PLE/PLN and the commodified education industry

This blog post relates to my study of CCK11.

Sui Fai John Mak had this to say in response to a previous blog post of mine on PLE/PLNs.

So would the education system affect how and why PLE or PLN would be applied?  How about the learners learning under such education system?  What are the implications?

Very pertinent questions indeed.  I really do like the concept of learner centred and owned environments and networks.  However, the culture of higher education, at least in Australia does not align well with these ideals.  This I believe is as a result of commodification of the education industry.  More and more, Australian Universities are pitted against one another competing for students.  The more students you have, the more money you get.  This is in a country where almost all Universities are government owned and run.  I think there are maybe 2 or 3 Universities in Australia that are privately owned.  While in contrast to the United States for example where many Universities are not Government owned and run, education is increasingly a customer-driven industry, and product to be traded.

There is support for the idea that people learn better by collaborating rather than competing.  While not an absolute and dependent on context, it is a reasonable assertion within the higher education context.  With universities competing, there is greater focus on “commercial in-confidence” than on openness.  The problem is that in competing for students, focus of institutions can stray from being “about the students and their learning journey and quality” to the less noble “how can we recruit and retain as many students as possible?”.

Sadly, I don’t see the PLE/PLN concept getting very far, at least in the current climate.  I hope I am wrong. 🙂



4 thoughts on “PLE/PLN and the commodified education industry

Add yours

  1. There are two things here, as far as PLNs in higher ed go:
    (1) The learner needs to step up and take control. Unlike an LMS, a PLN needs to be developed for the learner by the learner. Learner’s cant’ passively sit back and expect to go to one preset location to interact; they need to find experts and be interested in life-long-learning (which is what a PLN symbolizes, at least to me)
    (2) University Support & Faculty Support –> students may not know the best sources for people, journals and sites to build their PLN, this is where universities and faculty come into play. Universities need to act as advisors (in terms of pros/cons of technologies and so on) and Faculty need to open their doors to recommend professionals and scholars to their students. This of course means that they themselves need to build PLNs so that they can know what to recommend.

    I don’t really see either one of these two things happening en masse in higher education any time soon so PLNs in higher ed seem to be small pockets of activity rather than campus wide affairs

  2. In the department I work in the last two hires were based in small part on academic accomplishment combined with portfolio presentations and demonstrated skills. As this is a Community College that could be described as a retailer of qualifications (were I a cynical person that is) the breaking point from tradition was the simple lack of applicants for the jobs filled.

    Not all jobs are in education and if PLE/PLNs continue to be rejected by higher education then the schools will have made themselves irrelevant. Very few institutions are guardians of anything these day beyond privileging their country club graduates. Can anyone name a University that has publicly stood up to the dumbing-down forces in the West in the last 20 years?

    Leadership will come along to fill the vacuum. It won’t be from education? Too bad. Were going to have to fight for the restoration of a sense of common purpose or we are all sunk. Let the educators enjoy their nap and we’ll do it ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: