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Personal learning environments (PLE) are 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, both content and process
communicate with others in the process of learning
Technically, the PLE represents the integration of a number of "Web 2.0" technologies like blogs, Wikis, RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, etc. around the independent learner. Using the term "e-learning 2.0," Stephen Downes describes the PLE as: "... one node in a web of content, connected to other nodes and content creation services used by other students. It becomes, not an institutional or corporate application, but a personal learning center, where content is reused and remixed according to the student's own needs and interests. It becomes, indeed, not a single application, but a collection of interoperating applications—an environment rather than a system".
A PLE puts the individual learner at the center, connecting him or her to information and communities that: "... provide personal spaces, which belong to and are controlled by the user, [and also provide] a social context by offering means to connect with other personal spaces for effective knowledge sharing and collaborative knowledge creation"  Using the term "Social Learning 2.0," Anderson and Dron reinforce this emphasis on community, conceptualizing it in terms of "groups," "networks" and "collectives" (2007) and thereby achieve learning goals.
Examples of PLE systems are CLIX, Moodle, and iGoogle. A learner may add widgets (e.g. from the ROLE Widget Store Chrome Web Store or Google Apps Marketplace) to manage content. The concept of the PLEs has been taken up and developed further within the European collaborative project Responsive Open Learning Environments. ROLE is exploring the psycho-pedagogical  as well as the technical challenges  presented by a PLE solution and is charged with overcoming them. The underpinning ethos of ROLE is openness and responsiveness. ROLE supports openness by designing a ROLE Reference implementation - infrastructure that supports assembled widget bundles with communication channels, authentication and authorization mechanisms, services for activity tracking and analysis and access to psycho-pedagogical user profiles. Users are free to access, join, develop and extend the system. This system is interoperable across software systems and technology. Responsiveness to learners’ needs is ensured, quick and individual (e.g. answer, recommendation, individually adapted content, elements or tools) and relates to the learner’s individual needs, preferences and wishes. An independent group in the US has created a preliminary consortium for the PLE and is currently looking for a group of motivated representatives to create a panel to better define standards and procedures of implementing a PLE.