Today I am going to talk about PLEs and argue that strategically designed PLEs are a natural recipe for integrating formal and information learning using social media and how developing a PLE results in improving students’ SRL skills and eventually academic success
We all have our personal learning spaces, personal learning environments, personal learning networks, whether they are virtual, physical or a combination, but the important principle that distinguishes PLEs from other similar constructs is that the individual is at the center of this learning space -
So the underlying principle of a PLE in a learning context is that it is or should student designed, student-organized, student-managed, NOT the same as personalized learning systems or adaptive learning systems, where the system or the instructor is doing the customizing or personalizing based on student behavior – Maker Space
Social media is becoming the platform or technology of choice for creating PLEs; PLEs are inherently social; “openness”, “personal experience”, “software as a service” (“the web as a platform”), “user-generated content”, “user-generated filtering”, “the people’s web (people powered web)”, “social networking”, “grassroots movement”, “read/write web”, “the social web”; enabled precipitated radical change and driver for the PLE movement
Perhaps a counterpoint or a reaction to institutional learning platforms such as LMS or adaptive learning systems, PLE challenges the traditional LMS; the point is that the student does the organizing, managing, and customizing, not the system or the instructor; students choose their own tools; so it is somewhat of a myth that computers personalise learning (Bates, 2012) again: ‘No, they don’t. They allow students alternative routes through material and they allow automated feedback but they do not provide a sense of being treated as an individual’.
Done a lot of research on SRL and technology
PLEs are built bottom up, organic; social media is ideal for supporting PLEs, PLEs located at the crossroads of individual (personal) and group-level (shared) dimensions of learning; Spaces of engagement, interest, and passion; Maker Spaces
Social media is becoming the technology of choice for creating PLEs; PLEs are inherently social; User managing the experience; Increasingly students are accessing course content and related information on their mobile devices, which means they are learning both formally in the classroom and outside of the classroom; mobile technologies enabled informal learning experiences
PLEs are a blend of formal and informal learning experiences; at the crossroads of formal and informal learning; Notion of connectedness; Expertise that is widely distributed in our culture; Work in progress, should always be a work in progress; Maker space
Strategically move from the personal, private, intimate to the social and collaborative, from passive to active, and from informal to formal
(level 1) Lowest level of social interactivity The focus is on managing private information for personal productivity or e-learning tasks such as online bookmarks, multimedia archives, and personal journals and writing; Students do not activate any of the social sharing or networking features the tools provide; Students do not have an observable presence on the “grid”; Students may pull in other people’s content but the goal or purpose is not to share self-generated content with others; Usage at this level involves a passive or personal use of systems preferences and features; Instructors should encourage students to use social media such as blogs and wikis to create a PLE that enables them to engage in self-regulated learning processes of Zimmerman’s forethought phase such as goal setting and planning; The goal at this level is to guide students to create a personal or private learning space by self-generating content and managing this content for personal productivity or organizational e-learning tasks such as creating online bookmarks, media resources, and personal journals and calendars; localizing learning around a specific topic
(level 2) The focus is on communication, social interaction, and collaboration; Students activate the social sharing and networking features of the tool; Students are using social media to foster informal learning communities surrounding the course topics thereby extending the PLE from a personal learning space to a social learning space; Social and collaborative activities engage students in the self-regulation processes of self-monitoring and help seeking prompting students to identify strategies needed to perform more formal learning tasks; This level of social media use in a PLE aligns with the performance phase of Zimmerman’s model
(level 3) Students use social media to synthesize and aggregate information from level 1 and level 2 in order to reflect on their overall learning experience; Social media activities allow students to take greater control of their PLE, customizing it and personalizing it around their learning goals; This level of social media use in a PLE aligns with the final phase of Zimmerman’s model, self-reflection Evaluation or self-reflection is then used by the student to influence the forethought phase of subsequent efforts
The present study is a follow up to a quantitative study in which participants were recruited to fill out a survey through a Mid-Atlantic University’s LinkedIn instructional design alumni group and listserv (Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2013). The survey, completed by 87 participants, was developed and pilot-tested and finalized by two experts. The survey was comprised of a combination of open-ended and Likert style-items. These questions solicited information about participants’ demographics, technology experience, and social media use. The open-ended questions were used to explore the in-depth aspects of participants’ use of social media while developing a PLE and whether they used SRL skills in the process.
Personal Learning Environments (PLE) Tallinn PLE Conference 2014
Nada Dabbagh, Anastasia Kitsantas
Maha Al-Freih, and Helen Fake
George Mason University
What problem/challenge/question does
your contribution address?
What are your main insights?
What are the limitations/weaknesses of
What would you like to discuss/explore
with other participants?
Personal Learning Environments (PLEs)
tools, communities, and services that constitute the
individual educational platforms learners use to direct
their own learning and pursue educational goals
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) (2009)
Strategically Connecting Formal and Informal Learning
• PLEs empower students to take charge of their own learning
• PLEs are inherently self-directed (built bottom up by the student)
• PLEs are a manifestation of a learner’s informal learning processes
• PLEs can help integrate formal and informal learning
• PLEs are embedded in a social media experience and a mobile learning
• SM are being increasingly used as tools for developing formal and
informal learning spaces
• SM can facilitate the creation of PLEs that help students develop and
apply 21st Century skills and self-regulated learning processes
Zimmerman’s (2000, 2008) Three-Phase Model of Self-Regulated Learning
Social Media Use
3-Phase Model of
Dabbagh, N., & Reo, R. (2011). Back to the future: Tracing the roots and learning affordances of social
software. In M.J.W. Lee and C. McLoughlin (Eds.), Web 2.0-based e-Learning: Applying social informatics
for tertiary teaching (pp. 1-20). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Greater control of
PLE around their
features of the
PLE to a social
Testing the three-level framework
• Participants did use social media progressively based
on the levels of the framework
Blogs, microblogs, social bookmarking tools, heavily used in
Wikis, cloud based technologies, and SNS were heavily used in
• SM more useful in supporting goal setting, task
strategies, self-monitoring, help-seeking
• SM not as useful in supporting time planning, and self-
Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2013). The role of social media in self-regulated learning.
International Journal of Web Based Communities (IJWBC), Special Issue, Social Networking and
Education as a Catalyst Social Change, 9(2), 256-273.
1 2 3
1 2 3
1 2 3
1 2 3
Social Media Sharing
Wikis, cloud based technologies, and SNS were heavily used in level 2
Follow up on a quantitative study (N=87)
To understand the experience of selected
participants’ use of social media while
developing a PLE and whether they used SRL
skills in the process
Participants selection and Recruitment
• Information-rich cases (N=11)
• Email was sent out
A hybrid method of thematic analysis
incorporating both a data-driven inductive
approach and a deductive a priori template of
codes (Fereday & Muir-Cochrane, 2006)
Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A
hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of
Qualitative Methods, 5.
PLE development experience of selected participants in
this study revealed that SM specifically supported the
following SRL processes:
• goal setting, task strategies, motivation, self-monitoring, self-
• help-seeking and time management were not explicitly supported
• these results slightly differ from the previous study in which
participants (N=87) perceived self-evaluation and help seeking as
being less supported
More importantly, the results of this study revealed
important themes related to how SM impacts SRL
processes in PLE development
More research is also needed to examine what type of
guidance and pedagogical interventions are needed to
support formal PLE development and ensure authentic
and purposeful use of SM for learning
What are the limitations/weaknesses of your
What would you like to discuss/explore with
• Is the three level framework worth further exploration?
• Are we asking the right question? Formalizing PLE?
• What about all the PLE platforms? Symbaloo;
OptimizeMe; Evernote; Reclaim Hosting; Flipboard
Strategically Connecting Formal and Informal Learning
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