A PLE is a learner's gate to knowledge. It can be viewed as a self-defined collection of services, tools, and devices that help learners build their Personal Knowledge Networks (PKN), encompassing tacit knowledge nodes (i.e. people) and explicit knowledge nodes (i.e information). Thus, mechanisms that support learners in building their PLEs become crucial.
- Mashups by aggregation simply assemble sets of information from different sources side by side within a single interface. Mashups by aggregation do not require advanced programming skills and are often a matter of cutting and pasting from one site to another. Personalized start pages, which are individualized assemblages of feeds and widgets, fall into this category.
- Mashups by integration create more complex applications that integrate different APIs in order to combine data from different sources. Unlike mashups by aggregation, the development of mashups by integration needs considerable programming expertise.