A Personal Learning Environment is a “next generation” learning portal enabling learners to manage and control their own learning experience. PLEs represent the dawn of a new era in action learning, one that facilitates individual freedoms inherent in action learning.

PLE’s represent an important technological advance over existing learning portals that feature varying degrees of social media, collaboration and e-commerce tools engaged with a modern Learning Management System (LMS).  These web sites have helped usher in a new era of action learning, but have limitations. The PLE concept is currently being explored by a small segment of early adopters, but is not yet widespread.

Within a PLE, learners can establish their own learning priorities; manage their learning activities including both formal and informal content, and share knowledge with colleagues via the full range of social and collaboration vehicles.

The principal advance for PLEs lies primarily within new filtering technologies that can customize the user experience for each individual, not simply to a higher user category or position. Specifically, the new “relevance filtering” technologies introduced by Google and other search engines can “remember” an individual user’s searches and requests on the portal, and can tailor their learning experiences accordingly.

In short, the same filtering capability that draws controversy about personal privacy can be employed as a desired and useful tool in this context. It is why the training industry is expected to be among its early adopters.

In addition to ushering a new era of action learning, PLEs represent an important evolutionary advance for the training administration technologies sector. When adopted by the industry, it will become the fifth phase in the development of the LMS, which was first created in 1983.

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