Content Aggregation and Knowledge Sharing in a Personal Learning Environment: Serendipity in Open Online Networks
Keywords:Content aggregation, MOOC, open courses, personal learning environment (PLE), serendipity
Web 2.0 tools and emerging technologies offer learners an abundance of information and resources. This brings more flexibility and choices for learners to better control their learning and benefit from the various available learning materials in different forms. This has resulted in new learning practices and environments in higher education which are more open, flexible, and student-centered. Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is such a technology-mediated and learner-controlled learning environment. This paper describes PLE as a set of learner-defined tools and services in the ecology of Web 2.0 used by participants in three open online courses. The aim of the study was to find out how participants create and utilize their PLEs for searching, aggregating, creating and sharing content and learning resources, and being engaged in online learning networks and communities. A particular interest was to explore how serendipity, as a by-product of these open online encounters, can occur. Data were gathered through an online survey, semi-structured interviews, and online artifacts. The findings suggest the serendipitous nature of content aggregation in a PLE and provide evidence of serendipity as a valuable and unexpected source for learning.
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