Personal Learning Environments: An Interview with EdMedia Keynote Speaker Linda Castaneda

Today marks the start if the annual EdMedia conference (June 24-28) in Amsterdam. The program contains five keynotes as part of the conference. Keynotes are a great way to connect with experts in the field and learn about current, cutting-edge research. Dr. Linda Castaneda is giving a keynote on personal learning environments in the digital era. Her keynote will take place on Thursday, June 27.

What do you see as the future of research regarding Personal Learning Environments?

 PLEs embody how the ecologies in which people learn -that are now full of emerging resources and technologies that scatter learning experiences across institutional, geographic, societal, and economic boundaries- are used by people. So, there are significant research challenges if we want to convert PLE in the framework for building a cohesive lifelong learning approach. Research, among others, needs to

– Make efforts in understanding how PLE works on people -from more post-humanistic perspectives-

-Go in deep the implications of the PLE as pedagogical approach (teaching practices, learning practices, and learning competencies training), and it implies research on teachers training, learners’ competencies, school organization and many other essential topics.

– Incorporate PLE as the approach to understand and developing formal learning experiences, as well as connecting the non-formal ones

– Explore how to empower people to take advantage of the possibilities to learn they already have, as well as the information they could have to make decisions about their learning (e.g. data literacy).

What do you enjoy most about your current job?

My current job is trying to connect many different parts of my research to try to understand better the role of technology in education, the role of education in a post-digital world, as well as how empowering people to learn in this world.  These are incredible challenges that imply technological and pedagogical challenges, but also epistemological, methodological, philosophical, even political and ideological challenges; and this is because I love challenges.

Also, this field is changing all the time. For example, our understanding of PLEs, since we started to discuss them in the mids 2000, has changed a lot. The concept has evolved because our knowledge about learning, and education, as well as our relationship with technology,  have evolved… now we are more aware of the importance of having socio-material visions that highlight the importance of critically empowering people to learn in their way, to developing their agency to learn. So this is a permanent opportunity for learning and reflecting.

Therefore, if to me being a pedagogist specialized on Educational Technology has been always an excellent opportunity to learn -and I enjoy very much learning- as well as for impacting on day to day education, even if this is just a hope nowadays, I’m enjoying the challenges of my current job very much.

Have you attended AACE conferences in the past? What is your connection to this community?

I have participated in some of AACE conferences virtually, and, since I have started my career in EdTech, I have always taken an eye on them, following the online footprint of the discussion that happens there. AACE conferences always show me suggesting proposals to follow, exciting people to meet and read, as well as promising ideas to think on.

This Amsterdam edition will be my first opportunity to be there, presentially.

How do you see EdTech research becoming more pedagogical?

Remembering that the centre of our research is not the improvement of the technology implementation process to make it more efficient in education. The main goal of EdTech research is education, and how education should be in the technological world in which we are living. Being engaged in how we would do, that people would have the opportunity of being better human beings, taking advantage of the postdigital reality we have around us.

What key insights do you hope the attendees will take away from your keynote?

I would like that they enjoy with the vision of PLEs as a suggesting approach to rethinking life-long learning and the EdTech integration research.

A vision of PLEs as a posthumanistic proposal: a techno-social reality that embodies the socio-material entanglement with which people learn; and at the same time, an image of PLEs as a practical techno-pedagogical approach that enacts contemporary ideas about how people learn and how the learning must be personal and socially oriented rather than tech-personalised.

I want attendees will take away some ideas about the current and future research around PLEs, and based on the PLE approach, to rethink later. At last, for those that are news to the term, a vision on what a PLE is, and what is not that invite them to join the discussion. Also, for those that already are in the PLE discussion, a call for continuing working on it and exploring further how the new learning ecology driven by the PLE framework would build a cohesive lifelong learning approach.


  Comments: 1

  1. Makini Getuno

    The topic on Personal Learning Environments (PLE) is new in East Africa, specifically Kenya, where I work as a lecturer. In 2015 we started offering blended learning courses in a number of Arts disciplines (Bachelor and Masters degree). Recently, we ran a workshop on content development for online and blended learning for our Teacher Education programmes. It came to pass that we could no longer refer to “classrooms” anymore the way we have known them as places where learning occurs. This is because most of our students do not actually go to any classroom but are able to learn from anywhere, anytime. I guess we should have talked about PLE at that point. Many thanks for bringing this to our attention.
    Makini Getuno, Egerton University, Kenya

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