PLEs extended

The full paper of your PLE_SOU submission for the PLE Conference in Southampton 2011 is finally online.

Here is the full title:

Buchem, Ilona and Attwell, Graham and Torres, Ricardo (2011) Understanding Personal Learning Environments: Literature review and synthesis through the Activity Theory lens. pp. 1-33. In: Proceedings of the The PLE Conference 2011, 10th – 12th July 2011, Southampton, UK.

You can find the full paper here:

Here is our abstract:

“This paper represents a scientific analysis of a broad range of publications surrounding the field of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). Personal Learning Environments can be viewed as a concept related to the use of technology for learning focusing on the appropriation of tools and resources by the learner. Capturing the individual activity, or how the learner uses technology to support learning, lies at the heart of the PLE concept. The central research question guiding this review was: What are the characteristic, distinguishing features of Personal Learning Environments? This paper argues that PLEs can be viewed as complex activity systems and analysed using the Activity Theory framework to describe their key elements and the relationships between them. Activity Theory provides a framework of six interrelated components: subject, object, tools, rules, community and division of labour. In referencing over 100 publications, encompassing conference papers, reports, reviews, and blog articles, this paper takes an activity-theory perspective to deconstruct the way central aspects related to PLEs are addressed in different publications. The aim of this study is to create a better understanding of PLEs and to develop a knowledge base to inform further research and effective practice. The literature review presented in this paper takes a broader view on PLEs recognising that research in this field stems from different scientific communities and follows different perspectives.”

We put the list of publications we used for the literature review into PB Wiki. By doing this we follow the goal of extending this list collaboratively and creating a public repository of PLE publications.

The original selection of publications can be found here: Original list of PLE Publications

We would like to enourage everyone to extended this original list and in this way create a public repository of publications related to Personal Learning Environments.

If you would like to add a publication to this public repository, please name a reference as a comment to the following page: PLEP Recommendations.

Thank you  all for your contributions and comments!



Personal Learning Environments and Media Pedagogy

This week I gave a presentation (or rather led a discussion) at a Multimedia Workshop at Goethe University in Frankfurt on Personal Learning Environments from the perspective of media pedagogy. We had a very interesting discussion which really came down to the basic questions and problems of formal education.  I presented together with Sebastian Fiedler and so we shared the PLE subject and looked at it from different perspectives: me from the perspective of media pedagogy and Sebastian from the  socio-historical perspective.

I focused on different forms of use and different examples of PLEs (especially from the PLE Conference 2010 in Barcelona and from some key EU projects) and on how PLEs change learning/teaching/organisational cultures. In the introduction to the PLEs I avoided providing definitions (as we agreed this would be Sebastian’s part) and instead showed the different metaphores that are used to describe Personal Learning Environments. As a linguist I find it fascinating to deconstruct metaphors and abide by Geoge Lakoff claiming that metaphors play a crucial role in shaping our collective thinking. I need to write more on this soon … oh well, once I find some time 😉

As far as different types of PLEs are concerned – me, Graham Attwell and Ricardo Torres are preparing a paper for the PLE Conference in Southampton which we base on a meta-analysis of over 100 papers on PLEs. One of the outcomes of this analysis are differnt possible ways of categorising PLEs that we are trying to arrive at.

You will find these three basic ideas in the slides:

(1) Based on type of technological implementation

  • individual, dispersed aggregation
  • integrated mash-up system with personal dashboard

(2) based on locus of control/ownership

  • private, owned by the user
  • institutionalised, integrating institutional resources

(3) based on duration of use

  • long-term (longer episodes in a life long process of learning)
  • short-term (e.g. project-based, within a particular course, conference etc.)

Unfortunately I could not attend Sebastian’s part as I had to rush to the airport after unexpected 2 hrs of my own presentation woven with discussions and sharing of positions on PLEs.  So @Sebastian – I hope to learn more about your standpoint in a blogpost 😉

So here is my presentation. Let me know what you think:

Mediacast Contest

The PLE Conference 2011 has received many high-quality submissions for full and short papers. We had a pretty smooth review proccess this year. With call for papers being closed now, there are still a few other calls for contributions open. Posters, demos and pecha kucha sessions can be submitted by June 11th.

The Mediacast Contest is running with submissions due by June 30th 2011.
Here is Videocast on Vimeo annoucing the Mediacast Contest. Have a look!

Looking forward to your submissions on behalf of the organising commitee,
Ilona Buchem

For further information please have a look at our official website:
You can also contact the conference chairs on
And the programme chairs on

PLE Conference 2011

Following the first PLE Conference in Barcelona (#PLE_BCN) in 2010 (PLE = Personal Learning Environment), this year’s PLE Conference will be held at the University of Southampton from July 11th ­ to 13th 2011 (#PLE_SOU).

The PLE Conference is intended to produce a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experience and research around the development and implementation of PLEs – including the design of environments and the sociological and educational issues that they raise. Whilst the conference includes a traditional research paper strand, we particularly encourage proposals for sessions in different formats including workshops, posters, debates, café sessions and demonstrations aiming to sustain the dynamic, vibrant and interactive discussions established by the opening event in Barcelona in 2010.

As a member of the organizing committee I can already tell you that we are going to have some great keynotes and topics, which we are going to announce soon in our new PLE_SOU Newsletter.

Also this year we are hosting the Mediacast Contest 2011. With one difference: Last year we used YouTube to collect and rate your submissions, but since YouTube groups have been stopped at the beginning of this year, we decided to go for Vimeo.

Have a look at this mediacast announcing the contest that was produced by our colleagues in Barcelona:

CfP Mediacast Contest PLE_SOU, 2011 on Vimeo.

We are looking forward to your submissions. The deadlines are:

  • Abstracts – April 10th
  • Mediacasts – June 30th

For more information visit the official website:
E-mail to:
Follow twitter and blog updates via the conference hash code #PLE_SOU