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.