1. Perry, William MA, RN

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The Internet has brought the spirit of global communication and collaboration to nurses and other healthcare professionals in ways never before thought possible. These resources are offered to expand your opportunities for discussion, reference, education and research.


A couple of my colleagues from the United Kingdom, Rod Ward and Peter Murray, directed my attention to the ELGG site located at ELGG is a powerful social networking Web site that allows individuals to create and share network resources. Rod had also mentioned the EMERGE project at, "which uses ELGG software to create a community of practice around the use of Web 2.0 & other innovative technologies."


While wandering about the EMERGE site, I came across a link called "The Bamboo Project" by Michelle Martin ( Michelle described how she has used Web 2 applications to create a "Personal Learning Environment (PLE),", a means of collecting, organizing, and reflecting on communicating information for personal and professional development. I had not heard that particular terminology before, so I followed some of the links on her site and did some searching on the term.


Wikipedia ( describes PLEs as: "systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to


* set their own learning goals


* manage their learning; managing both content and process


* communicate with others in the process of learning



and thereby achieve learning goals.


A PLE may be composed of one or more subsystems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services.


Important concepts in PLEs include the integration of both formal and informal learning episodes into a single experience, the use of social networks that can cross institutional boundaries, and the use of networking protocols (Peer-to-Peer, web services, syndication) to connect a range of resources and systems within a personally-managed space."


A PLE is a concept that describes using Web applications such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, and communications among like-minded people as a personal set of tools to enhance personal and professional development. Graham Atwell, an educational researcher from Wales, is often referenced by sites on PLEs, and an excellent set of presentation slides as well as an mp3 file of one of his presentations is available on his Web site at:


James Farmer from Deacon University posted a screencast of a presentation called "Using Blogs as a Personal Learning Environment" at


The Edutech Wiki hosted at the University of Geneva in Switzerland ( has a developing section on PLE drawing on several global sources. Many of the references cited have offered graphical representations of the interaction among the various technologies that could be applied to this concept. Ray Sims, an engineer and information technology consultant, diagrammed his "process oriented view of my personal learning environment" on his Sims Learning Connections blog at


As I talk with clinical nurses, educators, and students, there seems to be a lack of awareness of these tools and the different ways people are combining them to achieve personal learning goals. Students in particular, although they may be very aware of and have accounts with social networking sites such as, often don't see the potential of using these applications in a learning context. I'm early in my investigations into the concept of PLEs, and I find the concept and approaches others are taking fascinating and hope it will contribute to my personal leaning journey. I hope my clinical colleagues and students find these approaches and tools useful as well.


Contributed by


William Perry, MA, RN