September 27, 2010

PLENK2010 Week 2: Contrasting personal learning with institutional learning, PLEs with LMSs

Posted in PLENK2010 at 4:45 pm by kristibroom

Last week’s conversation around PLEs vs. LMSs is one that is still a bit perplexing to me. I very much look forward to this week’s topic: Understanding the neXt/eXtended Web, but will continue to revisit the PLE and LMS discussion.

One of the challenges in fully rationalizing the concepts comes from my background in corporate learning. It feels like comparing apples and oranges. To over-simplify my experience and current point of view, the PLE facilitates immediate, unstructured, mostly relevant/applicable access to knowledge. The LMS provides longer, structured, relevant/applicable access to knowledge. If I need an immediate answer or some interesting “brain food,” I look to my PLE. My PLE fills the cracks of time with learning. If I need to build a skill, I look to my LMS to provide options for learning, which then are scheduled into larger chunks of time. Does that mean PLEs are always immediate, or relevant? No. And sometimes the resources coming out of the PLE are lengthy, and help to build skills over the long-term. And managed well, the LMS can provide quick access to short and immediate answers. So maybe the question is in how I have used each, and maybe as I continue to work through their value, I can challenge those initial assumptions.

I really like Martin Weller’s comments about the LMS. His discussion of integration resonates with me:

“One advantage of centralised systems is that they provide readily integrated packages. This offers three main advantages:

Convenience: The default set of tools an educator would require are readily available without them needing to locate and choose.

Monitoring: The integration of tools allows administrators and educators to monitor usage, so for example they can track the overall access of a resource, or the use of tools by an individual.

Authentication: Single sign-on means that users only need one user ID name, and also that the system can allocate roles and functions to individual users.” (Weller, 2010)

Convenience, monitoring and authentication are all key issues for the learning audiences I support. And, the LMS, to some degree, addresses all of them quite well.

I also really like Terry Anderson’s advantages of PLEs, particularly the following:

  • “Ease of Use: PLE environments can be customized and personalized allowing education to flow into the learners’ other net applications
  • Control and responsibility: The PLE centers the learning within the context created and sustained by the learner – not one owned by the institution. This leads to sense of and practical application of educational self direction.” (Anderson, 2006)

So, I’m back to apples and oranges. Both good fruit; both have a place in support of learning, and the key is to determine which is best to include in your recipe for success.


Anderson, T. (2006, 1 9). PLE’s versus LMS: Are PLEs ready for Prime time? Retrieved 9 22, 2010, from Virtual Canuck:

Weller, M. (2010). The centralisation dilemma in educational IT. International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE) , 1-9.


1 Comment »

  1. Lore Reß said,

    You are absolutly right! There is no “PLE” OR “LMS” . In my PLE the LMS (for formal courses and given content, is included. As well as the social networks are part of my learning and working environment, the LMS is it also. I also think – specially in companies – we have to talk abour working and learning environment.

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