On the way towards Personal Learning Environments: Seven crucial aspects
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The practice of learning and teaching is not pre-determined, but always related to the tools and systems used in the process. The development and rising success of social software applications such as weblogs and wikis and so-called Personal Learning Environments (PLE) changes, enables and challenges learning with the Internet.
PLE, especially in contrast to traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS), received significant attention and are about changing the paradigm of learning and teaching. This paper tries to underpin a better understanding of the underlying concepts of both approaches and, on the other hand, to emphasise the consequences and challenges of PLE and its rising usage for learning.
We have identified seven aspects where these changes are most obvious and/or important. To sum up, learning with PLE leads to changes concerning: (1) the role of the learner as active, self-directed creators of content; (2) personalisation with the support and data of community members; (3) learning content as an infinite “bazaar”; (4) the big role of social involvement; (5) the ownership of learner's data; (6) the meaning of self-organised learning for the culture of educational institutions and organisations, and (7) technological aspects of using social software tools and aggregation of multiple sources.
The vast number of tools, supporting collaboration on the web is an indicator that PLE and social software tools are not only a flash in the pan, but lead to a new notion of learning and a measure for sustainable competence development. Nevertheless, the existing approaches and ideas for PLE need further development and elaboration. With the discussion of the related shifts from LMS towards PLE and their challenges, this paper may serve as the basis for learners, teachers and educational institutions decisions for (or against) the technological concept of PLE, on a general level and taking into account its pedagogical implications.