The term Personal Learning Environment (PLE) has different meanings depending on who is defining it and in which context it is being used. In 2009, the Educause Learning Initiative published, “7 Things You Should Know about PLEs,” as part of their ongoing series, defining Personal Learning Environments as tools, communities and services that constitute educational platforms that learners use to direct their own learning and educational goals.
Personal Learning Environments are a way that we can move from a model in which students are strictly information consumers to one where they are making important connections between content and subjects and where they are being critical thinkers. Terry Anderson wrote an article in 2006, “PLEs versus LMS: Are PLEs ready for Prime Time,” in which he identified several advantages of PLEs:
- PLEs help learners create an identity; both public and private.
- They connect existence outside of school with school experiences
- They provide a way and a place for content to persist when a course has ended. Content should not disappear at the end of a course. It can be evidence of lifelong learning and an artifact in an ePortfolio.
- They are customizable environments that can be personalized by individual learner.
- Centers learning within the context created and sustained by the learner – not one controlled by the institution.