Students need to be trained to use applications and social media to realize the maximum educational value. Dabbagh and Kitsantas (2012) describe a three-level framework that instructors can use to train students to use PLE management tools while using social media, to obtain or share content and to collaborate with classmates.
Level 1: Personal information management
At this level, students use one or more sites or applications for individual activities like goal setting and planning. For example, a student uses Google Calendar in their PLE for scheduling, or creates a profile in LinkedIn.
Level 2: Social interaction and collaboration
Once students have set up basic personal and organizational functions in their PLEs, they are encouraged to add links to social media for sharing content and collaborating with classmates or colleagues. For example, learners can create YouTube and Flickr accounts to share videos and photos or set up wikis for collaborative projects.
Level 3: Information aggregation and management
At the end of a unit, students may have accumulated a vast amount of information and links through the use of their PLE. That is why this level is essential; students are encouraged to organize and synthesize their information. This will in turn allow students to review and reflect on their learning. In practice, an instructor may have students perform searches using tagged words and archives in a blog or ask students to perform self and peer evaluations by consulting a wiki’s history.
Dabbagh, N. & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. Internet and Higher Education, (15)1, 3-8.