Personal Learning Environments

Hwang, Naomi

ID: Inquiry and Design Thinking

LaSota, D. (2017, February 8). Personal learning environments (PLE) [Video file]. Retrieved from

Summary: In this video, Dan LaSota, an instructional designer at University of Alaska Fairbanks’ eCampus, breaks down the four main aspects of Personal Learning Environments. First, we connect with information when we come into contact with it. Then, we collect information, whether it’s in our memory, on phone apps, in a notebook, etc. We collect information so that we can retrieve it, and our ability to retrieve it helps us in our collection processes. Third, we reflect, or think, about the information, actively processing or cogitating about it. Lastly, we may share information with others, allowing others to access it as well. At the end of the video, LaSota discusses why an examination of one’s Personal Learning Environment can be valuable to oneself or for students. He compares it to taking inventory of our resources and tools. He also discusses how students may start with the first or second steps when they are learning in school, but may may not move on to the third or fourth steps. He suggests technology tools for augmenting student learning such as Diigo and Google Drive.

Evaluation: While this video is not the most engaging and just shows LaSota talking and writing, I found that it broke down the concept of Personal Learning Environments in a valuable and clear manner. LaSota’s discussion of the value of understanding our own PLEs was a lightbulb moment for me, because he pointed out that if we do not understand the ways we connect, collect, reflect, and share information, we will not know what we are missing out on. Examining our own PLEs is like taking an inventory of the methods and tools we use in each. It is only after taking inventory that one may realize what methods and tools we are not utilizing or could add to our “arsenal”. If our students could reflect on their own inventories, or reflect on how they engaged in each of the four aspects after a unit, a project, or even a lesson, they maybe able to understand their learning styles better and become better students.

Sir Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms

Anthony Devine

RSA Animate created this fantastic visualization of a talk on changing education paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson:

I loved this talk (and visualization) so much that I went to the RSA website and purchased a digital PDF of the final visual. It cost me One British Pound, and I had it printed out on a poster printer we have at my school–I still need to find a frame for it.

Sir Ken Robinson, deliverer of one of the most popular TED Talks: Do Schools Kill Creativity?, delivers a talk here about how our education system was built on a model of industrialization, which has led to a host of problems as we move beyond that model. The video delivers visuals to accompany Robinson’s ideas, leaving the viewer with a greater understanding of the context of the development of education as well as the flaws with the current system.


Robinson, K. (2010, October 14). RSA ANIMATE: Changing education paradigms [YouTube video]. The RSA [YouTube channel]. Retrieved from

The Networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy

Drexler, W. (2010). The Networked student model for construction of personal learning environments:  Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 26(3), p369-385.  

Personal Learning Environments are essential if students are to move from traditional instructional methods that use a textbook and teacher expert to impart knowledge, towards constructivist methods in which students learn through constructing meaning.  Not much, though, has been said about what needs to be done to teach students how to make and then utilize a PLE.  In this article the Networked Student Model is described and used to help fifteen high school students create PLEs that they then use to conduct personalized research on a topic.  Results from the study are used to consider what kinds of scaffolding teachers need to offer students in the construction of PLEs and what balance between teacher structure and learner autonomy will best serve K-12 students.

This is the first time I have seen an article talk about the need to start teaching students how to create PLEs to manage their learning, though I have already seen with students now receiving one-to-one devices that instruction in how to manage resources needs to start immediately.  The classroom in this study uses the Networked Student Model, which provides four specific parts students need to include in their PLE:  1) academic social contact, 2) synchronous communication, 3) information management and 4) RSS.  The article describes how the teacher introduced these parts to students and then how the class used these elements to complete a research project.  Student reflections on the process are also included, providing insight into how they responded to the process.  I don’t know many schools that are teaching or guiding students in creating PLEs, but this is definitely something students need and this article can start you thinking about how that might be accomplished.