I’d suggest that the modern PLE goes back to 1945 and that we can get a sense of how they can be used and designed by looking at how some of the first ones show up.
I’d consider theÂ Memex, a unrealized analog device for accessing documents, and for creating new documents and trails between documents, one of the first modern PLEs.Â Â The designer,Â ï»¿Vannevar Bush,Â uses persona in scenarios to indicate how the Memex would be used. We also get a vision of how a PLE is used in Doug Engelbart‘sÂ demo of an early GUI, using a mouse, a querty keyboard, and a chording keyboard to collaborate in realtime using hypertext in The Mother of All Demos, 1971.
A third example is Ted Nelson’s design for another unrealized project,Â Project Xanadu.Â Again, Nelson uses personas and scenarios to suggest not only how the system would work but how people would use it.
In all three of these designs, the emphasis is not on the learning so much as the demoing. The learning that goes on by using the PLE is implied, unstated, but the systems are clearly designed for learning.