Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Literature Reviews of PLE

Definition of PLEEdit

The initial idea of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) was discussed in 2001 by Olivier and Liber and later many others have contributed to enrich the concept, like Stephen Downes, Ray Sims, Mark van Harmelen, George Siemens, James Farmer, Michelle Martin, Scott Wilson, Steve Barth, Terry Anderson, Will Richardson, David Delgado and so on. In simple words, PLEs help people to control and arrange their own learning process and provide supports to “(1) set their own learning goals (2) manage their learning; managing both content and process and (3)communicate with others in the process of learning and thereby achieve learning goals.” (Mark van Harmelen) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Learning_Environment

And the term also suggests “a collection of tools, brought together under the conceptual notion of openness, interoperability, and learner control.”(George Siemens) http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/archives/002884.html

An authoritative definition of PLEs does not exist yet. Various ideas could be found on the internet:

(1)“the heart of the concept of the PLE is that it is a tool that allows a learner (or anyone) to engage in a distributed environment consisting of a network of people, services and resources. It is not just Web 2.0, but it is certainly Web 2.0 in the sense that it is (in the broadest sense possible) a read-write application.” (Stephen Downes, 2006) and Downes describes PLE as “an aggeration of tool, service,people and resources.”

(2) “a collection of tools, brought together under the conceptual notion of openness, interoperability, and learner control.” http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/archives/002884.html

(3) “a facility for an individual to access, aggregate, configure and manipulate digital artifacts of their ongoing learning experiences.” (Ron Lubensky) http://members.optusnet.com.au/rlubensky/2006/12/present-and-future-of-personal-learning.html

(4) “a collection of free, distributed, web-based tools, usually centered around a blog, linked together and aggregating content using RSS feeds and simple HTML scripts.” (Sean FitzGerald) http://seanfitz.wikispaces.com/creatingyourple

PLE is a concept, rather than a website, software or any online community named. An example of PLEs changes, grows and covers various medium in different times. While formal education was dominant and learning was designed and managed by teachers and schools, the PLE was not as powerful as it is today. Nowadays, with advanced communication technology, individuals could construct their own learning maps, which are their own PLEs.

Here’s an example of a PLE, a mind map of Ray’s PLE : http://simslearningconnections.com/ple/ray_ple.html.

An individual could establish his or her own PLE by a personal blog with many web links and RSS subscriptions or one can combine his or her institutional education and other learning resources with a LMS (Learning Management System). Or, a PDA with internet access could make one PLE as well. PLEs differ from time to time, case by case.


boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html Downes, Stephen (2005). E-learning 2.0 Olivier, Bill, & Liber, Oleg. (2001) Lifelong Learning: The Need for PortablePersonal Learning Environments and Supporting Interoperability Standards. The JISC Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards, Bolton Institute December 2001. van Harmelen, Mark (August 2006). Personal Learning Environments.

History of PLEEdit

Why PLEEdit

PLE is not a new concept, but, with the development of the technologies such as blogs, social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, social software, web application programming interfaces (APIs), online web services and so on,we come into web2.0 ,and because of web2.0,PLE has a second life. The most compelling point for the PLE is to develop educational technology which can respond to the way people are using technology for learning and which allows them to themselves shape their own learning spaces, to form and join communities and to create, consume, remix, and share material.From then on,people has the rights and ability to build their own learning spaces.,this is a revolution.

  • Increased need for learner-driven lifelong learning.
    1. The increased rate of technology, social and market changes that drive the need to more continuously and aggressively upgrade skills and knowledge to remain relevant in professions
    2. The change in the employer-employee relationships:
      • A more frequent necessity to “re-tool” as entire industries disappear or employment locations shift globally
      • Even within “stable” industries, a decrease in job security
      • More frequent employment and/or career changes
      • More free agents within a network economy — a “company of one” with no corporate learning and development group to depend on
      • The responsibility for driving employee development shifting to the employee, from the corporation
    3. We are living longer and have an increased likelihood of an active retirement that involves a sense of purpose and discovery beyond recreation
  • Increased access to information and people.
    1. An exponentially increasing volume of information that we have access to, leading to the question of “what to pay attention to?” and feelings of information overload
    2. Increased opportunities, desire and need for creating connections with other people on behalf of both work production and learning.

For the learner,everything of the world around us could be changed ,except the ability of creating our PLE.