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The profound changes that our society faces require continuous and thoughtful adaptations of the education system to the emerging demands of learning. Higher education is not immune to this reality. This article raises the need to lead a methodological change, renewing the traditional teaching-learning process. Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) is one of the innovative teaching proposals to encourage learning in the society of Information requiring Lifelong Learning. Below, is a detailed methodological approach integrating the use of ICT with problem-based learning orientated towards the use of Personal Learning Environments (PLE) and SOLE according to the current social and educational demands.
Prudencia Gutiérrez Esteban and Mark Thomas Peart
University of Extremadura (UEx), Spain. and
The profound changes that our society faces require continuous and thoughtful adaptations of the
education system to the emerging demands of learning. Higher education is not immune to this
reality. This article raises the need to lead a methodological change, renewing the traditional
teaching-learning process. Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) is one of the
innovative teaching proposals to encourage learning in the society of Information requiring
Lifelong Learning. Below, is a detailed methodological approach integrating the use of ICT with
problem-based learning orientated towards the use of Personal Learning Environments (PLE)
and SOLE according to the current social and educational demands.
Keywords: Higher Education, Personal Learning Environments, Problem Based Learning,
Lifelong Learning.
In the XXI century, we can say that technologies have changed the way we live, our customs and
social habits. Converting the stage of humanity in a society of technology and information. For
every society to develop, new members must be trained and taught to meet with social demand.
While school is the institution that collects the desires and the social demand for building their
future taxpayers, in theory it should evolve with society. However, the mere integration of ICT
does not imply an evolutionary changes as the teaching methodology of many teachers remains
similar to that of the twentieth or even the nineteenth century.
According to this new social, economic and cultural scenario, the development and infrastructure
improvement led to emergence of a new set of technologies used in distance learning specifically
in Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), primarily through the so-called virtual platforms or
LMS (Learning Management Systems), with the inclusion of particular online methods for
training (b-learning, e-learning and m-learning), where classroom teaching was complemented by
virtual spaces for training offered by educational institutions (Mikropoulos and Natsis, 2011).
However, with years learning trends have been growing when the learning possibilities have
increased. Outside school walls students develop new ways of learning and using knowledge; in
fact, a new learning culture arises breaking classic boundaries of teaching within formal
education. Thus we could affirm exist new ways and kinds of learning merging technological
(new devices and tools, hardware and software) and teaching innovation (new learning methods,
new ways of using devices and tools for teaching and learning). So we are attending to the birth
of new learning approaches as stated Beetham, McGill and Littlejohn (2009) in Adell &
Castañeda (2012):
· “Learning 2.0” (Downes, Anderson, Alexander, Walton),
· Counterevidence about 2.0. Learning (Redecker)
· Conectivisim (Siemens)
· Enquiry communities/learning communities (Wenger, Garrison & Anderson)
· Academic apprenticeship (Holme)
· E-learning & e-pedagogy (Mayes & Fowler, Cronje)
· Invisible learning (Moravec & Cobo)
· TPACK (Judi Harris, Koehler & Mishra)
· Creativity (Richard Gerver)
· Learning by doing (Roger Schank)
· Customized Education (David Albury)
· Rhizomatic Learning (Cormier)
Moreover formal, informal, online and lifelong learning and the lately born: edupunk, edupop,
incidental learning, ubiquitous learning… where the key idea is that with the introduction of ICT
and mainly Internet in our lives, we could learn at any place and at any time
(everywhere&everytime learning: EEL), what made that we moved from Formal Schooling
Paradigm to Do It Yourself (DIY) (Gutiérrez and Mikiewicz, 2013).
At the same time, if we look at Spain's national legislation, we can observe that the necessity to
renew teaching practise is underline on it. In the Organic Law for the Improvement of the Quality
of Education passed in 2013. We can find statements in the General Dispositions that confirm
that the profound changes that our society faces requires continuous and thoughtful adaptation of
the education system to the emerging demands of learning (chapter III, Gral. Dispositions). We
need to create conditions that allow timely methodological change, so that the student is an active
element in the learning process. Future and current students have changed radically in relation to
those of a generation ago. The impact of globalization and new technologies make the way they
learn, communicate, focus their attention or even approach a task (Chapter IV, Gral
Dispositions), different from that of their predecessors.
In 2006 the European Parliament and Council provides a definition of digital literacy that says,
"Digital competence involves the confidents and critical use of Information Society Technology
(IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT: the use of
computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to
communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet”. Furthermore, as argued
by the Common Frame of Digital Competence (2013) digital competence can also be described as
the creative, critical and safe use of information and communication technologies to achieve the
goals related to work, employability, learning, time, inclusion and participation in society.
Taking into account, these frameworks in which all teaching practices must comply to, we find
the sufficient justification to seek a new teaching proposal incorporating ICT as informational and
productive elements of the teaching-learning process. In which the student is the master of his or
her knowledge and architect to their learning. With the philosophy of Mitra (2010) and Self-
Organized Learning Environments that are revolutionizing primary education, we have decided to
take it one step further into Higher Education, entwine ICT policies and Piagetian Psychology
Theory in order to favour Lifelong Learning.
1.1 Personal Learning Environments to Self-Organized Learning Environments
In recent years, the wealth of literature on personal learning environments has not left indifferent
to those who work in initial teacher training, as they have emerged as the most influential training
environment and facilitating the acquisition of new learning. This is mainly due to a confluence
of factors such as the emergence of Web 2.0, the "democratization" of the Internet. The profusion
in the use of social networks and interest, interaction with others, media, activities and tools,
involvement in the learning objectives, the interaction between people that enables the creation
and exchange of information and knowledge as well as the generation and transformation of that
information into knowledge.
The PLEs (Personal Learning Environments) is a new approach to learning that facilitate the
acquisition of digital competence and recognizing the existence of a personal Lifelong Learning
environment (Atwell, 2007; Adell and Castañeda, 2010), “built and shared by other people who
are part of our personal, professional and social environment of open, interoperable, low learner
control (not the teacher or the institution" (Area and Adell, 2009, p. 419)). For Rodrigues and
Lobato (2013) it is a personal learning space mediated by technological artefacts externalizing
and related knowledge with other peers, connected to the same Web 2.0 space, run by personal
rules that form and where multifaceted provides information intended to be shared, improved and
established as a common good. Although the implementation of educational processes from and
for a PLE is not produced by, the action of the tools used and activities carried out but of the
teaching strategies used to achieve new learning (Urbina et. Al., 2013).
So to enable a collaborative networked learning and strengthen PLEs through the Personal
Learning Networks (PLN) and the development of digital competence, the proposed work must
necessarily pass PLEs transform virtual communities of learning practice (Rebollo et. al., 2012),
establishing new training routes that will bring together the formal learning to informal (Palmero
and Sánchez, 2013).
On that note, in continuum let us introduce Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLE).
SOLE refers to the adaptation of a school space to facilitate Problem-Based Learning. A teacher
encourages their class to work as a community to answer questions using computers with internet
access. SOLE’s are created when educators encourage children to work in groups in order to
answer motivational and curious questions. To do this there are certain parameters that should be
met in order to create a SOLE in accordance with Mitra et. al. (2010):
● Students should choose their own groups.
Students can look to see what other groups are doing and take that information back to
their own groups.
● They can move around freely.
● They can change groups at any time.
● They can talk with each other and discuss with other groups.
Participants have the opportunity to tell their friends what they learned after the
In order to successfully undertake a SOLE activity, educators or monitors will:
Get better at asking questions.
Become more in tune with what children are most interested in.
Feel connected on a more equal level.
Expand their own understanding of what children can learn on their own.
In a school, or in this case higher education groups, such as seminars or workshops. They must:
Encourage them to learn independent thinking and learning skills earlier
Create a culture of curiosity and self-driven learning
Experience more invigorated and interesting classroom activities.
Offer more opportunities for both independent and collaborative thinking
As well as, have fun.
With this mind-set, we hope to achieve a learning environment in which learners can pursue
curiosities and learn either individually or collaboratively. Implementing a SOLE in the teaching-
learning process should create a positive ambience in which learners are given the tools and the
opportunity for Lifelong Learning. Negroponte & Mitra (2012) point out that:
much of the world is discoverable, which is how we all learned from the time we were born
until around age 5, when our formal education began. We interacted with our environments to
acquire language and common sense. We acquired so much knowledge during those years that
we learned many things about manipulating the world and even some about manipulating our
parents. Suddenly, at age 5, our learning was assumed to be different and was delivered to us,
almost solely through being told by people and soon after by books”.
As we have highlighted in previous paragraphs education today is in dire need of renovation and
modernization. Education needs to be able to contend with the eventuality that if a child wants to
know something they can simply take out their mobile phone and find it out within minutes or
seconds. However, they need to learn more than mere concepts. Students need to learn how to
learn and how to solve problems (procedures and attitudes) but they do not have to learn them sat
in a classroom listening to the teacher, or looking at the chalkboard. We maintain that SOLE
primarily rely on teamwork, where learning is an emergent phenomenon in the self-organization
of the system.
One of the subjects in the Primary Education School Teachers Bachelor Degree from the
University of Extremadura is IT Resources for Teaching and Research (from here on referred to
as, the subject) which specialises in providing students digital skills as university students as well
as its application to Education. With the SOLE implementation in the subject of the degree, the
primary aim, as is collected in the study plan, is to help students "maintain an attitude of
innovation and creativity in the exercise of their profession". Also, knowing and applying
innovative experiences in primary education. Besides knowing and apply methods and techniques
of educational research and be able to design innovative projects identifying evaluation
Overall acquiring skills of using ICT as a tool and as an essential way to learn. With the
implementation of SOLE, it turns out to be something more than a simple element to learn to
learn, it becomes an epicentre of learning that connects the student with the world, propelled by
the need to answer big questions.
As we mentioned in previous sections the SOLE is attractive for its logistical and pedagogical
principles. Our methodological approach would be a pilot program in Teaching, Research and IT
Resources subject. It will be implemented as a methodology of the current agenda.
The teacher should guide the subject content to “big questions” that encourages and invites
students to solve. The questions must provoke curiosity and initiate long conversations. Due to
the pragmatic nature of the question, each group could answer involving any disciplinary field for
reference. After they have worked in groups, there will be a period of conclusions where each
group should present their evidence to the others. So the groups in their computation, have built
between them several content perspectives engaging with all of them and thus building their
knowledge and using efficiently a set of resources, techniques and strategies of learning to ensure
an autonomous, responsible and continuous learning throughout life.
The aims of this teaching experience are to:
● Design an intervention project in the classroom to introduce elements of the PBL methodology.
● Visualize other types of training (SOLE) that departs from the prevailing models today.
● Know the different methods and modalities that can be found when implementing a SOLE.
● Deepen the importance of PBL and SOLE in Higher Education.
The development of this methodological approach is carried out in three phases, which are:
1) Preparation Stage
We must find a suitable space to conduct a SOLE session. It should be an open space that gives
the possibility for free movement as well as have sufficient Internet connection for ten computers
for groups of three. We must also prepare the question to ask the learners, and try to predict
where it will take them.
2) Stage Intervention
The stage includes the development of intervention of the SOLE Session. SOLE sessions, as
states Mitra (2010) last approximately sixty minutes. Meanwhile, it is subdivided into three
a) Introduce the Question
At this stage teacher has to explain the process of SOLE and distribute the roles of management
and control (as in a SOLE session, student self-organize and regulate). Small groups self-
organize in which they should appoint Manager to control and lead the group. Once the groups
are ready, the teacher submits the big problem in order to arouse the curiosity of the students and
ignite their desire to discover. This phase should not last more than five minutes (With groups
and roles established, the process of teaching and learning begins with the question, an example
of a IT Resources for Teaching and Research subject question could be: How would life be
without technology?).
b) Research
In this phase, the students have to start the academic adventure. In small groups, they begin the
research phase. Students must locate, analyse and gather the information they consider necessary
to resolve the problem. They have approximately 30 minutes. In the above example, students now
seek the influences of technology in modern life, its functions, etc. In order to respond adequately
to the question they would have to come up with their justified conclusions about what life would
be without technology. This question can be pursued by various discipline branches (When we
have more groups or the more flexible the question, we more likely to have a variety of
c) Review
This should take place in a big group area, in which each group presents their findings
summarizing what they have learned and their own conclusions. This phase could generate a
debate on the subject or the information collected. At the end of the session, the students should
reflect on what they have done in the SOLE and what to improve (both learning and behaviour).
This phase should last about fifteen minutes.
3) Evaluation Stage
The last stage of any learning design is the evaluation. This is where we must evaluate whether
the SOLE are effective in Higher Education. This will make various evaluation tests:
1) Diagnostic assessment.
2) Co-evaluation and self-assessment activities with rubrics.
3) And finally, a SWOT analysis in which we can collect opinions and assess the teaching-
learning process from a students’ perspective.
As it has been stated all these new learning scenarios help to configure and describe (at the same
time) how the New Millennium Learners learn, think, use and apply to their lives and ways to
interchange virtual and real life. Underpinning the issue of relation between formal education and
learning, informal education and learning and online education and Lifelong Learning, as the
concepts that are being presented by young people.
In order to achieve the millennium objectives for education, we need to take action. By using
SOLE and these web 2.0. integrated activities, students are developing their research skills and
their problem solving abilities. They are also indirectly learning to collect data and use IT tools to
express it in many different ways, as well as digitally alphabetizing themselves, working in
groups and most importantly, being the centre and main actors of their learning process. With
this, we hope to contribute to Lifelong Learning in digital environments. As well as training
future teachers on how they can renew education practices using ICT as an ally in the teaching-
learning process.
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... However, today there has been a paradigm shift in learning. Learning is no longer seen as a process of the transfer of knowledge from a teacher to the students (Esteban and Peart, 2014;Sholichah, 2019). Nevertheless, it is the teachers who help the students to learn by providing facilities and situations that support them in order to build concepts and understanding of the topic independently and actively. ...
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As the development of the industrial revolution takes place, disruptions are happening constantly in almost every major sector of the current industries. Companies and organizations complained about the competencies of the graduates entering the work force. This matter questions the readiness of the education system in preparing the students for the real world. Problems in education such as the regulations, strict policies and instructions from the government are undermining the role of the teachers to do what they think best for their students. This standardization has harmed the motivation and enthusiasm to learn, especially in English language class. Lack of motivation and English Language competency could harm students’ opportunity in accessing the vast global network of knowledge. Merdeka Belajar and SOLE are the promising alternatives in improving ELT. This article is somewhat a position paper trying to clear one side of a debatable opinion about a hot issue. It aims to persuade the reader that our opinion is valid and defensible. In doing so, we then separate the discussion into several parts regarding the analysis of concepts of Merdeka Belajar and SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environment) related to ELT and motivation in language learning, as well as innovation in education. HIGHLIGHTS: • SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environment) is a concept developed by Sugata Mitra, and the researchers at the SOLE Centre in Newcastle University. • SOLE with its highly influenced Constructivism approach lets the learners to take steer of their learning process gives them the ability to make meaning of the subject on their own. • Merdeka Belajar (Freedom to Learn) is a new concept that needs to be tread carefully to direct the discussion objectively.
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En este primer capítulo explicaremos el concepto de Entorno Personal de Aprendizaje (PLE, en adelante). Para ello, en primer lugar analizaremos el contexto en el que surge dicho concepto, cómo ha evolucionado en el tiempo y propondremos una definición comprensiva. Finalmente relacionaremos el concepto de PLE con algunas ideas clave sobre la enseñanza y el aprendizaje en el siglo XXI
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European young people are categorized as the New Learners Millenium that learn at everyplace and everywhere, by their own and/or in community, such as in real as virtual world. Thus, learning can be provided by educational institutions as well as informal online scenarios, where information is freely distributed at any time. The core question in this field is about the relation between formal education and process of acquiring knowledge. The paper shows findings about some perspectives in that mater presented by participants of the Council of Europe project entitled Edgeryders.
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Este artículo está basado en un estudio realizado con el objetivo de conocer el papel que los entornos personales de aprendizaje (PLE) juegan en la formación del alumnado de la Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación de la Universidad de Málaga. Se ha estudiado cuáles son las aplicaciones y herramientas que más emplea el alumnado en su aprendizaje no formal. Se puede concluir que, en general, el alumnado no utiliza efectivamente los medios de los que disponen y los que lo hacen no asocian el empleo de los PLE con usos académicos.
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En el presente capítulo intentamos hacer una primera aproximación al actual concepto de pedagogías emergentes y hacer explícitas algunas de sus características –algunas análogas a las de las tecnologías emergentes–, así como delimitar algunos de los principios que actualmente las definen en el entorno educativo.
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This paper reports on a teaching experience of the introduction of ICT to higher education students in a complementary professional approach and a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) development approach, as well as a naturalistic study based on this experience. The central focus of this methodology was the use of hands-on sessions to introduce students to some specific ICT tools, and exploring the building process of an awareness about their Personal Learning environments. In terms of learning, we confirmed that students very much appreciate new ways of developing their tasks and their course work. Even when the great majority of students associates learning with acquiring only information and some of them associate learning with memorizing.
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This paper explores some of the ideas behind the Personal Learning Environment and considers why PLEs might be useful or indeed central to learning in the future. This is not so much a technical question as an educational one, although changing technologies are key drivers in educational change. The paper starts by looking at the changing face of education and goes on to consider the different ways in which the so-called 'net generation' is using technology for learning. It goes on to consider some of the pressures for change in the present education systems. The idea of a Personal Learning Environment recognises that learning is ongoing and seeks to provide tools to support that learning. It also recognises the role of the individual in organising his or her own learning. Moreover, the pressures for a PLE are based on the idea that learning will take place in different contexts and situations and will not be provided by a single learning provider. Linked to this is an increasing recognition of the importance of informal learning. The paper also looks at changing technology, especially the emergence of ubiquitous computing and the development of social software. The paper believes that we are coming to realise that we cannot simply reproduce previous forms of learning, the classroom or the university, embodied in software. Instead, we have to look at the new opportunities for learning afforded by emerging technologies. Social software offers the opportunity to narrow the divide between producers and consumers. Consumers themselves become producers, through creating and sharing. One implication is the potential for a new ecology of 'open' content, books, learning materials and multimedia, through learners themselves becoming producers of learning materials. Social software has already led to the widespread adoption of portfolios for learners, bringing together learning from different contexts and sources of learning and providing an ongoing record of lifelong learning, capable of expression in different forms. The paper considers how Personal Learning Environments might be developed through the aggregation of different services. The final section provides examples of practices that show how PLEs may be used in the future.
El objetivo principal del presente trabajo ha sido elaborar una comparativa entre diferentes páginas de inicio, como herramientas configuradoras del PLE. Para ello, se describe las posibilidades de las herramientas analizadas, destacando sus fortalezas y debilidades. La finalidad última es ofrecer al lector algunas ideas clave que le orienten en su elección. Asimismo se pone de manifiesto la importancia de la actualización del profesorado universitario en materia de TIC, así como de las iniciativas institucionales para facilitar la integración de los LMS con los entornos personales y sociales.
This study is a ten-year critical review of empirical research on the educational applications of Virtual Reality (VR). Results show that although the majority of the 53 reviewed articles refer to science and mathematics, researchers from social sciences also seem to appreciate the educational value of VR and incorporate their learning goals in Educational Virtual Environments (EVEs). Although VR supports multisensory interaction channels, visual representations predominate. Few are the studies that incorporate intuitive interactivity, indicating a research trend in this direction. Few are the settings that use immersive EVEs reporting positive results on users’ attitudes and learning outcomes, indicating that there is a need for further research on the capabilities of such systems. Features of VR that contribute to learning such as first order experiences, natural semantics, size, transduction, reification, autonomy and presence are exploited according to the educational context and content. Presence seems to play an important role in learning and it is a subject needing further and intensive studies. Constructivism seems to be the theoretical model the majority of the EVEs are based on. The studies present real world, authentic tasks that enable context and content dependent knowledge construction. They also provide multiple representations of reality by representing the natural complexity of the world. Findings show that collaboration and social negotiation are not only limited to the participants of an EVE, but exist between participants and avatars, offering a new dimension to computer assisted learning. Little can yet be concluded regarding the retention of the knowledge acquired in EVEs. Longitudinal studies are necessary, and we believe that the main outcome of this study is the future research perspectives it brings to light.