JISC Next Generation Technologies in Practice – Day 1.

I’m just sitting in my room, listening to the Sounds of the Bazaar broadcasting from the JISC ngtip09 conference.
It’s been a useful, if somewhat tiring day.
There were a number of things that struck me, in particular the concept of “Critical friends”. This was in particular relationship to funded projects; though I can see a lot of parallels with both being a personal tutor & also someone who’s maybe a 2nd or 3rd supervisor for a PhD student. I’m looking forward to the site they’re going to launch in a few weeks. (http://www.critical-friends.org.uk – I think)
I was particularly interested in Mark van Harmelen’s Personal Learning Environment.
I’ve tended to advocate that students should be encouraged to learn to manage their own learning environment & have been very wary of a provided PLE – mostly that if it’s provided – how can it be “personal”. I have, though, in the past, seen a parallel between PLEs & building a house from Lego.
The commercial (WebCT) solution is kind of that you can have a “house Kit” – which only goes together in a few ways …. though you can have it any colour you like. Next we have the PLE that allows users to have the components they want in their house … but they still only have “standard” lego bits. I’d see that as a few of the earlier PLEs I saw. Next, you have the lego base plate … selection of bricks to start with but also lessons on where to find other (“non-house”) bricks – how to find non-lego bricks that fit, and it’s left to their imagination. I guess that would be what Mark called a MUPPLE (Mashedup PLE) – where his is somewhere between that & the previous idea.

The demo Mark showed had some “built in tools” and some links to external tools (e.g. delicious) which would, I think, mean that they only have to login once (one of his students complaints against mupples – too many logins to remember)
The tool that let people arrange ideas, bookmarks & essentially start to do some research really appealed to me; I could see several uses for it with the students that I work with. The book tool & also the multimedia rooms were useful – and, from my understanding, it’s going to be relatively easy for sophisticated users to add in things.