Current uses of PLEs in Education
For a teacher or trainer to accommodate more than just a few students at a time and to truly embrace the intent of PLEs, technology is essential to help organize resources. Although individual PLEs can involve both technology-based learning and more traditional, face-to-face settings, depending on the needs and preferences of the student, keeping track of them from a teacher’s perspective requires technology. Content might be set by the instructor, but in a PLE, learners have freedom to investigate that content using a variety of tools and taking different perspectives. Learners can organize their online tools by placing links in different groups such as search engines, news sites, social media sites, content resources, topic-specific references, using apps on a mobile device and so on.
Many teachers find that although they would like to differentiate their instruction they are not able to do so due mostly to a lack of time and background knowledge. This is the niche that current and future ventures in personalized learning can fill: providing user-friendly tools that teachers can direct their students to use in organizing and efficiently using their PLEs. Whether it is for allowing students to select and organize their favourite or most useful websites with a tool like Symbaloo or asking them to create a dynamic poster that expresses who they are as an individual using Glogster, technology is becoming an option to simplify the task of meeting the needs of diverse learners.