Your Personal Learning Environment – Presentation to JumpStart 2010

I just finished presenting a workshop on Personal Learning Environments to around 300 international students for UBC’s JumpStart international orientation. I think it went really well, but for anybody reading this that went to the lecture, don’t hesitate to comment below on how I could improve.

My story arc was as follows:

In order to create and effective personal learning environment you need to recursively go through the following process:

  • Personal: First figure out who/where you want to be (in 5-10 years time) using a visioning exercise, then try and see who you are now and note the differences.
  • Learning: In order to get from where you are now to where you want to be, you will have to learn things (skills, knowledge etc), note down what those things are.
  • Environment: Learning is a product of your environment. You can adapt your environment to learn better, without adding effort. Identify ways you can change the environment around you.
  • Habits: The best way to change your environment is to create good and destroy bad habits. Only way to do this effectively is one at a time and with 30 day trials.

After following that process several times you can slowly start to permanently change your environment in a way that allows you to learn.

Below is the presentation as well as a list of resources and technology tools that can be used to augment your PLE:

Resources and Tools for Personal Learning Environments:

This information can be found (and edited) at

Add stories of your own Personal Learning Environment at



Google Reader:
RSS readers let you stay up to date on new information coming in from a variety of blogs and websites. (If you want to test it out try add the sites recommended at the bottom of the page)
Allows you bookmark things on the internet. It’s more handy than the ones in your browser as it allows you to tag, search and share the bookmarks, as well as access them from any location. Be sure to install the browser extension in order to make adding and searching bookmarks easier.
Helps you to do research by collecting and formatting your sources. Integrates with UBC Library.



A space to openly work on content with others.
Google Docs:

An online document editor, lets you collaborate with others and your documents are available wherever you have internet.

Online collaborative flashcards, lets you create flashcards then test yourself and your friends using them, in a very fun way. (Also available on a bunch of SmartPhone apps).



Automatically tracks how you spend your money and lets you set goals on how you want to spend in future (try it for a month, you will see just how delusional most of us are about where our money goes).
Create and organize notes on any device that you have. Lets you upload and search pictures.
Google Tasks:
Remember The Milk:
There are a ton of free task tracking and managing applications out there. Having all the tasks you need to do out of your head and on paper really helps to relieve a lot of stress.
Monitors the applications and websites that you access on your computer, providing a detailed breakdown (also, very scary to see where your time goes) and letting you set goals for how you want to change your browsing behaviour.
Google Calendar:
lets you keep your life organized by keeping a selection of calendars. If used properly, you won’t forget about an assignment, class or meeting again.
Allows you to track a selection of different goals that you set for yourself.
Allows you to visually organize data in a way that may make more sense to your brain. The resources page has a collection of some of the best tools and resources.


Allows you to make fun, visually appealing and creative presentations.
Allow you to express yourself and your ideas. Let’s you synthesize and reflect upon you learning.
Drawing tools that allow you to quickly and easily make then share diagrams online. Great for any kind of complex diagram that you need to create.


Allows you to gain feedback on your thinking as well as engage with others studying in your field of interest.
Curate a network of people to communicate and connect with over the things that you love.
Find or contribute to a community’s body of knowledge.
Connect to people within a work network.

Learning Commons resources:

Blogs to follow:

Zen Habits: A blog dedicated to simplifying and forming good habits.
Scott Young: A student and productivity blogger, has a lot of material on how to successfully form new habits.
Study Hacks: A student that writes a lot about how to be better at school.

Prezi Presentations on Personal Learning Environments

9 thoughts on “Your Personal Learning Environment – Presentation to JumpStart 2010

  1. andre, all i can say is that i think you pretty much nailed it here!! it’s really got me thinking! the only part i’m unsure about is the ’30 day trials’… i find that habits can often take longer than 30 days to develop… and even longer to assess if they are good or bad… well wait… i don’t think it’s even about just classifying if they are good or bad, it’s just about figuring out what works best for you over time. often bad habits (eg. poor handwriting) can lead to good outcomes (eg. fast typer), which can benefit you if you stick with them. you just need to figure out what you want to be good at. or something… ha.

  2. Hey Andre,
    I think it’s really cool that you presented this to the JumpStart students! I wasn’t there for today’s presentation, but I really enjoyed the one a couple of months ago! Glad to see you’re still offering it.

  3. Thanks Velkr0. The idea with the 30 days is that it makes the task of forming a habit seem manageable to your brain.
    For instance saying “I’ll not play more than 2 hours of PlayStation per day” is a lot less palatable to your brain than “I’ll not play more than 2 hours of PlayStation per day for the next 30 days”.

    After 30 days you can reward yourself for being awesome (beers or maybe an all-nighter on the PS) then reassess and see if you want to continue with trying to keep the habit.

  4. Hi Andre,

    Your Presentation at Jump Start was very thought provoking and an essential topic for first year students. Would you be interested in presenting this workshop at the CLASS Conference? Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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