machine symbolic

The tools used in a personal learning environment (PLE) will to some extent determine the shape of that environment. The shape of any object is always in some way a reflection of the tools used to make it. And as tools shape the object, so too will desire for the object shape the evolution of tools. That is, there are no “universal” tools. Any tool operates only on a part of the whole.

Lacan, who took Vygotsky’s work from develomental psychology into psychiatry, asserted that the imaginary is what we believe ordinary life to be. It is our representation of the real to ourselves: our belief as to what is “real”. The symbolic is the apparatus of language, law, discourse and custom: the tools by which we express and regulate the imaginary. The tools of our symbolic order shape our imaginary life. We think within the frames of our languages, cultures, tools and experiences.

Our learning environments are shaped these days by digital technologies. Digital technologies are the contemporary new-shiny symbolic order: a universal-turing-machine symbolic of imaginary universality.

Personal learning environments: everybody has one

Covid-19 has given me a little time to reflect on my past 10 or 15 years. A Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is for me, first of all a purpose, and then a place where I engage in activity with others. Only then do I look for tools to effect my participation in that activity with those other people. Whatever it is, it is not one thing.

A healthy personal learning environment and personal learning network is (or strives to be) a social learning network.

PLE 2010

One large multi-modal conference I participated in was the Personal Learning Environments (PLE) Conference (2010). In Barcelona and everywhere. (Graham Attwell’s account is still here). Graham’s “unkeynote”, partly crowd-sourced, asked us to imagine our own PLE. I went critical theoretical and wrote this, below. My aim in a few subsequent posts is to expand and explain. I said, my PLE is:

A progressive, emancipatory, democratic re-centering on the human other-space between community and identity where cultural capital accounts are balanced and the personal-political imaginary is restructured by a universal-Turing-machine symbolic, generating and regenerating tools and knowledge with which to build – in struggle if necessary – an unenclosed global commons of culture, nature, and  our geno-mimetic heritage;

A hyper-distributed mesh of universal, co-created, open community information and applications, on extremely local (even personal) infrastructure;

GPL-type, open-source, creative commons (attribution, share-alike) licensed; Powered by renewable, sustainable energy sources.

Return surplus value (material and symbolic) to the common-wealth;

Enable the free movement of economic, social and cultural capital, the free movement of cultural and economic goods, and the free movement of people;

Facilitate cultural mediation, creativity, learning and play;

Preserve, respect and protect human (and bio) diversity; Resist oppression, exploitation and hegemony.

A progressive, emancipatory, democratic re-centering

My Personal Learning Environment (PLE) first of all has purpose and principles. I enter into learning in order to foster progressive (Wikipedia), emancipatory (recognising and reorienting where power is drawn from) and democratic (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) relations between people and groups of people. My Personal learning environment is autonomist, supporting self-directed, purposeful learning and self-effective (Wikipedia) life practice.

As a teacher I try to re-center learning on the individual learner and their community in order that they can themselves become a reliable authority in their own life.

The human other-space between community and identity

With the Covid-19 rush to online, learning environments are suddenly of core concern. We each, student, teacher and staff need to be able to insert our personal learning environments into those of one another.

In an earlier post, I considered my Personal Learning Environment (PLE) first a purpose. Here I consider it as a place of a particular sort. A place between a real community “out there” and a real me “in here”. A place where I, who know (or doesn’t); I, who know how, or know that, or know what to do can acquire and practice that knowing with others.

I have always seen community and identity as two sides of a coin. The individual and society are co-constituted. The learning environment is a space between real communities and real individuals. It is a liminal space, which mediates between the self and others. The learning environment allows and facilitates the deconstruction, analysis and modelling of the real world, real community or real individual: psychometrics, for example, model the person. Such activity has a general aim of understanding and transforming the real “out there” or “in here” in some way.

Then, to acknowledge its own reality, the learning environment is itself a collection of real people, communities: schools, homes, disciplines, departments, institutions, professions engaged together in a project of creating liminal places: learning environments; other spaces between the real through which I learn.

Personal learning environments (PLEs), please

The term PLE is going to come into its own in 2009, because of the prominence of the digital literacy/academic literacy and lifelong learning debates. There has been much discussion of PLEs over the past four or five years (yes, that long). I was led to this reflection by Graham Attwell’s post, How my Personal Learning Environment is Changing.

Continue reading “Personal learning environments (PLEs), please”

PLE Chicken Roost

A. J. Cann asked 200 first years, “…to draw a mind map of their personal learning environment (PLE).”  The PLE chickens come home to roost
He says, “following what these students were reading on Google Reader and bookmarking on delicious throughout the past term has been a fascinating and for the most part rewarding experience. The students however, hated this task, and comments on the module questionnaire show a complete lack of understanding why reflection on learning might be valuable.”
….
“Clearly formal education alters a PLE. We just don’t know how, or how much.”