I’ve been reading a few interesting posts on personal learning environments (PLE) here and here (as a blog on a presentation from Stephen Downes).My experience has been that constructing a PLE has had an enormous impact on my personal professional development – but developing a PLE that works for me took a long time (years really) and alot of experimentation. I like to think that my framework is pretty solid and its now more of a case of looking for tweaks of continuous improvement rather than wholesale experimentation. However, my career change into academia may well test this assumption – too early to tell just yet.

What the PLE has provided, is a mechanism for me to keep awareness of emerging trends and ideas in a reasonably diverse range of professional domains. I’ve also found having this PLE has helped me in presenting my skills, knowledge and understanding in the jobs market more effectively. As discussed by Jay Cross here the PLE has helped me in formulating a generic ‘elevator pitch’ that can be targeted for different professional areas in a specific language.

A key aspect of my PLE, given my ‘job hopping’ approach to career development/ exploration, is that it can move with me, ie, I have not tied it into the IT system of any particular employer – in keeping with a sort of free agent attitude to careers and employment.

Of course, this has some implications for the role of the learning & development professional. I, as an employee, have taken control of my learning and longer-term career development. I, as a professional, want to be a ‘high performer’ (on the basis of pride and thinking about future careers) and so make sure I (a) understand the organisation’s strategy and (b) seek to implement that strategy in my day-to-day activities (including learning and development) and my PLE gives me the tool to do this in respect of the external world. Assuming others are like me how does the L&D function of an organisation add value? is L&D less of an agent of change and more a consolidator of changes internally, supporting compliance with internal processes, disseminating effective practices, etc..

I’m not sure if I’ve explained this well – its an early thought on how effective externally hosted PLEs may change (again) the dynamics of L&D in an organisation where ‘loose-tight’ structures and a focus on informal coalitions are replicated in the delivery of learning & development.