Posted by: jimmydlg | October 13, 2008

Personal Learning Environments

If you dig around this Web 2.0 stuff long enough, you’re bound to come across the term PLE. A PLE is simply “a system that helps learners take control of and manage their own learning.”  This is contrary to the concept of a Learning Management System (or LMS) which many of us may have experienced as online course based training software, or student workflow systems that outline and manage education topics in much the same way.

Web 2.0 offers an ideal platform to build Personal Learning Environments (or PLEs,) which helps extend the collaborative learning process fostered by Web 2.0 environments themselves. Think of PLEs as a network of closely related pages, each a tool for a specific resource in the set of resources that encompass your learning or knowledge goals.

Because PLEs reflect resources specific to both you and your knowledge purposes, they can and are expected to vary greatly from person to person. The fact that they are so varied can make describing one a bit difficult, but I’ll try anyway as an example of what my own PLE might look like.

If I were to have a “professional” PLE, that’s, a PLE to help foster my professional education (which deals with the programming, development, and hosting tasks of a Microsoft and Microsoft.NET environment,) it would most likely contain sites or “tools” that link to various documentation sites, code practice resource sites, sites with source code examples, blogs about software development, and sites that aggregate information about current developments within the software I use.

While PLEs are a great concept, there’re several barriers that exist currently that hinder their adoption, such as an overwhelming set of tools, no formal definition, and having access to the technology and software to successfully execute a PLE. Most of these stem from the fact that the concept is still much in it’s infancy. These barriers should disolve over time as the definition becomes more formal, and education and training on PLEs themselves improves (since their facilitation and use may be more complicated than a LMS).

Regardless of any challenges that exist, many individuals are moving forward with their own PLEs. PLEs are a natural extension to the internet and it’s their inherent purpose of fostering lifelong learning that make them attractive and worth the effort.



  1. I agree with you while it is very important and preferable using PLE in any learning environment, but its more importantly that whoever use or would like to use or introduce to others of PLE, have to know how to use, access, and aware what exactly they get in to. Technology can be easy to learn but it can be difficult to learn and follow in the same time.

  2. I like your example jimmy, I do programming myself and I have hundres of tools and tutorials around that can inprove my learning experience, since we are always learning something new.

  3. I have taken an online course before. The instructor tried to make the students share information and it didn’t work. The best part about a PLE is the people who participate are dedicated people and have a commitment to the others that they see as their peers. We all like to look good to our peers. We also feel more comfortable challenging our peers. PLE’s set up a dynamic interaction I don’t think would exist anywhere else.

  4. I really like all the information you share. Your example is nice.

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