Factors Affecting the Design and Development of a Personal Learning Environment: Research on Super-users

Factors Affecting the Design and Development of a Personal Learning Environment: Research on Super-users

Helene Fournier, Rita Kop
DOI: 10.4018/jvple.2011100102
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After speculation in literature about the nature of Personal Learning Environments, research in the design and development of PLEs is now in progress. This paper reports on the first phase of the authors’ research on PLE, the identification process of what potential users would consider important components, applications, and tools in a PLE. The methodology included surveying “super-users” on their use of existing tools, applications and systems and their preferences in learning, in order to enhance the development of a PLE and reach a specification that potential learners will find useful and empowering in their learning. The research resulted in suggestions on factors affecting technology use and uptake, human factors and attitudes, and interface design that need to be factored in the design and development of a PLE.
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Personal Learning Environments

If the learning environment moves outside the realm of educational institutions, this might affect the learning experience (Bouchard, 2011; Kop, 2010; Weller, 2010). The lack of presence of an educator to aid the learner in his or her critical engagement with resources has for instance been identified as a problem as the Web is not a power-free environment and people will have to adapt to negotiating this environment autonomously. To find the right information and to know how to access required resources, new competencies and abilities will be required from learners. Moreover, the new learning environment requires learners to be active in their learning by editing and producing information themselves in a variety of formats and by communicating and collaborating with others in new ways. People need to have a certain level of creativity and innovative thinking, in addition to feeling competent, confident and comfortable in using ICT applications to be able to do so. Learners need to be flexible, able to adapt to new situations and be able to solve problems that they come across during their learning journey. They will have to be motivated enough to take on new challenges and could use help from the system itself.

Some argue that these skills and competencies will develop while engaging in online communication with others, or via challenging feedback or recommendations through the PLE system itself (Downes, 2009). The system and technology itself, or the activity the learner is involved in, will have to be engaging and interesting enough for the learner to work his or her way through the problems that will undoubtedly come up during the learning journey. People will have to be motivated to use the environment.

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