Many educational institutions use a single platform for delivering online courses known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). However, the OERu does not use an LMS or VLE for its courses.

An open component based learning environment

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

  • Forum discussions are hosted at (we use Discourse an open source community discussion platform)
  • The OERu hosts a social networking platform to support learning at (based on Mastodon, a decentralised and open source alternative to commercial platforms).
  • Online web annotations (we use the service, which is an open source technology that enables users to annotate, collaborate and discuss webpages.)
  • An internal microblog engine called WENotes (which stands for WikiEducator Notes) where learners are invited to 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 resources found online in support of your learning.

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 on your learning journey.

Personal course blogs are a key component of the OERu online learning environment which is called a Personal Learning Environment (PLE).


PLEs vs. VLEs

Stephen Downes provides a useful summary of the difference between a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS).

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The purpose of a PLE is to put the learner at the centre of the online learning environment, which will be enabled 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.