What are Personal Learning Environments?

Personal learning environments (PLE) are described as systems for enabling self-directed and group-based learning, designed around each user’s goals, with great capacity for flexibility and customization. PLEs are conceived as drawing on a variety of discrete tools, perhaps chosen by the learner, which can be connected or used in concert in a transparent way. Some elements that might be found in a PLE are already in place; for example, conceptual diagrams suggest that social networking tools such as tagging, blogs, iTunes, wikis, del.icio.us, and others should be part of a PLE. The underlying technologies are straightforward. Using a growing set of free and simple tools and applications, it is already quite easy to create customized, personal web-based environments, and craft them to explicitly support one’s social, professional, learning and other activities. Online material, once found, can be saved, tagged, categorized, and repurposed without difficulty and without any special knowledge of how web pages are put together. While the concept of PLEs is still very new and fluid, it does seem to be clear that a PLE is not simply a technology but an approach or process that is individualized by design, and thus different from person to person. It involves sociological and philosophical considerations and cannot be packaged, passed out and handed around as a cell phone or tablet computer could. Widespread adoption of PLEs, once they actually exist, may require a shift in attitudes toward technology, teaching, and learning.

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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 7, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Students become interested, passionate and engaged in their individual education. They chart their own course, use their selected technolgies as building blocks. Assessment becomes much more formative. jan.morrison- jan.morrison jan.morrison Feb 15, 2012- guus guus Feb 28, 2012
  • PLEs can be the gateway to a future in which learners can select the resources they need - based on THEIR needs, not someone elses perception of the needs of the learner.- oystein.johannessen oystein.johannessen Mar 1, 2012
  • PLEs are essential to today's teachers who are modeling learning for students. They help students direct their own learning to becoming life-long learners following their interests and passions- holly.jobe holly.jobe Mar 3, 2012
  • PLEs are right along the line of other services. We, as customers, are getting more and more used to being able to choose how we consume music, books, art, travel etc. We want a customized, personal experience with immediate feedback. Our children are growing up with this reality. How long will they put up with a learning place that tries to teach in a "one size fits all" fashion? - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 4, 2012

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb12/vol69/num05/Preparing-Students-to-Learn-Without-Us.aspx
  • This above link is to an article in Educational Leadership that talks about the difference between persoanlized learning and personal learning. The second to the last paragraph offers a good summary of the shift that will be needed: "We need to shift our thinking from a goal that focuses on the delivery of something --- a primary education--to a goal that is about empowering our young people to leverage their innate and natural curiosity to learn whatever and whenever they need to. Th goal is about eliminating obstacles to the exercise of this right--whether the obstacles is the structure and scheduling of the school day, the narrow divisions of subject, the arbitrary separation of learners by age, or others--rather than supplying or rearranging resources." jan.morrison- jan.morrison jan.morrison Feb 15, 2012
  • Jan makes some important points. I think that personalized learning and a personalized learning environment are important for engagement and for helping students work on their passions. - jean.tower jean.tower Feb 23, 2012
  • Important components: Bringing together the LE (school) and the PLE (student [also outside of school]) ownership issues; teachers and learners have to organise from the start their joined responsibility for contents and processes in order to develop intrinsic and fundamental connections between formal and informal learning processes; because PLEs are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This means that teachers also have to provide support for learners to set their own learning goals, to manage their learning (managing both content and process) and to communicate with others in the process of learning and thereby achieve learning goals. - guus guus Feb 28, 2012
  • I agree with guus that educators will need to scaffold managing PLEs for students and help them connect their formal and informal learning- holly.jobe holly.jobe Mar 3, 2012
  • the use of networking protocols (Peer-to-Peer, web services, syndication) to connect a range of resources and systems within a personally-managed space.- guus guus Feb 28, 2012
  • How do we incorporate much of the informal learning (outside of school) into the present egg-crate school design to create this PLE? Our 'school systems' will need to 'let go' and 'work with' the outside learning environments students are engaged in. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 2, 2012
  • A great presentation that calls attention to the need for this shift is "Changing Education Paradigms" by Sir Ken Robinson. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 4, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • We need to begin seeing that @-signs, Facebook/Skype logos, #-tags are 'destinations and signals' for the new learning environments/landscapes students have created. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 2, 2012
  • It would be huge. Creating new pathways to learning that support our 21st century (and beyond) students. Creating a new system of adult support for student learning. Creating a new infrastructure within which learning best occurs. jan.morrison- jan.morrison jan.morrison Feb 15, 2012
  • Agreed - huge - we would be able to nurture and guide each learner and my hunch is that students can do way more than we ask of them in school if they are interested, passionate and connected to what they are learning. Students will surprise us beyond our expectations.- holly.jobe holly.jobe Mar 3, 2012 Great points! - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 4, 2012

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?