The 21st Century Educator's Toolbox: Developing a Professional Learning Environment (PLE)

This presentation has been put together for the K12 Online Conference 2006.
Conference theme "Unleash the Potential"
Conference strand for this presentation: Personal Professional Development
Presentation introduction on K12 Online Conference Blog
Please view the video accompanying this presentation from the K12 Online server or from the embedded player here.
More background details about this video and the presentation can be found on my blog.


Every professional educator needs online spaces for portfolio development and fostering interaction and collaboration. This presentation will look at online tools that can be used to collate and present resources, to invite community interaction and contributions and to use as a platform for personal expression. It will take the perspective of the educator who has needs for storage of ideas and tools, presentation of educational artefacts, collaboration and access to other educators online. Using freely available Web 2.0 tools every educator can develop a PLE to complement their educational objectives. This presentation is produced using established online resources including blogging, wiki development, social networking tools and podcasting.

Background information

The idea for this presentation is inspired by my own desire to find another position of employment for the 2007-2008 academic year. My husband and I are international educators, my daughter (age 12) is a third culture kid. Originally from Australia we left nearly 10 years ago and have since taught in Zambia, Kuwait and are now completing a 4th and final year in Bangladesh.

In order to attract potential employers in schools that I wish to be a part of how do I best show what I do as an educator and eLearning specialist? How do I collect, collate, assemble and share the many different tools that I use myself and in my teaching to show my participation in everyday learning? How do I show I am reflective and collaborative and have a 21st century approach to education? How can I effectively show my personal best practice as a classroom practitioner and administrator using online and other digital tools?

Previously I have created and maintained a 'digital porftolio' (also called electronic or eportfolio). I did this as part of my studies at the George Washington University for a Masters degree in Educational Technology Leadership. To achieve this I Iearned how to use Dreamweaver, I bought my own domain name and server space and I explored many examples of online portfolios in order to come up with my own original design. However, you can see from the home page of my portfolio that this style of web design is looking a little dated. It is static, it uses design techniques that are not as valuable anymore in my eyes (e.g. image rollovers) and it does not reflect at all my own online activity, particularly blogging and interaction with others through wikis and podcasting. The 'Update 2004' makes me cringe as it is 2 years out of date. What to do? Give the existing site a facelift? Start again? That portfolio took me months to design, create and implement and now it's non-functionality is almost disasterous. I will never get a good job with this!
There is only one answer: Set up a..........

Professional Learning Environment (PLE)

What is a PLE? Often called a Personal Learning Environment it is a place or places on the Internet where learning and interaction with others takes place using available online tools. It is a collection of resources and tools specifically chosen by the individual to be used during the average working day and for recording or documenting the journey of learning professionally and also personally if desired.

Setting up a PLE: What do you want to do?
  • Store pertinent information
  • Show professional development
  • Share personal experiences
* Share resources: socialbookmarking, online images and multimedia files
  • Blog and interact
  • Collaborate with educators around the world

What tools do you need to do it with?
The PLE model advocated here uses a Wiki as a central and organising force.
See also the inspiring work of Dr Helen Barrett who has pioneered eportfolio creation using different software including Web 2.0 tools.

Why use a wiki?
  • A wiki allows for easy and immediate web-page authoring (yes, I love Dreamweaver but............)
  • A wiki allows for inclusion of multimedia and RSS feeds
  • A wiki allows for collaboration with others through discussion and page creation if required

See these resources also:

The Educators Toolbox

Select toolbox below to see ideas for setting up a Professional Learning Environment

external image 188953853_e42eedd07b_m_d.jpg

Photo from Uploaded on July 13, 2006 by **alfredo hisa**