Rahimi, E., Van Den Berg, J., & Veen, W. (2015). Facilitating student-driven constructing of learning environments using Web 2.0 personal learning environments. Computers & Education, 81, 235-246.


Web 2.0  Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) are becoming a major part of e-Learning because of the learning opportunities that are available through them. The authors wrote this article “to introduce a theory-informed model to integrate Web 2.0 PLEs into educational practices and then examine their influences on students’ engagement in constructing their learning environments” (Rahimi, Van Den Berg, & Veen, 2015, p.236). The model consisted of four components: student’s control dimensions, student-centric instructional approaches, the learning potential of Web 2.0 tools and services, and technology-enhanced learning activities. The results of the study conducted with twenty-nine, first-grade students in the Netherlands suggested that this model can help with student engagement as they build their learning environment because of the meaningful student and teacher communication, student involvement in every part of creating the learning environment, and the increased feeling of ownership for the learning environment. PLEs are important because they promote student-driven learning and communication among teachers, students, and other individuals as the student works to acquire knowledge specific to his or her interests.

Key Points

  • Web 2.0 tools provide students with learning opportunities that support a wide range of teaching and learning activities.
  • As a content producer, socializer, and decision maker, students are able to construct a learning environment with relevant web tools, people, and content.
  • This student-driven personalization of learning and PLEs as student-created can enhance the student’s feeling of ownership over the learning environment.
  • “Students need teachers’ support and scaffolding to discover the learning affordances of Web 2.0 PLEs and linking them to their learning requirements” (Rahimi, Van Den Berg, & Veen, 2015, p. 245).

Design Principles

As seen in figure 1, the pedagogy-driven model prepares students to make their own choices as learners by providing them with appropriate choices and learning situations where they can practice making decisions about their learning (Rahimi, Van Den Berg, & Veen, 2015, p. 237).

Figure 6  is the authors mapping of the students’ engagement in constructing their learning environment (Rahimi, Van Den Berg, & Veen, 2015, p. 243), please check Figure : Mapping the PLE-based learning functions onto the main dimensions of the student’s control. This mapping shows that the model can influence students’ as they construct their PLEs in two main ways: (a) extending the learning environment (e.g. adding tools, content, and people), and (b) influencing the communication between the teacher and students. There are also problems that learners may face that can influence students as they construct their learning environment.

Example Work

Hutchings, M., Hadfield, M., Howarth, G., & Lewarne, S. (2007). Meeting the challenges of active learning in Web‐based case studies for sustainable development. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(3), 331-343.

The authors completed a case study on student learning experiences to determine if the pedagogical design actively engaged students.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. Refer to the figure where students defined roles in PLE-based learning are highlighted, what do you think is missing from this diagram regarding PLEs?
  2. How did the problems students faced throughout the study impact the results of the study?
  3. Based on the information presented in this article, what processes do students go through when constructing and using their PLEs?

 Additional Resources:

Van Harmelen, M. (2006, July). Personal Learning Environments. In ICALT (Vol. 6, pp. 815-816).





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