When exploring the concept of eLearning (learning through technology), it is often associated with the Personal Learning Environment (or PLE), which can be described “not [as] a software application…[but] a new approach to using technologies for learning…[where] learners themselves develop and control their online learning environment.” (Atwell, 2007).
The PLE sits within the idea that changing technologies are a key influence and propagator in educational change. It is adaptable and conducive to a technological learning environment. PLEs are an important factor to consider when incorporating technology into the classroom, and also for establishing a safe and educational learning environment beyond the classroom, namely at students’ homes. PLEs are beneficial within an educational framework for the following reasons:
- They recognise and support the concept of lifelong learning. Atwell (2007) states that a PLE “…recognises that learning is continuing and seeks to provide tools to support that learning.” This idea also recognises that learning doesn’t occur in the one place at the one time, rather it will take place “…in different contexts and situations, and will not be provided by a single learning provider.” (Atwell 2007)
- They incorporate the concept of informal learning, which is an ongoing process whereby people learn through daily social interactions, which occur predominantly outside the classroom (associated with social-constructivism)
- PLEs cater to the different learning styles, levels and needs of students. Technology becomes another learning avenue for students, as some will have strengths in learning through technology. In relation to this, it can provide a new means or approach to assessment and recognition of learning for teachers.
- A PLE can adapt with the emergence of new technologies and advancing technological developments over time. Directly related to these developments are changing ways of learning, which can also be modified into a PLE.
Through a PLE, students can start to take their own initiative and direction regarding their learning, and taper it to their interests and relevance to their personal lives.
Some handy Twitter links for you on technology in the classroom…
Attwell, G (2007). The Personal Learning Environments – the future of eLearning? eLearning Papers, vol. 2 no. 1.
Retrieved from: www.elearningeuropa.info/files/media/media11561/pdf