The Networked Student Model

Kelly Mahoney

 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), 369-385.

This is an interesting study conducted in an independent college prep school.  High school students were assigned to study topics of their choice through creating a personal learning environment, rather than through using traditional textbook study methods.  This demonstrates the ways in which personal learning networks are an effective way to encourage constructivist approaches to learning, and use of technology to support deeper learning outcomes and greater reflection than might happen through traditional methods.  As predicted, some students benefitted more than others, and they got out of it what they put into it.  Those with open minds to the new learning format gained the most.

This article was very beneficial to me, as personal learning environments were a new concept to me this semester.  I found the graphic illustration of “the networked student” very helpful in understanding the concept of a personal learning environment, the role technology plays, how it should work, and how it contributes to the independent learning process.  This is a very useful article for anyone seeking to build a personal learning environment for themself, but it also provides guidance for how to introduce these tools to students without overwhelming them, especially if they are used to more traditional learning methods.

Personal learning environments (PLEs): A collection of definitions

Buchem, I. (2010). Personal learning environments: A collection of definitions. Retrieved from

This is a PowerPoint presentation with a collection of 14 different definitions for “Personal Learning Environment.”

I am including this in the blog, because as I was reading articles about personal learning environments  I got frustrated that I did not have a clear definition in my mind of exactly what researchers meant by that term.  They all seemed to picture a PLE a little differently.  When I went to find a single definition I could not do so.  It seems there is no one agreed upon definition. But reading through these 14 different definitions the author has gathered from different sources, does a lot to help a reader gain a clearer understanding of what a PLE is and can look like.

Models for Designing Your Personal Learning Environment

Hudson, Evelyn


Malamed, C. (n.d.). Models for designing your personal learning environment. Retrieved from

This article provides several models of personal learning environments. In addition to describing many different kinds of models, there are also diagrams and real-life examples of the models created by other learners. This page also links out to more useful examples if needed.
After reading this article, I felt that I had a much better understanding of how to approach my own personal learning environment and the options available to me. It seems like a much less daunting task now that I understand it better.

Tuel, Kris

Väljataga, T., & Laanpere, M. (2010). Learner control and personal learning environment: a challenge for instructional design. Interactive Learning Environments, 18(3), 277-291. doi:10.1080/10494820.2010.500546


This article discusses the Personal Learning Environment and how to address the lack of “instructional functions” and how that effects the self-guided learner. The findings include the notion that colleges and universities should give students more control over their learning projects, and that the self-directed learners could then continue their Personal Learning Environments and self-guided education beyond the institutional setting allowing them to be lifelong learners.


I found this article quite interesting because I am a true believer in self-directed education– to me, it’s the one thing no one can give you, you have to have the initiative and motivation to be educated. This article validates that point, and recommends changes that can be made to help ensure a successful path for a self-guided learner.

Label: IL-PLE

7 Things You Should Know About Personal Learning Environments (PLE)

Friel, Holly
Educause Learning Iniative. (2009). 7 Things You Should Know About Personal Learning Environments. Educause. Retrieved from

This article defines a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) as “the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals.” A PLE is an interactive environment (often online, such as a blog or site where a lot of other blogs, sites, newsfeeds, can be connected) created by a learner, where that learner can post their own work, connect with others who share related interests, receive feedback from their peers, collaborate on projects, etc. PLEs represent a shift from the traditional teaching model of teacher-transmitting-information to student and into a student-centered, student-driven “collaborative exercise in collection, orchestration, remixing, and integration of data into knowledge building.”


Through repetition of concrete examples, this short article really helped me to understand – and see the value of – Personal Learning Environments.