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"Seek learning even by study and by faith." D&C

'The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; It should produce not learned but learning people. . . In times of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists' (Hoffer, 1973).

At BYU 2008 spring commencement, Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve, add the following counsel to Eric Hoffer's quote: "Learning to love learning is central to the gospel of Jesus Chrsit, is vital to our ongoing spiritual and personaldevelopment, and is an absolute necessity in the world in which we do now and will yet live, serve, and work." “Learning to love learning equips us for an ever-changing and unpredictable future,. . . “As we press forward in life, spiritually, interpersonally and professionally,” he added, “no book of answers is readily available with guidelines and solutions to the great challenges of life. All we have is our capacity to learn and our love of and for learning.” "Each of us will have our spiritual and learning capabilities tested over and over again," he said. "Learning to love learning equips us for an ever changing and unpredictable future." (Learning to Love Learning, BYU Spring Commencement, 24 April 2008

The Church of Jesus Christ strongly advocates the idea of a life-long learner. One of the AIMS of a Brigham Young University, sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is life-long learning and service. Brigham Young, the namesake of the university, said this about life-long learning "We might ask, when shall we cease to learn? I will give you my opinion about it; never, never. . . . We shall never cease to learn, unless we apostatize from the religion of Jesus Christ. Our education should be such as to improve our minds and fit us for increased usefulness; to make us of greater service to the human family."

Given these thoughts from scholars and prophets, how does this all relate to a personal learning environment, well a ple is based on the idea of lifelong learning.

What is a personal learning environment?

Imagine an place where you learn. It could be a classroom, your bedroom, an office in your home, your office at work, a library. In each of these environments, you have access to certain tools that help in your learning process. You use these tools in a number of ways and in combination with each other. You may choose to share these tools with others to help them learn and you can access them from your environment.

Let's describe a learning environment, like a office in your home, in the context of two scenarios: analog and digital. In an analog scenario, for example, you may use a desk and on this desk you may have a calculator, a phone, a computer with a word processor, a dictionary, some encyclopedias, a journal notebook, sticky notes, highlighters, stapler, paper clips, dog-eared books, a calendar, magazine and journal you subscribe to, a rolodex, framed photos of your family, a radio, a small TV or DVD player.

In a digital scenario, for example, you may be at a park, or a beach, or sitting in your backyard. You have a laptop computer and on this computer, you may have a blog, a wiki, a web browser, email, online search engine, highilghting and annotation tools, a social networking tool, bookmarking tool, photo sharing tool, podcasting, video sharing tool, and RSS feeder. In contrasting these two world, a phone or a rolodex is like a social networking tool; a word process is like a wiki; encyclopedias is like online search engine or wikipedia; a journal is like a blog; sticky notes and highlighters is like a highlighting and annotation tool; framed photographs are like a photo sharing tool; a dog-eared book is like bookmarking software, magazine and journal subscriptions are like RSS, a radio is like a podcasting; and a DVD player is like a video sharing tool.

[insert a graphic]

These two scenarios have in common the idea that you can choose and control the kind, style and type of tools you use. For example, in the analog world, you can choose a spiral bound or perfect bound notebook made by either OfficeMax or K-Mart. In a digital world, you can choose a blog either from Google or WordPress. You don't necessarily use all the tools available to you only the tools that you need for the learning situation. Two other areas that these two scenarios have in common are: sharing and access but there are some differences as well. In our analog world, you can share your notebook, your stapler, lend out your books, but then you will not have these tools to work with until they are returned. In our digital world, you can share your tools with others and still have use them yourself. Access to your tools, your learning, your thoughts by yourself or others in an analog scenario is usually on a one by one basis. Access to your tools, learning, thoughts in an digital scenario is anytime, anywhere to anyone.

This analogy describes the concept that is known as a personal learning environment (ple). It is important to point here that a ple is a concept, not a product. Basically, it is a space where you as the learner can control, develop, share and access your ideas and learnings with others (Atwell, 2007) through the choice of different Web 2.0 tools. Thoughout this book, you have become acquainted with these tools and how they work, particularly in sharing the gospel with others.

In this chapter, we will take the concept of a personal learning environment and apply it to developing a spiritual learning environment. As the Apostle Paul taught, the Savior organized the Church, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. . . Till we all come in the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:12–13). How can we put together some of these tools to create your own spiritual learning environment in order to bless your own life and perfect the lives of Saints.

For whom is this chapter written?

This chapter is written for family and friends who are member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who want to strengthen themselves and each other through the secure sharing of personal and spiritual experiences. The purpose of sharing is to edify and perfect each other.

Personal learning environment tools:

  • wikis,
  • blogs
  • RSS
  • microblogging
  • social networking
  • bookmarking
  • Photo sharing
  • Podcasting
  • Video Sharing
  • Screencasting
  • Presentation tools
  • Highlighting and Annotation tools
  • Web Analytics
  • Location-based tools

What do personal learning environments do?

Personal learning environments allows us to do four main things:

  • share information and communicate with others more easily
  • blend our formal learning with our informal learning. Jay Cross (2006) wrote that only 15% of learning is formal. 85% is informal.
  • create flexible structures that can accommodate our learning styles and our learning goals.
  • showcase our work and learning by using our personal learning environments as electronic portfolios.

More main information on some of the main features of personal learning environments, see

How are personal learning environments commonly used?

Personal learning environments are commonly used in two ways: First, the user may use a single system to create a personal learning environment, like Elgg.com or WPMU or Second, the user may use a collection of tools to create a personal learning environment.

The following tutorials show an example of each of these commonly used ways. The tutorials shown are merely examples of what a personal learning environment can look like. However, keep in mind that what is unique about personal learning environments is that no one ple is the same. Learners will chooses the system or the collection of tools that best meets their needs and situation.

How can I create a personal learning environment?

If you choose to use a single system, there are two common systems that are used: Elgg.com, Netvibes, and WPMU. [ David, I am still working on this with screenshots and instructions]

Step 1: Set up an account on Elgg.com or WPMU. Step 2: Add your widgets.

Setting up a Google personal learning environment. Check out these instructions on how to create a ple in Google.

If you choose to use a collection of tools and aggregate them, then you may use this approach:

Step 1: Create a blog. See (insert Blog chapter references for print and link for web) Step 2: Set up an RSS feed. See (insert RSS chapter references for print and link for web) Step 3: Create a photo sharing account. (insert photo sharing chapter references for print and link for web) Step 4: Create a social bookmarking account. (insert social bookmarking chapter references for print and link for web) Step 5: Create a social networking account. (insert social networking chapter references for print and link for web) Step 6: Pick one of the other tools that you have learned in this book.

You may also want to check out the Top 100 tools that are being used to create personal learning environments. http://c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top100.html

Here is how other people are using personal environment:

Where Are Other Free Online Tutorials?

You may want to check out the following websites to see how others have created their personal learning environments.

How can I use a personal learning environment to strengthen my testimony of the church as well as uplift and perfect the Saints?

3 to 5 use cases

When Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree of life, he wanted to share the fruit with his family. . . the scripture reads," And it came to pass that I beckoned unto then; and I also did say until them with a loud voice that they should come unto me; and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit." (1 Nephi 8:15) In order for you to see how you can use a personal learning environment to strengthen your testimony and help other partake of the fruit of the tree of life, we share the following possible scenarios:

As a student of the gospel and scriptures you can use a blog to record your experiences with "experimenting on the word" (Alma 32:27). Along your journey, you may encounter serendepitious experiences that you can podcast about. You can use microblogging as a way of recording your thoughts and commentary on the scriptures. You may even want to use a highlighting and annotation tool to make comments about your thoughts as you read. You can subscribe to an RSS in order to get updates on church news or changes to the Church's website.

As a family historian, you may want to set up a wiki in order for family members to collaborate on the biography of an ancestor. You may want to create a podcast to record an oral history of an ancestor either from other members of the family relating their memories or from the ancestor themselves describing an event in their life.

As a member of a bishopric or an auxiliary, you may want to set up a secure wiki where agenda items can be added, announcements posted, and other miscellaneous information in order for your meetings to focus on the needs of the members instead being taken up with administrative tasks. Elder Ballard mentioned this a November 1993 Ensign article, "The primary focus of stake and ward council meetings should be coordinating activities and stewardship, not calendaring. In these meetings, priesthood and auxiliary leaders should review together their responsibilities and find ways for Church programs to help members live the gospel in the home. . . Coordination and calendaring have their time and place, but too many council meetings begin and end there. Rather than reciting a litany of organizational plans and reports, spend most of the time in council meetings reviewing the needs of individual members." Google Docs can be used as a way for each member of the bishopric to review church documents and make changes and edits.

For member of the auxiliaries, you can coordinate your teaching schedules and the schedule of lessons with other auxiliaries through the use of a wiki. You can set up a RSS feed and subscribe to the wiki in order to be notified of changes to the wiki.

As a newsletter and bulletin coordinator in your ward, you can use wikis or Google Docs for members and leadership to post information, announcements, speakers, songs, and prayers for Sunday meetings. You can also have the different auxiliaries post their information for the Ward bulletin.

How Can This Tool Affect My Family?

Cautions about wards setting up their own websites. Use the website that the church has set up for wards and stakes. Be cautious about personal security and online predators as well as the idea of casting your pearl before swine. Be careful to not take something that a member of the Church has said as authoritative or doctrinal. Always validate the information with the teachings of the Prophets and General Authorities as well as by the Spirit.

The Church has put out Guidelines and Help for Latter-Day Saints Participating in Online Conversations about the Church. http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/guidelines-and-helps-for-latter-day-saints-participating-in-online-conversations-about-the-church Guidelines and Helps for Latter-day Saints Participating in Online Conversations About the Church

Some counsel from Elder Ballard in this June 2008 address in the Liahona: "Now some of these tools—like any tool in an unpracticed or undisciplined hand—can be dangerous. The Internet can be used to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and can just as easily be used to market the filth and sleaze of pornography. Computer applications like iTunes can be used to download uplifting and stirring music or the worst kind of antisocial lyrics full of profanity. Social networks on the Web can be used to expand healthy friendships as easily as they can be used by predators trying to trap the unwary. That is no different from how people choose to use television or movies or even a library. Satan is always quick to exploit the negative power of new inventions, to spoil and degrade, and to neutralize any effect for good. Make sure that the choices you make in the use of new media are choices that expand your mind, increase your opportunities, and feed your soul."

Another caution is that experiences are of a sacred nature. We want to be cautious with whom we share these experiences. Creating and using secure ways to share our spiritual experiences is very important. The Savior cautioned us to not "throw our pearls before swine". The Savior also cautioned His disciples to make certain things known to the world until it is time.

Invitation/Call to Action

  • include basic and advanced challenges as well as perhaps a gospel challenge.

Other Resources

If you want to learn more about personal learning environment. try this resources:

  • Atwell, Graham. (2007). The Personal Learning Environments- the future of eLearning?. eLearning Papers, vol 2, no. 1.
  • Hoffer, E. (1973). Reflections on the human condition, aph. 32. Retrieved November 3, 2001, from http://www.chemistrycoach.com/educatio.htm