Regulated learning environments

James Ryan left an extensive comment on Enterprises that love PLE's. He reveals the thinking about PLE's inside the financial services industry:

(A PLE/Education Portfolio owned by the learner) also requires a means for the learner to accept updates to their PLE, made by people providing training, so the student has a verified training record, verified qualifications and ce points/hours or other measurement.

Wherever a portion of an economy acquires concentrated power, a regulatory environment is created. Financial services, public utilities, health care, transportation safety, law enforcement, governmental services and the military -- all operate in regulatory environments.

The oversight by a regulatory commission prevents the abuse of that highly centralized power. The protection of citizen rights is accomplished by regulations, enforcement and penalties. This defense against abuses involves mandatory training, refresher courses and compliance verification. The training industry gets most of its revenue serving this sector of the economy. Regulatory environments use an LMS to monitor the completion of SCORM compliant modules developed in accordance with ADDIE protocol to support internal KM.

Regulatory environments are deeply dualistic. There are based on clear lines being drawn between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, compliance and non-compliance. Policy enforcement mandates the delivery of content. Regulatory environments can only give lipservice to informal learning, PLE's and empowerment. A PLE in this environment is a glorified in-box, made to look like discretionary choices and self-controlled explorations.

Creativity in these contexts is called embezzlement, insubordination, deviation, cooking the books or fraud. There is no room for the kinds of innovations that play with paradoxes and non-compliant possibilities. Regulatory learning environments must oppose free range learning, authentically personal learning environments and self-motivated conduct. In this context, PLE is an oxymoron.


  1. Wow Tom!

    I was unaware of a law, statute or business code that says a company operating in a regulated environment, 'must oppose free range learning, authentic personal learning environments and self directed conduct.' :-)

    I would agree they often do - but I'd disagree with 'must'.

    I do see a lot of concern from some companies about

    a.) these 'non-work' activities happening during working hours

    b.) the cost of using corporate resources/bandwidth for something that can't be proven as directly providing a business payoff and

    c.) unmoderated activities, which can be a bit scary for them because they are all terrified about assuming liability for their employees word's or actions.

    However some people understand that free range learning, authentically personal learning environments and self-motivated conduct happens with or without anyone else's approval.

    So.... if you run a business you might want to support people by making material available and provide some tools to help people identify opportunities for learning.

    Hell, you might find the business gets some benefits if they deliver interesting, compelling content, that the corporate stuff might be the direction the learning occasionally takes (instead of that awful 'free range' stuff that doesn't make a profit for the business tomorrow!)

    Amazingly enough it is even possible that some of that 'free range learning' (hate the term as it conjures up memories of Joh Bjelke-Petersen) might help the organisation achieve their goals, that encouraging and supporting people who want to learn isn't the worst plan going.

    Do learning environments that operate within a regulated environment 'only give lipservice to informal learning, PLE's and empowerment.'

    Certainly a lot do

    And is

    'A PLE in this environment is a glorified in-box, made to look like discretionary choices and self-controlled explorations'

    They can be or maybe they could be what you referred to recently as a Paradoxical learning environment.

    Cheers (and apologies for all the mis-quotes :-)


  2. Wow! James! Thank you!
    You've shown me how to let go of my positional stance against "regulated learning environments" and embrace the paradox. You're so right in each case that: it can be bad AND it can be good. It's not a foregone conclusion, a "must be" thing or a expert way of presenting the truth. Cool!