There is much to consider as you develop you PLE. Thinking about these things in advance can help save you time (and money!) and result in a more effective and efficient PLE.
Personal Needs & Preferences
Focus on your specific needs and how they can be best fulfilled, rather than on fitting specific applications or technologies into your PLE (Kompen et al., 2015). In other words, your PLE should be well-designed according to your needs and not just be a collection of "cool" tools that you have found.
Ask yourself: What do I need this technology to be able to do?
When choosing which technologies to include in your PLE, take into consideration:
Your learning preferences - for example, if you love watching videos to learn, you might consider more than one source for accessing quality videos.
How much time you will be spending in learning activities - for example, if you are studying in a full-time program it may be worth learning to use a citation program, but this might not be time well-spent if you are only taking one course.
Special needs - technology can help improve learning conditions for students with a variety of special needs. For example, text-reading software can help students with visual impairment or those who have difficulties reading.
Availability of support - for example, I may choose to use a simpler photo editing software to achieve my goals because I don't feel that I have adequate support to use a more complex one.
Technology hardware (such as laptops and mobile devices) and software (such as apps and programs) are changing at an alarming rate. The technology that we choose to use today will advance and change in a relatively short period of time.
When we choose which hardware and software to include in our PLE it is important to take this into consideration.
The newest app may not be the best choice as we cannot be sure how long it will be available. It is time-consuming to learn to use new technology and the more we use it the more data we store within it, so a disruption in the technology that you use could mean the loss of the data that you have worked so hard to gather and create.
I often choose programs that have been around for a while and are widely used. These are likely to be properly maintained and updated and will have a large support network of fellow users.
Privacy, Budget, & Internet Access
Privacy Every piece of software has its own privacy rules. Consider what type of data you will be storing in each piece of software and whether you trust that company with your data. Budget PLEs can be set up on a small budget, or they can cost a lot of money. Used or refurbished hardware can save you lots of money. While many useful applications are available for free, it can be worth spending some money to get the full version of an application you use frequently or to make your life easier.
For example, in my Master's program I didn't initially own Microsoft Office, I just used the word processing software on my Mac. It became difficult and time consuming to change my file format for easy sharing and I wasn't always sure that my formatting remained as I wanted it. It was worth it for me to purchase new software to alleviate these problems. Internet Access Consider if you will need to use applications and access files when you are not connected to the internet.
For example, I chose to purchase an excellent French-English dictionary app that does not require an internet connection because I need to have guaranteed quick access to this type of resource. However, my needs for Spanish-English translation are far less and I can get away with using a free, internet-dependant app.
Kompen, R. T., Monguet, J. M., & Brigos, M. (2015). Constant change: The ever-evolving personal learning environment. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 16(2), 119-128.