I have just finished read a really interesting post by @mollybob on the growth model for personal learning environments (PLE). This coincided with reading @catspyjamasnz post on the relationship between a PLE and a PLN (personal learning network). It’s a subject that’s close to my heart at the moment as we consider the implications of implementing an institutional ePortfolio that, in the trial phases, seems to be seen as a PLE for students at least as much as a portfolio tool. In fact there seems to be quite a bit of fuzzy thinking (not least by me) about the roles and relationships between these different concepts not to mention how the VLE fits in with all of this (though this video by @jonmott looks at that relationship). To try and help me clarify my thoughts I have developed the following diagram.
This diagram represents my current thinking about the models of PLE and ePortfolio. It is not original or innovative and really represents what I think many other writers are describing. I just find it helpful to visualise these relationships and I hope some others find it helpful too.
At its heart it shows what I have called a PLE/Portfolio/Professional Networking space progressing over time. I have drawn it with a dashed line to show that it is porous and open. I have also shown it as being independent of any one institution but rather an entirely learner centred space. Within this space artefacts can be stored or aggregated from other data stores such as the common Web 2.0 tools like Flickr, YouTube, GoogleDocs etc etc. You could also aggregate feeds from other resources and enable professional social networking.
As the learner progresses they would engage with various higher education providers and provide access to artefacts to assessors within those providers for assessment and accreditation purposes. They may also incorporate references to various forms of open educational resources provider by higher education providers within their PLE. Similarly they would allow partial access to record and incorporate work place learning.
In some cases the learner may provide access to artefacts for professional organisations that they would like to join. It is possible that professional organisation may have their own environments for provding evidence of ongoing professional development in which case there may be two way flows between the learners own environemnt and the one provided by the organisation.
Even as a write I can see lots of areas in this diagram that can be improved. As always it is provided under a Creative Commons license so if you want to make it better then please go ahead. The image is here and the MS Visio file is here.