Seven Traits of PLEs for Designing Quality Online Programs

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) are experienced as immersiveness in a complex adaptive system with characteristics of emergence, self-organization, adaptive coevolution, self-similarity, dynamic non-linearity, and systemic interconnectedness.

In a technocracy, learners are immersed in a digital environment. What does this mean for designing quality online learning programs? Students do not unplug and they will need 24/7 access to systems and support.

The emergent nature of PLEs point to learners’ experiences of choice, freedom, autonomy, and dialogue. Quality online programs will choose systems that foster these technological affordances.

PLEs are self-organized based on the interaction between the learner and the environment. This feature illustrates the importance of access to interoperable technologies for personal knowledge management across devices and spaces including personal, professional, and academic environments.

Adaptive coevolution is the reciprocal impact between learners and their PLEs. This characteristic indicates that quality online programs must be agile and adapt to an evolving technological landscape in which learners draw in a variety of applications, which they use in tandem with their formal learning management system.

Self-similarity is the mirror images of a learner and their PLE. Quality online learning programs will support students with the freedom to express their unique identities and pursue personally meaningful goals.

The organic circuitous path of learning across formal and informal spaces illustrates the trait of dynamic nonlinearity. Scaffolding processes and technologies for personal knowledge management will guide learners to take the most advantage of learning online.

Want to read more? Check out my new book chapter:

Kennedy, J. (2019). Seven traits of personal learning environments for designing quality online learning programs: A systems view of connectedness. In E. Smidt and R. Li (Eds.), Ensuring Quality and Integrity in Online Learning Programs. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Towards a Model of Connectedness

Being connected in a personal learning network is experienced as motivation through the drive to always be-in-the-know, through the freedom to explore, through the feelings of esteem that come from belonging, and through the pursuit of self-actualization.

Being connected in a personal learning network is experienced as learning through taking agentic action, forming personally meaningful and relevant goals, seeking and finding multiple perspectives, observing and modeling, reciprocating, finding serendipitous surprises, and creating syntheses.

Being connected in a personal learning network is experienced as identity through practice and an evolving self-concept.

Want to read more? Check out my new article:

Kennedy, J. (2018). Towards a model of connectedness in personal learning networks, Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 16(1), 21-40. Retrieved from


New Learning Technologies Minor!

The Learning Technologies Program launched a new Learning Technologies Minor this semester! Today we celebrated with an open house to welcome new students and introduce them to the interesting work and projects that are happening in the Learning Technologies Media Lab! It was great fun! Excellent prizes, good food, and the best community! A shout out to my extraordinary colleague, Dr. Angelica Pazurek, for her leadership in creating the new program for undergraduates!

Equity & Diversity Breakfast


The day started out early with my colleagues in Curriculum & Instruction at the Equity and Diversity Breakfast. The Gallery of Excellence displayed posters of recent research and projects addressing issues of equity and diversity. Awards, spoken word poetry, and a closing message from President Kaler. A nice way to start the day.

Find out more about the award recipients at the Office for Equity and Diversity.

OED Breakfast