PLEs, as though seen through the eyes of a snooty, cynical, world-weary first-year undergraduate

This week as part of the MA in Online and Distance Education we have to write about our “PLE” (Personal Learning Environment). Part of the idea is that we make a mindmap of our own PLE. From what I can tell, this is a list of websites and web-based services that we use to learn online. The trouble is, I’m always learning online in some form or another, so for me this would consist of posting my browser history on my blog. This seems like something of a waste of time. Way back in 2007, Martin Weller posted this blog post about his PLE. To narrow it down slightly, he imposed the following restrictions on his list.

  1. I use it regularly
  2. It’s outside of my formal work provision (no Outlook, Moodle, FirstClass, etc)
  3. It is something I have input to, not just a resource e.g. Guardian online (YouTube and Flickr are a bit borderline here)

These conditions seem arbitrary, although in fairness Weller doesn’t indicate that they aren’t. If you take a website that violates these three categories (ie, you use it once, at work, and don’t input into it beyond reading), that doesn’t mean you don’t learn from it. You could even say that for the brief period that you have this learning experience, it becomes part of your Personal Environment. Your Personal Learning Environment, as it were.

What is a Personal Learning Environment? Can someone help me? It’s starting to sound like edu-guff.

The Wikipedia page for PLEs is almost a parody of edutechnoenthusiast hot air. I made a Wordle out of it. Feel the gas (click to embiggen):


One thought on “PLEs, as though seen through the eyes of a snooty, cynical, world-weary first-year undergraduate

  1. I am investigating blogging as part of my EMA. I want to establish how many H800 students maintain their blog on an active basis. Checking whether you see this message among comments to your recent blog seemed a good way to do this.
    Please at least confirm that you have read this message by emailing me on
    If you have time, could you please comment on the following questions:
    • How often do you blog?
    • What is the main purpose e.g. reflective, study information, public statement?
    • As a learner, have you found blogging helpful as a learning tool?
    • If you are a practitioner, do you have experience of using a blog as a teaching resource?
    Thanks for your time. Let me know if I can help you in any way.
    Guy Cowley

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