PLEs, PDP and Lifelong Learning
Type of snapshot
Provision in the curriculum: separate skills/literacies module
What was the context for this snapshot?
This project involved first year undergraduates on the University of Leicester Biological Sciences degree programmes. The work was funded by a grant from the University of Leicester Teaching Enhancement Forum and a HEA Centre for Bioscience Departmental Enhancement Award.
What kind of learners were involved in accessing this provision or support?
This project involved all first year undergraduates on the University of Leicester Biological Sciences degree programmes (~200).
What skills or literacies were particularly being addressed?
The stepwise creation of a personal learning environment based on freely available tools such as RSS feeds, social bookmarking and online office suites aimed to enable students to use Web 2.0 for formal learning. By encouraging students to develop their own personal learning, research and networking space, they will be equipped with sustainable lifelong learning skills that can persist beyond their university careers and the confines of institutional learning management systems. Learning outcomes for students: 1. Learning to use Web 2.0 for formal studies. Although a large majority of students enter university with some Web 2.0 experience, their use of such tools is usually confined to content creation and entertainment. To maximize the educational potential of these emerging technologies, we need to help students extend their knowledge of Web 2.0 for learning. Resources developed as part of their personal learning environment (PLE) will help students to achieve this objective. 2. Use Web 2.0 for personal development planning (PDP) and lifelong learning. By helping students to develop an online personal learning, research and networking space, we will equip them with lifelong learning skills. Integrating PDP with the creation of a PLE will help to ensure that PDP is understood not as a “stand-alone” or extraneous process, but rather as an organic one, integral to their learning and academic development. 3. Preparing HE students for future employment. Many organisations require their staff to be mobile. Students familiar with Web 2.0 tools will be able to demonstrate to potential employers their competencies in knowledge management and working collaboratively online. PDP materials will be designed to assist students in capturing and articulating the relevance and transferability of the skills developed. 4. Online behaviour and identity in the Web 2.0 environment. Although Web 2.0 technologies were originated primarily for creativity and entertainment, content in these sites is accessible to the wider public, including employers. We will provide students with guidelines on using Web 2.0 technologies to develop online identities in a responsible and safe manner and to indicate their professionalism to potential employers.
Who provided the support? How was support provided?
Support was provided by University of Leicester academic and support staff who were involved in training students and assessing assignments. This was done in a compulsory key skills module that all first year students were required to take and pass.
Benefits, outcomes, and lessons learned
We introduced all first year Biological Sciences students to the concept of a PLE at the start of their university career. Their progress will be monitored and encouraged by regular summative assessment of individual e-portfolios. The follow-up project will assess what proportion of second and third year students continue to maintain their e-portfolio without the lever of formal assessment. This data will inform future strategy and development of the use of PLEs.