Personal Learning Environments in the Workplace: An Exploratory Study into the Key Business Decision Factors

Personal Learning Environments in the Workplace: An Exploratory Study into the Key Business Decision Factors

Arunangsu Chatterjee, Effie Lai-Chong Law, Alexander Mikroyannidis, Glyn Owen, Karen Velasco
DOI: 10.4018/ijvple.2013100104
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Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) have emerged as a solution to the need of learners for open and easily customisable learning environments. PLEs essentially hand complete control over the learning process to the learner. However, this learning model is not fully compatible with learning in the workplace, which is influenced by certain business factors. These factors are being investigated in this paper, through an exploratory study within a variety of private organisations in the UK. Based on the results of this study, 10 key factors affecting the adoption of PLEs in the workplace have been identified. The authors propose a framework for the adoption and diffusion of PLEs, aiming at informing decision makers within commercial organisations about the successful introduction of novel learning methodologies in their respective organisations.
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With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, learners are exposed to, if not overwhelmed by, a plethora of social software tools and services. These emergent technologies enable learners to generate contents as well as consume other-created ones. This, together with the recognition of the need for lifelong learning, has contributed to a shift from a centralised institutional teaching approach to a more learner-centred decentralised learning approach (Wilson, 2008). To address the issue of increasingly diverse backgrounds of learners and contexts where learning activities occur, new generation learning environments should thus be more responsive and open than prevailing ones. Specifically, it is deemed useful to create an individual world for learning with personalisation intelligence on the learner’s side, thereby enabling learners to easily construct and maintain their own Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Roughly speaking, a PLE consists of a mix of preferred learning tools, learning services and learning resources.

Furthermore, the existing literature (Davis, 1989; Rogers, 1995; Venkatesh et al., 2003) indicates that different types of institution involve different sets of facilitating as well as hindering factors that result in the acceptance (or rejection) of a technological innovation. It is intriguing to identify such factors and subsequently develop appropriate strategies to deal with them. The number of studies investigating adoption factors in commercial organisations, which have become increasingly important players in the arena of new educational technologies, is dwarfed by that in their academic counterparts. To bridge this observed gap, the authors have conducted this study utilising a grounded theory approach. A number of participants from the commercial sector were invited for semi-structured interviews. Of particular interest was how they viewed the emerging notion of PLE. Qualitative data so collected have systematically been analysed with the grounded theory approach. Based on the findings, a conceptual model on the PLE adoption by commercial organisations has been proposed, which entail further refinement and validation. Nevertheless, the authors have achieved an initial but significant step towards an integrated view on the adoption of new learning technologies in non-academic settings.

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