In recent years Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) or Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been widely adopted within Higher Education and other educational domains. However, it seems that these widespread changes have had more effect on administrative practices than on fundamentally reshaping pedagogy. Many proponents of technology- enhanced learning (including myself) view technologies as vehicles or opportunities for reshaping existing pedagogies, typically toward more active, student-centred, dialogical, collaborative, and knowledge-creating modes of learning. However, the pedagogical realities of VLE implementation seem to include less radical pedagogical changes. Often VLEs become more or less static repositories containing course descriptions, curricula, readings, lecture notes, and slides with only little interaction, collaboration, and critical dialogue. As described by Dirckinck- Holmfeld & Jones, this has led many e-learning pioneers to view VLEs as a retrograde step in terms of pedagogical development. This is reflected in current debates about Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) (or social software and Web 2.0) vs. Virtual Learning Environments. In this debate, particularly in the blogosphere, we find loud calls for a shift away from institutionally controlled, walled-garden and static VLE-silos, as these are said to enforce a ‘traditional’, teacher-centred pedagogy of transfer where students consume and reproduce existing knowledge. The alternative is presented as a move towards student-owned and controlled PLEs, which are positioned as reflecting a ‘progressive’, student- centred pedagogy where students become collaborative producers of knowledge. In particular, Web 2.0 technologies have become the rhetorical lever for realising these techno-pedagogical changes, as Web 2.0 tools are key ingredients in notions of PLEs as loosely coupled collections of personally owned tools for students’ self-directed or collaborative learning.
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