I’ve finally gotten around to this week’s readings.  Dave Cormier’s blog post and Alec Couros’s discussion of PLE v PLN were helpful, but the bit that made the lightbulb turn on was Viplav Baxi’s description of the PLE as a Learning Operating System (LearnOS).  Perhaps because I work with computer systems daily, it was a real Aha! moment, and I found myself lining up OS functions with the PLE functions that Downes mentioned with regards to PLEARN.

Profiler                                          Account Management – Permissions system

Aggregator                                  File Management / daemons

Editor                                            editors

Scaffolds                                       man – GUI front ends

Services                                        TCP/IP stack

Recommender                        ???

Of course I’ve gone and overdone it, as there are things, like threading and CPU management, that in a learning environment happen inside the learner’s head. However, as I think of it, I wonder if there’s something the Plearn model misses — storage management.

I remember D’Arcy Norman referring to his blog as the outboard part of his brain (turns out Cory Doctorow said this in 2002) and can’t help thinking that an important piece of the PLE is some mechanism to organize, index, and annotate all the stuff the aggregator grabs, and the editor is used to make, since goodness knows there’s more data than the index inside my skull can manage easily. (For example it took me several minutes to find the correct blog post of D’Arcy’s so I could link back to it).  In contrast, I used to (before they were placed in boxes from which they have yet to be rescued) be able to find books by mentally “seeing” them on the shelf.  I wonder how much data is effectively lost to me at the moment because I can’t “see” where it is on my filesystem and, despite my best efforts, often the key phrase I remember from a document is not the one I assigned to it as a tag.

If the PLE is going to replace a traditional educational model, what will replace the reference librarian who understands your question and helps you find what you really need?  Spotlight and Google have a long way to go.