A Personal Learning Environment is a facility for an individual to access, aggregate, configure and manipulate digital artifacts of their ongoing learning experiences.
A definition for the term Personal Learning Environment –PLE, remains indefinable. Conception about what should constitute a PLE depends on the outlook of the Individual.
PLE is a concept that represents the latest step in an alternative approach to e-learning. Basically PLEs are an alternative approach in parallel to VLEs-virtual learning environments and LMSs- learning management system which is institution-centric. Whereas PLEs focus more on the individual.
The idea of a PLE is that learning is ongoing process; it recognizes that individual’s need to systematize their own learning. According to PLEs ideology learning will take place in different contexts and situations and will not be provided by a single provider.
Important concepts in PLEs are the incorporation of both formal and informal learning, use of social networks that can cross institutional boundaries, and the use of networking protocols (Peer-to-Peer, web services, and syndication) to connect a range of resources and systems within a personally-managed space. PLE is different for each individual, but can make use of common tools and resources.
Resources include not only static text and media but also dynamic services such as instant messaging, online forum and weblog, poscasting, vodcasting etc. A PLE may be composed of one or more subsystems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services.
The primary goal of a PLE for an individual is to bring all the disparate forms of interest for learning under a single umbrella.
History of PLE
2000-.Oleg Liber publishes Colloquia - a Conversation Manager' the start of PLEs. Colloquia provides support for a conversational and activity based model of learning; maintaining information about people, resources, and tasks. The new system incorporates a strong element of social networking - individual users constructed activities and invited friends to participate, rather than subscribing to courses or having courses allocated to them.
2001- The NIIMLE Project in Northern Ireland begins, implementing a personal space for students integrated from multiple institutional systems. A similar project, SHELL, is also started at the same time, as part of the UK funding agency JISC's.
2002- "EDUTELLA: is introduced. It uses P2P protocols to enable the construction of a distributed global learning object network based on social networking principles. This enables any learner to publish or search for learning objects to enhance their educational experience.
2003- The ROMA project starts at the Open University of the Netherlands; this work provided a foundation for the educational use and methods of social network analysis to support learning.
2004- Robot Coop makes public 43Things, a social networking site based around the concepts of describing and sharing personal goals and then collaborating towards achieving them with others with similar goals. 43Things proved highly influential to many in the e-learning field, and is notably present in the early architectural models of a PLE.
2005- Scott Wilson publishes on his weblog a diagram illustrating a future vision for a VLE. His vision is based around a personal system interacting with a range of Web 2.0 services as well as services offered by institutional systems to create a personal environment to support learning.
Scott Wilson distributes a presentation given at the University of Sydney on the topic of ePortfolios, which incorporates architectural models of what are clearly PLE systems.
Stephen Downes publishes E-Learning 2.0 in e-learn magazine, articulating the themes and ongoing changes in education and web technology that together contribute to and combine to form what is now called e-learning 2.0.
ISC-funded Manchester Framework Project ends, produces a Tomcat-based framework that can be instantiated as a VLE or a PLE
2006- PLEX Beta released by the Personal Learning Environments Project at the University of Bolton. Informed by theory from Heidegger, Winograd & Flores, and Beer, the basic structure of PLEX has echoes of Colloquia.
Connected Learning Community launched as part of the Australian Flexible Learning Network. The community is expressly interested in the use of browser-accessed Web 2.0 tools to provide PLEs
2007- The PLE continues ……………..
Oleg Liber, (2000). Colloquia - a Conversation Manager. Campus Wide Information Systems 17(2)
Stephen Downes, (October 2005). E-learning 2.0.
Harmelen, Mark van (August 2006). Personal Learning Environments