Return to home pageasdfHome > Learning Ecosystems
Area of interest
Discipline-specific links
Announcement Archives

My new blog as of January 20, 2010:

Learning Ecosystems -- My new home





Communities of practice and learning ecosystems --
To be honest, there's probably very little difference between my description of a learning ecosystem and Etienne Wenger's definition of a Community of

Practice: Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

I suppose I use the term learning ecosystem as it helps to illustrate the organic, uncontrollable nature of such systems and communities. It's an analogy that people can hook ideas onto, rather than a well thought-out theory. It may help some people understand how to cultivate the community. To really dig into the idea of people learning together in communities/ecosystems, you need to read Wenger's work. Or, at least, first of all read his vignette of life in a claims processing centre. And then watch this video introduction:

3 Things to Consider When Building Your E-Learning Courses -- from the rapid elearning blog (back from 4/14/09)
The e-learning course is just one part of a complex process.

As humans, we’re always in learning mode.  We don’t turn learning on or off.  In a sense, learning is like an ecosystem (emphasis DSC).  We’re continually influenced by information, our social interactions, and experiences.  These shape who we are and what we know.  And this ultimately determines how we act. We don’t learn just because someone gives us information or tells us that today we’re in a “course.”  We learn because that’s how we’re wired.  So when we do happen to take a course we fold it into our learning ecosystem and make it part of how we understand the world around us.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - our courses fit into a larger learning ecosystem


Envisioning the Future of Higher Education

Imagine a world where higher education doesn't end with a diploma, but starts at 18
and continues through life, as the world changes around us. Imagine a United States
where we can dramatically increase the number of citizens who can access higher education in
just a few years by combining the full power of technology and the Internet with the
best teaching and learning approaches in the world to craft a student-centered educational ecosystem.

Youtube as a learning ecosystem -- from


The 4th IEEE International Conference on Digital Ecosystems and Technologies
IEEE DEST 2010 | 13-16 April 2010 | Dubai, UAE

Digital Solutions Ecosystem Inspired Computing
Digital service and products Data ecosystems
Digital assets and properties Grid ecosystems
Digital devices and objects Software ecosystems
Digital world and universe Utility ecosystems
Digital storage and memories Service ecosystems
Digital libraries and workplace Mash‐up ecosystems
Digital species and protocols Text grid ecosystems
Digital network and environment Open source ecosystems
Digital platforms and infrastructure Eco‐structure and eco‐environment
Digital community and social networks Collaborative systems and platforms
Digital security (signatures, certificates, eye) Human space computing and eco-space
Digital people and 2nd life Cooperation ecosystems and connectivity
Digital finance and economics Knowledge mapping and modelling
Digital trust, privacy, risks, accountability, ethics Data driven science, web science, network science
Emerging Digital Domain Ecosystems Digital Ecosystem Research and Development
Industrial ecosystems Collective intelligence
Service ecosystems Collaborative environment
Health care ecosystems Cyber information engineering
E‐learning ecosystems System centric interoperability
Human ecosystems Application‐serve interoperability
Social ecosystems Infrastructure for digital ecosystems
Business ecosystems Service‐oriented collaborative platforms
ICT education ecosystems Self‐organised agent and governance
Sustainable digital ecosystems Inter, multi and trans-discipline research
Coalition and emerging society ecosystems Democratising collaborative research and models


From DSC:
This is one perspective on what a learning ecosystem might contain:

School 2.0: Learning Ecosystem
The Learning Ecosystem is at the heart of the conversation about the future of schooling and the goal of School 2.0. This is where teaching, learning, instruction and assessment take place and where school management, planning, staffing, and design come together to create the next generation of schooling.

In School 2.0, the learning ecosystem includes not just a school building, but also the combination of home, school, and community that collaborate to bring the wider world into day-to-day instruction and provide a rich array of learning opportunities.

By encouraging a discussion of community-based next-generation schools, we hope communities will be inspired to think creatively about teaching, learning, and management and then explore how technology can help meet those goals.

The School 2.0 Learning Ecosystem "map" depicts a variety of educational and management scenarios for using technology throughout the education enterprise. Some may already be in place or under discussion in your community; others may be a significant departure from the way your school currently operates.

The map is a sketch—a work in progress—for you to explore and build on. The ideas included here are not intended as recommendations or as a comprehensive list all of the possible ways that your school may want to innovate to reach its goals. They are designed to illustrate, inform, and serve as prompts for discussion.

The Learning Ecosystem Map is available for download or a poster can be mailed to you. The PDF download requires Adobe Acrobat.

Learning Ecosystem



The Future of Learning Agents and Disruptive Innovation

The Future of Learning AGents and Disruptive Innovation
Institutions give way to Exstitutions: education leaves school and diffuses across an emerging ecosystem of distributed learning platforms, multiple venues, and diverse resources and pedagogical practices.


Definition of a learning ecosystem


PLE Conference 2010

Personal Learning Environments (PLE) include the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals. The idea of the PLE represents a shift away from the model in which students consume information through independent channels such as the library, a textbook, or an LMS, moving instead to a model where students draw connections from a growing matrix of resources that they select and organize [emphasis DSC]. Because they emphasize relationships, PLEs can promote authentic learning by incorporating expert feedback into learning activities and resources. A PLE also puts students in charge of their own learning processes, challenging them to reflect on the tools and resources that help them learn best. By design, a PLE is created from self-direction, and therefore the responsibility for organization—and thereby for learning—rests with the learner. (7 things you should know about Personal Learning Environments, Educause 2009).


The Year Ahead in IT -- from by Lev S. Gonick
Open Content meets the Open University and the Vision of the Metaversity.
It’s hard not to reflect on the past decade as we say goodbye (good riddance) to the first decade of the 21st century. University CIOs have contributed in important ways to the transformations underway in the university mission over the past decade. The arc and rate of activities on our campuses, as breathtaking as they may seem, are moving at a completely different slope and velocity to the genuine explosion of open education, research, and innovation enveloping the broader Net ecosystem. On a global scale, on a population-wide vector, our institutions are generally ill-suited for addressing the needs and opportunities in 2010 and for the next generation. To be sure, universities are not heading for obsolescence. What continues to be worrisome is our collective ability to remain genuinely relevant to the Internet society in all its complexities and contradictions. While this country has a rather anemic tradition of Open Universities, these organizations all over the world are now engaged in regional and global dialogues on how the Open University platform can contribute to the Internet-scale challenges and opportunities. Former MIT President Charles Vest suggested (as early as 2006) that a meta-university would be “a transcendent, accessible, empowering, dynamic, communally constructed framework of open materials and platforms on which much of higher education worldwide can be constructed or enhanced.” We’re quickly approaching the maturing of all the requisite elements in Vest’s analysis against ever sharper and growing emphatic need for collective response. In a year in which a movie called “Avatar” will likely be the odd- on favorite for a golden boy or two, look for new sources of inspiration and experimentation in framing up the 21st century metaversity project(s).


The Decade Ahead in Higher EdTech -- by Mark Smithers
Having said all that I think we are likely to see the rise of a simple, free, open global LMS that will mashup open education resources, social learning and real time and asynchronous discussions [emphasis DSC] between 2012 and 2015. Think of it as an open, searchable combination of user contributed content and social networking, using Twitter, Facebook and open educational resources.

Augmented Reality -- the Future of Education


Smart phones: Apple's Smartphone ecosystem

-- slide 93/98 of
Smartphone Market Trends

blended learning diagram -- from formal to informal learning

-- from Blending Learning with Social Technology Components at Upside Learning blog by Abhijit Kadle 

A lot of companies today face a resource situation that’s not unique in this age. A few key individuals holding important technical and project management knowledge is quite common. Such key knowledge in the hands of few prevents it from being disseminated broadly and leads to an unhealthy dependence on those individuals.

Recently, I was asked to propose a solution that addressed just such a business concern. To change a purely instructor-led-program for leadership development that runs over eight months and involves these key individuals is a large and complex activity. The [above] diagram represents just what converting such a program to a modern blend might look like. Each blend is unique and purposed to address a specific need. All the components we show may not be a part of the solution.


Are VLEs the problem or is it just how we use them? -- from Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning by Graham Attwell


mobl21 learning environments

-- from 12/15/09 presentation by Mobl21

All roads lead to mobility -- from Ambient Insight -- presentation on 12-15-09



Will Learning Adopt the Linux Model for Development in the Future? -- from the Upside Learning blog

I came across this really interesting interview with Greg Kroah-Hartman – Linux Kernel Dev/Maintainer. In this interview, Greg talks about how the Linux project has accommodated the accelerating rate of change for the kernel. It was very interesting to draw parallels between some of what he says and learning.

“And then I send stuff off to Linus. So, Linus trusts 10 to 15 people, and I trust 10 to 15 people. And I’m one of the subsystem maintainers. So, it’s a big, giant web of trust helping this go on.”

Web of Trust’ Networks of trust are becoming very important to the way we create products/services where each individual on the network is a potential contributor. There are just such networks in the enterprise as well, and they play a big role in how tacit knowledge is transferred in the organization. Increasingly, social networking tools are available within the organization and analyzing these networks gives a good idea who the knowledge leaders in an organization are, and which individuals form their network. The ability to target and influence knowledge leaders will lead to similar effects on their networks as well.

Will Moodle evolve into this system or will another ecosystem similar to the Linux model emerge in the learning space?


A Collection of Personal Learning Environment (PLE) Diagrams -- from edtechpost


PLE -- Mark Smithers

-- from Mark Smithers' "PLEs, PLEs Me" posting


Apple's Game Changer, Downloading Now -- from the New York Times

ACU's Mobile Learning initiatives -- chemistry


Related item:
Disrupting Class: Inspiring Change in Online Learning -- by Jamey Fitzpatrick, President & CEO, Michigan Virtual University and Michael Horn
Disrupting Class uses the theories of disruptive innovation to identify the root causes of schools’ struggles and suggests a path forward to customize an education for every child in the way he or she learns. In his keynote address, Horn will share the main ideas of his book to inspire change in today’s online learning field.

Michigan Virtual University Virtual Symposium   Disruptive innovations create asymmetric competition

The New Way of Learning – Go Beyond the Classroom
-- from Tandberg
Video communications facilitates distance learning and helps students better grasp, understand and apply knowledge. This special report describes how schools can use video communication technology to create a climate of learning that inspires and motivates students - while at the same time supporting teachers. Learn how video communications can help reshape and transform education to keep pace with today's learning environment.

Go beyond the classroom

Related items:
P2P And The Social Cloud - The Emergence Of Peer Economic Systems - Part 2 -- from Robin Good's blog by Rafael Pezzi
P2P and The Social Cloud is a two-part white paper which discusses some of the limitations of the current economic system, in particular its dependence on non-renewable resources to sustain infinite growth. It also suggests considering the opportunity to move to a sustainable economy based on a new concept for building social networking services. This new concept, the Social Cloud can be summarized as  cloud computing running in a peer-to-peer social network.

Also see:
P2P And The Social Cloud - The Emergence Of Peer Economic Systems - Part 1


Bluenog ICE an integrated suite of content management, collaboration, portal and business intelligence software, built on open source projects. It is an Integrated Collaborative Environment that leverages Web 2.0 technologies and accelerates enterprise application development. Bluenog ICE’s unified framework simplifies administration and security. It also provides ready integration with third party products. Bluenog ICE consists of four distinct modules:


E-learning and Web 2.0 tools for schools -- by Jesper Isaksson



New Tools for Personal Learning



The Learning Ecosystem of the Future

An Introduction to Personal Learning Environments -- from
PLEs are made up of a number of different elements (known as widgets) including:
  • Production tools – allowing learners to develop their own content eg via a blog or wiki
  • Collaboration and sharing tools – allowing learners to share their content with others, and to work with others on projects or assignments
  • Communication – allowing learners to communicate via a variety of media such as instant messaging, video-conferencing or email
  • Storage tools  - allowing learners to store their own content, preferences
  • Aggregating content- allowing learners to access a variety of information relating to a particular topic (eg news items)
  • Aggregating people – allowing learners to join together via social networking sites
  • Aggregating software – allowing learners to mash-up (or join together) various elements into one place
  • Identity management – allowing learners safe, easy and quick ways of logging in to websites
  • APIs and protocols – these are key requirements for PLEs to grow as a concept. Rather than locking learners into a particular platform, where content is confined to a space owned by an organisation, the learning can be in a platform under the control of the learner

Social learning


More on PLEs, Networks, Connectivism, PLNs...

Vygotsky, ZPD, Scaffolding, Connectivism and Personal Learning Networks -- from


Web 2.0 in Education -- by Steve Hargadon

Educational Networking: The Important Role Web 2.0 Will Play in Education -- social networking whitepaper from Elluminate by Steve Hargadon
...discusses social networking, Web 2.0, the emergence of educational networking, and its adoption for personal learning. The paper also looks at how the LearnCentral social learning network is providing a platform for professional development for educators on a global level.

From George Siemens -- 11-19-09

-- from George Siemens' presentation this week entitled, "Learning in 2020" -- slide 37 of 55


-- from George Siemens' presentation this week entitled, "Learning in 2020" -- slide 54 of 55



Purdue U Brings Social Networking to the Classroom -- from by Bridge McCrea. "Hotseat" allows students to text in class

Hotseat -- from Purdue University



"The VLE is Undead" event -- December 2


A model for sustainable education -- from the Center for Digital Education

Mobile Learning
-- presentation from National Distance Learning Week

Ambient Insight -- Learning Technology Research Taxonomy -- some potential ingredients of a learning ecosystem.

Smart phones, net pcs, gaming devices, laptops, pcs, ipods, and more!

Where is a class?

Extended learning environments


Future of learning: LMS or SNS? -- George Siemens

Google looked at the web and saw information to organize. Facebook looked at the same web and saw people who needed to be connected. Facebook’s model is the one that will be successful in the long run. As Google continues to morph into a more open and distributed version of Facebook, educators should pause and focus on insights that can be gleaned from the FB/Google experience. There are several of significant importance for the development and future of online learning.

First: Most organizations currently use a learning management system (LMS) such as Moodle or Desire2Learn. These systems are content-centric. Their objective is to organize and manage content, just as Google did in early 2000. Because higher education is particularly enamored with content, an LMS is a critical service. It’s completely the wrong model, however, and this will become increasingly apparent in the next several years.

Second: The wild card in education today is abundance. We simply have too much information and we can’t make sense of it all. It changes too quickly. Many universities rely on a “design today, use for three years” course design model. It worked great in 1950. 2009 – not so much.

Third: Complexity is quickly becoming a type of conceptual language that all members of society should be fluent in. Complicated=jigsaw puzzle. Complexity=weather.

Fourth: Managing abundance and complexity requires a different view of teaching and learning than currently forms the foundation of education. The content-centric view reflected by LMS’ must be replaced with more adaptive network models. Instead of experts and designers serving as the key sensemaking and wayfinding agents in curriculum, social networks and their ability for context-sensitivity must play a greater role.

At this stage, however, LMS’ will need to make a far greater transition for long term educational relevance than an SNS like ELGG.


The Teachers of 2030

Emergent Reality #1:
A Transformed Learning Ecology for Students and TeachersFrom -- page 14


Free webinar on November 19, 2009: Engaging Students in and outside the Classroom with Interactive Digital Solutions

Related item from the world of corporate training:
Moodle - the wrong tool for the job? -- from Learning Conversations blog
Perhaps we need a halfway house. A system that:

  • allows organisations to push content to all or groups of their learners - learning from Amazon's marketing model
  • allows learners to connect with other learners in similar situations and with similar needs
  • allows learners to select content based on ratings, recommendations and what their network is doing
  • allows tutors/trainers to provide a sense of direction, synthesise ideas, coach...

If your organisation is content-centric, then give them content plus connections. Show them Amazon. That way you'll start to pull them towards a more learner-centric approach to learning.


The future

From Stephen Downes' Presentation:
Open Education: Projects and Potential
(slide 3 of 64)


Steven Wheeler -- Presentation

NOTE from DSC:
The CMS/LMS is but one piece of this environment.

The problem is one of operationalizing this -- institutions don't go with this type of setup because we don't know how to implement it and suppport it. We do what's manageable, but do we do what's best for the students? What would happen if we would let students build their own learning ecosystems? Would it be chaos or would we stand back in amazement?

How about this model?


I’m sick of teaching: OR all about my plan to grow self-learners -- from iLearn

PLE from iLearn


A new model of teaching & learning:
Let's offer our students a personalized, customized, learning ecosystem

From Daniel S. Christian

Education is moving towards providing much more customized, personalized learning environments – environments whereby the student selects and utilizes their preferred means of learning. Students will need to be able to continually know where to go to get information in the future. This project aims at helping them in their never-ending quest for obtaining effective, lifelong, learning. Such tools in their toolbox could be:

  • Internal and external blogs
  • Internal and external wikis
  • Internal and external discussions boards
  • RSS feeds
  • Web sites
  • Facebook
  • Textbooks
  • Internal and external virtual classrooms / webinars / seminars
  • Online tutorials
  • Online simulations
  • Online games
  • Articles and journals from online-library databases
  • Ability to contribute content
  • Rating systems for content
    • For other students’ content
    • For publisher’s content
    • For faculty’s content
  • Ability to poll other students
  • Ability to use various devices with this learning ecosystem
    • Laptops/notebooks
    • PDAs
    • Smart phones and iPod touches
    • Tablet PCs/Macs
  • Each discipline / department creates and offers their own feeds – which their majoring/minoring students can subscribe to
  • Let students access and build what works for them
  • Help students identify and pursue their passions
  • Over the next 1-3 decades, the learning technologies will change so fast it will make our minds spin. We need to teach our students how to learn…how to access information.
  • User requirements must be explicitly ascertained from faculty and students via:
    • Focus groups
    • Interviews
    • Surveys
    • Observations
    • Other

Daniel S. Christian -- a new model for building your own learning ecosystem



S. Downes -- June 24, 2009 -- Beyond Management: The PLE

Stephen Downes Presentation
June 24, 2009 | Delivered to Ed Media, Honolulu, Hawaii


Web 1.0 -- 2.0 -- 3.0

Original link from
Web 3.0 Concepts Explained in Plain English (Presentations) --
By Amit Argarwal, Digital Inspirations



7 things you should know about... Personal Learning Environments -- from Educause


Personal Learning Environments -- from Robin Good


In the future, competences will be just one way (and an unusually employer-centered way) to select learning opportunities. What we will see, rather, is that the selection of learning opportunities will not be a stand-alone activity, but instead will be embedded in other activities. (e-Lead, 2008)

One can imagine how players learn in the course of a game, for example. They do not first learn how to play the game, and then play it. Rather, they begin playing the game, and as they attempt to achieve goals or perform tasks, the learning they need is provided in that context. (Wagner, 2008)

The personal learning environment’ (PLE) is a collection of concepts intended to express this idea. ( Liber, 2006)

The PLE is not an application, but rather, a description of the process of learning in situ from a variety of courses and according to one’s personal, context-situated, needs. The process, simply, is that learners will be presented with learning resources according to their interests, aptitudes, educational levels, and other factors (including employer factor and social factors) while they are in the process of working at their job, engaging in a hobby, or playing a game.

The environment that they happen to be in, whether it be a productivity tool, hobbyist web page, or online game, constitutes (at that time) the personal learning environment. Resources from across the internet are accessed from that environment: resources that conform to the student’s needs and interests, that have been in some way pre-selected or favorably filtered, and that may have been created by production studios, teachers, other students, or the student him or herself. Content - interaction, media, data - flows back and forth between the learning environment and the external resources, held together by the single identity being employed by the learner in this context.

In time, the learning management systems deployed by educational institutions will evolve into educational delivery systems usable by personal learning environments. They will, in essence, be the ‘remote resource’ accessed from a given context.

Educational delivery systems will recognize the identity of the student making the request and will coordinate with other online applications (which may include commercial brokers, open resource repositories, or additional student records) to facilitate the student’s learning activity.

We might think that these educational delivery systems will be delivering learning objects. This is not entirely incorrect, although a learning object today has come to be seen as more like a unit of text in a textbook or a lesson in a programmed learning workbook. It will be more accurate in the future to say ‘learning resource’, since many such resources will be available that do not conform to the traditional picture of a learning object - and may be as simply as a single image, or as complex as a simulation or training module.


Cultivating your Personal Learning Network -- from David Warlick

Art of Cultivating your PLN



Personal Learning Environments -- article by Tony Karrer, mentions the following links:


A Collection of PLE diagrams -- from EdTechPost blog


Networks of Everything -- from George Siemens
Apparently, by 2017, personal networks will consist of over 1000 devices. I’m not sure how they came up with that number, but it seems realistic. Most of us already deal with hundreds of devices on a daily basis. They’re not all networked yet…but they will be. The key to effective functioning with these multiple devices will be in how they are connected and in how we can use that connectedness in making decisions. Obviously, we need something more than just tying these devices together. We need new approach to managing the overwhelming information they will produce. That’s partly as software problem and partly a conceptual shift. As I’ve stated before, as information becomes more complex and abundant, we will begin to rely to a greater degree on technology to perform a grunt cognition role by deciphering and presenting patterns for us to consider.