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?

  • This is a digital literacy skill similar to managing your own digital identity - the challenge is getting students to share relevant content with peers or tutors when required the plethora of options makes this difficult if for example I wanted to share my evernote for assessment purposes with someone who doesnt use evernote. perhaps the educators role is to curate the best possible tools for creating PLE. I think this is closely linked to Heutagogic practice - DaveP DaveP Dec 2, 2012
  • PLEs 'offer a tool to recognise learning from all contexts and to allow new and open approaches to pedagogy to develop the potential of every learner. On the other hand they can be used for lifelong and continuing learning to develop and improve employability, regardless of institutional arrangements.'Another response here

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

  • Informal learning is part of the student's learning process...and it's mobile. Thus, how do courses tap into the students' PLEs and allow it to be a part of the coursework, assessment and the students' learning studio? - michael.lambert michael.lambert Dec 3, 2012
  • Another response here

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


  • another response here

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