Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Can Personal Learning Environments be the Future of Education?

This week we are learning about Personal Learning Environments (PLE).  As we learned in class it "is a web space that is designed by the user to assist in collecting, filtering, and organizing information." PLE are completely new to me and for most educators out there.  When I was watching the video of the 7th grade student showing her PLE and read through the example of a PLE social studies classroom, I had chills run down my body!  This is exactly what I dream my classroom will look like.  For every student to have their own personal computer, where there is not a dependence on textbooks, and students are creating their own learning.  It's beautiful!! But I am skeptical and I wonder can this really work?  Can every student have their own personal laptop? Will the school budget allow it? Will students remember to bring in their laptop?  Will all students benefit from this kind of learning?  Does this fall into NYS curriculum standards?

I have so many questions!  So I looked through all of Dr. Mohamed Amine Chatti's links for PLE ranging from 2006 to 2010. Most of the links were about explaining how PLE works and compare it to older models.  One blog that particularly stood out to me was Tom Haskin's blog Growing Changing Learning Creating.  He has many posts about PLEs and is very passionate about the subject.  In his post "If This is Your First PLE" he gave me great insight into starting a PLE using RSS. At one point when discussing about student feelings about their project, he states, "The thing you're learning has to be your baby, not somebody else's that you're babysitting."  That is an excellent point!  You often lose student's interest when they if they are just doing an assignment just complete it or get a grade.  However if students are actively engaged in a topic, that it is personal to them, then students are more likely going to care what they are learning.  

Haskin blog helped give me a better sense of how PLEs can easily work in the classroom and has inspired me to try something like that in my future classroom.  However, I still have my questions and some doubts since most of the posts addressed different topics.  I would love for this to work and I believe it will in the future, but there are a lot more hurdles in educational technology to jump over before this can happen.  What are your thoughts?  Can this happen in our near future...say the next couple of years?


  1. I agree with you Stephanie. This was my first encounter with Personal Learning Environments as well and I was completely amazed. It was an incredible video to watch! It reminded me of two things. The first thing it reminded me of is Google Reader and RSS feeds. The reason is because it brings everything you need into one screen. Everything is right there for you! The other thing it reminded me of is an iPod or iPhone. The layout of it looked very similar.

    You brought up some excellent questions to think about. I think this can work in education, but like you mentioned, there are other major hurdles to overcome first. Not all schools will be able to budget a project like this but it would be great if they can. Just a few weeks ago we were talking about a paperless classroom. This would be the perfect way to achieve that. I would like my classroom to be something like this as well.

  2. Hi Stephanie,

    I think we are moving in that direction, especially with the tools (Google, Wordpress, Edmodo, etc.) that are available to teachers today. A look at the Common Core State Standards add emphasis to digital research, collaboration, and discussion - all important facets of a PLE.

    A couple of years? I think maybe longer in terms of widespread, systemic change. But you can be the change!