Technology & Equipment
My experience... Some people want to have a completely digital PLE whereas others may really benefit from a combination of digital and non-digital tools. When I started a fully online Master's program, I wanted to try doing everything digitally. Eventually, I realized that I felt more organized, absorbed more of what I read, could relocate specific information more easily, and generally felt less stressed by incorporating some "old school" tools back into my PLE.
Computers & Printers
Consider what you need your computer to do. Is portability important? How big of a screen do you need? How much memory do you need?
Having easy access to a printer can make learning a lot easier for some people. For example, editting essays that are printed out rather than on a screen can allow you to notice things that you didn't notice on the screen and allow you to make connections between various sections of you paper in a different way.
Tablets & Smart Phones
These are useful for studying, reading, and writing on the go. Many applications can only be used on mobile devices, so you need one if you want to use those apps.
E-readers that are not backlit can be a relief to tired eyes and offer many of the affordances of other tablets.
Remote Keyboard & Mouse/Trackpad
These help you to position your laptop or mobile device at a preferable angle and distance from you, which can alleviate back and arm pain, headaches, and eye strain.
Headset with Microphone
This greatly improves sound quality during internet calls and is recommended if you will be video or audio conferencing.
Stylii are useful marking up digital documents and to improve precision of writing and drawing on screens.
A desk helps formalize your workspace in order to create separation between school and home activities, as well as to aid in organization. Consider a standing or variable desk.
Try different types of chairs to see what is most comfortable for you. Consider kneeling chairs, an inflatable ball, or a titling stool. Also consider additional back supports or seat pads that allow for movement which can help with pain and concentration.
There are still many uses for traditional school supplies in your PLE.
I always have a notebook for every course that I take. I prefer a medium sized book with as many sections as courses that I am taking at that time (2 courses in a semester = a notebook with 2 sections). This is where I keep everything that I write down on paper regarding that course: meeting notes, project ideas, brainstorming, my weekly to-do lists, and anything else.
I tend to print out a lot of articles and things like course schedules. A binder keeps everything organized and easy to locate throughout the course and at a later date.
Even if you don't require presription lenses or you wear contacts, glasses specifically for use with digital screens can make a huge difference. They reduce glare and eyestrain. I swear by them and really dislike when I have to look at a computer screen without them now.
A simple footrest under your desk can help with back pain and comfort.
Yes, elbow pads! My elbows get really sore as I lean on them for hours while working on my computer. I have a pair of socks stashed on my desk to fold up and place under my elbows when this happens. Moral of the story? Do what it takes to make yourself comfortable.