Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Ismael Peña-López sent me this item on personal learning environments (PLEs) and Vygotsky's zone of proximal development (ZPD). Recall that the ZPD is what student cannot accomplish on his or her own, but can accomplish with the help of a 'more knowledgeable other'. So how are we to understand the PLE in this context? "The Personal Learning Environment could be understood both as the Zone of Proximal Development and the full set of More Knowledgeable Others," where 'more knowledgeable others' in this context includes the full set of resources available online, not just the people who author them or interact with the student. So "way to build, fill in with or reach out for the tools and people that will help a learner through the ZPD. Another way to look at the ZPD-PLE relationship is how the PLE (re)defines the ZPD itself, continuously, dynamically." The PLE, in other words, helps define "the biggest ZPD possible," because it includes not just some specific knowledgeable other, but all possible knowledgeable others. It's an interesting argument; I would have to think Vygotsky is more relevant than I do to benefit from it, but I'm sure it will be of interest to many.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 1:47 p.m.