Making it Rich and Personal: Crafting an Institutional Personal Learning Environment

Making it Rich and Personal: Crafting an Institutional Personal Learning Environment

Su White (University of Southampton, UK) and Hugh C. Davis (University of Southampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2467-2.ch015


Many of the communities interested in learning and teaching technologies within higher education now accept the view that a conception of personal learning environments provides the most realistic and workable perspective of learners’ interactions with and use of technology. This view may not be reflected in the behaviour of those parts of a university which normally purchase and deploy technology infrastructure. These departments or services are slow to change because they are typically, and understandably, risk-averse, the more so because the consequences of expensive decisions about infrastructure will stay with the organisation for many years. Furthermore across the broader (less technically or educationally informed) academic community, the awareness of and familiarity with technologies in support of learning may be varied. In this context, work to innovate the learning environment will require considerable team effort and collective commitment. This paper presents a case study account of institutional processes harnessed to establish a universal personal learning environment fit for the 21st century.
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Local Context

The University of Southampton was an early adopter of technology for learning and teaching based on personal computer networks. Prior to the web in the early 1990s the university made an extensive commitment to the use of a locally developed hypertext system called Microcosm. It embarked on an ambitious project to establish a ‘campus-wide structure for multimedia learning’ (White, 1993). Colleagues across the institution developed approaches to resource-based learning which were subsequently incorporated into materials and instructional practice using web-based learning resources and through taught modules delivered by the institutional virtual learning environment (VLE).

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