What are Personal Learning Environments?

Personal learning environments (PLEs) support self-directed and group-based learning, designed around each user’s goals, with great capacity for flexibility and customization. The term has been evolving for some time, but has crystallized around the personal collections of tools and resources a person assembles to support their own learning — both formal and informal. The conceptual basis for PLEs has shifted significantly in the last year, as smart [[#|phones]], tablets, and apps have begun to emerge as a compelling alternative to browser-based PLEs and e-portfolios. Along with that, there has been a corresponding move away from centralized, server-based solutions to distributed and portable ones. Using a growing set of free and simple tools and applications, such as a collection of apps on a tablet, it is already quite easy to support one’s ongoing social, professional, learning and other activities with a handy collection of resources and tools that are always with you. While the concept of PLEs is still fairly fluid, it is 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.

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

  • The idea of a Personal Learning Environment is very important to the [[#|education]] sectors as it puts the individual learner at the centre of the learning systems, rather than the systems taking priority. The challenge with the PLE at present is that it is a concept and describes a perspective on learning systems, rather than a system itself. As such, it is hard to evaluate its relevance as a technology - but as a way of thinking about and planning learning systems, it is very important and has the potential to make a big impact on education. What is interesting too is that many of the most important developments in educational technology, such as mobile,fit with the concept of a 'personal learning environment', so we can be optimistic that we are moving towards a more personal educational world! - Sarah.Porter Sarah.Porter Aug 10, 2012
  • Agree with the point that PLE should be a notion ("a perspective on learning systems"), rather than a (standalone) system itself. The key is how to facilitate personalized learning. I have discussed about the notion of "seamless learning" on the "mobiles" page, which can be defined as "a person experiences a continuity of learning across a combination of locations, times, technologies or social settings". This is a learner-centric view of seamless learning in the sense that a learner has the habit-of-mind and know-how of learning anytime, anywhere, and picking up whatever digital or non-digital tools available at individual learning spaces to mediate or support her learning. A mobile device (or more) that she carries everywhere plus a cloud computing platform (or more) where she has a learner account would form the core of her PLE, which is known as "(personal) learning hub" in the seamless learning literature - however, the main idea is that wherever she goes (a particular physical location) or accesses to (a particular web portal or virtual environment), she could turn that space into her personal learning environment! - Lung-Hsiang.Wong Lung-Hsiang.Wong Aug 18, 2012
  • This technology will be relevant if the present pedagogical assumptions change in a significant way. We are still teaching as we learned to do several hundreds of years ago under the Industrial Revolution model; we need to change (Ken Robinson would say “revolutionize”) the education model to a more personalized one and then , the PLE will be not only useful but indispensables.- Uriel.Cukierman Uriel.Cukierman Aug 20, 2012

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

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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on STEM+ education?

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

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