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Personal learning environments (PLEs)Lacey goochEvaluating emerging technologiesItec 7445Summer 2015

purposePersonal Learning Environments involve the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals, (Educause, 2009, p.1).

supports our school visionTeach, Inspire, Motivate! Every Child, Every Day!What better way to reach every child on a daily basis than to provide each student an education that is especially designed for them? Personal Learning Environments will tailor to their interests, needs, and goals, making their learning meaningful.3Ages and grade levelsWhile this is an excellent tool to use for all students, because it requires skills many younger students have not yet mastered (online researching, making real-world and meaningful connections, and collaborating and sharing online), PLEs would be most beneficial for middle school and high school students.Equitable accessBecause this is designed to meet the individual needs and interests of all students, PLEs ensure equitable access. While not all students may have access at home, there are accommodations made to provide them with that access through school materials or before and after school hours for them to access school computer labs, laptops, etc.

Required Equipment and softwareAll that is needed is any device that will access the internet. PLEs work best when there is a Learning Management System (for our school, this would be ItsLearning) where teachers can guide students and provide information, tools, as well as a place to blog and collaborate.

Technical supportPlethora of free online resourcesWonderful school ITSFree online webinars

limitationssafetyA lot of material is available online students must be responsible and cautious with their research.Teachers should set-up and closely monitor any collaboration and communication both inside but especially outside of the classroom and school.

ethicsStudents should be able to recognize credible resources.Students must cite their research findings.

Cost and Funding sourcesImplementing Personal Learning Environments in your classrooms is completely ! However, we would need to continue our contract and use of our Learning Management System, ItsLearning, which has already been paid for another school year. If all classroom teachers implemented PLEs, ideally, each student would need a device. Therefore, more iPads or laptops would need to be purchased. iPads are around $199 a piece, so depending on how many students would need one, it could be quite pricey. There are Title I funds as well as PTA grants available to pay for some of this cost, as well as for any Professional Development meetings , trainings, and seminars about PLEs teachers may wish to attend.How to meet the standardsUsing Personal Learning Environments will ensure that not only all the standards are met but that they are met in a meaningful way to each student. With ItsLearning already aligned with the CCGPS, these standards can easily be shared with students in the course dashboard, and assignments can be given where students research and connect the standards to their interests, goals, etc.

Also, the implementation of PLEs will easily address the ISTE standards through the promotion of higher-order thinking skills, community and collaboration, responsible use, and more. Promotes student learning goalsPLEs can help all content areas support learning goals through a variety of methods:BloggingDiscussion BoardsResearchingHigher-Order Thinking DevelopmentConnecting Learning to Real-World EventsdifferentiationDifferentiation is inevitable when using Personal Learning Environments, and most of it is done by the students, themselves!Because students tailor their own learning to each of their individual interests and goals, differentiation automatically occurs.A suggestion for starting out using PLEs: Group students according to their interests and goals. Guide their assignments, provide resources and tools, etc. according to each groups preferences in ItsLearning.Communication and collaboration

Students can blog and comment on one anothers blogs.Students can participate in online classroom discussions.Students can collaborate with others of similar interests and goals on assignments and projects.Students can venture out of the classroom and both communicate and collaborate with other students from anywhere in the world.Start small share information and research with a group of interested and willing teachers to implement Personal Learning Environments into their classrooms.Provide hands-on training for these teachers.With the entire staff, share information, research, and have the small group of teachers present their results and beliefs about Personal Learning Environments.

Demonstrate how PLEs work and have small group of teachers share examples.Provide hands-on training for teachers.Monitor teacher and student progress.Evaluate, re-evaluate, and discuss strengths and weaknesses during professional development meetings.

Plan for implementationAvailable researchAccording to Attwell (2007) believes that Personal Learning Environments could be educations future, especially for e-learning.Ashs (2013) article references a teacher who believe PLEs could be the answer to mastering high-stakes state assessments.Ultimately, most research provides the overall generalization that PLEs will offer students the education they deserve, making their learning more meaningful and gaining a deeper understanding of the content.


Although it will not be easy to convince every teacher to jump on board implementing Personal Learning Environments in their classrooms, this emerging technology is sure to grab the attention of most. PLEs are the missing pieces to what many educators need in addressing the same weaknesses year-after-year. PLEs provide students with higher-order thinking skills, differentiate by allowing students to learn according to their own interests, needs, and goals, open doors for collaboration and communication, and much more. This new way of teaching and learning may require a lot of time, work, and effort to implement correctly, but it would most definitely be worth the benefits Personal Learning Environments are sure to produce.ResourcesAsh, K. (2013). 'Personal learning environments' focus on the individual. Education Week. Vol. 32, Issue 32, Pages S32,S34 Retrieved from on July 10, 2015. Educause (2009). 7 things you should know about... Personal Learning Environments. Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved from on July 10, 2015. Attwell, G. (2007). Personal learning environments - the future of eLearning? eLearning Papers. Vol. 2 No. 1. ISSN 1887-1542. Retrieved from on July 9, 2015.