Personal Learning Environments

13 Dec 2023

Boredom, monotony, and repetition are the underlying reasons for ineffective learning, especially due to outdated teaching and learning practices. On the other hand, the incorporation of e-learning as a mainstream educational medium has varied advantages and challenges.

If the collective efforts of teachers and institutes don’t develop strategic instructional and learning plans, students will face the consequences. Therefore, personal learning environments are one of the most unique methods to ensure students' success.

What are Personal Learning Environments?

A personal learning environment (PLE) refers to the space that teachers and institutions create to facilitate the academic and personal growth of students. A key attribute of this approach is that it gives them ownership and accountability for their learning.

It is a primarily student-centric approach wherein teachers integrate technological tools and solutions. In fact, the availability of various digital resources and tools is a vital aspect of the learning system.

For instance, it includes multiple assistive learning solutions made available online, social media, discussion forums, and communication tools. As a result, students can access multiple sources for accurate information, helping to enhance their learning experience.

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Features of Personal Learning Environments

Features of Personal Learning Environments

1. Adaptive Learning

The traditional educational approach has a predetermined system according to which teachers develop lesson plans and implement classes. They stick to the curriculum and strive to complete the syllabus.

Therefore, it leaves little or no time to scrutinise individual learning, and they are unable to dedicate equal attention to all students. On the contrary, personal learning environments help to create a customised learning system.

Teachers can adjust the activities, assignments, and projects according to the needs of the individual students. Besides, adaptive learning is one of the popular approaches that has gained recognition in recent years.

Furthermore, it will continue to be an integral part of the future of online learning as it helps students determine their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Learner-Centric System

If we give students the responsibility of their learning, wouldn’t it lead to complacent learning and ineffective outcomes? This is the first question that may come to people’s minds in regards to the PLE.

However, it is noteworthy to point out that directing the accountability of their own learning will help to motivate students. Besides, teacher-centric learning gives limited scope for addressing individual issues and common faulty practices.

PLE’s learner-centricity functions by developing specific classroom activities for both online and in-person (traditional) classes, such as:

Interactive Presentations

Teachers can assign a topic, or students can choose a topic, prepare a presentation, and deliver it as per a set time. Students can interact with each other after each slide or have a discussion after the end of the presentation.


Active learning experiences must form the core of the strategy; therefore, conducting discussions is a time-tested method to ensure engaging learning. Teachers will play the roles of facilitator and mediator.

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3. Collaborative Learning

Social isolation is a major issue that many people have pointed out as a serious concern in e-learning. However, it is noteworthy that online learning’s productivity relies on well-thought-out action plans.

Furthermore, teachers can make optimal use of technology, such as learning management systems, to facilitate collaborative learning in the following ways:

Project-based Learning

In this method, the teacher divides the class into groups of three and four, and each of them works on a particular topic relating to real-world issues. Each member of a group will contribute to the project and strive to complete the goal.

Moreover, the students need to consider the 4Cs of project-based learning: communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, and innovation. By the end of the project, the students will be able to learn and improve the above-mentioned skills.

Brainstorming Sessions

Teachers giving the instructions and the students following them have been the usual approach, with limited student autonomy. PLE disrupts the outdated methodology and works by engaging students in engaging activities.

For example, brainstorming sessions allow students to participate in thought-provoking discussions. Furthermore, they work towards finding solutions to problems and issues affecting the world. Also, they can figure out the best way to solve a subject-based problem.

That is where teachers can use video conferencing and online class tools integrated with the learning management systems. The aim is to conduct meaningful and outcome-oriented sessions wherein students will gain knowledge and perspectives.

4. Track Ongoing Progress

Is there a way to figure out whether the students are on the way to fulfilling learning outcomes? What are the underlying reasons for a student’s failure or success? These questions are as significant as finding appropriate answers to them.

Unlike waiting to check the answer sheets for midterm or final exams, teachers can monitor the continuous progress of students through PLE. However, teachers must use lms software to accomplish educational goals in the following ways:

  • Develop formative assessments as a part of the regular classroom sessions and implement them on a regular basis.
  • Conduct various kinds of tests and activities, including entry and exit tickets, MCQs, descriptive and narrative questions, quizzes, etc.
  • The long type of question ensures that students provide their own answers without cheating, whereas the short type helps to assess their current knowledge.

5. Personalised Feedback

One of the best advantages or features of PLE is that it allows you to customise education and provide feedback to students. By incorporating a learning assistive tool, teachers can facilitate self-directed learning and provide timely instruction.

The tool generates real-time data on the performance of students, allowing teachers to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Hence, they gain valuable insights; therefore, they can provide individualised feedback to the students, such as:

  • The areas that they need to improve
  • The recurrent mistakes that they have been making in regard to a particular topic.
  • The teacher can provide appropriate mitigation strategies and take the steps necessary to overcome their mistakes.

6. Microlearning

How can one achieve a goal? The answer lies in breaking it down in terms of small goals and tasks to achieve the ultimate goal or objective. Students can apply the same principle in the context of learning.

For instance, whether it is attempting to learn a complex subject topic or mastering a skill, they can use microlearning to simplify the learning. Besides, it is an easy and simplified technique to break up projects, lessons, and learning materials into manageable items.

Therefore, it is a perfect medium that teachers can use to break down a one- to two-hour lesson into three- to four-minute lessons. Hence, it is a useful part of the e-learning structure that will continue to be relevant in the future in the same way it is.

How to Create a Successful Personal Learning Environment (PEL)?

A personalised learning environment is an innovative approach to customising education but requires an appropriate strategy.

One can implement the following steps to ensure success:

  • Highlight the learning areas and objectives depending on the educational and learning requirements.
  • A customisable virtual learning space is possible with the help of PEL. Therefore, make sure of the availability of educational tools. Consequently, it will help in collecting content and developing knowledge.
  • Conduct essential sessions to reflect on the collected information.
  • Encourage the access of information in an orderly manner.
  • Conduct frequent assessments, which will help to assess student learning, knowledge, and progress.
  • Encourage self-directed and self-paced learning without forcing or slowing down the process.

Key Takeaways

Personal learning environments help teachers make education more inclusive by addressing individual learning requirements. Students can use various digital tools to update, collect knowledge, and improve their skills.

Therefore, it has become a crucial part of the e-learning system, as it provides flexibility and self-paced learning.

Gaurav Somani

Gaurav Somani,
Academic Consultant