My concept is a lifelong project with metaphors of toolkits, backpacks, storage vaults in use. The environment, terrain, place where the project is developed will change & change & change. And some of those changes will arise from the constructions & connections made by the projecteer...I just don't want to trap the kids in AN environment even if it is theirs & they are learning something.
If the environment is something we're given, our PLE is in trouble. Our PL Environment is something we create and change as our interests evolve. We bring avenues of exploration into our PLE. We choose to receive RSS/Atom feeds in our environment. We delete and unsubscribe to directions we're no longer pursuing. Environment is a better word than confines, desktop, dashboard or planner because the range we encompass is more vast and encompassing of alternatives.
Our PL Environment is necessary limited to our current focus of interest, community of colleagues, complex issues under consideration. If it feels limiting, like a trap or an "illusion of freedom", something is wrong. The environment ought to feel focused, productively confined and organized. - not oppressive or contrived.
The imagery of "free ranging exploration" and "unlimited expanses" of learning environments relate to three recent developments:
1. The increasing availability of quality content online suggests a freedom from the confines of top-down, expert content, seat-time delivery systems
2. The empowerment of self exploration from handheld technologies and online activities -- provides a freedom from "by the book" activities
3. The subscriptions to chosen feeds, searches and aggregations of other's bookmarks encourages each learner to look within for personal questions, motivations and pursuits to make those choices
When we are in a certification program, completing matriculation requirements or qualifying for other privileges, our PLE will look like captivity to outsiders. Others will see a "lack of freedom" where we see an expanse of challenges before us. Our plate is full of unresolved issues, open questions and unclear avenues of development. We don't know what will come of all these hurdles. We are learning "under our own steam" and gaining confidence in the process. Our roster of pursuits has not killed our curiosity or creativity. We are coming up with inventive ways and intrinsic motivations to handle the requirements. Our environment has the "right amount of expansiveness" for this phase of our development.
So in my mind, the E word is expansive and confining. The creation of the environment is a combination of our choices and contextual limitations. We are free to move about within the range of our focused explorations. That's plenty of freedom and good for our life long learning.