Personal Learning Environment

The resources listed on this page are organized by knowledge-building strategies:4

  1. Information Resources - Finding text-based information. These include books, magazines, or Internet-based information.
  2. Interactive Tools and Media - Creating interactive activities and exploring media. With these resources, you can complete self-paced tutorials, create new projects, experiment with programs, and analyze resources available on the greater Web.
  3. Knowledge Networks - Seeking out structured learning and building a knowledge network. Students may join a special interest group, or subscribe to a specialty journal listserve. Mentorships, conversations, and group work forms an essential component of learning.

PA Studies Laptop Requirement

Beginning with your enrollment in the PA Program, you will need to have a Windows based PC laptop computer with internet access, microphone, and webcam.  Most course information is available online through our D2L program and Marquette email correspondence is required. Mac computers may be used for personal use, but all students must have access to a PC laptop computer for all program testing and specific assignments.  Wireless access is available in the PA building and most campus structures. 

Information Resources

Laptop Minimum Recommendations

  • Processor: Intel Core i5/i7 recommended
  • Operating System: Laptops must have Windows 10 installed
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM or greater
  • Hard Drive: 256 GB or greater solid state hard drive or greater
  • Network: Either Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 AC) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • Other: Portable mouse, HDMI dongle, and 1 TB USB thumb drive also recommended

Required Marquette University Applications


  • A PLE is a valuable tool for learning, as you are free to choose from a variety of ideational resources that can spark and sustain interest in learning. By using resources chosen for you by the program and instructors, as well as by developing and creating knowledge-building opportunities for yourself, you will cross the educational boundary and drive self-sustaining lifelong learning.4

Evidence-Based Medicine

Point-of-Care Products

  • UpToDate
    Evidence-based content on 10,000+ medical topics, drug and patient information, and medical calculators.
    • Login using VPN for free access. Download the mobile app for continued access off campus without VPN.
  • DynaMed
    A clinical reference tool designed for point-of-care use. Mobile version available.
  • Epocrates

Medical Databases

  • Cochrane Library
    Includes the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Clinical Answers, and other evidence-based resources.
  • PubMed from National Institutes of Health International coverage of over 5,600 journals in biomedicine, including allied health, nursing, and dentistry. Includes access to other NCBI databases including molecular biology and genomic resources.
  • Web of Science Searches 12,000+ scholarly journals in the sciences, social sciences and arts and humanities. Cited Reference Search locates articles that have cited an older document.
  • CINAHL Indexes journals, dissertations, and other materials in nursing and allied health.
  • PsycINFO Comprehensive index of scholarly journal articles, books and dissertations in psychology and related fields. Subject coverage includes basic and applied psychology, abnormal and clinical psychology, experimental psychology, human and animal development, social psychology, professional psychology and educational psychology. Also includes bibliographic citations and abstracts of periodical articles, reports and dissertations, books and chapters.

Online Medical Journals


  • An emphasis on mastery goal orientation (learning a lifelong skill), as opposed to performance goal orientation (focusing on test scores) is important for self-efficacy. This is associated with greater utilization of additional learning resources in addition to and outside the classroom environment.5 

Interactive Tools & Media

Additional Study Resources

  • from Primal Pictures
    Provides images and video of human anatomy models and scans. Includes Regional, Systemic, and Sports & Therapy modules. Specialty titles include Dentistry, Head & Neck: Basic Neuroanatomy, and Speech Language Pathology. Features interactive 3D human anatomy models (The 3D Real-time Body), MRI scans, quizzes, movies, interactive animations and more. Content may be exported for use in lectures, student presentations or patient handouts.
  • Bates Visual Guide from OVID
    VPN Required
    Bates’ Visual Guide delivers head-to-toe and systems-based physical examination techniques for the (Advanced) Assessment or Introduction to Clinical Medicine course. The site features more than 8 hours of video content.
  • PA Core Education from OVID
    VPN Required
  • Quizlet
    Physician Assistant students from across the country have developed sets of study materials. Look for sets that are case-based, as traditional flash-cards are not as useful.

Note-Taking Apps

To-Do Lists

YouTube Channels and Playlists

Additional Recommended Applications

  • Zotero
    A free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research.
  • SPSS
    Statistical software

Social Connectedness and Belongingness

  • Students with higher social connectedness report more subjective wellbeing. Being online in social media platforms can provide a sense of belonging.6


  • Research shows that excessive stress undermines students' ability to pay attention, stay on task, and persist toward academic goals. Practicing mindfulness helps create a state of quiet calm and focus that can facilitate personal cognitive, emotional, and physiological conditions condusive to learning.8

Knowledge Networks

Good students learn with understanding: generating verbal explanations that refine and expand example solutions. This self-instruction, mediated by self-explanation, plays a crucial role in the knowledge-building process. PA students can benefit from this activity through the formation of study groups. By taking turns leading group discussion for a particular topic, conceptual knowledge is enhanced through explanation and helps to build the self-identity of the learner as one who is knowledgeable.7

Social Media Networking


Is your favorite app or resource not listed? Share your favorite PLE tool so your PA school peers can benefit too!



  1. Dabbagh N, Kitsantas A. Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: a natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education. 2012;15(1):3-8. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.002
  2. Vansteenkiste M, Simons J, Lens W, Soenens B, Matos L. Examining the motivational impact of intrinsic versus extrinsic goal framing and autonomy-supportive versus internally controlling communication style on early adolescents’ academic achievement. Child Development. 2005;76(2):483-501. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00858.x
  3. Chatti MA, Agustiawan MR, Jarke M, Specht M. Toward a personal learning environment framework: International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments. 2010;1(4):66-85. doi:10.4018/jvple.2010100105 
  4. Barron B. Interest and self-sustained learning as catalysts of development: a learning ecology perspective. Human Development. 2006;49(4):193-224. doi:10.1159/000094368
  5. Archer J. Achievement goals in the classroom: students’ learning strategies and motivation processes. Journal of Educational Psychology. 1988;80(3):260-267.
  6. Kırcaburun K, Kokkinos CM, Demetrovics Z, Király O, Griffiths MD, Çolak TS. Problematic online behaviors among adolescents and emerging adults: associations between cyberbullying perpetration, problematic social media use, and psychosocial factors. Int J Ment Health Addiction. 2019;17(4):891-908. doi:10.1007/s11469-018-9894-8
  7. Chi MTH, Bassok M, Lewis MW, Reimann P, Glaser R. Self-explanations: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems. Cognitive Science. 1989;13(2):145-182. doi:10.1016/0364-0213(89)90002-5
  8. Kabat-Zinn J. Bringing mindfulness to medicine: an interview with Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. Interview by Karolyn Gazella. Adv Mind Body Med. 2005;21(2):22-27.