"To be human is to be engaged with other people in the world. Yet, there has been a dominant strain of thought, at least in the West, which directs attention primarily to the isolated individual as naked mind. From classical Greece to modern times, engagement in the daily activities of human existence has been denigrated. Plato (340 BC/1941) banished worldly engagement to a realm of shadows, removed from the bright light of ideas, and Descartes (1633/1999) even divorced our minds from our own bodies. It can be suggested that this is a particularly Western tendency, supportive of the emphasis on the individual agent in Christianity and capitalism. But the view of people as originally unengaged has spread around the globe to the point where it is now necessary everywhere to take steps to reinstate engagement through explicit efforts."
(Gerry Stahl, p.12)
Stahl, G. (2011). "Essays in Computer–Supported Collaborative Learning". Lulu.com, Gerry Stahl.
"For students and lifelong adult learners, we can think of such a permanent home domain as a personal learning environment (PLE). It is not one particular cloud app, rather it is the 'pure web' with a toolset enabling the person/owner of that domain to constantly adapt it to new developments. It grows with the person over time and constantly reflects new 'interior designs' and 'remodeling' as needed. A PLE allows the owner of it to be a true author, contributor, and social interactor with the wider web ecology while still maintaining the stability of a personal home base on the web which is not dependent on the evolving marketing strategies of free portal services...
Unlike the 'exhibition model' digital portfolios, a PLE is much more naturally attuned to the authentic personal and professional needs of the owner. Of course, as in a digital portfolio, we all like to naturally exhibit/display new features. However the passive role of an 'exhibit' is only one of many features of a fluid PLE site. Along with exhibiting this or that project, a PLE might just as likely be hosting a discussion on a particular topic, asking visitors to complete a quick survey, providing a quick 'breaking news' report about storm damage in one neighborhood, contributing a 'how to' screencast video on a recently learned technique…the possibilities are endless!"
"This paper presents a rational model developed to make sense of various elearning platforms currently in use in Australian universities. The conceptualisation and organisation of the elearning platforms is underpinned by an educational psychology framework of social construction of meaning, data visualisation and story telling for meaning making. The model explains how various elearning platforms can be integrated to represent a threedimensional, hierarchical construct that has the potential to aid understandings about the utility of information systems (IS) for learning and teaching. The model shows that LAMS, which has gained increasing popularity in Europe (Laurillard & Masterman, 2010), is usefully depicted as a 'middle ground' system, successfully bridging conventional LMSs and more advanced IS, referred here as (MU)VLEs (Multi–User Virtual Learning Environments). The model has important implications on how university lecturers, classroom teachers and students come to engage with an increasingly complex elearning environment."
(Eva Dobozy & Patricia Reynolds, LAMS Conference Sydney 2010)
Dobozy, E. & Reynolds, P. (2010). From LMS to VLE or from supermarkets to airports: Classifying elearning platforms using metaphors. Proceedings of the 5th International LAMS Conference 2010. http://lamsfoundation.org/lams2010sydney/papers.htm
Aldo "Van Eyck believed playgrounds should challenge a child's imagination without jarring the adult's aesthetic sensibilities. His abstract, elementary forms – often manufactured out of metal tubes like modernist furniture – were meant to belong in a well–mannered streetscape. During the same period in Britain, however, we were developing a tradition of playground design that was almost diametrically opposed. The first 'junk' playgrounds emerged amid the rubble of the Blitz, and the results were far less polite. Consisting of makeshift structures cobbled together out of roof beams and detritus, they were often designed with the assistance of the children themselves. That essential character survives today in descendants such as Glamis Adventure Playground in Shadwell, east London, a riot of skew–whiff woodwork and clashing colours, and an odd hybrid of post–war austerity and postmodern assemblage.
The junk playground model was created by the Danish architect Carl Theodor Sorensen, who believed playgrounds should reflect the imagination of the child not the architect. In 1943, having observed the creative way children play in construction sites, he developed the prototype junk playground on the Emdrup housing estate in Copenhagen.
The concept was brought to Britain by Lady Allen of Hurtwood, who tested it out on the site of a bombed church in Camberwell and then built dozens of what she called 'adventure playgrounds' – the term 'junk' tended to turn local mothers into nimbys. Not only did Allen feel that ordinary playgrounds were sterile places ('it is little wonder that [children] prefer the dumps of rough wood and piles of bricks and rubbish of the bombed sites'), but she believed in the healing effects of exposing children to the urban scars of warfare. At the same time, having them take part in the post–war reconstruction effort was deemed a good way of shaping model citizens.
Essentially, all playgrounds are designed to do the same thing: to help children develop their abilities, use up excess energy and keep them off the streets. But the ideology of the adventure playground is interesting for several reasons. First, there's the notion of not restricting children to the repetitive motions of the slide or swing, because the sooner you reach the technical limits of the equipment, the sooner you have to stretch those limits – hence all those swings you see coiled around the crossbar. The adventure playground was designed to liberate the wild thing within and, by exposing children to risk, teach them personal responsibility (all forms of play are underpinned by some form of didactism, so it's worth reminding ourselves that this is also simply more fun). Just as crucially, it was intrinsic to the concept that children be involved in designing the playgrounds, dreaming up weird structures and adapting them later by tacking on extra elements. This participatory dimension, managed by volunteer play leaders, is key to the development of their creativity.
It's curious how much the ethos of the adventure playground chimes with the language of a new era of design today: a 'participatory' process, recycled materials, an adaptive product. It doesn't sound like the 1940s. But equally valuable is the zone of exception that the adventure playground represents in the city, one of improvisation and informality that, pace Van Eyck, does not blend in to a polite streetscape.
Today, there are few true adventure playgrounds left, but occasionally another is built that follows all the essential tenets, such as the Kilburn Grange Park playground in north London, designed last year by Erect Architecture and based on the ideas of local kids. Increasingly, though, 'adventure playgrounds' are produced by specialist manufacturers and merely designed to look rustic. You can't adapt them, or at least anyone who tried would be carted off. These are the products of a health and safety culture that watered down adventure playgrounds in the 1980s and 90s. There was a minor revival a few years ago, when the Labour government invested £230m in new play spaces across England, but the coalition government freed that budget up for other uses, so it was short–lived. And now, with the cuts, several adventure playgrounds, including the giant ones in Battersea and Kilburn, face losing the play workers that make such playgrounds what they are.
It's worth remembering just how cheap and yet how luxurious these spaces are. We should let kids loose on this new breed of sanitised playground, to inject a little of the old spirit in them. I hear the builder behind Kilburn Grange Park salvaged the formwork from Zaha Hadid's Olympic diving towers – that could come in handy."
(Justin McGuirk, Tuesday 3 July 2012 15.40 BST, The Guardian)