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Many educational institutions use a single platform for delivering online courses known as a learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE). However, OERu does not use an LMS or VLE for its courses. Read the short article and watch the video that follows to learn more about PLEs and VLEs.

An Open Component-based Learning Environment

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At OERu, learning materials are published on an open website (they use WordPress, an open source content management system). OERu materials are truly open because you do not require a password to access any of the learning resources used for our courses. Their learner interactions use component tools distributed across the Internet, rather than contained within a single application. 

For example:

  • Forum discussions are hosted at Like Saylor Academy they use Discourse, an open source community discussion platform.
  • OERu hosts a social networking platform to support learning at (based on Mastodon, a decentralized and open source alternative to commercial platforms).
  • Online web annotations ( enables users to annotate, collaborate and discuss webpages).
  • An internal microblog engine called WENotes (WikiEducator Notes) where learners can share ideas and thoughts when prompted in the learning materials.
  • A link sharing site hosted at where you can share, describe, tag, and vote for interesting online resources.

These distributed interactions are harvested within the aggregated course feed. In this course on digital literacies, you will get the opportunity to develop your skills in using these technologies.

Personal course blogs are a key component of the OERu online learning environment, called a personal learning environment (PLE).

PLEs vs. VLEs

In this video Stephen Downes summarizes the difference between a personal learning environment (PLE) and a virtual learning environment (VLE), also known as a learning management system (LMS).

The purpose of a PLE is to put the learner at the centre of the online learning environment, by establishing a personal blog for this course. Using a course blog:

  1. You will retain control of your data and learning outputs generated during this online course, even after the course is completed.
  2. You get to choose:
    • The blog service you would like to use;
    • Whether to accept comments on your blog from your peers;
    • Whether to register your blog for the aggregated course feed so that any posts tagged with the course code (lida101) will be harvested for the feed.

Last modified: Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 1:48 PM