A personal learning environment or PLE is a collection of tools that a learner can bring together in one place to suppor their learning. The point is that if you’re the learner, you choose which tools you prefer to use, rather than have them chosen for you by an institutional Virtual Learning Environment.
In so far as they are collections of tools PLEs have something in common with e-portfolios which I have blogged about before, although it’s probably more correct to see a portfolio as being part of a PLE. Anyway, I’ve found the Social Homes plug-in for WordPress which is rather cool. I’ve added my to-do list, Google Calendar, my Delicious bookmarks and a public view of my Mahara portfolio to it, and am wondering how best to add a link to a personal content store of the documents I’m working on, and a Refworks bibliography.
Social Homes links to services, rather than documents, which means that you can make bits of your PLE public if the service offers public views (e.g. the Mahara Portfolio). Of course you can always protect private information behind the service password, so if you really feel you must write your doctoral thesis using Facebook apps, you probably could. From a learning perspective though, what would be really cool would be if authorised users of your blog could be passed through to the bits of the services you wanted them to see. (e.g. specified portfolio views in Mahara)
I’ll probably come back to this topic later, when I’ve had a look at incorporating some kind of lifestreaming software into the blog.