Personal Learning Environments: A Catalyst for Student Ownership of Learning

Marc Crompton

This paper poses the central question of “How are our students going to take control of their own learning so that they have the skills to become effective life-long learners if we don’t give them the opportunities to do so in their formative years?”  The author explores as a solution the idea of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) as a way for learners to organize their own learning.  As part of his graduate work and in order to better understand his students’ learning needs and current meta-cognitive skills, the author worked with students on two different projects introducing the concept of PLEs, having them build their own and getting feedback regarding their experiences.  The author’s exploration is described in the paper, leading to the conclusion that PLE’s can be powerful tool sets in a school environment. They emphasize many of the skills and dispositions that a student needs for success and that education has recognized are important. The author concludes that PLEs are not, currently, a natural fit in many more traditional school environments, but they can be a catalyst for change and certainly should be adopted as one effective option for managing learning as schools move toward a more student-centered ethos.


Marc Crompton is the Head of Library at St. George’s School (Senior) in Vancouver where he has taught for 21 years.  His recent move to the library world and completion of his MLIS through San Jose State University has immersed him in an exciting and changing landscape of information, technology and education.  His current work is looking at student use of Personal Learning Environments and leveraging Maker thinking in inquiry based learning.
Carol Koechlin,
May 8, 2014, 11:44 AM