Title: The personal learning environment and the institution of education: reflections on technological personalisation in iTEC schools

Authors: Mark William Johnson

Addresses: Institute of Learning and Teaching, University of Liverpool, UK, Thompson Yates Building, The Quadrangle, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK

Abstract: This paper explores the distinction between 'education' and 'learning' with regard to the personal learning environment (PLE), drawing on evidence from the large-scale European iTEC project. The paper argues that Searle's concept of 'status functions' - declarations by powerful agencies about the nature, legitimacy and function of institutions, tools, practices and positions - can help bring clarity to the distinction between the PLE and institutional learning. In analysing the iTEC project, low adoption rates of tools are reported. It is argued that these result from conflicts between status functions for individual stakeholders who are already committed to a wide variety of practices and tools which PLE tools could potentially disrupt. The difference between the status functions of tools and social status within the educational institution is explored drawing on Veblen's analysis of education. In conclusion, it is argued that the PLE was mistaken in focusing on learning, and would be better focused on mechanisms of social status. The work highlights the challenge for the PLE to study and explore new ways in which learners can empower themselves.

Keywords: personal learning environment; PLE; status functions; iTEC project; John Searle; social ontology; institutional learning; social status; learner empowerment; education.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMARTTL.2016.078164

International Journal of Smart Technology and Learning, 2016 Vol.1 No.1, pp.93 - 106

Received: 20 Apr 2015
Accepted: 31 Jul 2015

Published online: 05 Aug 2016 *

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