PLE I heart Thou

In News

"- Can you picture and describe your Personal Learning Environment?
- Learning? Isn't that the stuff I had to do at school?
- Yes.. but surely you did not stop learning the day you graduated, did you?
- True… I suppose my experiences, my goals, my thoughts, my responsibilities, my training, my projects, all constitute ongoing learning..
- And it looks you are onto a good thing, so keep with it as "your ability to learn is the only lasting competitive advantage!"

I have been thinking about the place of the ePortfolio in a Personal Learning Environment. ePortfolio and Personal Learning Environment can both be a software system or a concept. I am considering the latter here.

The ePortfolio is a great personal space to collect, select, and make sense of information, throw ideas around and verify the more potent ones.
The Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is a layered, variable, distributed, open, collaborative space.
ePortfolio and Personal Learning Environment are inherently linked, each feeding the development and make up of the other.
PLE is nothing new, but since it is bound with technology its form, shape and purpose continue to evolve with it.
To me a Personal Learning Environment is a self crafted connected ecosystem comprising of people, tools, and spaces:
 - that I build, maintain
 - that grows and adapts to my needs
 - that is both physical and digital
 - that serves my purpose,
 - from which I collect information,
 - with which I experience new learnings, am comfortable with or challenged into doing new things,
 - that lets me engage in conversation around topics of interests
 - with which I interact and share my understanding of these common interests
 - that allows me to chose the media, the time and the place at which any of this happens
 - where I feel "at home"
 - that lets me dream, frame ideas and act on them

My PLE is a mash up of : friends, peers, mentors, with whom I have a relation of trust, clients, influencers that I respect and who with I connect via a range of tools (some are close some don't know my existence!), Twitter, my go to social media for short and sharp info and for just in time conversations on specific topics, ePortfolio as planning and goal setting space where I produce, archive and reflect on flow, blogs, including mine , Feedly where I make up my own reading lists from blogs of interest, online forums and groups,  and google scholar on serious topics, google alerts, Youtube for "how to" do something, curating tools like Scoop It and Pinterest when researching for a project, LinkedIn as my office, Facebook as my playground, Quora as my knowledge base where I sit tight and absorb,  Evernote to keep notes, email where many a one on one conversations are continued and developed, Pocket to save and organise links of interest… Elements in my PLE are public, others are shared with a selected audience, some face to face, others online, some are private to me.

Some spaces come and go, some topics come and go, according to my needs and wants, new people are added as connections widen and grow, interests evolve, opportunities arise. My PLE is a living space.
It is undeniable: the way I learn and work is increasingly project based, individualised, flexible and is also increasingly less structured, less time and space dependent. And adapting to new ways of working and learning require more self discipline, self determination and independent thinking to answer questions such as "how am I doing?" "what problem am I trying to solve?" "how can I do this better faster more efficiently?". Hence my need to articulate my understanding of my own online presence and pin my position in this environment I create.

As I develop the skills and the mindset to evolve in this environment I develop a more open approach to sharing ideas and meeting new people. I engage more in conversations, seeking new information, making new knowledge, and together with my network push my own boundaries. The Internet has multiplied the opportunities to become agent of my learning, transferring knowledge between context and domains as well as people, so I ask myself:

Taking charge of one's own learning is the default attribute so do I want to be limited by institutionalised software?  
Sharing what I know and make it explicit is not an option, do I want to have control of how and when and with whom I do this?

With a device at my fingertips any time any where, it is easy to access an ongoing flow of information, to communicate, to create, share, cross pollinate thoughts and ideas, to participate in a network I build over time,
I can also capture and archive meaningful pieces, organize them for a purpose, and reflect upon them. I blend formal learning with informal, learning is no longer the work of the individual, it is the work of the network! I am not "done learning" I am self directing it!

Along the way the boundaries between my personal self and professional self blur and blend.  And with it the need to "develop a strategy to manage the various information streams" and design and organize my own learning, and recognize it happens in different places, with different people, in different contexts.

The challenge for any learning institution, should they be schools, universities, training providers, companies L&D, is to recognize that individuals' access to information, tools, devices, experts and peers impacts on their ability and willingness to drive how, what and when they learn. The learning institution have to adapt their learning design, the tools they provide, to support the development of learner attributes. Through fostering a sense of community, nurturing a stimulating environment and culture conducive to serendipitous knowledge transfer, ideas and solutions generation the learnplace/workplace will start realising the potential of knowledge sharing and the innovation and opportunities it brings about.

The challenge for the individual is to have awareness of their own network, maintain it, grow it and diversify it. And to realise its potential for personal and "collaborational" growth. My PLE is constantly changing making managing time, sources and relationships within it unprecedented and complex. My PLE is constantly challenging, hence my deep engagement with it.


Pontydysgu: New Thoughts on Personalised Learning Environments
Graham Attwell: Personal Learning Environments
Ilona Buchem: Definitions of a PLE
Harold Jarche: The ability to learn is the last competitive advantage
Jane Hart: The Social Learning Handbook

Photo courtesy of: tata_aka_T [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Contact Details

PO Box 15160
Tauranga 3144
New Zealand


Contact Form

Powered by Technologywise