A Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is a system that helps learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to set their own learning goals, manage their learning, manage both content and process, and communicate with others in the process of learning.
A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a network of people that connect or have interactions specifically for the purpose of information sharing and learning. "...these people may assist you in your learning by acting as a guide, direct you to learning opportunities, and assist you with finding answers to questions (Tobin, 1998). "
A Learning Management System (LMS) on the other hand is a computer based platform designed to integrate facilitators management of courses and students participation/ involvement towards the successful completion of pre-assigned content of the curriculum. The system can often track the progress of learners and can be monitored by both teachers and learners but may be too limited in content.
Your PLE or PLN as expressed before is a part of taking responsibility for your own learning. It allows you access to information from 'global peers' with your same interests in a way that traditional networking was unable to. This information may be scholarly articles, peer reviewed, or even just opinions expressed by non-academics, even so it serves to spark deeper thinking and reflection that is required in higher learning.
"Conventional learning methodologies tend to be theory-based classroom experiences, relying on explicit knowledge." (Raelin, 2008). It is however quickly being realised that the act of teaching is not to simply transfer content or knowledge onto learners who are expected to receive, store and regurgitate it. Learners are now expected to seek out knowledge on their own and become contributors to the body ok knowledge thereby in essence splitting roles of teacher and learner.
Modern, proactive students inevitably begin to build a repertoire of tools that enhance their learning experience. By sharing and collaborating with others students they create an environment that fosters a comunity of learners that is shaped by the similar attitudes and beliefs of like minded individuals lending support to each other.
That being said, this week I've had the opportunity to explore some online tools that can aid in enhancing my online learning experience and build my PLE. I explored word clouds by tagul (an example Posted at the bottom of my previous post 'Digital Footprints'), created mind maps by gliffy and bubbl. I began to recognize the potential uses of pinterest which categorizes similar interesting topics from home, to food, to education. One of my personal favorites however is iPP podcast player which pulls popular podcasts from all over the world and feeds it to my Samsung mobile phone.
Within the next five years I hope to have completed my Masters in Education and Community Development and working with community members to encourage lifelong learning. This will only be possible by acquiring the required credentials and gathering the required set of tools to have a PLE that encourages and nurtures learning in all types of settings, replacing bad habits with good ones and by building a vast PLN.