Common Themes

Current literature points to the following common themes that are essential in planning successful PLEs at the K – 12 level:

1. Learning Style and Preferences of the Student: Identifying the learning style and preferences of the student and building a learning environment that takes this into account is important to a successful PLE (Gross & Lake, 2011; Martinez, 2001; Samah, Yahaya & Ali, 2011; SIIA, 2010).

2. Flexible Pacing and Grouping:  The affordances of technology allow students to move through material at their own pace, as well as allowing teachers to group students by interest and mastery level rather than age.  Some students need more time on a topic, some need less.  Others will be interested in a topic at a young age and others when they are older.  The current grade boundaries lose their meaning in PLEs.

3. Authentic Activities and Assessment: The activities should relate to student interests and should be seen by the student as being relevant and applicable to what they are learning.  The assessment should be reflective of more than just content or academic knowledge, although it may include that.

4. Technology:  In a school of hundreds of students, individualized plans are only possible if both the students and the teachers have access to technology.  For the student, the technology provides access to information, assessment feedback and data or record-keeping of progress.  For the teacher, the technology provides data on which students have completed which activities and on student progress.


Gross, B., Lake, R., & University of Washington, C. (2011). New York City’s iZone. Center on Reinventing Public Education, University Of Washington. Retrieved from: CRPE Working Paper #2011-1.

Martinez, M. (2001). Key design considerations for personalized learning on the web. Educational Technology & Society, 4(1), 26-40. Retrieved from:

Samah, N., Yahaya, N., & Ali, M. (2011). Individual differences in online personalized learning environement. Educational Research And Reviews, 6(7), 516-521. Retrieved from: 2011/July/Samah et al.pdf

Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). (2010, November). Innovate to educate: System [re]design for personalized learning: A report from the 2010 symposium. In collaboration with ASCD and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Washington, DC. Author: Mary Ann Wolf. Retrieved from:


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