Thursday, January 19, 2006

Personal Life Recorder, Elgg and Personal Learner Space

The "Personal Life Recorder"
Smartmobs has an interesting entry on the PRL –
Don Norman speculated about a "Personal Life Recorder" (PLR) type of device back in his 1992 book "Turn Signals Are The Facial Expression of Automobiles". He theorized that these PLR's would start out as a device given to young children, called the "Teddy". The "Teddy" would be given to us as children and record all of our personal life moments, and as we mature, the data could be transferred to new devices that matched out maturity level.
USA Today reported that a newly developed type of computer memory, called MRAM could make the vision of a PLR-type device possible, as well as "instant-on computers" and "longer battery life for pervasive devices".

Certainly from the perspective of continuous learning it would be great to have a private electronic space where all of one’s learning experiences are aggregated. Is Elgg that “personal life aggregator” - can it eventually be the engine for this concept of the PLR? I would suggest that it is possible. Elgg is presently being used as the social overlay to traditional LMS.

David and Ben and their development team are working with the Catalyst group in New Zealand to integrate Elgg with Moddle – essentially overlay a personal space over a course space.

Terry Anderson at Athabasca University used Moodle and Elgg together to enhance the social nature of distance education delivery. And here at the University of Alberta I’m working with a professor in our extension communications program to integrate Elgg, WebCT and classroom based delivery for a cohort of part time students who are together for short intensive sessions but then work independently on project development.

We hope this social overlay of Elgg will enhance their learning experience, assist them in building an interactive, sharing community, and allow the “mobile continuity” of their learning. In practice Elgg space should be owned by the learner – it is a collation of their portfolio of work and reflections. The learner Elgg space should live past the course, and could be integrated into the next course of the program or wherever they continue their studies. However as long as it resides on our school server, whether a student who is no longer registered can use that space is open to question.

I’d like to see a non profit organization established that would offer free, secure storage of learner owned Elgg’s.

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